Uganda Gorilla Trekking Information

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda,

The total number of the world endangered species of mountain gorillas has increased to 880, according to census data that was released by the Uganda Wildlife Authority in 2011 and posted by WWF Global on 13/11/2012. The number of mountain gorillas increased from the 2010 estimate of 786 after a count in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The critically endangered Apes live only in two locations, Bwindi Impenetrable and the Virunga Massif area, which covers the parts of Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Virunga National Park, Uganda in Mgahinga Gorilla Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

A total of 400 mountain gorillas have been confirmed to be living in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and many mountain gorilla groups have been habituated for tourism and Research purposes. Currently, Mountain Gorilla Trekking within the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga is a highlight of all visits done in Uganda and mountain gorillas are the unique tourism product attracting many travellers from different parts of the world to undertake safaris to Uganda.  On the other hand, Uganda is recognized as a very safe and more so secure country in which tourists from all over the world can see these Gorillas in serene surroundings.

Find information about gorilla trekking, how to acquire a permit, as well as other relevant information on how gorilla trekking is done is very important to any traveller planning to have an encounter with the mountain gorillas in Africa.

Where to Stay while on Gorilla Safari in Uganda.

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Choosing the best safari lodge or accommodation to stay while on your Uganda Safari Lodge will entire depend on how much you can afford. Some luxury lodges charge as high as, $900 while the budget ones can pocket as low as $ 70 for a double room. The choice of the lodge will also depend on the tourist facilities, location, food, services and so much more.  Among the luxury include Clouds Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp and Mahogany Springs. For the budget traveler, Nshongi Gorilla Resort, Bwindi View Bands, Buhoma Community Rest Camp.

How much does a Gorilla Safari Cost?

How much Gorilla Safari Costs, is very vital question which is often asked by the travellers planning for gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and according to our opinion, which is meant to act as guide line when you are planning for your Uganda gorilla safari is that, the total cost for gorilla Safari will require you budgeting the cost of following items;

Cost of Gorilla permit which will give you the opportunity to trek the mountain gorillas. The current cost of each permit is at USD600 during the high season (June to September, December to February) and USD350 during the low season (April, May, November).

Cost of Transport. You need to budget and plan for transport from Kampala/Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where gorilla trekking is done. The minimum days to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park by road are three days. Therefore you need to budget for three days. The first day is for transferring from Entebbe/Kampala to Bwindi and the next day is for moving around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. You need Vehicle to transfer you to and from the starting head trails of your gorilla trek in Bwindi and the third day is to drive back to Entebbe/Kampala. Hence traveller needs to budget for a tourist vehicle with guide per day and then fuel to cater for the long drive distance from of 527kilometres from Kampala to and from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Please kindly contact prime Uganda Safaris and Tours for the best rates of Tourist vehicles for hire. Travel  can as well opt to fly to and from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as some companies such as Aerolink operate scheduled flights to and from Kihihi which is the nearest Air Field and as such, you need drive transfers from the Air strip to your choice lodge.

Cost of Accommodation-You need to budget and plan for your accommodation for at least two nights. The first night is when you arrive in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the second night is after your gorilla trekking experience. It is possible to trek mountain gorillas and depart Bwindi to Kampala on the same day but it is highly recommended that tourists on Uganda Gorilla trekking safaris to Bwindi budget for additional night after trekking the gorillas as they will never tell whether they will encounter the gorillas after what period of time. The price of the accommodation will depend on the type of lodging facility because all the four gorilla trekking regions of Bwindi Impenetrable National have Luxury lodges, Mid-Range and budget. Hence the choice of lodge to stay will depend on you.

Cost of Porters- Traveller to Uganda gorilla trekking safaris are highly recommended to hire Potters because these individuals help to carry your bags and when you are up-close to gorillas, they will remain with your packed lunch and all the other things you might not at that time.

Cost of Tips- Tips is an appreciation of good service rendered to you by your safari guide, gorilla trekking guide, waiters and porters. It’s not a must that you have to do this.

Company Markup- On top of the above costs, the company puts between 10-20% of the total cost as fixing or service fee.

In nut shell, total gorilla safari cost will require you to budget and plan for gorilla permit, book and pay for you choice accommodation, pay for your transport to and from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you also need to budget for porter, among other requirements. In order to make your Uganda gorilla trekking safaris success, you need to contact us the number one gorilla trekking safari planners in Uganda the pearl of Africa.

How to get a Gorilla Trekking Permit in Uganda

Gorilla trekking activities in Uganda are conducted in the two protected parks of Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. But due to the nomadic nature of mountain gorillas in Mgahinga which keep crossing to Rwandan side, most of the gorilla trekking permits sold by Uganda Wildlife Authority are for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In Uganda, each and every gorilla permit is sold at US$600 during high season and during the low season from the month of April, May and November; discounted permits are sold at discounted price of US$350 per each. On one particular day especially during the high season, around 80 individual tourists travel to Uganda’s  Bwindi to trek the stunning Mountain  gorillas in the ancient Impenetrable forest and  only  a group of 8 individual trekkers  are allowed to trek a habituated gorilla family. We strongly recommend you to book your Uganda gorilla permit with a Ugandan Tour Operator agent as early as 3-5 month in advance.  The most Common blunder which travellers make is booking a Habituated gorilla family which is located far distance from their choice of lodging facility. What you should note is that the road network to Bwindi Impenetrable and its different gorilla trekking regions are often very awkward because this is a remote area hilly area and hence if you book a lodge located far away from the gorilla family you are going to trek, it becomes hard to catch up with trekking activity which starts very early in the morning. For travellers who would wish to plan and do gorilla trekking safari to Uganda on their own in order to save costs, they might end up spending more on their safari compared to if they used Ugandan based safari tour operators. Booking Gorilla permit through tour operator is best option and usually tour operators charge an extra fee of USD100 on top of US$600 and this happens when you only need a permit from them. The extra USD100 per permit is attached to help them in administrative costs like make calls to UWA, pick the permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority where the permits are sold officially and then deliver it to you. In case you involve the tour operators in the whole process of planning for your gorilla safari, they will not charge you the extra USD100 because they know that you will use their other services like guiding services, transfers among others.

The procedure is almost similar as above, except that the tour agencies tend to speed-up the process and most likely you will get you gorilla permit confirmation faster.

Contact us   and let us know of the dates you want to tour Uganda with the days you want to see the gorilla permits.

Afterwards  we shall  let you know if the days you want for your gorilla tour are available for gorilla tracking and tentatively book them for you (but with no guarantee).

We send you our bank details for you to send the money for gorilla permits.

It takes about 16 hours for us to receive the money from your bank and pay for your permits. We shall send you acknowledgement for the money and the official Uganda Wildlife Authority Receipt   (by scan and email). Please ensure you pay the bank charges when authorizing the transaction.

We do not charge any fee for gorilla permits buying/booking if you are booking the rest of the tour (or a part of it) with us. In case we do charge, this is to cater for any costs like telephony, transport, etc. we incur to get you the permit.

Send us your passport details to register your gorilla permits. Usually, we only need the Full names, passport number, and nationality.

Let us help you book you Gorilla Permit and Safari (no fees on permits)

We register your names and get the gorilla permits. We send you scanned copies of your gorilla permit.

As soon as the payment has been received, the permits for gorilla tracking will be purchased. Getting a gorilla permit is not a guarantee of seeing a gorilla. However, the chances of seeing them are 98%.

Please ensure you pay the bank charges when authorizing the transaction.

We do not charge any fee for gorilla permits buying/booking if you are booking the rest of the tour (or a part of it) with us. In case we do charge, this is to cater for any costs like telephony, transport, etc. we incur to get you the permit.

How do Mountain Gorillas look like?
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The fur of the mountain gorilla, often thicker and longer than that of other gorilla species and this enables them to live in colder temperatures like those in Bwindi and Mgahinga Park. Gorillas can be easily identified by nose prints unique to each individual Males, at a mean weight of 195 kg and upright standing height of 150 cm .Male gorillas usually weigh twice as much as the females, at a mean of 100 kg and a height of 130 cm. Mountain gorilla also called Gorilla beringei beringei is considered on average the second largest species of primate.

Mountain gorillas have longer hair and shorter arms than their lowland cousins. They also tend to be a bit larger than other gorillas.

Mountain Gorillas can climb trees, but are usually found on the ground in communities of 25-30 individuals. These troops are organized according to fascinating social structures. Troops are led by one dominant, older adult male identified as a silverback because of the swath of silver hair that adorns his otherwise dark fur.

The leader of the mountain gorillas called silver back organizes troop activities like nesting in leaves, eating and moving, protecting the group from attacks by other silverbacks among others. The life span of mountain gorilla is between 40 and 50 years and also the other fascinating fact about Mountain Gorillas is that they share 98% of their genetic composition with human beings.

At what time does normal day of Gorilla start?

The normal day of a Mountain Gorilla starts at 6:00 am local time up to 6:00pm with a snooze around lunch time.  Uganda receives Light just past 6:00am and darkness falls around 7:00pm.

Most of the times mountain gorilla spend an estimated  30% of the day while looking for food and 30%  travelling and 40%  resting. Mountain gorillas move every day to different locations looking for food and where they make nests using twigs plus leaves and spend their night.

Mountain gorillas exist in groups which differ in size from 2 – 30 or 40, however commonly in groups of 10.  There is no specific mating season while babies are born through the year.  The Males begin breeding at around 15 years while the females start giving birth between 10 and 12 years.  Females can give birth after every 2 to 3 years giving birth to 4 – 6 offspring through their lifetime.

Males leave their group at about 11 years of age, while a little over half of the females will leave their group.

Mountain gorillas communicate through sounds like roars, grunts and shouts, and 25 sounds currently have been documented by researchers

What is the best time to track gorillas in Uganda?

Despite of the fact that mountain gorillas trekking in Uganda and Rwanda can be done all the year round, the majority of travellers on Uganda Gorilla trekking safaris prefer trekking the mountain gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga from dry month of June to September as well as from December up to February. However, what tourists should note is that due to unpredictable weather, there are some little showers which can be experienced during the dry month and hence visitors to Uganda gorilla trekking safaris have to be prepared.

Sometimes, trekkers on Uganda gorilla trekking safaris take advantage of the seasonal discounts provided on the gorilla trekking permits in the month of April, May, and November. Uganda Wildlife Authority together with the Association of Uganda Tour Operators continuously offer discounted low season Gorilla permits and in this season trekkers can save USD250 per permit as they are sold at USD350 compared to USD600 in other months when the season is high.

Also some visitors travel during the low season (April, May, and November) because various lodging facilities in the areas where the gorillas trekking safaris are done in Uganda also tend to offer discount and hence travellers tend to find it cheap to undertake gorilla trekking safaris to Uganda.

The seasonality of the trekkers on Uganda gorilla trekking safaris also depends on the general weather back in the tourism generating areas. For instance during summers season in Europe, the number of gorilla trekking safaris to Uganda increase and then in winter season, it safaris greatly lowers or decrease.

How Do Mountain Gorillas Feed?
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Uganda has two prominent protected areas which support the survival of Mountain Gorillas and these include the Mgahinga Gorilla Park which is component of the Virunga chain of towering volcanoes that extend into the DRC and Rwanda. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest supports the hugest Population of Mountain Gorilla.  It is an ancient forest also described as the “Place of Darkness.”  The tree cover makes it very dark within this forest.

All the two parks of Bwindi and Mgahinga sit at high altitudes and the Mountain Gorillas move up and feed on some of the afro-montane vegetation.  Typically the daily meal of Mountain Gorillas mainly consists of large quantities of flowers, leaves, fruit, and bamboo roots, shoots vines, shrub.  The Adults can consume up to 75 pounds each day and due to the fact that gorillas receive a large quantity of water from its diet, they rarely take water.

What to Wear On Gorilla Trekking, Gear, and Clothes for Gorilla Safari in Uganda 

Knowing the right clothes suitable for gorilla trekking safari in Uganda is equally very important. What you should put in mind is that gorilla trekking activities in Uganda is done in the ancient Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and hilly Mgahinga gorilla national park where the weather is very unforeseeable and this implies it can rain any time. When it rains, the trekking trails become very slippery, muddy and hence requires travellers on Uganda trekking safaris to   be aware of the what to wear on gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda.

The following are the recommended clothes to carry for gorilla trekking in Uganda.

Long sleeved shirt or T-shirt on gorilla trekking is quite handy as it can quickly dry up just in case of rain, it can cover your arms from wild plants, anticipated bush thorns.

A light Rain Jacket or fleece or cheap poncho should be carried on your gorilla safaris because it rains almost all the time in Bwindi and Mgahinga where mountain gorilla trekking is done.

The Long Pants or Trousers on your Uganda Gorilla Trek are the best because in case it rains, they quickly dry up and they also offer an assured protection from the thorns, nettles and branches.

What Shoes to Put On While on A Gorilla Trek in Uganda.

We strongly recommend travellers on their gorilla trekking safaris to come with boots for foot wear, because there are some deep mud as you walk in the gorilla trekking trails in the Impenetrable forest and hence you need to cover above the ankle. While in Uganda, you can look for knee-high rubber wellies, famously called gum boots. Hiking boots are best for the steep terrain of Bwindi Impentrable and Mgahinga National Parks. Potential Travellers planning for an ultimate gorilla trekking experience in Uganda should not think about wearing white sneakers, sandals, Cool white sneakers because these will not automatically survive the slipper ,muddy trails in the dark Impenetrable forest and the mountainous areas of Mgahinga park. Most importantly to note is that, the boots should be light weight boots which can offer support and traction in the steep hills and slipper trails. For the case of socks, woolen socks are the best.

What to use for Covering Hands while on A Gorilla trek in Uganda.

Since gorilla trekking is done in the slippery trails, travellers are highly argued to use building gloves to cover their hands when trekking the mountain gorillas. These can help you to protect your hands from the injuries in case you slid in the muddy, slippery trails .Trekker can as well bring gardening gloves particularly the ones made out of cotton. Tourists should note that the gloves must be padded on the fingers and palms.

Summary of Packing List

Lightweight raincoat, Hiking boots, Cap/hat, Sweater (chilly evenings), Camera (no flash), Waterproof plastic bag (to wrap your camera and film in),

Gorilla Trekking Etiquettes

For travellers who are planning to have a memorable gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, there are number of etiquettes one is supposed to follow when starting to trek, when spending the one magical hour with the stunning mountain gorillas in the ancient forest of Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla Park

Before starting gorilla trekking:

A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This limit is set to help minimizes behavioral disturbances that can be caused by the large numbers of trekkers to the Mountain gorillas and also to reduce the risk of Gorilla exposure to human-borne diseases since they can be affected by human diseases.

Visitors should always wash their hands before they head out to the encounter the Mountain gorillas.

On the way to the gorillas:

Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.

Do not leave rubbish in the park environ. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.

You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!

When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.

When you are with the gorillas:

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A 5 meter (15 feet) distance should be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.

You must stay in tight group when you are near the gorillas.

Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.

Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.

Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.

Flash photography is not permitted especially when taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.

Does not touch or look at the Mountain gorillas direct to their eyes remember they are wild animals however much they habituated.

The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.

After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General health rules:

Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are set to help minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:

Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.

If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.

If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.

Always stay 5 meters (15 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.

Do not leave any rubbish for instance food wrappers in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.

If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are done.

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