Practical Gorilla Trekking Information for Uganda
We answer your Questions with Practical Gorilla Trekking – Information -Tips – Advice
Here you will find Useful and Practical Gorilla Trekking Information -Tips – Advice. This is the perfect page for those that would like to track the Gentle Giants of the Forest, the Mountain Gorillas.
We provide you with an online Guide that is filled with Gorilla Trekking Tips, Advice information. Information that will make planning a safari easier. It gives you info for both Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Uganda is the only Country with two distinctly different gorilla habitats, another reason that Trekkers have chosen Uganda as their favorite Primate Destination.
Since 2017 Uganda has become the affordable and safe Premier Mountain Gorilla Trekking Destination.
Our Practical Gorilla Trekking Information -Tips – Advice becomes the total Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Uganda. It is all about Knowing before going. We give you an idea as to what to expect on the Trek. Here is what one of our clients wrote. “I chose Kabiza Wilderness Safaris because I came across their incredibly helpful pages on gorilla trekking and found them to be straight forward and incredibly helpful. Even if you choose to go with someone else- read some of Kabiza’s content, and you’ll have a better trip.”-Ananda G.
Practical Gorilla Trekking Information -Tips – Advice for you. Know about Gorilla Trekking before you. You will be glad that you did.
Know Before you Go – Practical Gorilla Trekking Information -Tips – Advice
Mountain Gorilla Background Information-Facts-History-Behavior of Mountain Gorillas, Habitat and Diet and Predators – chief predator being a man.
The endangered Mountain Gorillas of Uganda will not be found in any zoo in the world. They do not survive in captivity, and there are no surviving mountain gorillas in zoos. You can only find them in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
That is one thing that sets Mountain Gorillas apart from other Gorilla sub-species that are found in Zoos.
The Mountain Gorillas, thanks to Conservation Efforts that are supported by Gorilla Tourism and Permit Revenues, have dramatically increased in numbers.
Fun & Serious Facts about Mountain Gorillas
Walter Baumgärtel–The Father of Gorilla Tourism in Uganda: Find out how gorilla tourism and conservation began in Uganda. The story of Walter Baumgärtel is a worthwhile read.
Here are the most Frequently Asked Questions about Gorilla Trekking?
You will find the answers most helpful. If we missed a question that you might have, contact us, and we just might add it to the below.
Which Country is best for Gorilla Trekking?
The above is a question one often receives from. One also sees such questions on forums, TripAdvisor, and blogs.
Uganda, DR Congo, and Rwanda all offer similar experiences when spending that hour with the Mountain Gorillas. Some wrongfully claim that trekking in Rwanda is best. We and thousands of others disagree.
We have created a trekking comparison page that you might find helpful. It points out the pros and cons of each Country and lets you make the final decision.
If you are in doubt regarding which country to visit, take a look. Our suggestion, track the Mountain Gorillas in both Rwanda and Uganda. Even better, track the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and go on 4 hours with the Gorillas on a Gorilla Habituation Experience.
Uganda has become the premier Gorilla destination due to safety and affordability.
Which International Airport do I fly into for my Gorilla Trekking Safari?
Entebbe International Airport is Uganda’s only International Airport. KLM, Brussels, Emirates, Qatar, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and Ugandan Airlines fly to Entebbe.
The airport is going through a remodeling stage yet remains fully functional for visitors to Uganda.
Besides, there is the Entebbe-Kampala Expressway that quickly connects you to Kampala.
However, if you are focusing on Gorillas, there is flying into Kigali International Airport. KLM, Brussels, Qatar, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and Ugandan Airlines fly to Kigali.
Flying in or out of Kigali means that you can combine visiting parks in Rwanda and Uganda on a two-country safari.
The majority of our clients choose to fly into Kigali Rwanda and fly out of Entebbe, Uganda. That way, they save on drive-times. The choice is yours to make.
Where can I track Mountain Gorillas in Uganda?
Uganda has two parks where you can track Mountain Gorillas:
There are four areas in the park where Gorilla Trekking takes place. In the north of the park, there is Buhoma, which was the original gorilla trekking site in the park. It also has the most lodges in the park. There is also Ruhija, where trekking takes place at higher elevations.
In the south is Nkuringo, known for tougher treks since you descent 600 meters and ascent a 600-meter ridge at the Gorilla Trek end. Three groups are trekked here. Nkuringo is known for its rugged beauty, and it is home to the exclusive Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge.
Rushaga has become the best place for Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, having the most gorilla families to Trek. It is not as developed but has a wide array of mid-range lodges and one upmarket Lodge, but you can stay in Nkuringo and Trek in Rushaga. South Bwindi Forest is easily accessed from Kigali, Rwanda.
