Bwindi impenetable National Park is Located in the southwestern Uganda on the edge of Uganda in the Districts of Kisoro, Kanungu districts and bordering DR Congo. The park is situated at the edge of the Albertine Rift. The park covers an area of 321square kilometers with a vegetation mainly composed of both montane vegetation and lowland forests. The park is believed to be one of the oldest forests in Africa with scientists estimating at more than 25,000 years old. In 1991, Bwindi was gazetted as a National Park and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994. The park spreads over a series of steep ridges and valleys, Bwindi is the source of five major rivers, which flow into Lake Edward. Bwindi Impenetrable national park has more than 400 species of plant life, sheltering up to 120 mammals among which are the primates including the famous Gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons, forest elephants and antelopes among others. Furthermore it Bwindi has more than 348 species of birds with 23 of those Albertine Rift endemics. It is estimated that the park is a home to more than 400 gorillas which is more than half of the world’s population of Gorillas and of these we have 19 groups habituated for human visit known as Mountain Gorilla tracking and this activity can only be done in 3 countries i.e. Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. The elevations in the park range from 1,190 to 2,607 metres (3,904 to 8,553 ft) above sea level and with the highest point being at Rwamunyonyi Hill. The indigenous community of Bwindi is believed to be the Batwa community, a community of pygmys(short people) who lived there life in the forest as hunters and fruit gathers and used the forest as a source of medicine for herbs and when the park was gazzated into a national heritage they were relocated out of the forest to forest egdes where they have lived there lives now.
Bwindi impenetrable National Park is made up of majorly 4 regions also known as sectors, in the North we have Buhoma sector, Ruhija Sector in the East while in the south we have Rushaga sector and Nkuringo sector.
Located in the northern part od Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Buhoma secotr was the first sector to be habituated in 1993 just after the park was decleared a UNESCO Heritage. Buhoma is the most famous and most visited part of the park, with the oldest Gorilla family Mubare and three other families of Habinyanja, Rushegura and Katwe Gorilla families.
Mubare Gorilla Family
This is the oldest gorilla group in Bwindi and was habituated in 1993 when tourism had just been introduced to Bwindi. The name Mubare was derived from the famous Mubare Hills where the group was first sited by the team of trackers. After the habituation the group was made up of 12 members, headed by Ruhondeza and over the years with raids and misfortune the group was reduced to only 5 members. After the death of Ruhondeza who died at over 50 years and with now new leadership from another silverback Kanyonyi, the group has managed to regrow and now has 9 members.
Habinyanja Gorilla Family
The group was habituated in 1997 and strated tracking in 1999, the group is also found in Buhoma sector. The name habinyanja was derived from a Rukiga word “Nyanja” which means a water place. This was because the group as first sighted nearby a swamp pond in Bwindi by then the head of the group was Mugurusi and after his head was succeded by two brother Mwirima and Rwansigazi. Rwansigazi loved to travel while Mwirima loved to stay in one place. Later Rwasigazi formed the group Rushegura. The head of this family is the Silverback Makara and is comprised of now 17 members with 9 Adults, 5 infants and 3 juviniles. This group is on of the easiest to track and to reach it is a 45 minutes drive from the starting point and you head out to the trail at Nyamishaba village.
Rushegura Gorilla Family.
This group split away from Habinyanja gorilla family and was opened up for tracking in 2002. This breakway was led by Mwirima who was a strong silverback and wanted to form his own group after many years of power straggle with his brother Rwansigazi, by the time Mwirima left he took with him 7 members. Later he died and now the group is under the leadership of a black back. The group has managed to increased its member to 19 members from the orinigal 8 members. This group keeps moving between Uganda and DR Congo as it lives on the border edge and keeps crossing over many times. This is another easy group to track with tourists starting there trek from the park headquarters and walk just 15 munites to get to the trail in Mukono.
Katwe Gorilla Group.
This is the newest group in Buhoma sector, this group took up to 3 years to be fully habituated and ready for visitor tracking. The group has one dominate silverback, four females and two babies. It’s not exactly know how many members this group has as other members keep moving in and out of the group. This group was founded in 2018 and this was done in a bid to increase the number of Gorilla permits available per day hence increase the revenue of the country as well.
Located in the Eastern part of Bwindi impenetrable National Park, the sector is a home of Gorilla families Bitukura and Oruzogo family and all are available for tracking.the sector has another group called Kyaguriro family for research use. The region stands at an elevation of over 2350 meters above sea level making it the clodest area in Bwindi. The region offers great hiking opportunities and has very nice trails for those interested in nature walks like the Rwamunyonyi peak. Other primates in Ruhija include monkeys and mammals include elephants and antelopes.
Bitukura Gorilla Family.
The family is located in Ruhija which is on the Eastern side of Bwindi, the group was named after a river in the park because the group was first sighted near the river hence the name. Habituation of the group started in 2007 and the group was later opened up for tracking in October 2008. The rangers had been encountering the group previously during there habituation of the Kyaguriro group and they were never hostile and this made it easy for them to habituate the gorillas and they became accustomed to human company faster than other gorilla groups. This group is very peaceful and with little politics as compared to other gorilla families that are characterized with such. the group was made up of 24 members but due to deaths and flights some members split up, the group is now made up of 14 members with 4 silverbacks, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles and 1 infant. The group is under the leadership of Ndahura know to be a peaceful leader.
The family was frst opened for tracking in 2011 and after habituation the group had 25 members with two silverbacks. At the moment the group comprises of 17 members with one silverback Tibirikwata the head of the family, 2 black backs, 7 fameles, 2 young adults and 5 infants. In the region it has the highest number of members and it derives its name from a certain plant in the region near its home where it was first spotted. The group became famous in 2013 when its member gave birth to a set of twins a female by name Kankonda and this group is very playful making it a joy to watch to those visiting for Gorilla tracking.
Kyaruguriro Gorilla Family.
The group was habituated in 1999, and was set a side as a research group for those interested in research and habituation, the group was made up of 20 members with Rukina as the head silverback who later died after being streken by lightening. The grup was left in the leadership of the immature mukiza in 2016, later fights erupted between Mukiza and Rukara which split the group into two Kyaguriro A and Kyaguriro B with A having 10 members and B having having 10 as well and also known as Mukiza Gorilla Family.
Located in the southern park to Bwindi impenetrable National Park, Rushaga is a home for 5 Gorilla Families which by far is the most of any sector and its gorilla families being easy to trek due to the nature of terine in the region. Rushaga can be easily accessed through Kisoro and becomes very easy tracking point for those travelling from Kigali. The habituated families in this region include Busingye, Bweza, Nshongi, Mishaya and Kahungye which are all available tracking and open to tourists. Also this is the only region in Bwindi that offers Gorilla Habituation experience with two families Bushaho and Bikyingi currently going through the process. The sector also like buhoma and ruhija sectors offers the batwa community visit experience for those interested in cultural encounter.
Nshongi Gorilla Group
This used to be the largest gorilla group in Bwindi and boosted over 36 Gorilla members in the Family, and over the course of the years the group has broke up twice to form the now Bweza and Mishaya Gorilla Families. At the moment the group has 25 members with Nshongi as the dominant silverback heading the group and other 3 sub silverbacks, 4 blackbacks, 7 Adult females and 6 juveniles and 4 infants. The fact that this group has many members makes it a beauty to watch as it’s a jolly and playful group with the infants mostly.
Mishaya Gorilla Group
This group is a break away from the nshongi Gorilla group and in 2010 there were flight and disputes and Mishaya the silverback split to create its own group, the silverback managed to take away with him 7 members, the group is famous for its fighting nature and over the course of the years it has managed to attract other members (female) with the number now increasing its members up to 12 and 3 infants.
Bweza Gorilla Group
This originally broke away from Nshongi Gorilla Family with 8 members in 2013 and while park authorities through this group would reconcile with Nshongi and join back, it failed to do so and was opened up to the general public for tracking. The group and consists of 1 silverback, 2 infants and the others being females and juveniles. It’s the most exciting group to watch by visitors as its goes about its day to day activities in the park.
Kahungye Gorilla Family
The group was habituated in 2011 and opened for tracking and by then it had 27 members, not even after a year the group through flights and misunderstandings split creating the Busingye group. As of now the group remains with 13 members with the silverback Rumansi and followed by 2 black backs Rwigi and Ruhamuka, females and juveniles.
