10 Gorilla Trekking Mistakes that will cost you Time – Money and Extra Effort
A Gorilla Tour Operator’s Take on The10 Most Common Gorilla Trekking Mistakes to Avoid
The Most Common Gorilla Trekking Mistakes to Avoid: Are you trying to plan your own Gorilla Safari? Here are the most common mistakes that self-planning Gorilla Trekkers make, thinking that they will save money. Often the Gorilla Safari will cost them a lot more than if they had used a Gorilla Tour Operator such as ourselves.
The Reality is that those who want to create their own Gorilla Safari are most often clueless about putting together a gorilla Safari. They are not alone. Even upstart Tour Operators have a difficult time in planning and carrying out a Safari.
We, as a seasoned Gorilla Tour Operator, bring over ten years of experience to the table. We live and work here. Mountain Gorillas are our passion. Arranging a successful Gorilla Trekking Safari is our business, and we are passionate about it.
A self-planner might think that putting together such a safari will be a breeze. Nothing could be further from reality. The predictable result will be frustration, a costlier safari caused by mistakes that someone is planning their trek often makes.
One such common mistake is to book the lodge in one area, while the actual gorilla trek takes place five hours away from the lodge. Another is flying into the wrong airport resulting in a bumpy road-trip of nine to ten hours.
Our List of The Most Common Gorilla Trekking Mistakes to Avoid:
1. Add the Gorilla Trek last to your time in Africa:
Most often, Trekkers will plan their Safari focusing on their time in the Maasai Mara or the Serengeti, on the beaches of Zanzibar, then try to add Gorillas Chimpanzees.
Gorilla Permits, Chimpanzee Permits are limited in availability. Game drives in Kenya or Tanzania. Unlike most other Safari Activities in Africa, Gorilla Trekking is a pretty limited, exclusive, and, yes, expensive Activity.
Add on top of that, for conservation reasons, the number of visitors to trekkers is limited.
Avoid the number one mistake made when it comes to Gorilla Trekking’s planning. Plan your time in Africa around your Gorilla Trek,d everything else will fall into place. Gorilla permits first, then plan the rest of your time in Africa. It is the number one mistake made by want to be Gorilla Trekkers.
2. Fly into the wrong Airport for Gorilla Trekking:
Entebbe International Airport is Uganda’s official Airport. It is, however, not the best Airport if you are focused on Gorilla Trekking or the Gorilla Habituation Experience in the Southwest Corner of Uganda.
Kigali, Rwanda International Airport is only 3 hours from Mgahinga Gorilla Park, and the southern area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is 4 hours drive time. Kigali is the logical Airport to fly into for Gorilla Trekkers and avoid making the 9-hour drive from Entebbe to Southwest Uganda.
Kigali International Airport in Rwanda is the unofficial Gorilla Trekking airport for Southwest Uganda. A reality that many do not realize and spend the extra time and even money flying into Entebbe and driving to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Many of our safaris begin in Kigali and end in Entebbe.
3. Buying your Gorilla Permit on your own:
There are three primary ways that you can obtain a Gorilla Permit in Uganda. You can contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority for one either by telephone or via email on their website. Sounds simple? The reality for those who have tried to do it that way find it difficult and most often turn to a Tour Operator who sells Stand-Alone Permits. Such a service with a handling fee added of 35 to 50 USD. One does get the Permit if you are dealing with an ethical Operator.
The best way is to use a Gorilla Tour Operator and an AUTO member – The Association of Ugandan Tour Operators. We are a member of that organization that the Uganda Wildlife Authority contracts as the sales-agent for Gorilla Permits. As such, they receive a substantial portion of the permits. They also have ready access to the remaining balance.
Meaning – The most straightforward way of obtaining a permit is to Book a safari with Gorilla Trekking, and your permits will be part of the total Safari package, and that is just the beginning. There are many other benefits to using a Gorilla Tour Operator, such as ourselves.
4. Booking a Gorilla Lodge that is nowhere near where your Gorilla Trek will take Place:
There are 4 Gorilla trekking locations, they are in some cases hours apart, and yet the unknowing Gorilla Trekker will book a lodge first before they have a permit in an area such as Buhoma. There Gorilla Trekking Permit is for Rushaga, which is a 5-hour drive time away from Buhoma.
Once again, the novice do-it-yourself Gorilla Trekker loses out. There is a reason that Gorilla Tour Operators exist, and the above problem is just one that a knowledgeable operator will avoid.
A Safari that includes Gorilla Trekking is like a tapestry that is woven together. It has to make sense and be in a logical sequence of your Safari.
A Gorilla Tour Operator can do just that, you, equipped even with the latest Bradt Guide and all the booking services available, the uninitiated will make mistakes.
