Proven Tips And Advice On How To Organize A Successful Gorilla Trek In Uganda And Rwanda
Organizing a gorilla trekking safari requires upfront planning to avoid missing out on one of the best African safari experiences. Planning for gorilla trekking starts with prebooking the gorilla permits to be safe for at least 6 months to a year upfront. The peak season gorilla permits sell out fast, yet supply is limited to a maximum of 8 permits per gorilla family.
Most Popular Safaris
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park are Uganda’s go-to destinations for gorilla trekking safaris. Currently, Uganda, which hosts almost half the total number of mountain gorillas, is celebrating 19 gorilla families open for gorilla trekking. Two families are open for gorilla habituation experience in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Rwanda has Volcanoes National Park as the only host of mountain gorillas. Currently, 12 gorilla families are open for trekking.
When planning the gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or Rwanda, you must know the number of gorilla permits you hope to book to keep your distance from moving back and forth while checking availability. Before proceeding, let us first understand what gorilla trekking safari is.
What is a gorilla trekking safari?
The gorilla trekking safari is an adventure where a maximum of 8 tourists can spend at least one hour with a gorilla family daily. For conservation reasons, only one hour is allowed before the mountain gorillas give time to these vegetarian primates to keep feeding and support their vast bodies through day and night. Even the presence of humans disrupts the procreation of the mountain gorillas.
Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R.Congo are the only destinations for gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and Rwanda.
Tips And Advice On Organizing Gorilla Trekking Safaris In Uganda And Rwanda
Secure the gorilla permit first.
Booking the gorilla permit is the gist of any gorilla safari. A gorilla permit is a document or card allowing you to enter the parks to attend a trekking adventure. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is the selling and regulating body of permits in Uganda. Rwanda Development Board is mandated to regulate the sale of Rwanda gorilla permits.
When booking the gorilla trekking safari, you need to have a date when you hope to do this adventure, the number of gorilla permits to book, and then check availability.
You can enquire about gorilla permits through an accredited tour operator like Encounter Africa Safaris or directly from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. At Encounter Africa Safaris, we can reserve a gorilla permit for you, put together safari amenities that suit your budget plan, and provide possible advice where necessary.
Upon finding availability, we advise clients to purchase their gorilla permits immediately. This is because they sell out fast. As a policy, no mountain gorilla permits are preserved without payment.
Later, you must provide personal details like your full name as indicated on the passport, nationality, expiry date, and date of birth. These details are used for identification on the day of gorilla trekking.
Reserve Accommodation To Use During Gorilla Trekking
Accommodation to use during gorilla trekking is very important, as you need to sleep closer to the gorilla trekking destinations in Uganda and Rwanda. This is because briefing is a must-attend for all trekkers, and missing may amount to being disqualified from gorilla trekking. During the briefing, you learn more about the mountain gorillas not provided in information sources.
Booking accommodations to use during gorilla safari in Uganda requires you to know the area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where your gorilla permit is booked. Bwindi forest is subdivided into four areas: the Buhoma area, the Rushaga area, the Ruhija area, and the Nkuringo area.
- Uganda accommodations to book during gorilla trekking include Clouds Lodge, Engage Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Safari Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Gorilla Forest Camp, Mahogany Springs, Lake Kitandara Tented Camp, Silverback Lodge, Bwindi Backpacker’s Camp.
- Rwanda accommodations to book during gorilla trekking: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Kinigi Guest House, Hotel Muhavura, Hotel La Palme, and Hotel Mille Collins. You can overnight in Kigali city and trek the mountain gorillas as the drive from Kigali city to Volcanoes National Park is 3 hours.
Book Transport To Use During Gorilla Trekking
Whether you use road or air transport to the gorilla trekking destinations, you must make a booking. During the peak season, hiring vehicles and driver guides become more challenging, especially last-minute booking.
Note that gorilla trekking destinations in Uganda have roads in poor condition, so you need a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle to maneuver some places. Along the way, sometimes expect some bumpy, dusty, or slippery drive, providing the African massage.
If you wish to take the fly-in gorilla trekking adventure, you must reserve a plane seat on the daily domestic flights in Uganda. Charter flight services are available at Entebbe Airport, Kajjansi Airstrip in Uganda, and Rwanda at Kigali Airport.
Identify Activities To Combine With Gorilla Trekking In Uganda Or Rwanda
You can include other safari activities in either country if you have extra days on a gorilla safari in Uganda and Rwanda. In Uganda, optional safari activities to combine with gorilla trekking include:
- Chimpanzee trekking.
- Game drives.
- Visiting the source of the River Nile, visiting Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary, sport fishing, cultural tours, and community visits.
- Birding in Uganda, and others.Rwanda’s
Other activities to combine with gorilla safari include chimpanzee trekking, birding, game drives, genocide memorial visits, Rwandese cultural experience
to mention but a few.
Do Exercises Before Gorilla Trekking
To keep fit, you need to do some exercises. Although you do not have to do vigorous activities, stretching your muscles beyond the normal is simple.
The topography of the Virunga area is volcanic, with dense, tangled vegetation draped over a mountain landscape of deeply fissured valleys and steep slopes. Having some fitness level protects you from getting muscle pulls that may cause you to delay the rest of the group while trekking to find the mountain gorillas.
Pack The Right Gorilla Trekking Gears
Packing is relevant, but the light is very important as you plan to go gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda. Gorilla trekking, being an adventure in the wilderness, requires one to have unique items to us during this adventure.
Some of the gorilla trekking adventures you may include on your packing list include safari boots, a long-sleeved shirt, insect repellant, a safari hat, a raincoat, a backpack, a first aid kit, some warmers, and any other items of personal nature.
Secure International Flights
Although booking international flights may seem obvious, it may be a point for missing your gorilla trek in Uganda and Rwanda. To be on the safe side, you need to book your international flights in advance to avoid last-minute panic when seats are sold out or avoid extra costs in case your flight is canceled, or you miss it.
Gorilla permits cannot be rescheduled at the last minute, so your gorilla permit is deemed invalid if you do not turn up.
What is the age limit for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda?
15 years and beyond is the age limit for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda. The time you may be in the forest cannot be detected, which may weary a child below this age. Even gorilla trekking rules may be hard to follow for a child below 15 years old. At a glance, mountain gorillas are scared, but you need not show signs of freight as this may look suspicious to the mountain gorillas.
Note: If you are traveling with children of 15 years for gorilla trekking, you must take them through what they must expect during this adventure.
This is to avoid them getting surprised upon locating the mountain gorillas.
When Can I Book A Gorilla Trekking Safari For Uganda And Rwanda?
Since booking a gorilla permit is the start of reserving a gorilla safari, you can book the gorilla safari at least 6 months to a year upfront. During the peak tourism seasons that run June, July, August, September, December, and January, gorilla permits sell out fast and in advance.
Finding gorilla permit availability at the last minute during the peak season is hard because they sell out fast. Chances of last-minute gorilla permits may be available in the low season, which normally runs in March, April, May, and November; however, this is only some of the time.
What Is The Duration Of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda?
Predicting the time during gorilla trekking is problematic as it depends on the number of actors prevailing in the forest. Some of these factors may include the proximity of mountain gorilla food, the adventurous nature of the gorilla family, weather conditions prevailing on the trekking day, the pace of trekkers, and so much more.
Although some tourists can find the mountain gorillas in two hours, others may take more than that, so some patience is necessary to see the mountain gorillas.
Which Country Of Uganda And Rwanda Is Best For Gorilla Trekking Safari?
No matter where you go gorilla trekking, the feeling you get after meeting the mountain gorillas is unmatched. Some tourists say for a while. It would be best to remember what you may have gone through while planning or searching for the mountain gorillas.
Some of the few factors you may base on to identify the best country for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda may include:
Cost of a gorilla permit
A gorilla permit in Uganda costs $700 per person per trek, while Rwanda gorilla permits currently cost $1500 per person per trek.
Number of gorilla permits
Rwanda has 96 gorilla permits out of 12 gorilla families, while Uganda currently has 152 gorilla trekking permits out of 19 gorilla families and 8 gorilla habituation experience permits.
Time taken to get to the gorilla trekking destinations
From Kigali airport, it takes 3 hours to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. From Entebbe airport, it takes 8 hours to 9 hours to drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park.
Additional activities to combine with gorilla trekking
Uganda currently has more additional activities you can combine with gorilla trekking, like visiting the source of the River Nile, White water rafting, game drives, launch trips, chimpanzee trekking, cultural experiences, and several others. Rwanda is limited with choices of additional activities to combine with gorilla trekking, including game drives in Akagera National Park, chimpanzee trekking, genocide memorial visits, and several others.
What Are The Rules Of Gorilla Trekking In Uganda And Rwanda?
- Please do not feed the mountain gorillas because they are wild animals that must not depend on human supply but fend for themselves.
- Keep a clean mask on when you locate the mountain gorillas as a measure adopted after the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the mountain gorillas from catching human communicable infections.
- Volunteer to stay behind if you catch a communicable infection like flu, cough, or COVID-19, as mountain gorillas are highly susceptible to human infections. They have about 96% human genes.
- Littering in the forest is forbidden, especially with indecomposable garbage. It alters the nature of the forest where mountain gorillas thrive.
- Keep your voice low or quiet when searching for the mountain gorillas because you may scare them. They are very conscious of intruders in the wilderness.
- Do not mimic the mountain gorillas when you locate them. You may not know what you may be saying.
- If you wish to eat or smoke, do it away from the mountain gorillas at least 200 meters away. This is to prevent chances of them pulling eats from you.
- When you locate the mountain gorillas, stay about 8 meters from them to reduce the chances of contracting any infection from them or you to them. Retreat stealthily in case they approach you.
- You are allowed one hour before the mountain gorillas when you locate them. They are habituated to be in front of humans for just that time.
- When taking photos, do it without flash to prevent causing a stampede in the forest. Unfamiliar occurrences in the forest scare the mountain gorillas.
Contact us for more information on how to organize a successful gorilla trek in Uganda and Rwanda.