Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

trek to see gorillas in uganda

Gorilla trekking or tracking is the most popular tour activity in Uganda, and it is one of the top things to do in Africa. The gorilla trekking adventure gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the gorillas in the jungles, and coming face to face with a giant gorilla is one of the most fulfilling wildlife experiences! The gorilla trekking adventure involves tracking down a family of habituated gorillas in the mountains and after finding them you are allowed to spend one hour with them.  The gorillas live in families which may have from 6 to 20 members, and a family is led by a dominant male called the Silverback.

The gorillas you are tracking have gone through a process called habituation which is the process of getting the gorillas to tolerate human presence without fleeing from the humans or attacking the humans. The gorilla habituation is done by expert researchers and trained park rangers who make continuous visits to the wild gorillas for a period of time that could take up to four or more years, and after this the gorillas will not perceive the humans as a threat and can tolerate their presence for a short period of time. The gorillas are therefore safe, but in case of any agitation or confrontation the trained park ranger will know how to communicate with the gorillas to calm them and ensure safety of the tourists.

There is also the Gorilla Habituation Experience (GHEX), a new tour activity in Bwindi National Park that allows tourists to join in the habituation process of a gorilla family for 4 hours and thus giving one an opportunity to spend more time with the gorillas and learn more about them and their habitat.

About 1004 mountain gorillas are left in the world and Uganda is home to more than of half of this population. The rest of the mountain gorillas are found in the neighboring countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountain gorillas live in the mountain forests in the Albertine rift region. Unlike other species of gorillas, the mountain gorillas are not known to survive outside their natural habitat and thus cannot be found even in zoos.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in two parks. The number one park for gorilla trekking in Uganda is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which has the most number of gorillas in Uganda. The other park in Uganda with gorillas is Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is a part of the Virunga Mountains – a chain of volcanoes located on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda has about 20 habituated gorilla families available for the gorilla tracking adventure which is the highest for any country. 19 of the habituated families are in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and only 1 family is in Mgahinga National Park.

The gorilla trekking experiences in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park differ a bit. Bwindi is a dense jungle forest with thick undergrowth on rolling highlands. Therefore the trekking in Bwindi involves going up the highlands and down the valleys through thick jungles. While the trek in Mgahinga is up the volcanoes and gorillas can found in mid vegetation which is not dense that you can find the gorillas in an open area offering great views of the gorillas.

Frequently asked questions about gorilla trekking in Uganda

How many people can track the gorillas?

The number of people allowed to do the gorilla trekking is limited to only 8 people per gorilla family, so as to minimize the effect of the trek on the habitat and avoid stressing the gorillas.

Is there an age limit for the gorilla trekking?

There is an age limit for gorilla trekking with the minimum age being 15 years

What time is the gorilla tracking?

There is only one gorilla trekking session in a day and it starts in the morning at 7am with briefing from the park guides and allocation to the gorilla families for tracking.

What is the cost of the gorilla tracking permit/ticket in Uganda?

The gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs $600 till 30 June 2020 and $700 from July 1st 2020.

How difficult is gorilla trekking?

Gorilla trekking can be put at challenging level of difficulty, but can also be hard depending on how far the gorillas may be located. The terrain is mountainous and thus may require hiking up hills or along the mountain and going through thick vegetation that will it will need the park rangers to cut a trail using a machete. Advance park trackers will go out into the park to establish the location of gorillas before the start of the gorilla trekking adventure, hence the park guides will have an idea and tourists can request for a group that is closer or further. Priority of closer groups shall be for the older tourists. However the gorillas are constantly moving hence a gorilla family can travel further or to a harder location hence one needs to prepare for a hard trek. There are porters you can hire for $15 to carry your daypack and may also provide a push or pull through the challenging spots

What is the temperature in the gorilla mountains?

Temperatures range from 7 to 18 degrees Celsius (44 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit).

Best time to go for gorilla trekking?

The gorillas can be seen throughout the year. However, the trek is easier during the dry season than the rainy season. The dry season is June to August and December to March. The rainy season comes with mud and slippery ground making the trek harder. However, the gorillas travel less during the rainy season and stay at the lower altitudes where they may be easier to find. The scenery is also more beautiful during the rainy season.

What are the chances of seeing or missing the gorillas in Uganda?

The chance of seeing the gorillas is almost guaranteed! Only in rare circumstances that an assigned gorilla group may travel so far that you may run out of time trying to locate it. However, during the course of the trek you may be routed to another gorilla family, if not possible you are given another chance to track the following day, otherwise a 50% refund is given back by the Uganda Wildlife Authority

How do I prepare for gorilla trekking in Uganda?

  • Prepare for a tough hike by getting fit, though you may have a chance of an easy trek
  • Book your gorilla tour way in advance as the gorilla tracking permits are limited and sell out quickly
  • The gorilla trekking is done at elevation from 1160m – 27000m above sea level, check with your health consultant if you are not affected by this altitude, and take or carry medication
  • Treat any infectious diseases such as the respiratory diseases (cough, flue) as they can be passed onto the gorillas. Any person found to have such diseases is not allowed to track the gorillas.
  • The weather is unpredictable even during rainy season hence carry rain gear such as rain jacket or poncho
  • Good hiking shoes are a must due to the rugged terrain
  • Other essential items to carry include: insect repellent, long pants, long sleeved shirt, gaiters, cap, and sunscreen

Gorilla trekking tours in Uganda

3 days gorilla trip to Bwindi National Park

3 days fly in gorilla trip in Uganda

3 days gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi starting from Kigali Rwanda

4 days gorilla tracking and Lake Bunyonyi tour

4 days gorillas and golden monkeys tour

4 days Lake Mburo wildlife safari and Bwindi gorilla tour

5 days Gorillas and Chimpanzees tour in Uganda

5 days gorilla trekking and volcano hiking trip

5 days safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park and gorilla trekking in Bwindi

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