Gorilla Trekking-101 – Step by Step Advice and Information
Your Practical and Complete Guide to Mountain Gorilla Tracking
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 filled with Gorilla Trekking Tips, Advice information, and information that will make planning a safari easier. It gives you info for Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Uganda is the only Country with two distinctly different gorilla habitats, another reason Trekkers have chosen Uganda as their favorite Primate Destination.
There are three countries with four Parks where you can track Mountain Gorillas. Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, where permits are $1,500. Virunga National Park in DR Congo, where permits are $400, but you are dealing with ongoing Safety and Security Issues. Then there is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda with $700 permits.
Uganda has proven to be the affordable and safe Premier Mountain Gorilla Trekking Destination. A Gorilla Trekking Safari will cost half the price of a similar safari in Rwanda without compromising the quality of the Experience and lodges.
Your Gorilla Trek becomes a better experience if you know about Gorilla Trekking before you go. We will give you an idea of what to expect before and on the Trek. Here is what one of our clients wrote. “I chose Kabiza Wilderness Safaris because I came across their beneficial pages on gorilla trekking and found them to be straightforward 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 Uganda
Your Complete Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park:
You will find the answers most helpful. If we missed a question that you might have, contact us, and we might add it to the below.
Which Country is best for Gorilla Trekking?
Uganda, DR Congo, and Rwanda all offer similar Gorilla Encounter Experiences. However, the question remains: Which Country is best for my Gorilla Trekking Safari?
Uganda has become the premier Gorilla destination due to safety and affordability.
Rwanda Offers the High-Priced Gorilla Trekking Experience!
Since 2017 Rwanda has been marketing as a luxury Safari Destination. It started when the Country doubled the price of permits to $1,500, an action that virtually eliminated the budget and midrange, moderately market. It began the excellent trekker migration to Uganda.
Though you will find erroneous claims that Gorilla Trekking is better in Rwanda, the reality is that Gorilla Trekking is the same in Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
Rwanda does offer coffee and cultural dancing before the trekking orientation. Something no other country does.
DR Congo – where you might see Gorillas but also Guerrillas!
Virunga National Park, the oldest National Park in Africa, is in the troubled Kivu Province in DR Congo. Though the permit price is a reasonable $400, few take advantage of the lowest permit price. Currently, they are daily and weekly updates of rebel activities in the East African press.
The Us, the UK, and other countries have issued warnings and travel advisories for their citizens, and others have followed suit. You will find offerings for Mountain Gorilla Trekking Safaris for Virunga National Park, but you have to be a person with the spirit of Indiana Jones to take up the offer.
Your travel insurance will be invalidated if you travel to Virunga National Park by most Insurance Companies. You can obtain High-Risk travel insurance. Though Gorilla tracking is excellent, the high-risk factors make it a no-go-zone
Uganda -Safe & Affordable Gorilla Tracking!
Uganda is the Premier Mountain Gorilla Trekking Destination for the reasons listed below. Trekkers worldwide flock to Uganda for their encounter with the Gentle Giants of the Forest.
- Two Gorilla Sanctuaries: You can track Gorillas in both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
- Two distinctly different Habitats: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is an Afro-montane Rainforest with ridges and valleys. Mgahinga Gorilla Park tracking takes place on the sides of the Virunga Volcanoes.
- More Gorillas – More Habituated Gorilla Families-More Permits: Uganda has almost twice the permits that Rwanda offers each day. There are four Trekking Trailheads in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and one in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
- The Gorilla Habituation Experience: No other country offers the Gorilla Habituation Experience, an all-day Trek with only four participants. You spend up to four hours with a gorilla family, and the permit cost is $1,500.
- More Lodging Choices: You can choose budget, midrange, and luxury lodges in Uganda.
For a detailed comparison of Gorilla tracking – you read more here.