Mgahinga Gorilla Park:
Mgahinga Gorilla Park is the Gorilla Park without the crowds. There is only the Nyakagezi Gorilla Family that you can trek here. There is also only one Lodge in the mid-range or luxury category, Mount Gahinga Lodge.
Here you track the gentle giants of the forest in the shadows of the Volcanoes. The Trek resembles trekking in Rwanda with one big difference. You save hundreds in some cases, thousands of dollar trekking on the Ugandan side without a compromise in the quality of the Experience.
Mgahinga Gorilla Park gives you the additional choices of Golden Monkey Trekking. There are also three one-day Volcano Climbs that you can do. The Batwa Cultural Trail is a must-do while you Trekking Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. It is a small park with many activities.
How do I get to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park?
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park are located in southwest Uganda. Most Tour operators still have you fly into Entebbe International Airport, and then they take you on a 9-10-Hour drive to the Gorilla Park. For practical purposes, less drive-time, we suggest that you fly into the other international airport that is a gateway to southwest Uganda and that is the Kigali International Airport. From Kigali to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a 4-hour drive. To Mgahinga Gorilla Park It is just three hours.
You can also fly into Kigali, Rwanda, and fly out of Entebbe as most of our clients do. This allows you to take in other parks such as Queen Elizabeth Park, Kibale Forest, Lake Mburo Park, and Murchison Falls Park. For those that fly into Rwanda, the East African Visa is the best option. A Yellow Fever Certificate is required to enter Uganda.
The more costly but time-saving option is flying from Entebbe to Southwest Uganda. That is either a 75-minute flight to Kihihi or a 90-minute flight to Kisoro.
Do I have a choice of the Gorilla Lodge to stay in?
We recommend a mid-range or luxury lodge for a gorilla trekking safari rather than a budget or shoe-string Lodge. Let your focus be on the once-in-a-lifetime Gorilla Encounter Experience and not on a lodge that is not up to your expectations.
You will need a tour operator such as Kabiza Wilderness Safaris to book you into the Lodge closest to where you will trek the gorillas. There are four trailheads in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Mid-Range Lodges abound in and near Bwindi Forest around each gorilla trailhead. Luxury Lodges are concentrated in the Buhoma area, where gorilla trekking first took place in the 1990s.
Luxury lodges and exclusive Lodges are available in a more limited manner in the Rushaga and Nkuringo in South Bwindi Forest. Mount Gahinga Gorilla Park has a beautiful luxury lodge that is just at the park entrance.
All lodges have on-site security. There have been no security breaches reported at lodges in both Mgahinga Gorilla Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Gorilla Tracking takes place in Uganda all year-long. There are two rainy seasons where the trails become quite muddy. One must realize that it does not rain all day long during the rainy seasons. Most often, it will rain during the night and early morning hours. The sun will still come out on most days.
From January through March, Mi-June through September, and December are usually the best months for Gorilla Trekking Safaris.
In the rainforests of Uganda, it can rain during the dry seasons. When it rains in Uganda and Rwanda – it is mostly during the night or early mornings, and then it clears up once again as the sun comes out.
Luxury lodges in Bwindi Forest offer seasonal discounts. Lodges set their dates, and they most often differ from another.
Please note – Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is not in a hot and humid jungle. Uganda has one of the best climates in Africa. However, the elevation, the weather patterns from Lake Victoria, Lake Edward, Lake Albert, Lake Kivu all temper located on the equator. Add to that the Rwenzori Mountain range and the Virunga Volcanoes, and you have daytime temperatures for your gorilla trek that do not exceed 25 degrees Celsius. Nighttime temperatures drop down to 10 degrees Celsius.
Is Gorilla Tracking Safe in Uganda? Is there any Guerrilla Activity in Parks?
Gorilla Tracking is one of the safest Safari activities in all of Africa. It is the safest place to be on a safari in Uganda. On a gorilla trek, rangers guide you along with an armed military escort. Pre-trackers are out in search of your Gorilla Group, and the way is laid out before you hit the trail with an Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Gorilla Trekking is a significant source of income for Uganda. Both governments have done everything to make it a safe experience for visitors since all it takes is one incident to destroy Gorilla Tourism for a country, and that is the last thing Uganda wants.
Uganda’s Gorilla Parks the only parks that have been Guerrilla-Free for over 20 years. That is not the case in Rwanda or DR Congo. Uganda has been vigilant in protecting Visitors to its park. All you see in Uganda are gorillas and not guerrillas.
