The Gorilla Trekking Experience – What to expect on your Gorilla Encounter

Posted by on August 25, 2019

Gorilla Trekking-The Experience in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

What is the Gorilla Trekking Experience?  A one-of-a-kind Up-Close Gorilla Encounter in Uganda


 What is the Gorilla Trekking Experience?  What to expect on your Gorilla Encounter in Uganda. The Up-Close Gorilla Encounter which is a one of a kind experience for most. Meeting the Mountain Gorillas, for many is the fulfillment of a Lifelong Dream.  Seeing the Gentle Giants of the forest in their natural Habitat in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest   The word Bwindi means darkness in the local language.  It is far from being Impenetrable. Thousands of Trekkers each year disprove that.

What is the Gorilla Trekking Experience? It is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up-close to the Mountain Gorillas. Nowhere else in the world can this day be replicated only in the unpredictable Wild of Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A park that is over 20,00 years old where only the Batwa, the first people of the Forest lived. The Batwa people have a lot to teach us about Conservation and to live in harmony with nature and the Great Apes.

The incredible up-close encounter with the Mountain Gorillas is a once in a lifetime experience. The Mountain  Gorilla is on the “Bucket List” of most African Travelers. For others, it is more. It is as some say, an almost spiritual experience that is way beyond expectations and that mere words cannot describe.

The Gorilla Trekking Experience is not staged and is not always predictable. You are entering into the domain of the great apes, the gentle giants and the encounter is on their terms.  No itinerary can predict your Gorilla Trekking Experience.  It is the Gorilla that is in charge, and that is just the way that it should be. 

For 99% Plus The Gorilla Trekking Experience was one of the biggest “Wow” moments of their life.  A few had expectations that were based not on the reality of a wilderness experience. 


The Setting for The Gorilla Trekking Experience in Uganda

 Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – is home to almost to half of the remaining Mountain Gorillas.  It is the only Gorilla Sanctuary where Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees live side by side (chimpanzees are not tracked here due to conservation reasons). This one of a kind Afromontane Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. CNN Travel picked it as one of the five best parks in all of Africa.  It was featured as a backdrop to “Black Panther” movie. Lonely Planet placed Bwindi Impenetrable Forest on their most unusual Honeymoon Destination List. In 2019 CNN Travel picked Bwindi Impenetrable Forest as the “World’s most beautiful Place.”

The Gorilla Trekking Experience for most takes place in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. It is the Premier Mountain Gorilla Destination in Africa. It is safe and secure ( and without incident for the past 20 years).

Mgahinga Gorilla Park – is the other Gorilla Sanctuary in Uganda for the Gorilla Trekking Experience. Here, the  gorillas are found on the sides of the Virunga Volcanoes. There are three here, Mount Muhavura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabinyo. Locally the Mountains are known as the Mufumbiro Mountains, meaning the mountains that cook.

There are about 100 Gorillas on the Ugandan side of the Virunga Volcanoes. There is but only the Nyagakezi Group that can be trekked. What makes the family unique is that there are five Silverbacks. That is one reason some choose Mgahinga Gorilla Park for their Gorilla Trekking Experience. The other reasons are fewer tourists and the stunning beauty that has made Mgahinga Gorilla Park, the third “must photograph the location in the world.”

Mgahangi Gorilla Park, like Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, is and has been a safe and secure park without incident.

Uganda is the only country where you can trek gorillas in two different habitats. Many are choosing to trek in both Mgahinga Gorilla Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest on the same safari.


Preparation for the Gorilla Trek:

 Know Before You Go-Gorilla Trekking is one of the most expensive Tourism Activities on the African continent. One would think that gorilla trekkers would get all the information about Gorilla Trekking before they arrived. Sadly most do not get to know before they arrive. That is often not the case.

They do not know about the common Gorilla Trekking mistakes. Instead, they repeat them.

We provide extensive information on our site. Gorilla Trekking Information that will make Gorilla Encounter and your safari in the Pearl of Africa more enjoyable.


Physical Fitness – Getting into Shape for Gorilla Trekking – The Four-Tops had a hit song entitled “Only the Strong  Survive.” Gorilla Trekking means hiking up the side of a volcano for two-hours in Mgahinga Gorilla Park or up and down ridges in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Accommodations can be made, such as picking a group of Gorillas that is in an easier to trek location. Sedan-Chairs with porters is also available for those that have an impairment that does not allow them to hike.

