Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Safaris
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park; Gorilla trekking is the most popular tourism activity in Uganda and it’s the only activity that takes you for a special encounter with the endangered mountain gorillas. Well, mountain gorillas can be seen in four national parks that is; Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest both in Uganda. Despite the fact that, Uganda hosts half of the remaining world’s population of mountain gorillas. More so, Uganda is the only country in the world where mountain gorillas can be found in two different Uganda National parks.
More to that, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda, approximately 8 to 9 hours’ drive and 1:30 hours landing with use of a charter or scheduled domestic flight from Entebbe International Airport to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip. More then, the park is a UNESCO World Heritage site that houses over 23 habituated gorilla families, divided into four gorilla trekking sectors that is Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija among others.
The park was named impenetrable because of the thick tree canopies found within the park that prevent sunlight from penetrating to the ground.
More fact, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a convenient park to visit because it lies close to some of the best tourist attractions in Uganda. Such tourists’ places include; Queen Elizabeth National Park for wildlife viewing, chimp tracking, boat cruise on the Kazinga channel, Mgahinga National Park for golden monkey or gorilla trekking, visit Batwa pygmies, Lake Bunyonyi for leisure time, canoe ride, birding, Kibale Forest National Park for chimpanzee tracking among others. Therefore, it is possible a visitor to combine a gorilla safari with wildlife adventure ‘’the big five’’.
A gorilla permit in Bwindi costs USD700 per person compared to Rwanda’s gorilla permit fee USD1,500 per person which doubles Uganda’s Gorilla Permit fees. Congo gorilla permits are the cheapest which goes at USD400.
Take note that the prices of the gorilla permit don’t include expenses on accommodation, Visas, transport, food and flights. The total cost of gorilla trekking in Bwindi depends in the number of days and category of accommodation one is interested in.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is renowned worldwide for gorilla trekking and visitors can also visit the Batwa pygmy community, do forest walks, bird watching and primate viewing like chimpanzees, golden monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys among others. Fact, Bwindi is a gifted natural ground, one of the few national parks in world where the mountain gorillas and chimpanzee live together. As your tracking the gorillas, there are chances of seeing chimpanzees.
The park is not only highlight for gorilla trekking but also home where you can stay with gorillas for quite long hours named it ‘’Gorilla Habituation Experience which is conducted in Rushaga sector of the four gorilla trekking regions. You can choose to do a 3 Days Gorilla Habituation Experience; a a reliable safari tour package that allows visitors to study a particular gorilla family more closely for 4 hours under the guidance of Researchers. Currently, there is only one gorilla group under habituation. While a gorilla trekking permits costs USD700, the gorilla habituation permit costs USD1500.
Those wishing to do gorilla habituation experience, must obtain their gorilla permits in advance before their time of visitation since only 4 permits are issued for the gorilla habituation experience each day and around 170 gorilla permits are available daily for normal trekking.
Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Well, Gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi is done throughout the year but the best time to visit gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is in dry season which starts from December to February and June to August. During dry season tracking trails can be dry thus making trekking easy to access the mountain gorillas. The wet season occur in March to May and October to November. Note, tracking gorillas during the rainy season is bit challenging because trails can be muddy and slippery.
Although, visitors shouldn’t be discouraged from booking gorilla tour during the rainy season. This is because low season attracts discounts for gorilla permits and accommodations, there can be less crowds in the park thus allowing visitors more valuable time with the gorillas.
It is important to note that Bwindi is a rain forest, one should expect rain at any time regardless of season.
About the packages; You can choose to do 2- or 3-Days Bwindi Gorilla Tour package.
How to get there;
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park can be reached by air through Kajjansi /Entebbe or by road from Kampala.
By road, from Kampala it takes about 8 hours’ drive while a use domestic flight takes about 1:30hours. To some clients tend to avoid the long journey by road from Kampala by through Kigali border crossing ‘’Chyanika border’’ which is 4 hours’ drive.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest starts with a briefing at the park headquarters at around 7:30am. Visitors are advised to sleep early before the day of tracking and wake up by 6am to take breakfast before starting the journey to the park office. After the briefing at the park offices, trekkers are separated into smaller groups of eight people. Only eight people are allowed to participate in a gorilla family. Note, some gorilla families live near the park offices while others are found further away. Each group is accompanied by the park guide from the ‘’UWA’’ Uganda Wildlife Authority, two armed rangers and porters. They are very experienced, knowledgeable and well trained while leading you through gorilla tracking trails, they will share to you information about the gorilla family and other animal species and birds in the forest.
Tracking time taken; Gorilla trekking experience can take only 30 minutes to locate some groups while others can take hours. A team of trackers normally go a head of the group to identify the location of the gorilla family, this is because trackers know where the gorilla group built their last sleeping nests and will lead you to that direction. And the chances of seeing the gorillas is over 98%.
Once you allocate the family, you will be permitted only one hour with them. Just know, watching Mountain gorillas can be an extremely emotional event as gorillas behave like humans and share about 98 percent of our DNA. One hour is provided to observe their behavior and different personalities while in the forest.
Get Started Now!
Mountain gorilla trekking questions
How many gorillas are in the world?
The wild has over 500 gorilla species living in Volcanoes National park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in the Democratic republic of Congo and in Uganda in Bwindi National park and Mgahinga National Park. Bwindi National Park has the most gorillas in the world over the half the total number of the gorillas.
What is mountain gorilla trekking?
Mountain gorilla trekking is an adventure that involves trekking the mountainous forest in search of the famous mountain gorillas. It’s normally a guided trip and takes about 4 to 8 hours depending on where you are trekking from.
Which the best mountain gorilla trekking park?
Of the four gorilla parks Volcanoes National park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in the Democratic republic of Congo and in Uganda in Bwindi National park and Mgahinga National park; Bwindi National Park is one that gives the best experience in our view.
Our reasons because it has the most gorillas of all the four parks, hence your your chances of sighting the gorillas at this park are actually high; plus it has four sectors with each offering a unique experience for its trekkers.
That said the choice of which park is best, depends your experience, so we suggest for you to know the best park you have to visit all the four parks to make a decision of your own.
When is the best time for gоrillа trеkking?
Mountain gorilla trekking is done all year round so any time is mountain gorilla trekking time. Also depending on the other activities you are doing alongside the mountain gorilla trip they will determine the time you do the gorilla trekking.
However, the dry season gives you a better trekking experience because the trekking terrains are dry and easier to trek, compared to the wet seasons.
But be assured whatever season you trek you will have the best experience.
How much are mountain gorilla trekking permits?
Mountain gorilla trekking permits cost 700 USD for Uganda, 1500 USD for Rwanda and 400 USD for the democratic republic of Congo.
How do you get mountain gorilla trekking permits?
You have to book the permits online through the different country wildlife controllers for Uganda; its Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Rwanda development board.
Or you can book through a took operator in any of the respective countries.
You should know though that booking of these permits should be done at least 3 months in advance.
How many people trek a group at a time?
A number of 8 people trek a gorilla group at a time.
Can the gorillas harm you?
Yes and No .
Gorillas are peaceful animals; they do not attack you for no reason. However, if you touch them, touch their young ones or disturb their peace they will harm you.
That is the reason we have mountain gorilla trekking rules like keeping a 7 meter distance between you and the gorillas while in their presence, not touching the gorillas, don’t make any actions or noises that will offend the gorillas, not using flash photography, not feeding the gorillas among other things.
Can I take photos of the gorillas?
Yes you can but keep a distance and don’t use the flash while taking these photos.
Can I trek with my friends?
Yes you can, all you need to do is book tickets that admit you for the trek around the same period or on the same trek.
What level of fitness do you need for a trekking experience?
Anybody healthy and able to move around can trek, but if you can you can do some work outs prior to the trekking to prepare your body for what is coming ahead.