How Gorilla Families Are Allocated To Tourists On The Actual Day Of Trekking
The criteria used when allocating gorilla families in Rwanda, Uganda, or D.R.Congo is hard to determine because mountain gorilla traits keep changing. Sometimes tourists are allocated gorilla trekking families for the day according to age bracket, physical capability, if lucky, according to people they have traveled with, but this is rare and others.
This explains why it is quite hard to determine the easiest gorilla family to trek, as you need to know which mountain gorilla family you will be given.
Most Popular Safaris
When booking gorilla trekking permits in Uganda Bwindi impenetrable national park, it is booked according to the four gorilla trekking areas in the park. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park gorilla trekking areas include the Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija, and Nkuringo areas. Mgahinga National Park in Uganda has only one gorilla trekking family called Nyakagezi.
Rwanda’s Volcanos national park currently has 15 gorilla families open to the public to book for gorilla trekking. Some of them include the Amahoro family, Sabyinyo family, Muhoza family, Umbano family, Susa family, Agashya family, and others.
D.R.Congo gorilla trekking families of Virunga National Park include:
- The Mapuwa gorilla family.
- Lulengo gorilla family.
- Rugendo gorilla family.
- Munyaga gorilla family.
- Kabirizi gorilla family.
- Humba gorilla family.
How Are Gorilla Families Allocated To Tourists, And The Easiest Gorilla Family To Trek?
After briefing on the gorilla trekking day, tourists are allocated gorilla families according to age, interests, physical capability, and other criteria. This is especially during the peak season when gorilla safaris are in high demand. It gets easier to specify to which gorilla family you wish to go if you book at least 1 year in advance when a few tourists are allocated to these gorilla families.
Reserving Gorilla trekking permits is on a first-come, first-served basis, and none is reserved without prior payment. This is because of the high demand worldwide, yet gorilla permit supply is limited to a maximum of 8 per day per family. Specifying which gorilla family you are to trek to the last minute is challenging.
Some tourists would wish to be allocated the easiest gorilla family to trek. However, it is quite hard to determine. The gorilla family, which was easy and closed the day before, may relocate into the deep forest.
This depends on a number of factors like the amount of food in the mountain gorilla feeding area, in case of a fight amongst the gorilla families causing them to move to a new area, having an adventurous silverback, the death of a gorilla family member, and others.
How To Plan For Gorilla Trekking Safari
Booking the gorilla permit
Reserving the gorilla trekking permit is your only assurance when planning a gorilla trekking safari. Gorilla permits are entry tickets that give tourists access to the gorilla trekking adventure for the day. They are limited to maximum 8 permits per day per gorilla family. This is for conservation reasons, as mass tourism causes food loss for the mountain gorillas.
Before inquiring about gorilla permit availability, you must know the date and number of people you hope to do gorilla trekking with.
If gorilla permit availability is positive, we request you pay for the gorilla permits as soon as possible because they get sold out fast. They are limited in supply despite the high demand worldwide.
Forward some passport details to add to your gorilla permit or card, like date of birth, nationality, passport expiry date, and your full name as indicated on the passport.
Book Accommodation For Gorilla Trekking Safari
Since gorilla trekking starts early morning with a compulsory briefing at 0830 in Uganda and 0800 hours in Rwanda, tourists are advised to book accommodation within or close to the gorilla trekking park.
According to the gorilla trekking rules set by the Uganda Wildlife Authority or Rwanda development board, you must attend a briefing before trekking to ensure you are able to participate in this lifetime adventure.
In Uganda, specifically Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, permits are booked according to the area. It would be best if you overnighted within or closer to the area where your gorilla permit is booked. These areas are far from each other, and roads connecting them are sometimes problematic.
You may drive in the dark to catch up with briefing in another area, yet a fallen log may also block the road. At times the regular rains cause the roads to get slippery, and they become impassable. Some of the above may disqualify you from attending gorilla trekking.
Bwindi accommodations to book for gorilla trekking: clouds lodge, gorilla forest lodge, Engage Lodge, silverback lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Safari Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Trekker’s Tervan.
Mgahinga National Park Accommodation: Gahinga Lodge, Triangle, Mutanda Lake Resort, Traveller’s Inn, Community Camp, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Majambere Iwachu
Volcanoes National Park accommodations: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla view lodge, Kihigi Guest House, Hotel Mille Collins, Hotel Muhavura, Le Bambou
Reserve Transport To Use During Gorilla Trekking
Booking transport to use during gorilla trekking in advance saves you from last-minute panic, especially in the peak season when options are limited.
You can book road or air transport to the gorilla trekking destinations depending on your budget.
Most gorilla trekking destinations are in the countryside, where roads are in poor condition.
Regarding air transport, you can reserve a seat for domestic daily flights in Uganda. Charter flight services to the gorilla trekking destinations are in Uganda and Rwanda.
The number of days you hope to be on gorilla trekking safari
The least number of days you can be in Uganda or the D.R.Congo gorilla safari is 3 days. Rwanda’s least number of days you can be on gorilla safari is 2. The more days you are in the gorilla trekking destination, the more interesting it gets as you get to soak into the life of the mountain gorillas and find more about the secrets of the jungle where they live.
Plan For Additional Activities To Combine With Gorilla Trekking
You can combine gorilla trekking with other activities in Uganda, Rwanda, or D.R.Congo, like chimpanzee trekking, game drives, birding, water activities, etc. This can beautifully be enjoyed with a well-planned itinerary tailored by a professional and experienced safari consultant from a credible company like Encounter Africa Safaris, which has existed for over 10 years.
It would be best to have extra days on safari because most of these activities lie far from the gorilla trekking destinations.
When Is The Best Time To Book Gorilla Trekking Safari
Gorilla trekking is open all year, but the dry season, which is usually June, July, August, September, December, and January, is most preferred. This is also the high tourism season, and when most safaris are in high gear, so competition for service providers is high.
It is best to book your gorilla permits at least 6 months to a year before to avoid last-minute panic. Towards the peak tourism season, gorilla permit availability for this period is challenging, even for resale or next to none.
During the low tourism season, which is normally March, April, May, and November, chances of finding last-minute gorilla trekking permits are more open. There are generally fewer tourists reserving gorilla permits for this season. However, this is only a guarantee some of the time.
Some service providers like hotels or lodges, vehicle hire, driver guides, and others may discount their prices to break even during the low tourism season. In case you have a limited budget, you can use this opportunity.
Can I Book Gorilla Trekking More Than Once?
Meeting the mountain gorillas sometimes brings tears to freely roll down your cheeks, and you wish to have extra time, but only one hour is permitted with them for conservation reasons. For extra time with the mountain gorillas, you can take a second gorilla trek or do a gorilla habituation experience where you are allowed 4 hours in the company of the mountain gorillas.
Although the first glance at the mountain gorillas may stimulate some adrenaline, you get a sense of belonging when you realize how vulnerable the mountain gorillas are.
Each gorilla permit is only valid for one day, so you must book another permit for the next trek.
Can I Reschedule The Gorilla Permit?
Whether doing gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation, you are allowed to reschedule your permit in case you are not in a position to travel within the time you book but hope to later in the year.
You can follow the below procedure when rescheduling your gorilla permit.
Write to Uganda Wildlife Authority or Rwanda Development Board requesting to reschedule your gorilla trekking permit, including the date to which you wish to move the gorilla permit too. Attach some evidence in case you have any to back up your request.
When approved, your gorilla permit is moved according to prevailing availability per your suggested new gorilla trekking day.
Uganda accepts two free gorilla trekking dates, but the Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive director is the only one who approves the third.
Rwanda puts a surcharge on gorilla permit rescheduling.
Is Gorilla Trekking Difficult?
Gorilla trekking is a challenging activity where you must move in the wilderness. The mountain gorillas live in the wilderness of tangled vegetation that you may have to trim to create a way.
The steep slopes are challenging for those who need fitness since the mountain gorillas, at times, may spend part of the day feeding or lounging there. To locate the mountain gorillas, you may be required to hike.
When mountain gorillas feed from far, you may be required to move for a long distance under soggy and slippery conditions at times that may cause some fatigue.
The ranger guide with a machete trims the tangled vines that may obstruct your way. The mountain gorillas feed from any forest location since nothing bars them from moving freely in the wilderness.
What Are The Gorilla Safari Guidelines?
- No one with a communicable infection like cough, flu, diarrhea, covid-19 is allowed to visit the mountain gorillas.
- Stay in a tight group with the mountain gorillas to avoid making them feel ambushed. Mountain gorillas fear intruders in their space.
- Keep a gap of about 8 meters from the mountain gorillas when meeting them. This is one of the measures taken to reduce the spreading of diseases to their gentle giants.
- Provoking or mimicking the mountain gorillas is forbidden because you may agitate them, causing them to run into hiding.
- When mountain gorillas move closer to where you are, stealthily retreat to keep the required gap between you and the mountain gorillas.
- If you wish to smoke or drink, do it away from the mountain gorillas not to entice them to pick it from you. They are wild animals that must not depend on human provision.
- If you have to sneeze or cough, do it away from the mountain gorillas so as not to pass any germs to the mountain gorillas. They are highly susceptible to human infections.
- Bury human feces in a hole dug at least 30 centimeters and covered well beyond human recognition.
- Never dump litter in the wilderness, or in case you come across anything indecomposable, do pick it up so that it can be burnt. We need to protect the mountain gorilla habitats because it’s where these primates thrive.
- Avoid spitting on the vegetation or the ground as this is unhygienic and may pass an infection to the mountain gorillas.
- When with mountain gorillas, avoid making loud noises or sudden movements in the wilderness because you may agitate the mountain gorillas.
- Only persons aged 15 years and beyond are allowed with the mountain gorillas. The time to locate the mountain gorillas is still being determined, which a child below 15 years may not withstand.
- Only one hour is allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate them. Later you can allow them to go about there day to day activities.
Contact us for more information on getting a gorilla family to trek on your safari.