Most coming to Uganda are clueless about Gorilla Trekking. We can say this. It is unlike any other Safari Experience in Africa. For most, it is a once in a lifetime experience that mere words cannot describe. It is a personal encounter with the Gentle Giants of the Forest. They are a close cousin to Human Beings, 98% plus similar to us in genetic makeup.
The Gorilla Trekking cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world but only in the wild of Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. The Mountain Gorillas do not survive in captivity, only in the wild. One reason that this sought after encounter is on the bucket lists of thousands around the world.
Gorilla Treks are anywhere from three to six hours in duration. For one-hour, you are in the presence of a Gorilla Family. For some, that is not enough, and they choose to trek the gorillas twice or opt for the more extended ~Gorilla Habituation Experience.
Gorilla Tracking – is it worth it the Time, Effort, and Money?
A South African wrote some time back that he felt that gorilla tracking was not worth it. Too much hassle, too much money, too many bugs, too much effort. How wrong he was and is.
The Thousands that go on a gorilla trek each year will tell otherwise, and one never hears a bit of regret, only wishing that they could track the gorillas once again.
Like all priceless things in life, Gorilla Tracking has a price – a 700 USD for each permit in Uganda. It is one of Africa’s most expensive activities, but your dollar stretches further in Uganda.
Add-on top of the cost of lodging, transport, guides, tips, and it amounts to a tidy sum. Yes, it is a bundle of money but well worth it. No trekker has ever complained but the writer of a blog that I answer in the link above, who never tracked gorillas.
What we get as a Tour Operator are not complaints but raves about the unique primate activity.
How many Days Do I need for my gorilla tracking Safari in Uganda?
A three-day mid-range or luxury Safari is the minimum of days that you need. A five or six-day day Safari allows you to take in Wildlife and chimpanzee trekking. Other additions can include Hiking days. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest was named in 2019 by CNN Travel as the best trails in the world.
You can also do day-volcano hikes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park as well as Golden Monkey trekking. Uganda has a lot to offer, and the number of days on a safari depends on you, your wishes, and your input.
The ten-day to 12-day Safaris has become the most popular. Uganda is home to the Big-7, which includes the normal Big-5 plus Gorillas and chimpanzees.
Uganda offers Safaris affordable Safaris without the crowds. Permits, park entrance fees, activity fees, and even lodging costs less in Uganda. We say, “your dollar stretches further in Uganda.”
Choose the Kind of Gorilla Trek that you would like:
Uganda offers more choices than either Rwanda or DR Congo. You can choose more time, fewer participants, even a private trek, all at a reasonable cost.
Gorilla Trekking Choices – Time to make Choices, and Uganda does give you more choices. Choose the park for Gorilla Trekking. Some choose to trek in both parks.
Choose whether you want the regular Trek where there are 8 participants, and you are for one-hour with a gorilla family. In Uganda, you choose the exclusive (4 participant limit) Gorilla Habituation Experience. The Experience takes place in the Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and there is a minimal number of permits available.
Uganda does offer Privater Gorilla Trekking. This is just you and your part with the Mountain Gorillas either on a Gorilla Trek or the Gorilla Habituation Experience. Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers and Porters would be with you.
This is a frequent question we receive/ At the crack of dawn, which is around 6:30 am, Pre-Trackers head into the forest to the last GPS location of a Gorilla Family. From there, they follow the tracks left by the Gentle Giants.
Gorillas move less than three kilometers a day. When they find a group, the GPS location and other references are communicated to the Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo UWA Trailhead.
The Rangers and trackers that lead you into the forest on your Trek are not the ones to find your group, that has been already done by the pre-tracking team. This is something most Gorilla Trekkers do not realize.
Your Trek, your encounter with the gentle giants, is vital to all. Everything is done to ensure that you see the great apes.
Do Visitors ever miss seeing their assigned Gorilla Families? It happened once to one of our clients eight years ago, the next day the client did.
Activities you can do before or after the Trek?
Often Gorilla Trekkers are focused on the Gorilla Encounter. They pay little attention to the other activities that can be done in either Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Both parks offer some other activities that we would put into the “Do not Miss” Column. Some events require certain levels of fitness.
We recommend that you do not miss a cultural encounter with the Batwa People. They are the indigenous people of the area that lived for thousands of years, long before any Bantu People arrived. They lived in harmony with nature and Gorillas. Today they are Conservation Refugees.
You can take hikes or ride a bike in, near, or through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Climb a Volcano in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the best parks in Africa for birding. You can do a Village Walk.
Gorilla Permits for Uganda and Rwanda are best booked through your Safari Tour Operator, such as ourselves. That is the easiest and hassle-free way.