We suggest that before arriving in Uganda that you do some daily walks, preferably with hills in your Country.

If you have difficulty hiking, we strongly suggest using a local walking stick and porter to assist you not with your daypack, but on the trek itself. They gladly do so. Being a porter for Gorilla Trekker is a sought after position since it provides a better income than most midlevel government employees make.


Doing it – the Gorilla Trekking Experience – the Day of the Trek

 What to wear and have with you on the Gorilla Trek – You will need a suitable daypack, preferably waterproof. A packed lunch from the Lodge. We supply you with two liters of bottled water.

The Gorilla Trekking outfit is based on what is best for your protection and comfort during the trek. Neither Bwindi Impenetrable Forest nor Mgahinga Gorilla Park are hot and steamy jungles. Daytime temperatures rarely exceed 26 degrees Celsius or 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

What to wear Gorilla Trekking – You will need worn-in boots with ankle support. (RAngers most often wear Rubber Boots – great, but no ankle support. Thick socks and long-trousers are highly recommended. Tuck the trousers into the socks for added protection. A long-sleeved shirt is best. Put poncho or light rain jacket into your daypack.

During the gorilla trek, you will encounter nettles, thorns, brush.  Add to that a hat, a wide-brim one is recommended for protection against the sun.  Lastly, sturdy gardening gloves will protect your hands as you pull yourself up on branches or bushes when there is no trail.

Use a good insect repellent such as the Australian RID product. There are not many mosquitoes here due to elevation. A good sunscreen, odorless for your face. Do bring along a pair of sunglasses. Binoculars are not needed unless you are a birder.

Protect your camera gear using Ziploc Bags, or even bathing or shower caps. If you are using a mobile phone for picture taking, switch it to the airplane mode.


The Gorilla Trekking Orientation – During the orientation, you are given the Rules for your encounter with the  Gentle Giants of the Forest. You are assigned your Gorilla Family that you will be trekking. This is based on your input, level of fitness, and age. No one is allowed to trek below the age of fifteen. The only exception would be if the teen would turn 15 during the same year as the trek.  UWA must grant a waiver before a permit is issued.

The orientation is an integral part of your trekking day.  It here where your permit is verified, and you should have a copy of your passport. Allow your driver to arrange a porter and walking stick for you.

While and before the orientation, pre-trackers are out locating your gorilla family. Not seeing a gorilla family is a rarity, and we had it happen once to clients over nine years ago.


The Gorilla Trek – Hitting the Trail – You are off on your trek with an armed escort. You are being guided by  rangers, assisted by porters, and have a walking stick. The average Gorilla Trek is three to five hours in length. There are some shorted treks, and there are longer ones.

You are with a Gorilla Family for one-hour. Though you have rules of engagement, the gorillas do not. They might come closer than the recommended distance. That is fine, and you follow the rules you were given at the orientation.

The Encounter with the Mountain Gorillas is incredible.  Trekkers cannot prepare for it. They can only experience it. Mere words are unable to describe what is for most a once-in-a-lifetime experience. An experience that cannot be replicated elsewhere. Mountain Gorillas are not found in any zoo. They do not survive.

We recommend that when you settle back in at your lodge that you do not do any other activity but take in, and reflect on this special day.


Making Your Up-Close Gorilla Encounter a Reality

We know all about Gorillas. We have over a decade of experience organizing Gorilla Encounters in Uganda. We focus on moderately priced and luxury Gorilla trekking Safaris.  Call us Gorilla Matchmakers. We match you with the right lodge, the permits, the Gorilla Group.  The rest is up to the mountain gorillas.

We also take clients on the exclusive Gorilla Habituation Experience. There you are a participant instead of a spectator, where there are only four participants instead of eight and spend four-hours with a Gorilla Family.

We know all about Gorillas, we regularly take a day and trek the Gorillas. We have stayed in the lodges that we recommend.  We live and work here. We are a member of the Association of Ugandan Tour Operators which gives us access to 80% of the Gorilla Permits.


Contact us to arrange your Up-Close Gorilla Encounter in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest