Mountain gorillas are found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo. Rwanda mountain gorillas are in Volcanoes National Park located in the Northern part of the Country. Uganda Mountain Gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park all located in the south western part of Uganda. DRC gorillas are located in Virunga National Park on the western part of this huge country. Three National Parks are shared between these three countries and are located in the virunga volcanic ranges. These shared National Parks are Volcanoes in Rwanda, Maghinga in Uganda and Virunga on the Congo Side. Its only Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that is not shared and wholly in Uganda.
There has been an on going debate on which country is better for gorilla trekking so that tourists can the make their choice.
It is advised to spend three days either in Uganda or Rwanda for your gorilla trek. The first day should be for travelling to the park. The second day for trekking gorillas and the last day for travelling back to the Airport for your flight out. While it is possible to trek gorillas and fly back to your country more especially when trekking in Rwanda, there is no guarantee that you will return early from your gorilla trek to allow you transfer to the airport and arrive in time for your international flight out.
A gorilla permit currently costs USD750.00 per person per trek in Rwanda and USD600.00 per person in Uganda. Uganda through Uganda Wildlife Authority sometimes has discounted gorilla permits during low seasons at USD350.00 per person. Low seasons in Uganda are April, May and November. If interested in taking this opportunity then contact us.
A gorilla permits allows you one hour with habituated mountain gorillas in either country, a guide who will be with you for the gorilla trek as well as park entrance fees. Please note that reaching the gorillas can take from 30 minutes to eight hours but once you find them, you will be allowed to spend one hour with the gorillas.
Uganda Gorilla permits are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority from their head office in Kampala while Rwanda gorilla permits are issued by Rwanda Development board whose office is in Kigali. You can book your permit directly by calling either office but it is advised that you contact Uganda or Rwanda tour operators for your gorilla permit to avoid bureaucracies and wastage of time. Most tour operators do not charge anything to book gorilla permit most especially if you book a tour with them but they can ask a small fee, if you only want them to book for you a gorilla permit.
Whichever family group you visit, you may have to walk a long distance in steep, muddy conditions, possibly with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. Put on your sturdiest shoes. Ideally, wear thick trousers and long sleeved top as to protect against vicious stinging nettles. It is often cold when you set out, so start out with a sweatshirt or jersey [which also help protect against nettles]. The gorillas are thoroughly used to people, so it makes little difference whether you wear bright or muted colours. Whatever clothes you wear to go tracking are likely to get very dirty you slip and slither in the mud, so if you have pre- muddied clothes you might as well wear them. When you are grabbing for handholds in thorny vegetation, a pair of old gardening gloves are helpful. Carry as little as possible, ideally in a waterproof daypack of some sort. During the rainy season, a poncho or raincoat might be a worthy addition to you daypack, while sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are a good idea at any time of year. You may well feel like a snack during a long hike, and should certainly carry enough drinking water – at least two litres. Bottled water is sold in locally at the accommodation facilities. Especially during the rainy season, make sure your camera gear is well protected – is your bag isn’t waterproof, seal your camera and films in a plastic bag.
Binoculars are not necessary to see the gorillas. In the theory, bird watchers might like to carry binoculars, though in practice only the most dedicated are likely to make use of them – the trek up to the gorillas is normally very directed, and walking up the steep slopes and the thick vegetation tends to occupy one’s eye and mind.
There twelve habituated gorilla families in Bwindi at the moment and each family is given a name once the habituation process is completed. These include, Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Bitukura, Kyaguriro, Oruzogo, Nkuringo, Mishaya, Nzongi, Kahungye, Bisingye, and Bweza.
Habituated gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are in different regions and if you don have knowledge about this, you may book wrong accommodation/lodge. These regions include the north (Buhoma) the East (Ruhija) and the South (Ruhaga and Nkuirngo). If you buy permits for the north, please book accommodation in the North, the same applies to the same regions as well. For more information, please contact us.
Mountain gorillas can be trekked through out the whole year but the most preferred time are the drier months of June, July and August plus December, January and February. Due global climatic changes, it has become difficult to know when it is going to rain or not.
In Uganda and Rwanda, the minimum age limit is 15 years. If the authorities doubt your age, you may be required to produce your birth certificate or passport. Please make sure that if you are travelling with children and want to trek gorillas, they should be 15 years and above.
Unlike other gorilla national Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in Uganda in the south western part of the country. It is shared amongst three districts of Kabale, Kanungu and Kisoro. It is approximately 500 kms from Kampala and it takes about 8-9 hours drive and or one hour flight from Entebbe Airport to different Airstrips in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Uganda and Rwanda have the same policy of allocating gorilla families to tourists. When buying gorilla permits in Uganda, you buy per region. For example there four regions in Uganda and these are Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the East, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the south. Each region habituated gorilla families. On the day of gorilla trekking, each tourist will be allocated to a gorilla family of his interest depending on their physical conditions, and other factors like if you want to trek with your family or friends, if you want a family with babies, a family with many silver backs so you will need to explain to the gorilla guides your interest and they will try to allocate you a gorilla family that suites your interests.
It is very possible to travel by public means from Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. While this is possible, there so many risks involved as delays, stealing your holdings among other.
The latest gorilla census has put the number of mountain gorillas at 880 individuals and 400 individuals are in Bwindi Impenetrable alone while the rest are shared between Volcanoes National park in Rwanda, Virunga in Congo and Mgahinga in Uganda of which three of these National parks share the virunga volcanic ranges.
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