Activities to do before or after gorilla trekking in Uganda
Activities to do before and after gorilla trekking in Uganda. Uganda is known as the Pearl of Africa due to the numerous tourist attractions in the different parts of the country, with other activities carried out in each. In this article, we will start by discussing gorilla trekking, what to expect, looking at the different tourist attractions in Uganda that you can visit before or after a gorilla trek, and the activities you can engage in. Many tourists who come to Uganda on their first safari book gorilla trekking as their number one activity. However, it would help to explore Uganda on a whole new level because gorilla trekking alone cannot be enough.
Most Popular Safaris
Planning a gorilla and wildlife safari to Uganda
When planning a gorilla safari, you must also plan for the activities you intend to engage in before or after a gorilla trek. We have come up with a few steps that you can follow to have a good and exciting gorilla safari in Uganda.
The first step is to decide on your desired destination. With about 10 national parks, you have a tough decision on the best goal to try before or after a gorilla trek. For wildlife experience, you can check out Queen Elizabeth National Park, a few hours away from Bwindi and Mgahinga, Murchison Falls National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park, among others.
The second step is deciding and knowing when to go. This time around, the trek permit will choose the best time, but for game drives and nature walks, the best time is during the dry season, from June to September and December to February. For tourists interested in bird watching, the best time is during the wet months of March to May and October to November.
This is the time to book accommodation and other activities you are interested in while on your gorilla safari. Note that all this can be done through a trusted tour operator like us, and all you have to do is get in touch with us with your details so that we can help you book and organize your trip. Remember to read more about your destination so that you have prior knowledge about what to expect.
Gorilla trekking is an exciting activity in Bwindi and Mgahinga and more entertaining if you carry out other activities before or after the gorilla trek. There are several activities that tourists can engage in before or after a gorilla trek, including the following:
Game viewing: This is an exciting activity that is carried out in the different national Parks that are found in the country. Game drives/game viewing is carried out in national parks like Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Murchison Falls National Park. Game drives are carried out in two sessions, one in the morning and the second in the late afternoon, but some parks offer night game drives. Some of the wildlife you get to see. At the same time, on your game drive, include the big five Rhinos, lions, buffalos, leopards and elephants, antelopes, crocodiles, leopards, spotted hyenas, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, impalas, forest hogs, bushbucks, Oribi, Jackson’s hartebeest, and Uganda kobs among others. The best time to go for game drives is during the dry season (June to September and December to January) when the vegetation is thin, making it easy to spot the animals.
Bird watching: Uganda is home to over 1000 bird species seen during the wetter months of March to May and October to November when the migratory birds fly into the country. Queen Elizabeth National Park has the highest number of recorded bird species, with over 615, and other places where you can go bird watching include Murchison Falls National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Semuliki National Park, Bigodi Swamp, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Some of the bird species in Uganda you get to see on a birding safari include the Shoebill, Purple breasted sunbird, African fish skimmer, Handsome Francolin, Western green tinker bird, Regal sunbird, Blue-headed sunbird, Egrets, ostriches, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, Hornbills and black-billed Turacos, African Jacana, Giant Swamp flycatcher, Black-headed lapwing, Pel’s fishing owl, collared pratincole, Giant Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, and secretary birds among others.
Chimpanzee trekking: This is one of the activities that you can participate in before or after a gorilla trek, and this is carried out in Kibale National Park, Kyambura Gorge, Kalinzu Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Budongo Forest and Kaniyo Pabidi are found in Murchison Falls National Park. Chimpanzee trekking in all the chimp destinations starts early morning with a briefing of the rules and regulations, and afterward, each group is assigned a chimpanzee family to trek. Chimpanzee habituation is also carried out, and instead of an hour spent with the primates, habituation can take the whole day. Chimpanzee trekking can take between 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the family group you have been assigned to. You get to spend time with the chimpanzees, studying their behavioral patterns, taking as many photos as possible, and recording short videos of the chimpanzees. However, you must make a special request if you plan on recording professional videos from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Kibale National Park has over 1500 chimpanzees, including other primate species like Pottos, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, and L’Hoest monkeys. You can either go for a chimpanzee tracking experience or a chimpanzee habituation experience, and you will need to first purchase trekking permits, with the habituation permit going for $300 per person and $300 for a regular tracking permit.
Kyambura Gorge, best known as the Valley of Apes, is home to a small cluster of chimpanzees open for trekking all year round. After chimpanzee trekking, you can go for a game drive around Queen Elizabeth and see the tree-climbing lions.
Kalinzu Forest, located near Queen Elizabeth National Park, is the second-best chimpanzee trekking destination after Kibale National Park, with over 290 chimpanzees. Budongo Forest is also worth visiting for a chimpanzee trek safari in Uganda, with about 100 habituated chimpanzees open for habituation.
Golden monkey trekking: Golden monkey trekking in Uganda is carried out in Mgahinga National Park in southwestern Uganda. Golden monkey trekking starts early in the morning with a briefing, a reminder about the rules to follow, and what to expect. Golden monkeys can easily be identified due to the golden coating on their fur that distinguishes them from other monkeys. Besides the color, one of the easiest ways to trek them is by following the bamboo shoots they usually feed on. Trekking can be carried out all year round, with the best time being in the drier months of June to September. Note that Ugandan weather changes occasionally, and you must be ready for the rains, even during the dry season. You also get to see other primates like the red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, gorillas, and grey-cheeked Mangabeys.
Cultural tours: Uganda is a country with a diverse culture, and a cultural tour is one of the ways to get to know more about the Ugandan culture. Uganda has more than 50 ethnic groups spread out across the different parts of the country, and if you can, explore as many villages as you can to learn more about the diverse culture. Suppose you are close to Bwindi and Mgahinga. In that case, you can also experience the Batwa trail, where you can learn about the culture of the Batwa people living within the National Park before they were expelled to preserve the gorillas’ natural habitat.
Cycling and Mountain climbing: Mountain climbing in Uganda is carried out on any of the Mountains located within the country, including Mount Sabinyo, Mount Rwenzori, Mount Muhabura, Mount Elgon, and Mount Gahinga. Each mountain is a different height above sea level and offers beautiful scenery to hikers, including bird species, wildlife, crater lakes, and other sceneries worth your time. For all the experienced mountain climbers, Rwenzori Mountain waits with an amazing hike.
Cycling tours around the country can be arranged, and they normally take place in the communities, offering a cultural experience and scenery. The Hair Bend Pins in Kabale, Kisoro, and Bundibujo offer great cycling experiences for tourists interested in cycling.
Boat rides: With the numerous lakes and rivers found within Uganda, boat rides are part of the activities you can engage in while on a safari to Uganda. Most National Parks in the country offer boat rides as part of the safari activities, which comes at a small cost depending on which park you have visited. Boat rides can be carried out along the Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the River Nile, and the Delta in Murchison Falls National Park.
Nature walks: Guided nature walks can easily be arranged, and they can be done before or after a gorilla trek safari in Uganda. Nature walks can be carried out in the national parks across the country and in the local communities where you can engage in activities including preparing food, enjoying music and traditional dances, doing some souvenir shopping, and learning a few words in the local languages. Guided nature walks usually have a few rules that every tourist has to follow, and these include making minimal sound, keeping a distance from the wildlife, walking in a line behind the guide, and before taking photos of the locals, you need first to seek permission from the chief or the individuals.
Gorilla trekking involves trekking through the forests in search of the assigned gorilla family. The activity is carried out in two national parks, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Mgahinga has one gorilla family known as Nyakagezi, and this is because of its location along the border in the Virunga region next to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DRC. Bwindi, on the other hand, has four sectors where gorilla trekking takes place, and these are the Ruhija sector in the northeast part of Bwindi, Rushaga and Nkuringo sector in the southern region, and Buhoma in the northern part of Bwindi. Each of the sectors has habituated gorilla families that are open for trekking.
Gorilla trekking involves trek permit purchases, and the booking is best done at least six months before the trek date. The permit is like your one ticket to spending an hour with the gorillas; without it, no one will have access to the endangered primates. A gorilla permit in Uganda costs 300,000 UX for East African citizens (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Burundi), $800 for foreign non-residents, and $700 for foreign residents. Gorilla habituation experience is offered at Bwindi, and the habituation permit is a bit expensive at $1500 per person. You should also note that Uganda does not offer discounts on gorilla permits. Other things that can affect the cost of a gorilla safari besides the gorilla permit cost include the type of accommodation, transport, the size of the group traveling, and the travel season.
When to go for a gorilla trek safari in Uganda
Gorilla trekking can be carried out all year round, both in the wet/low and dry/peak seasons; however, the best time is during the dry months of June to September and December to February. The wet months of March to May and October to November are also excellent times to trek, but you need to be ready for the slippery and muddy trek routes and the rains, which might make gorilla touring difficult.
We offer some of the best gorilla trekking packages in Uganda and Rwanda, ranging from Budget to mid-range and luxury packages. When you book with us, you will be assured of a memorable gorilla trek safari in Uganda, and our team is always available to answer all the questions that you might have about the activities to do before or after a gorilla trek safari.
Contact us for more information.