One more reason to use a Gorilla Tour Operator, such as ourselves.
5. Your Do-it-our Gorilla Safari will cost more than if you used a Gorilla Tour Operator:
Booking one’s Travels has become a simple process in most parts of the world. It is not that way when it comes to Gorilla Trekking, where the permit is often the hardest. Lodging follows as a close second.
Availability may show online, you book on the internet, and you show up at the lodge, and there is no room. The reason, the lodge did not synchronize its availability with the booking service that is online.
The prices online are often on a room or Bed and Breakfast basis, not full-board as a tour operator would book you. You think you are getting a bargain, only to find out that you are only having breakfast.
A Tour operator such as ourselves will give you value for your money without any hidden costs except drinks and tips at lodges. Value for your Money plus Peace of mind.
6. Not Being Informed enough about Gorilla Trekking:
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is unlike any other Tourist activity in Africa. First, it is the most expensive activity you will embark on while on a Safari in Africa.
Most potential Trekkers do not know enough about Gorillas and Trekking. We strongly believe that you should know before you go – that in itself will save you time, money, frustration.
One glaring example is the wrong information that people have about the Gorilla Habituation Experience. Most think that it is simply more time with the Gorillas – something that it is and the fundamental difference that you are an observer on a Gorilla Trek. Still, on the Gorilla Habituation Experience, you are an active participant in the Habituation Process. It is a similar but yet very different experience.
7. Wearing the wrong Gorilla Trekking Clothing:
We have seen everything over the years, such as trekkers wearing Flip-Flop Sandals, Tank Tops, mini-shorts, and other merely improper Gorilla Trekking wear.
You are trekking in an ancient Rainforest, where the trails are often freshly hacked with a machete for you. There are nettles, thorns, thick underbrush, slippery paths, flies, and at rare times wasps.
You are in Equatorial Africa, yet you are trekking at a higher location, in a thick forest where your best protection is the right clothing. This is not a fashion show, but for your protection.
Cover your skin, use garden gloves, use the right footwear, a good hat, thick socks, insect repellent. You are on a Trek and not on Sunday Stroll in Central Park, be prepared.
Gorilla Wear is not about making a fashion statement but protecting yourself on a trek in the rainforest.
8. Not using a Porter and Walking Stick makes the trek more difficult:
Using a Porter at a nominal fee, Gorilla Trekking will free you to concentrate on the Trek and not on your Daypack.
Using a porter is smart and the right thing for most. Not having one means additional discomfort for the next 3 to 7 hours on the trail.
All of our Luxury Gorilla Safaris have porter included for the gorilla trekking portion of their Safari. The added plus is that you assist the local community by using a porter.
The Walking Stick made locally is another added plus of comfort on your trek, do not head into the forest without one.
Porter and Walking Stick are two must-haves for Gorilla Trekkers, and it is a mistake to go without them. There is a small cost but well worth it. We include the Porter fee in all of our Safaris.
Note: At present, due to the COVIF-19 pandemic. Trekkers are discouraged about using a Porter. It is to reduce the number of people in the presence of gorillas.
9. Not Taking Advantage of the Gorilla Add-Ons to your Safari:
Many trekkers made the mistake of focusing on Primates, not realizing that Uganda is a complete Safari Destination.
Uganda, unbeknown to most, is home to the Big-7, the traditional Big-5 of wildlife, Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Buffaloes, and Rhinos. Uganda gives you the added Gorillas and Chimpanzees.
Uganda is much more than Gorilla Pit Stop but a full-blown East African Tourism Destination with Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and Kidepo Valley Park, the third-best park in Africa, according to CNN.
Uganda is Wildlife plus Primates, under the Radar of most, but being discovered by many, a mistake to miss while trekking Gorillas in Uganda.
10. Not using a Gorilla Tour Operator:
The Most Common Gorilla Trekking Mistakes to Avoid, we start using a qualified Gorilla Tour Operator in Uganda. One like us who lives and works here. It will save you time, money, frustration.
You can book a gorilla trek in London, New York, Seattle, Melbourne, Toronto, and elsewhere using a Travel Agency. That might be more convenient, but it adds another layer of cost onto your Safari, plus the agent may have been to Uganda on a familiarization trip, but does not live here, does not Uganda, Gorilla Trekking as we do.
We have limitations in what we can do. We do not control the actual Gorilla encounter, no one does, but the Gentle Giants of the Forest, we do not control the lodges we use on the given day you stay there. We go by history, feedback from our clients, and personal experience, and neither would you if you booked your gorilla trek.
The Most Common Gorilla Trekking Mistakes to Avoid is not going on a Gorilla Trek at all – most travelers to Africa still do not include Gorilla Trekking during their time in Africa. They do not know what they are missing…