When is the Best Time of Year for Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla Tracking takes place in Uganda all year long. There are two rainy seasons where the trails become pretty muddy. One must realize that it does not rain all day long during the rainy seasons, and it will often rain during the night and early morning hours, and the Sun will still come out on most days.
Month by Month – High Seasons are the Dry Seasons of the Year
The year’s busiest seasons for gorilla trekking are from Mid-June to September. October is the shoulder season’s transition month, moving toward the rainy season, and September and October have fewer tourists.
The other High-and Dry Season is from mid-December to March, and March is the transition or shoulder season month.
Low Seasons – Rainy Seasons of the Year
April to Mid-June is part of the rainy season. Luxury Lodges lower their rates during those times, but dates vary Lodge by Lodge. The benefits for some are fewer people, and the Savannah parks begin to bloom afresh.
November into Mid-December is the other rainy season. Rainy Season in Uganda does not mean Monsoon like the weather. Most rain falls at night, and the Sun still comes out, but the trails are muddy.
Gorilla Trekking and Chimpanzee Trekking take place in Rainforests. There it can rain anytime. However, most rain falls at night or during the early pre-dawn morning hours. Read more here.
Where can I track Mountain Gorillas in Uganda?
Uganda has two parks where you can track Mountain Gorillas:
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:
This ancient Afromontane Rainforest is home to most of the endangered Mountain Gorillas in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, CNN Travel’s Choice, for its most beautiful place in the world.
The Park is one of the Ridges and Valleys, and CNN Travel placed it on its best Hiking Trails list in 2019. For Trekking, a moderate fitness level is recommended. However, you can be put with a more accessible family to Trek.
There are four areas in the Park where Gorilla Trekking takes place. In the north of the Park is Buhoma, the original gorilla trekking site in the Park, and it also has the most lodges in the Park. There is also Ruhija, where Trekking takes place at higher elevations. Additionally, there is Rushaga and Nkuringo in the southern area of the Park. Read more here.
Mgahinga Gorilla Park:
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 dollars trekking on the Ugandan side without a compromise on 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 Trekking Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. It is a small park with many activities. Read more here.
How many Days Do I need for my gorilla tracking Safari in Uganda?
A three-day mid-range or luxury Safari is the minimum number of days you need. A five- or six-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 one of the best hiking trails in the world.
You can also do day-volcano hikes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park and 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 14-day Safaris have 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 crowds. Permits, park entrance fees, activity fees, and even lodging costs less in Uganda. We say, “your dollar stretches further in Uganda.”
How do I get to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park?
Getting to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park
- Fly-In Safari: The quickest way is to fly to Bwindi from Entebbe International Airport. Depending on where you will be tracking, land either at the Kihihi or Kisoro landing site. The Kisoro airport serves both Mgahinga Gorilla Park and the Rushaga and Nkuringo regions of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
- Fly into Rwanda’s Kigali International Airport: It is only a 3-hour drive to Mgahinga Gorilla Park. It takes four hours to drive to the southern area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Four-hour drive time to south Bwindi Forest. Getting to the Buhoma area of Bwindi Forest takes five hours.
- From Entebbe or Kampala: It takes nine to ten hours to reach Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
- Incorporate Gorilla Tracking into a longer Safari: This is done on a safari of seven days longer. There are shorter drive times in between parks, eliminating the 9 hours it takes to get to gorilla trekking parks.
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 or standards.
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 trailhead. Luxury Lodges are concentrated in the Buhoma area, where gorilla trekking first took place in the 1990s.
Luxury lodges and exclusive Lodges are more limited in the Rushaga and Nkuringo in South Bwindi Forest. Mgahinga Gorilla Park has the luxury Mount Gahinga Lodge just at the park entrance. Midrange Lodges are located on Lake Mutanda.
All lodges have on-site security. No security breaches have been reported at lodges in Mgahinga Gorilla Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Read more here.
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 like 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 this sought-after encounter is on the bucket lists of thousands worldwide.
