Gorilla trekking Uganda, Mountain Gorillas in Uganda, Uganda Gorilla trekking Tours
Uganda gorilla trekking tours are popular because Uganda is home to almost half of the world’s remaining Mountain gorillas with 19 gorilla families (August 2019) habituated for tracking. Uganda is the only destination in the world with 2 Mountain Gorilla habitats which are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park all in south western Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is known to be host to almost half of the world’s remaining Mountain Gorillas, about 480 individuals (2018 population census).
Ever since 1993 when gorilla tracking was opened to tourists Mountain Gorillas have become the top attraction in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Mountain Gorillas of Bwindi have made Uganda gorilla safaris so popular to the world and attracted many trekkers to have the experience termed as a lifetime moment. The population of Mountain Gorillas is found in 4 sectors of the park known as Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija and Buhoma, each sector with its own gorilla families or groups. Here are the gorilla trekking sectors and the different families in each;
Buhoma Gorilla trekking sector: Rushegura, Habinyaja, Mubare and Katwe Gorilla groups.
Ruhija Gorilla trekking sector: Bitukura, Kyaguriro, Mukizo and Oruzogo Gorilla groups.
Nkuringo Gorilla trekking sector: Bishasho and Nkuringo Gorilla groups.
Rushaga Gorilla trekking sector: Nsonji, Mishaya, Bweza, Kahunjye, Businjye, Rwiji, Muchunguzi and Bikyinji Gorilla groups.
Note: Christmas gorilla family of Nkuringo disintegrated remaining with only 3 individuals that can not be tracked.
The popular Uganda gorilla safari activity is Mountain Gorilla trekking / tracking along the jungle trails of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Each morning a total of 8 tourists trek a single Mountain gorilla family. These is possible for tourists above the age of 15 and have purchased a gorilla safari Uganda trekking permit at USD 600 for foreign non-residents, USD 500 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for Ugandans/ East African citizens per person (as per July 2019).
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park on the other side has a single gorilla family that is habituated for gorilla trekking and is trekked by a total of 8 tourists each morning.
The Mountain Gorilla trekking experience in Uganda
Gorilla trekking happens at each sector of the park starting with a briefing at the park headquarters. At the headquarters, briefing on the tracking etiquette starts before 8:00am local time. During briefing, a total of 8 tourists are allocated a single gorilla family to trek according to fitness levels. Each Uganda gorilla trekking safari tourist then receives a trekking stick and heads to the jungle in company of the park rangers and guides.
Mountain Gorilla trekking is unpredictable because of the movement behaviors of the gorillas and therefore the activity lasts about 6-8 hours. These hours are spent in search of the gorillas however only 1 hour is spent the presence of these gentle giants. At the end of this memory filled 1 hour, you return to the park headquarters where you receive a Uganda gorilla trekking tour certificate.
More Important information on Mountain Gorilla trekking in Uganda
Gorilla trekking Uganda rules and regulations
For conservation and safety of the elusive Mountain Gorillas, there are rules and regulations that have been set by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and should be followed by each trekker. Before even booking your gorilla trekking safari to Uganda, here are highlights of the dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking in Uganda;
- Do not visit the gorillas if you have a cold or other infectious illness
- Human waste should be buried 30cm deep
- Maximum number of visitors is eight persons per gorilla group each day
- Maintain a 7m (21ft) distance from the gorilla
- Smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted on the tour
- If you must sneeze or cough cover your face and turn away from the gorillas, as they can catch coughs and colds from humans
- Visits are limited to one hour per gorilla group per day
- Do not use flash photography
Best time for gorilla trekking Uganda safaris
The best time of the year for a gorilla tracking safaris is during the dry season months of June –August and December –February which makes it easy to go through the trails. When trails are drier, gorilla trekking is easy since trails are passable and the park is accessible. It is best advisable to track gorillas during the dry season since it’s easy to trek gorillas as well as view wildlife. However, the dry season is actually the peak or high season therefore early booking is recommendable since permits can easily get fully booked as well as accommodation.
How to book for a Uganda gorilla trekking safari
Booking for a gorilla tour Uganda can be one of the complicated trips to plan, however just find the right tour operator to do this for you. Wild Jungle Trails Safaris and Gorilla Trail Safaris have expertise in planning gorilla trips in Uganda and can do all the best planning.
What to wear for a Uganda gorilla trekking safari
- Wear long water proof trousers
- Long sleeved shirts
- Wear gardening gloves for hand protection
- Carry a water proof hat
- Carry a small waterproof zip lock bag
- Wear a rain coat
- Water proof comfortable hiking shoes
- Insect repellent