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What is the Gorilla Trekking Experience like in Uganda?

Posted by on March 30, 2021

The Gorilla Trekking Experience – A Preview of what is to come

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


Gorilla Trekking ExperienceWhat is the Gorilla Trekking Experience like? What can I expect when I track Gorillas in Uganda? When you embark on a trek to encounter a Mountain Gorilla Family, you join the exclusive fraternity of Gorilla Trekkers. There are not that many since gorilla trekking is not what most African travelers on a safari do. The reason is that Mountain Gorillas are only found in three African countries, Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo.

Why do Travelers come from around the world to track a Mountain Gorilla Family in Uganda? As their name suggests, Mountain Gorillas live in the mountainous Forests of Uganda at an elevation of 8,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level. 

They have much thicker fur than the more common Eastern Gorillas to keep warm in a habitat where temperatures can drop below freezing, as up in the Virunga Volcanoes.

Uganda is home to over half of the remaining gentle giants of the Forest. You trek a gorilla family in either the ancient Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or on the sleeping Virunga Volcano slopes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Uganda is the only country with two distinctly different habitats for trekking. Mgahinga Gorilla Park offers trekking in more open spaces, while Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one with ridges, valleys, and thick vegetation.

You will encounter one of the most beloved wild animals on the planet, the Mountain Gorilla, on today’s Trek. A once-in-a-lifetime experience for most. Trekking Mountain Gorillas is on the bucket list of most discerning African Travelers.

For some, the encounter is an almost spiritual experience beyond expectations that mere words cannot describe.

No itinerary can predict your Gorilla Trekking Experience. The Gorillas are in charge of the encounter. Everyone else is an observer on the outside looking into the world of a great ape family.

For 99% Plus of trekkers, the Gorilla Trekking Experience is one of the biggest “Wow” moments of their life beyond the wildest expectations.


Preparing for the amazing Gorilla Trek

If you want a successful, meaningful encounter with the Gentle Giants of the forest, you need to prepare for it. 

We will do our part by obtaining the Gorilla Permits. We also book your preferred Lodge. We provide a private Safari vehicle with a seasoned, English-speaking Ugandan driver-guide that will get you there. 

You will need to do the following Gorilla Trekking Preparation: 

The right Gorilla Gear – Wear makes your trek more manageable and enjoyable. You will not be focused on discomfort but on the hike itself.

  • Improve your level of fitness – Start taking walks. Do some hiking in your country. See if you can walk or hike for five hours. A memorable Gorilla Trek is no Sunday stroll in the park.
  • A Waterproof Daypack – check the one that you have. You can use the same as carry-on flying here.  
  • Ziploc Bags – use them to protect camera equipment. 
  • Test your Camera – bring extra memory cards and batteries. Check your Charger. Uganda uses UK plugs, and the voltage is 240. 
  • Waterproof Hiking Boots – If new, wear them in before arrival in Uganda. Ankle support is necessary on the trail and where there is no trail. 
  • Merino Wool Socks are the best and keep your feet dry.
  • Long Trousers protect you from thorny bushes and nettles. Jeans have proven to stand up to the challenges of the trek. A Trek-wise trick is to tuck the trousers into the socks for extra protection against things like ants.
  • Long-Sleeved Shirt – Like long trousers, it protects you against nettles and thorny brush. You will not be in a hot steamy jungle. Daytime temperatures rarely exceed 26 degrees Celsius or 79 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Hat a wide-brimmed works best in protecting you against sun and rain.
  • Light Rain Jacket with hood or poncho – surely you have heard of gorillas in the mist. The trek takes place.
  • Tough Leather-Gardening Gloves – yes, you read right. Gardening Gloves protect your hand from thorns and nettles.
  • Binoculars – are optional unless you are an avid birder.
  • Sunglasses I have roamed around Africa for 30 years without wearing them. I have always felt that they take away from the trek’s vibrant natural colors by adding a filter. If you are eyes are sun-sensitive, wear them.
  • Insect Repellent – There are few mosquitoes or tsetse flies, but flies abound. We have found that the best all-around and most effective safari insect repellent is the Australian product “RID.” 
  • Sunscreen – use a Sunblock SPF 50+lotion.
  • Surgical Masks – we supply you with masks and hand-sanitizer. It would help if you packed some sanitizer hand wipes. 
  • Copy of Passport – Make a few copies of your passport. You will need one for the day of the trek. 

If you need more detailed Gorilla Gear-Wear information, you will find it here.


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

Preparing for the Trek at the Lodge

Today is the day of your incredible encounter with a Mountain Gorilla Family. That calls for an early wake-up.
As you prepare yourself, refrain (not recommended) from using perfume or after-shaves. You are going for a gorilla trek and not a party.
Dress for the trek following our suggestions. Be sure to put the right stuff into your daypack. If you are packing some insect repellent, it is best to put it into a Ziploc bag. You will prevent damage if it leaks.

Wear a surgical mask and take two with you for the trek. We supply you with a local walking stick that will give you needed support on the hike.

Be sure to take your packed lunch with you. We will supply you with two liters of bottled water. Pack your rain jacket or poncho in case it rains.

After a hearty breakfast, your driver-guide will take you to the trailhead for your gorilla trekking orientation.


The Gorilla Trekking Orientation  

The Gorilla Trekking Orientation occurs at one of the trailheads in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park. COVID-19 Protocols are followed by all concerned, including Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers, trackers, porters, and trekkers.

Rangers welcome you. The only thing missing is a cup of coffee. You are assigned a gorilla family to trek based on your input, your level of fitness, and your age.

Should you be ill, you should inform the Ranger and opt-out of the trek for the gorillas’ welfare.

During the orientation, the Ranger leading your trek will go over the rules of the encounter. They have been updated to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the gorillas. The critical prevention measures include wearing facial masks, keeping a distance of now ten meters, and using a hand sanitizer.

You can get the gorilla rules in detail, including COVID-19 protocols, by following this link.


The Gorilla Trek – Hitting the Trail for the Encounter

You are on the trail for your gorilla family encounter. The trek, including the one-hour visit with the gorillas, is generally three to five hours in length.

Rangers will lead you to the Gorillas. Pre-trackers head out at the crack of dawn to find the exact location of your Gorilla Family.

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. Most are unprepared for the incredible up-close encounter. It will be one of the wow events in your life. Memories made that will never face away.

Mere words are unable to describe the Gorilla Encounter. It is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. An experience that cannot be replicated elsewhere but in this part of Africa.


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

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