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.
The Gorilla Habituation Experience:
The Gorilla Habituation Experienceis like Gorilla Trekking, but you have more time with a gorilla family. There are also only four participants instead of eight. It is an all-day trek, and you spend up to four hours with a Gorilla Family. You are a participant in the habituation process. Additionally, it is a learning experience, and you are with UWA Rangers and researchers.
The Permit cost is $1,500, and there are only four permits daily. If you like incorporating habituation experience into your Safari, you must plan early. Otherwise, permits are long gone.
How do I get the Gorilla Permit?
Gorilla Permits for Uganda and Rwanda are best booked through your Safari Tour Operator, such as us. 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.
The bulk of the permits is allocated to and sold by tour operators who are members of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators and licensed by the Uganda Tourism Board.
A limited number of permits are sold to the public. However, having an accredited tour operator act on your behalf is much more convenient.
Permits cost $700 and are issued for a specific date and area. Permits are not issued for specific Gorilla families.
Gorilla Habituation Experience Permits cost $1,500, and only four permits per day. Read more here
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, which can spoil your day, and your focus might not be the Gorillas but personal discomfort and misery. Wearing suitable clothing and footwear is about protection.
Gorilla Wear and Gear you will need:
- Daypack: Preferably a waterproof daypack, you can use it as a carry-on flying to Uganda. Pack all essentials inside of the daypack.
- Hiking Boots: Make sure that they have good treads on them. You will need ankle support, something boots give you and give you reactions on muddy trails. Have a good pair of merino wool socks.
- Long Trouser: They will protect you from nettles and thorns. Tuck the trousers into your socks for added protection from ants.
- Long-Sleeved Shirt: Neutral in color. Again, this is for your comfort and protection.
- Rain Jacket or Poncho: Pack into your daypack. You never know when it will train. You are in an Afro-montane Rainforest.
- Tough Gardening Gloves: This is to protect your hands from thorns, nettles, and sharp branches.
- Wide Brimmed Hat: It gives you protection from the Sun.
- Camera Equipment – Binoculars: Ensure extra batteries and storage devices. Put them into Ziploc bags. Binoculars are not needed if you are not a birder.
- Packed Lunch and Bottled Water: You will need your packed lunch from the Lodge and two liters of bottled water.
- Insect Repellent – Sun Lotion – Sunglasses: We recommend the effective Australian RID Insect Repellent. Good Sun blocker cream and sunglasses.
What are my chances of seeing the Mountain Gorillas?
This is a frequently asked question we receive. We have had only one client who did not see them on the first day but did so the following day.
To make sure that trekkers see the gentle giants of the forest, at the crack of dawn, around 6:30 am, Pre-Trackers head into the woods to the last GPS location of a Gorilla Family. From there, they follow the tracks left by the family.
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. The pre-tracking team has already done that, and this is something most Gorilla Trekkers do not realize.
Your Trek encounter with the gentle giants is vital to all. Everything is done to ensure that you see the great apes.
Not seeing the Gentle Giants of the forest is extremely rare.
Can I choose the Gorilla Family I want to trek?
When 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 to. The only exception is the Nyakagezi family in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Your input at the orientation determines the gorilla group you will trek to. Your level of fitness and age are taken into consideration by the Ranger that interviews you.
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, and 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. No matter which group you encounter, it will be a fantastic experience.
Gorilla Trekking Fitness: Am I fit enough for a Gorilla Trek?
The Challenge – Gorilla Trekking is no Stroll in the Park: Our Suggestion is to get fit before you arrive.
The Gorilla Trekking comes with physical challenges depending on which gorilla family you are tracking. In Mgahinga Gorilla Park, you trek on the sides of volcanoes, and in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, you climb ridges and descend into valleys.
It is best to increase your level of fitness prior to your arrival in Uganda. Take a daily walk or climb a nearby hill. Even getting on a treadmill or a workout at a gym will help you improve your fitness level.
