How to plan for a Gorilla Trek : Uganda safaris involve lots of adventures and these adventures are offered by different types of sceneries and what one may wish to venture, therefore there is a lot to discover while on a Uganda safari. But one of the most done activities in Uganda is gorilla trekking and this brings people from far and near t Uganda just to carry our thrilling activity and see how to handle the venture by themselves, gorilla trekking is the experience that most tourists honestly love to try out while on their Uganda safari activities. Uganda safari adventures truly need time to understand them and even learn more about them that is why it is recommended for a proper preparation to be carried out in order not to panic at the last moment of the time. There are different areas in different countries in Africa where gorilla trekking can be done from, therefore planning a gorilla safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Volcanoes National Park or Virunga National Park can be quite daunting, which is why one needs to follow certain guidelines. Below are the practical tips for planning a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda.
Planning for a gorilla trek
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is one of the best tourist activities in Uganda and you need to plan it in advance. You need to start planning at least six months in advance; this is because there are many things you need to think if you want to have a successful gorilla safari in Africa. Therefore here are some of the things that you would love to consider before your start of the trek
Get to decide on which country to trek.
Rwanda or Uganda; you need to make a decision on which country to visit. Mountain gorillas can be viewed in Uganda Mountain gorillas in Uganda are found in Bwindi forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park. One gorilla family is found in Mgahinga forest which is also part of the Virunga ranges shared between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, this group keeps migrating to and from Uganda to Rwanda.
Bwindi forest has got 18 gorilla families that are situated in different regions of the forest and that also means that you require to be careful when buying the permits. You can as well choose to visit other countries and compare the experiences or trek in one country. When you make your decision about where to trek the mountain gorillas from, always contact a tour operator to book for you a permit, How to plan for a Gorilla Trek .
Buying your gorilla permit.
You will routinely need a gorilla permit for a given day in a known national park in Uganda for you to be able to trek the mountain gorillas. You can also contact a reliable Uganda tour operator to get you a gorilla permit. You also need to contact a tour operator who is a member of the Association of Uganda tour operators (AUTO). They will check and advise you on the availability of the permits leaving you to make a decision on your own.
Once you buy the gorilla permits, you are good to go. In Uganda, the permits are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority through the registered tour operators on a first come first serve basis. In order to keep away from shortage of gorilla permits, organize this in advance. There is a probability of booking a Uganda gorilla permit by you however it’s always better to use a tour operator since Uganda Wildlife Authority is so slow at returning phone calls and responding emails, How to plan for a Gorilla Trek
Choose the region you are to trek
Gorilla permit allocation in Uganda is based on regions; the regions with gorilla families in Bwindi are estranged by long distances. Buhoma region located in the north of the park and its home to 3 gorilla families including; Mubare, Rushegura and Habinyanja. Ruhija region is located in east of the part with 3 families like Oruzongo, Bitukura, and Kyaguriro. Rushaga sector located in the south is home to five gorilla families including Kahungwe, Mishaya, Nshongi, Bweza and Busingye while Nkuringo region located in the south has Nkuringo gorilla family.
Accommodation and Transport.
When you decide on which side of Bwindi to trek. It’s better to ask for advice from the operators since they know better which sides will suite your interest. Now it’s time to book your accommodation and transport. You can let your tour operator know the level of accommodation options in all regions of the park so it’s up to you to choose budget, moderate or high end.
Get to know about gorilla rules and regulations.
These are endangered species and according to 2013 census, only 880 individuals are remaining in the world. Your visit to these primates should not reduce their numbers but should instead increase on it. Your tour operator should send you gorilla trekking rules and regulations and how you must conduct yourself while with the mountain gorillas.
What to pack for your gorilla trek.
Mountain gorillas in Bwindi live in thick forests and in an area that is dominated by steep hills and because of this breadth and terrain in the forest; you need to prepare what to wear. You will need hiking boots, long sleeved trousers and shirts, gloves, long stocks, insect repellent, camera, a hut, sun glasses, plus energy giving foods.
Best time to trek the mountain gorillas.
When planning a gorilla tours, you must know the best time to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda. These primates can be trekked throughout the whole year, in drier months of June, July, August and September. Throughout these months, there is little rain and chances are that the trek will be easy since the trails will be so slippery as well. The months of April, May and November are the wettest months and the clients avoid them, How to plan for a Gorilla Trek
The walking sticks and porters.
These are best companies you can have on your gorilla trek. You will need a walking stick that will help you trek those steep hills. The walking sticks are offered by most lodges and in case the lodge doesn’t provide, the porters can offer them at a cost of $10 to $15. In case you have a less fit client, we advise that you take a porter with you who will give you a push or a pull when the going gets tough. These can carry your pack and stay with you throughout the trek. Porters can be very helpful, which is why we have included them.
Know gorilla trekking is like
This whole process starts with you waking up to prepare yourself. Get to dress and then go to the restaurant for early breakfast and pick up your packed lunch as well as the walking sticks. Always make sure you have all that you will need to have your gorilla trek. After breakfast and mostly depending on the facility where you spent a night from, you might drive or walk to the pack headquarters for registration and allocation of gorilla families depending on your wellbeing and the bodily fitness. Some of the lodges are closer to the park headquarters and other are far, so always take care of this before making decision.
You are divided into groups of eight people per gorilla family and each of the group is given a guide, a ranger and a tourism police officer who has to ensure that you are safe while tracking mountain gorillas. Bwindi is home to unhabituated chimps, forest buffaloes, elephants and many animals. Policemen and the rangers are in place to scare away any of these animals in case they come closer. You will walk or drive to the starting point as each gorilla family has several starting points depending on its movements within its territory.
Take note that mountain gorillas are self-protective but they tend to stay in a given dimensional area. From the start, you will start your trek which takes 30 minutes to 6 hours and once you see these gorillas, you will be given one hour to spend with them as you take photos before returning back to the park headquarters. At the headquarters, each one of you will be given a certificate of recognition of your contribution to the conservation of the gorillas, How to plan for a Gorilla Trek
Combing other excursions with gorilla trekking.
Uganda has got a lot to offer apart from the gorillas, you might choose to visit the source of the Nile, visit the different national parks with lots of wildlife, do chimpanzee trekking, enjoy adventurous activities in Uganda including; white water rafting, bungee jumping, kayaking, quad biking, cycling and many more. It’s advisable to combine a gorilla safari with any of the above activities to have the best experience in Uganda.