Permits in Uganda are booked through a member of AUTO – The Association of Uganda Tour Operators that work together with the Uganda Wildlife Authority to promote and sell permits.
In Rwanda, Gorilla Permits are booked similarly by Tour Operators who fully understand the routines and ways to obtain permits for your Gorilla Trek in Rwanda.
Permits for a typical trek are $700 as of July 1, 2020. The $700 permit price will remain that way until at least 2022.
Are there Gorilla Trekking Rules to Follow?
The Gorilla Tracking Safari has some rules, guidelines, etiquette that go along with it, and it is best to know about them before the gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda.
The rules for Gorilla Tracking are most similar, and the Rangers strictly enforce them in both countries.
They range as to how much time you will have with the mountain gorillas to rules about your health and well-being so that you do not infect a gorilla with the flu or a cold, for example.
The distance you will have to be from the gorillas, the use of a camera without flash, and more. Simple things that are good to know. In both countries taking our Ultimate Gorilla Challenge.
Rules, especially the distance rule, will be strictly enforced in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Always follow the instructions of the Rangers leading your Trekking Party.
Can I choose the Gorilla Family I want to trek?
Gorilla Trekking Choices: When it comes to selecting the Gorilla Family that you want to trek, some limitations and parameters by which the Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers determine which group you will trek. The only exception is the Nyakagezi family in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Your input determines the gorilla group you will trek — your fitness level, age, and ranger’s decision.
Our driver/guide assists in the process, and most often, you trek the gorilla group you like. Permits are issued for an area and not for a gorilla group. The determination is made on the day of the Trek and not beforehand.
Focus on the Experience of your encounter with the Gentle Giants of the Forest.
What Should I wear tracking Gorillas?
Here is practical advice about what to wear for a while Gorilla Trekking in Uganda or Rwanda. Often Trekkers are not dressed right for the occasion, and that can spoil your day, and your focus might not be the Gorillas but personal discomfort and misery.
Wearing the right footwear is very important. We recommend a good pair of hiking boots that are well worn for protection and comfort.
Wearing the right clothing is about protection. There are not many mosquitoes found on a trek, but there are flies and ants. We recommend a good insect repellant such as the Australian RID that also works with pesky Savannah Tsetse Flies.
You need protection from nettles, thorns, branches that can scratch you.
This is the day you need to dress for the occasion, Gorilla Trekking in the African Wild of Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, or Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Just look at what the Rangers are wearing.
Wearing a protective facial mask is highly recommended. That all in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Gorillas are susceptible to the same viruses that humans are. Protecting the Gentle Giants of the Forest is the right thing to do.
Should I use a Porter and Walking Stick?
One of the complaints that one hears about Gorilla Trekking – actually two. I wish I had hired a porter to free me up for the Trek, and the second one is – I wish I had used a Walking Stick to steady myself along the steep paths during gorilla trekking.
When you hire a porter, you make it easier for yourself, and it allows you to focus on the Trek. It also empowers a Ugandan with an income that exceeds most public servants in government.
A Walking Stick is one of the handiest things you can have along on your gorilla trek. It will steady your hike in and out to your gorilla family and give you the support you need.
You can even buy a carved walking stick to take home as a souvenir of this day.
Porters make a difference in the Quality of your Trek.
What about Tipping?
Uganda is a non-tipping country. It is not part of the culture here. It has found its way into the Tourism sector in Uganda, with some seeing it as an entitlement and not something given because of excellent or exemplary service. Some Tour operators have a long list that takes in Ranger Guides, Porters, Lodge Staff, and drivers. Some of the tip suggestions asked for are over the top, in our opinion.
Tipping is not mandatory. Tipping is a matter of the heart, not an art. Our Drivers will assist you in all ways, including in the appropriate tipping practices.
Do keep this in mind. You are an ambassador of your country. You are remembered by what you do and how you tip.
Tips, in our opinion, are a form of empowerment. When you tip, you empower a Ugandan to do something, and often it is excellent and long-lasting.
Kabiza Wilderness Safaris – Your one-stop Gorilla Tour Operator:
Gorilla Trekking and Gorilla Trekking Safaris are what we do best. We know all about the Gentle Giants of the Forest.
We use tried and proven quality mid-range and luxury Lodges. Most of all, we, as a member of the Association of Ugandan Tour Operators, partner with the Uganda Wildlife Authority as an authorized Sales Agents. All of our Primate come with permits, and AUTO Members have the first access to the permits.
Value+ Plus Mid-Range Gorilla Safaris
Luxury Gorilla Safaris
Over a Decade, we have taken Clients on their Incredible Up-Close Encounter with the Gentle Giants of the Forest.