If you have a physical disability porters carrying a sedan chair can be arranged at a most reasonable price. People in their nineties have been carried in and out by porters fulfilling their life-long dream of a Gorilla Encounter.
The Good News is this, none of our clients ever ga while on the streak! Read more here.
Use the Services of a Porter to assist you on the Gorilla Trek!
The services of a porter carrying your daypack free you to focus on the Trek and your surroundings. Additionally, they assist you when the trail becomes a challenge. We think they are one of the must-haves for tracking the gentle giants.
They, unlike you, are used to the elevation, and know the trails and the trek time. They usually are in excellent shape. Besides, they make a very respectable income by Ugandan standards.
The cost for a porter is minimal, even though you might want to prove that you are physically capable of carrying your bag.
Take our advice and use the porter we provide—your support of a Ugandan Family. Your money will pay for food, housing, school fees for children, clothes, and medical care. Besides, their service lightens your load, something you might enjoy, no matter your fitness level.
A porter assists while you are Gorilla Tracking, and you are assisting by paying for their help on your trek. What you give them in fees and tips impacts their family and the local community. Read more here.
Please Note:I f you are on Safari with us we automatically supply you with porter assistance, a walking stick, and bottled water.
Use a Walking Stick to give you support while Tracking:
Gorilla Trekking is unlike regular Hiking. The trekking experience is often off-trail, and rangers will hack a trail through the thick underbrush to get you to your gorilla encounter.
The trails are often steep, muddy, and slippery, and you need a walking stick’s support no matter your fitness level.
Walking Sticks can be bought at trailheads, but lodges often have them on hand for their guests. If you are on Safari with us, we automatically supply walking sticks for our clients.
A Walking Stick will keep you steady on the trails and prevent falling when the paths are slippery. They provide that extra level of support that most need.
Walking sticks come in handy not just on gorilla treks but on chimpanzee trekking, volcano hikes, and nature walk.
There are ornamental, carved walking sticks that you can buy from a local artisan and take Home as a souvenir and reminder of your memorable Trek.
Are there Gorilla Trekking Rules to Follow?
The Gorilla Tracking Safari has some rules, guidelines, and etiquette that go along with it. 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 from 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, using a camera without flash, and more. Simple things that are good to know. In both countries taking our Ultimate Gorilla Challenge.
Rules, especially the 10 meter distance and facial mask in the presence of the Gorillas rule, will be strictly enforced in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Always follow the instructions of the Rangers leading your Trekking Party. Read moer here.
Is Gorilla Tracking Safe in Uganda?
Gorilla Tracking is one of the safest Safari activities in Africa and 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 searching for your Gorilla Group. 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, which is the last thing Uganda wants.
Uganda’s Gorilla Parks are the only parks that have been Guerrilla-Free for over 20 years. That is not the case in Rwanda or DR Congo, and Uganda has been vigilant in protecting Visitors to its Park. All you see in Uganda are gorillas and not guerrillas. Read more about Gorilla Trekking Safety:
Get Started Booking your Gorilla Safari in Uganda!
Contact us and tell us what you would like to include in you Gorilla-Chimpanzee-Wildlife Safari. Let us know whether you would like a midrange or luxury Safari With your input we create the private, luxury or midrange Safari Itinerary that fits you. Permits are bought, Lodges are booked. On the date of your choice - your African Dream Safari in Uganda begins
Planning your Safari
Contact us and tell us what you would like to include in you Gorilla-Chimpanzee-Wildlife Safari. Let us know whether you would like a midrange or luxury Safari
With your input we create the private, luxury or midrange Safari Itinerary that fits you. Permits are bought, Lodges are booked.
On the date of your choice - your African Dream Safari in Uganda begins
Don’t hesitate to contact us to begin planning your Gorilla Safari in Uganda.
Contact us today about a Gorilla Safari – using the Form below: