GORILLA TRACKING GUIDE IN UGANDA

This information portal guides you on how to get there, attractionswhere to stay, securing a gorilla safari permit, prominent Uganda gorilla safari companies, travel tips, what to wearwhen to go ? and recent news about the Mountain gorillas in Uganda.

For guidance on how to choose a tour company and recommendations, please contact us: info@govolunteerafrica.og or Call, SMS or Whataspp us: +256757389926

Gorilla Safari Information

Gorilla Trekking

A Gorilla Trek within the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a highlight of all visits done in Uganda and certainly mountain gorillas are the major reason as to why very many people visit Uganda.  On the other hand, Uganda is recognized as a very safe and more so secure country in which you can see these Gorillas in serene surroundings. Find information about gorilla trekking holidays to see gorillas in the wild, how to acquire a permit, as well as tour companies arranging such treks.

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Complete guide to gorilla trekking, where to find the gorillas, tracking rules, how to get a gorilla permit and choosing the right safari company.

When To Go?

You want to track the gorillas but not sure of the best months or time to visit Uganda?

Although tracking mountain gorillas can be conducted all year round in these two countries due to the somewhat damp seasons experienced by the national parks in which these gorillas stay, the majority of tourists prefer visiting from June to September as well as from December up to February.

This similarly applies in Uganda although there the rains begin in March up to May. Certainly the rains although not very heavy make it challenging to trek the sheer landscape. During that time the rain falls for just one to two hours in about 3 days of the week and fro the rest the sun is out. However even in the dry months of Uganda, there are some little showers experienced in Bwindi.

The seasonality of the trackers can as well be accredited to the overall weather back in the home countries. During summers for instance in Europe, the number of gorilla trekkers is high and then in winter it greatly lowers. Also there are some trekkers who take advantage of the seasonal discounts offered on the gorilla tracking permits. For example not long ago the Uganda wildlife Authority lowered the cost of permits by thirty percent for all non Ugandans for the months of April and May in 2014 so they will go for $350. The other months the gorilla tour permit will go for $600 with effect from 1st January.  A number of accommodation facilities in the areas where the gorillas are found as well will offer discounts in these months. 3 Days gorilla trekking in Rwanda sample package.

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Within Rwanda, the initial rains are experienced at the end of February, March, April as well as May, and for that reason most of the tourists don’t visit during that time since it is muddy and pretty wet while tracking the mountain gorillas. but during these very months, since it is raining, there is a lot of food for the gorillas on the lower slopes and also the temperatures are lower on the lower slopes. Because of that, the gorillas stay on the lower slopes since food is easily accessible and it is warmer. Therefore if you choose to track in these months, you won’t have a very long trek and actually most trackers find the gorillas just after two hours of trekking meaning by 2:00pm they are back at their lodge.

No matter what your explanation is, experience reveals that gorilla trekking can be enjoyed all year round and you will surely enjoy a great experience.

Getting There

Bwindi has various gorilla families in different locations, be careful not to select the accommodation not close to the briefing point.

By Road

Bwindi forest can be accessed from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the northern just 2 to 3 hours drive, from Kampala through Mbarara about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabale town to the southern just 1 to 2 hours. These roads then converge at Butogota, just 17 kilometers from the Buhoma entrance-gate. A 4×4 vehicle is needed through the rainy months. A daily bus service leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihiihi.  We recommend

By Air

Travelers can choose to fly from Entebbe or from Kampala at Kajansi airfield to the up to date tarmac airstrip found at Kisoro. Additionally Planes may as well be chartered to the Savannah or the grass Kayonza airstrips.

Bwindi is actually well served by 3 airfields at Kihiihi plus Kayonza for the northern area in addition to Nyakabande found in Kisoro for people going to track mountain gorillas within the southern area (Mishaya, Nshongi plus Nkuringo).

Bwindi is located in the south-western part of Uganda with approximately 540km from Kampala .The easiest means of transport to Bwindi is by road.

Queen Elizabeth national Park (Mweya)- Kihihi-Buhoma.

On your way to the park, you will pass through Ishasha and you will enjoy seeing the climbing lions along with monkeys on the road. Bwindi covers an area of about160km from Mweya and about 64km from Ishasha.

Kampala-Kabale-Kanungu-Buhoma.

The route has a tarmac highway to kabala and covers an area of about 414 km and it’s a 5-6 hour’s drive. The next route has a murram road and has about 120km. the route goes through Kanungu as well as Kanyantorogo and it takes about 4-5hours.The most convenient vehicle is A 4WD.

Kampala- Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi-Buhoma.

The easiest and most convenient route is from Kampala direct to the tarmac road Rukungiri and has about 390km in addition to murram road to Buhoma.

Kampala-Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma.

This route covers an area of about 95km2 on the murram road and its takes about 3-4hrs.The only vehicle that can pass through Ruhija is a 4WD.

Kampala-Kabale-Nkuringo.

It covers a distance of about 105kms from Kabale town and it takes about 4 hours to get to the mountainous murram road. Many tourists take up nights in Kisoro town and the remaining distance is about 80km from Kabale prior to Nkuringo. Kisoro road is a meandering 35km and takes about 1-1.5 hours. The most suitable car for this area is the 4WD.

By means of public transport, a bus set on everyday from Kampala to Butogota. Thereafter a tax can be got the last 17km to Buhoma. Nkuringo has no public means and the best thing to do is to hire a vehicle from Kisoro.

Local people

The local people near the park are mos’ and Bafumbira. Minor Batwa communities are(Pygmy!) also present. The Bwindi area holds up one of the rural population densities in Uganda with a number of 350 people.

Getting Around

The diverse trailheads of Bwindi can be accessed by vehicle. But there aren’t any roads inside the park itself that is traveled around on foot. The Bwindi is appropriately named as ‘impenetrable forest’; the paths go through thick vegetation and may be steep. Make use of walking sticks provided at the beginning of the walk.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Reserve was set up in 1942 and later on renovated to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 1992.In 1994, it was acknowledged as the world Heritage site. Rukiga is a language commonly spoke in this area and the word Bwindi in realty means Impenetrable. What makes Bwindi Impenetrable is the fact that it covers an area of about 327km2 of scrambled vegetation draped over an intensively fissured landscape of the steep, haughty ridges as well as the slippery valleys and high. The terrain may be hard for you to manage but remember it’s what makes Africa an exciting continent. The park has a big population of gorillas. Bwindi is well known to be very cold in the morning and at night. The coolest months are usually June and July and the average temperature is about 70c-200c.  When it concerns what to pack for a safari please pack warm clothes because Bwindi is so cold and receives about 2390mm of rain. It has two rain seasons, little rains are in the months of March-May and heavy rains are in the months of September as well as Novermber. The rain in Bwindi takes long hours to stop.

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Gorilla Trails

Within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, there are 4 different areas where you can track the mountain gorillas, and they include Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.  Each of these areas has specialized accommodation close to the tracking area.

Where To Stay?

Accommodation

There is a variety of accommodation places to stay basing on which gorilla group you to track. Information on where to stay in Bwindi before and after gorilla trekking in Uganda.  The list on the link is for budget, midrange and luxury options.

How To get a gorilla permit?

Visiting the Gorillas of Uganda require that you get a tracking permit at a cost of $ 600.

Within Uganda, Gorilla trekking is conducted in Bwindi National Park or in Mgahinga National Park. But because of the inconsistency of gorillas in Mgahinga, majority of the sold permits are for Bwindi NP. In Uganda, every gorilla permit goes for US $ 600 while in April, May and November 2016 they will go for US $ 450. On a single day, nearly 72 people travel into Bwindi to see gorillas and only 8 people are allowed to see  a gorilla family. We strongly encourage you to book your gorilla permit with a safari agent, the most prominent mistake is to book a gorilla family which is far away from your choice of accommodation! The routes to Bwindi and its various regions are often tricky; this is a remote area. If you would like to do the gorilla trek on your own so as to save costs, you might end up incurring more. Safari guides have been trained to help you with this.

Several travelers intending to trek gorillas have found this process tiring and they have opted to the quicker less tiring option of reserving their trekking permits through a local Uganda safari operator. These tour operators normally add an extra fee of US$60 to US$100 for each permit. These gorilla tour companies won’t charge you for purchasing a gorilla permit in case you are going to use their other tour services such as transfers however if you simply want only a permit from them then they will put an extra charge of up to US$100 per gorilla permit they book, since they need to make calls, pick the permit, deliver it to you and other administrative costs.

Which Uganda Safari Company To Use

Are you finding it hard to make up your mind on which tour company to book your safari with? Find our list of reliable agents.

  • Muky Tours and Safaris
  • Wanderlust Safaris

Most of these companies have direct contact with the Uganda Wildlife Authority which is responsible for issuing out gorilla permits. You are encouraged to book in advance so as to avoid disappointment. A gorilla permit costs USD 600 per person per trek. Other fees charged by tour operators cater for safari administration, transport and accommodation. Wish you the best in your gorilla safari planning.

Of course, various tour operators will give you quotes, roughly the cheapest gorilla safari should have a price of about $ 1000 of course depending on the number of people. The super luxury should be cost you between $ 1500 to $ 2000 per person. Based on reviews of most tour operators in Uganda, most tourists prefer the mid-range, not so budget, but affordable.  Booking your safari during the low season should get those costs lowered!

How To Trek The Gorillas

Rules for gorilla tracking and more information.

What To Wear?

Gorilla Trekking gear guide, Good quality walking boots if trying any hikes or even climbs, warm layers of cloth for the cold evenings and clothing for wet weather remember it becomes cold and wet at this high altitude. However during the day, the sun is strong even when cloudy therefore always remember to carry and wear sunscreen as well as a sun hat. In addition, you may have to carry along waterproof bags to safeguard cameras plus additional equipment for the hike. Water plus snacks are additional recommended items plus a packed lunch for people doing full-day expeditions.

Gorilla Families

A list of habituated gorilla groups and where they are located.

Nature Walks

Nature walks in Bwindi area, visit the Batwa, Munyangwa River and so much more.

Birdwatching

The diverse habitats in Uganda’s most ancient forest imply that is the perfect habitat for a diversity of bird species, with about 350 recorded different species, with 23 endemics. More info about Birding in Bwindi

Where Else Can you see the Mountain Gorillas? A visit to Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is a great opportunity to see the other half of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world. Visit the Rwanda Gorilla Safari for packages to Rwanda. Bwindi could be very cold especially in the morning & night. The annual mean temperatures range is 7°C to 20°C with the coldest months being June & July.Hence warm clothing are required, plus wet weather gear because Bwindi receives up to 2390mm of rain every year. This is centered on during 2 wet seasons, short rains in March- May & heavy rainfall in the months of September-November. In Bwindi, rain often falls as long hours of soft drizzle,instead of short tropical deluge. A tour agent will help you prepare depending on the season.

For guidance on how to choose a tour company and recommendations, please contact us: info@govolunteerafrica.og or Call, SMS or Whataspp us: +256757389926