Busingye Gorilla Family.
The group was created in 2012 after splitting up from Kahungye group, the group gets its name from its head Busingye meaning “peace” ironically he is not a peaceful Gorilla, he is known for picking fights amongst other groups. Busingye started with 7 members but now the group has been able to grow up to 8 members and is thriving from grabbing females from other males and this is a sign of power.
It’s the process where mountain gorillas are trained to get used to humans is called Gorilla Habituation, the process takes several years of train with a team of well-trained Gorilla rangers and doctors,they spend day after day with the gorillas making them get used to seeing people and the process takes up to 4 hours every day with the Gorillas, there are two families for habituation i.e. Bikyingi gorilla family and Bushaho gorilla families currently undergoing this process. Bikyingi family is located in Rushaga 21 members with 1 Silverback 2 sub adults, 9 females and 9 infants while Bushaho family located farther south close to Nkuringo sector is made up of 8 individuals with 1 silverback called Bahati, 1 black back, 1 sub adult , 3 adult females1 juvenile and 2 infants. Bahati the head a former member of Nkuringo Gorilla Family.
The sector is also located in the southern part of Bwindi, Nkuringo is a home to Nkuringo family and Christmas family available for trekking. At times, Bushaho gorilla family crosses from Rushaga to Nkuringo Nkuringo sector which means you can find them either way. Nkruingo is located on higher altitudes, which make trekking in this region very strenuous and hard. The sector is recommended for the young and energetic travelers and those interested in something beyond just seeing gorillas but also hiking. While in this area its clear and very easy to see the Virunga Volcanoes in Uganda and Rwanda and may give you ideas to visit the region.
Nkuringo Gorilla Family
This was the first family that was habituated in 1997 and habituation process started , the group was opended up for tracking in 2004, the group gets its name from the local area it was first spotted Nkuringo meaning “Hills”. When it was first opened the group comprised of 19 members but over the years the members have reduced to now just 12 members in the group. The group was lead by Rafiki which is a Swahili word which means “Friend”, after his death in 2008, the group is also know to be the first group to have given birth to twins in 2004 but one of the twins passed away later.
Bushaho Gorilla family
Bushaho gorilla family has 9 members knwn for now but just like other gorilla families, it may expand in size depending on new born babies, whether the dominant Silverback will be able to conquer other members from other unhabituated mountain gorillas in that region. Now that Bushaho gorilla family was opened in 2016 bringin the total number of gorilla families in all four regions of Bwindi has now increased to 17 meaning that Uganda is one of the best countries to see these endangered mountain gorillas in the wild.
Christmas Gorilla Family.
The Christmas gorilla family is located in the southern part of Bwindi in Nkuringo region. This is the third mountain gorilla family to be habituated in Nkuringo making it three gorilla groups open for gorilla trekking in this region. The Christmas group is reported to have up to 9 members with 6 mainly seen when trekking this family. The group is headed by a dominant silverback known as Christmas, One black back, three females and one baby. This group is available for tracking and its known for its tendencies of coming to neibouring communities searching for food.
By road Bwindi can be accessed from Entebbe or Kampala with the scenic drives involved and stops along the way, stops include the Equator crossing in Kayabwe , road side crafts, fruit markets and Igongo cultural centre in Mbarara, having lunch on the way and enjoying the scenic drive to the park through the rolling hills of Kigezi and changing vegetation, river and escarpment as yu drive.. The drive time from Entebbe to Bwindi is approximately 8-9 hours drive, in terms of killo meters it is approximately 550km to the park.
There are connections as well for people coming from Lake Mburo Np, Kibale National Park and those coming from Queen Elizabeth Natinal park which means you can add another location to your Uganda trip. From lake Mburo takes you through Mbarara and Kable. From Queen Elizabeth National Park connect through Kihihi and to Buhoma side
Those coming from Rwanda the drive is approximately 4-5 hours’ drive and crossing thr border of Cyanika or Katuna then drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. You will have to pass by the genocide museum while coming from Rwanda.
Travelers can choose to arrange flights from Entebbe or Kajansi airfield and fly to Bwindi the flight is usually a 1 hour’s flight. Or if you are in any of the national parks flights pickups are available as well at the Airstrips.
The major operators here are Aerolink and Kampala Executive Aviation with both charter and scheduled flights. With sechduled flights you book on the available flight to rthe destination you want while for charter you make special arrangement for flights you want at a special fee.
Flying to Bwindi will require you to either fly to the north or south depending on where you booked the permit for tracking Gorillas. Two airstrips for anyone flying into Bwindi. Kihihi Airstrip for those tracking in Buhoma and Ruhija sectors. The airstrip is located just 45 minutes away from Buhoma Sector . Those tracking Gorillas in the south I best recommend flying into Kisoro Airstrip which is 45 minutes away as well. Vehicles arranged by your travel company will pick you up from the Airstrip and take you to your respective hotels for your stay.
This is a document or Card that is issued by the Uganda wildlife Authority allowing travelers above the age of 15 years to track Gorillas in Bwindi for a specific date. Gorilla permits specify the exact date and location(group of Gorillas) that you will visit.
Bwindi all together has 4 regions of Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors and together they make a total of 19 Gorilla families which each family providing for 8 Gorilla permits per day available which makes a total of 152 Gorilla permits per day. Gorilla Habituation which is offered in Rushaga has only 4 Gorilla permits offered per day.
We do have Mgahinga National Park that has one Gorilla family as well and that constitutes for another 8 permits for this park. Anyone contacting Encounter Africa Safaris in request for Gorilla permits should know that permits are highly on demand and availability is based on first come first serve basis.
The cost of the gorilla permits depends on the activity chosen between gorilla habituation experience and gorilla trekking. The Gorilla trekking permits in Bwindi cost USD700 per person for Non-foreign Residents, USD600 for East African Residents and Ugx 250,000 for East African Citizens. The gorilla Habituation permits cost USD1500 for Non-Foreign Residents, USD1000 for East African Residents and Uganda shs. 750,000 for East African Citizens and you are allowed to spend four hours’ time with the gorillas. The habituation experience in the south of Bwindi between Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors. The cost is as per the 2020/2021 Uganda wildlife Authority Tariff. The gorilla permit price is inclusive of the entrance fees into bwindi forest, guiding fees in the forest, and conservation value as bwindi has the remaining half of the mountain gorillas in the world. The cost of the bwindi gorilla permit is relatively cheaper compared to USD1500 for Rwanda gorilla permit that allows one hour viewing for all nationals. Visit and trek gorillas in Uganda’s bwindi impenetrable national park at a cheap cost for a life time experience.
The sale of Gorilla permits alone raises revenue of USD106,400 per day and in a year of 365 days the Uganda Wildlife Authority raises an estimate of USD38,836,000 from sales.
Gorilla permits are very Key when booking a gorilla trip and to have a successful gorilla trek. Gorilla permits allow you to see the gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable National Park and they are of two categories namely; the gorilla trekking permits and the gorilla habituation permits. Bwindi has about 180 gorilla permits every day to allow you trek the gorillas from all the sectors. The gorilla trekking permits allow you to spend only one hour once you find the gorillas and the gorilla habituation permits allow you to see and view the gorillas for four hours and these permits cost differently.
The process of booking Bwindi gorilla permits is very easy once you contact us on email about your planned trek and preferred date. The gorilla permit has to be purchased in advance to secure a spot for your trek for any date depending on your travel dates and availability of the permits that day. Gorilla tracking is done in a group of eight people per gorilla family meaning eight permits only are available for each gorilla family and only four permits per day for gorilla habituation. To secure a place for a day’s gorilla trek you will need to secure your gorilla permit in advance months or days prior visiting Bwindi Forest National park. When you book an all-inclusive Gorilla road trip to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with Encounter Africa Safaris, All you need to do is to send us your actual dates when you prefer trekking gorillas and we will check availability of permits online. We will reserve your permit tentatively and send you a permit payment invoice. Once you make payment, we will go ahead and secure your permit and thereafter send you scanned copies of receipts from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Booking Bwindi gorilla permits is essential for your gorilla trip, depending on availability of the permits on that particular date, you will choose a sector of your choice where to trek gorillas among the four sectors of Bwindi namely; Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija and Buhoma. You can choose the gorillas trek date on your birthday date, anniversary date, Christmas date, Easter date or any date that you most prefer to create an everlasting memory. We shall purchase and book the permit for that date depending on availability on Uganda wildlife system.
Booking gorilla permits takes place throughout the year in Uganda and we always recommend booking your permit months in advance to your trekking date. Gorilla permits tend to sell out so very quickly during the high season (December, January, February, July, August and September). Purchasing your gorilla permit in advance will help you to trek the gorillas in your desired travel time. Advance booking helps you to select the sector of your choice for the gorilla trek, select best accommodation of your choice and also select the gorilla family of your choice. All this will make your travel plan organized and tailored as per your interest.
We also organize last minute booking of Bwindi gorilla permits for travelers, you may visit Uganda for a conference, Seminar or you many have change of program while in Uganda and you instead opt to do a gorilla trek on a weekend or any day you are free, once you contact, we shall try our best to get you a gorilla permit from either Uganda wildlife Authority or from those reselling the gorilla permits for you not to miss out. Booking the gorilla permits will require you to make payment for the permit to secure a spot for trekking. Once you contact us, we shall send you a quote for the number of days as you require, and then you fix dates which we shall consider when booking you’re your permits and accommodation as they are key priorities. Once you make Payment, we shall pay off all your services as per the travel plan and ensure all is in order for your gorilla safari. Please contact us to book
Booking gorilla permits for Bwindi impenetrable National park in advance for at least three months to the trekking dates is very essential. You can make a minimum deposit of 30% of the price of the gorilla permit to secure your spot for the trek and later pay 70% deposit to fully obtain the permit in 90 days before the trekking date. If you do not finish the payment before 90 days, you may lose your permits off the system plus the deposit money as well.
As Encounter Africa safaris, when make permit payment to us for dates at have few permits available, we deposit 30% on permits using our credit as we wait for our account to be credited in case you made bank transfer. Using online payment is very efficient as we receive the money is less than five minutes and we shall deposit for your permits ASAP. All deposits are made to Uganda wildlife Authority at the head offices in Kampala and a receipt for the minimum deposit of 30% is issued with a booking reference to confirm your gorilla permit.
Gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation are key primary activities conducted in Bwindi impenetrable national park to see the endangered mountain gorillas. These activities differ as explained here below. Gorilla trekking is an activity where visitors go searching for gorillas in their natural environment in Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park and involves visiting gorillas that are used to visitors/gorilla habituated groups. Gorilla trekking tourism is currently done Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo. You are required to have a gorilla pass/gorilla permit for the trekking activity that allows you to view the gorillas for one hour once you find them in the forest. This activity involves walking in the forest, on rough and slippery ground as it is a tropical forest to see the rare mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking normally starts with an early morning briefing at respective park headquarters of every sector at 8:00am every day by the Park guides on the dos and don’ts while on the trek, then a hike or walk into the forest following the trail used by mountain gorillas as the trackers communicate to the guides and once found, you spend only one hour with the mountain gorillas. The gorillas have 99% of human DNA and they are Interesting to watch the way they feed, rest, and move in their families.
Bwindi impenetrable national park has 17 habituated gorilla families for gorilla trekking every day and a maximum of 8 people allocated per gorilla family in all sectors namely; Rushaga, Nkuringo, Buhoma and Ruhija Sector. Seeing the gorillas is enjoyable and referred to a life time experience that shouldn’t miss on your bucket list , during gorilla trekking you will be able to see the adults, the Juveniles, Male gorillas( Silverbacks and Black backs and the female gorillas. Every gorilla family has a name and individual gorillas in the family as well and guides will be able to identify each gorilla. You can do as many gorilla treks as you can by securing a gorilla permit per day, on dates of your choice.
While Gorilla habituation experience is visiting gorilla group that is not yet used to visitors and it is still under the process of getting used to tourists. This activity involves visiting the gorillas with researchers who are learning the behavior of the group being habituated, this process can take even more than two years. Gorilla habituation is a four hour gorilla trek which was introduced in 2014 to cater for tourists that have less time but want to spend more hours with mountain gorillas while participating in activities geared to making these wild mountain gorillas get used to human beings. Gorilla Habituation is done in the south of Bwindi between Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors, a gorilla habituation permit costs USD1500 for Non- foreign residents per person per trek and gives you four hours with mountain gorillas as they move, feed, rest and live in the wild. Only four people are allowed to see these gorillas in Bwindi National Park per day and are allocated guides, researchers and rangers.
Gorilla habituation is done every day with or without tourists to make sure the gorilla group is fully habituated. This activity starts early morning at 6:00am with briefing and they moving to the forest, you can spend half the day or even full day in the forest participating in gorilla habituation. Since they are only four permits per day for gorilla habituation experience, they tend to be very competitive and reason you are required to book them in advance. We do organize gorilla habituation experience safaris at affordable prices to bwindi impenetrable forest national park.
Under the Uganda wildlife Authority policy, Gorilla trekking minimum age is currently at 15 years and anyone below that age is considered a minor or child and thus not fit to trek the once endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Children or minors many not be contained and in order to avoid such, children or minors are not allowed to trek gorillas in Uganda’ Bwindi impenetrable National, a child may decide to make noise or run which may result into gorillas charging and becoming/act wild to visitors. There are many reasons why children below 15 years are not allowed to trekking mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is due to the fact that children tend to have communicable diseases which can easily be transmitted to mountain gorillas since humans and mountain gorillas almost share the same genes, diseases such as cough and flue can easily be transmitted. The other reason is that the trek can sometimes be hard as Bwindi is hilly, it can be slippery and the surface is rough which Kids many not be able to handle.
Children of age of 15 years also pay the same gorilla price as for the adults to do gorilla trekking, Most times the children are grouped with their family they traveled with for the gorilla trek in the forest for easy management and care of their parents. The passport port will be reviewed to ensure minors are not allowed to trek the gorillas and if found that the child is a minor, you won’t be allowed to trek even when you have a permit secured. Children who are minors can travel with their parents on safari and be left at the hotel or with the driver guide while parents are on the trek. They can participate in nature walks and community walk.
Gorilla trekking tipping is at your discretion as the guest, customary in this part of the world, but not compulsory, and based upon service levels received. Tipping is regarded as a token of appreciation which in the end motivates the persons who received the tip. Tipping is key and cannot be ruled out on your gorilla safari to Bwindi and here are some of our guidelines per passenger travelling are:
Tipping can be done using any currency, we recommend caring hard cash, small bills of Dollar notes that are easy to distribute and you do not expect change, also use of Uganda local currency which is Uganda shillings. You can exchange the currency at the Airport or your driver guide can stop you at the forex bureau at the start of your trip.
Gorilla Trekking Guides in Bwindi: Every allocated gorilla family is assigned forest guides and park armed rangers who guide you during the gorilla trek and ensure safety of every one, they slash the path with pangas, give you a hand when need be, Tipping them is essential, tips should be placed in the central tip box if provided or given to the main guide who will distribute amongst all the trackers, guides and rangers of USD15 for the main guide (per guest)
Gorilla trekking Porters in Bwindi: When going on the trek, you can request for a porter for hire to help you carry your back pack, packed lunch, Cameras and give you a hand as you hike or even slope on rough surface. The porters are from members of the community in Bwindi who earn a living by helping visitors. They are normally hired for around USD15 per porter per day and the tip will vary depending on the work load – between USD15-20 per guest for each porter.
Safari Driver/guides: As it is a norm for travelers to tip while on safari, the driver guide is a person who picks you right from the airport/hotel on the first day of the trip throughout the entire safari to the last day. He is representative of Encounter Africa safaris with which you booked a gorilla safari, driver guide is in full charge of which routers to follow, the stopovers for en-route meals and photographs which all make your safari enjoyable, they are capable of answering any kind of question about wildlife, birds, people, culture any other information a traveler may require on a safari. As a form of appreciating the driver guides service, USD 10-15 per day – per guest, averaging 4-6 guests in a vehicle. If you are traveling privately, just two of you, please tip at your discretion. You can opt to tip per day or even tip at the end of the trip when you reach the Airport or Hotel.
Lodges /camp staff: These include the waiters, waitresses, housekeepers, and bar attendants who provide you with food, drinks, and clean your cottages. We suggest USD3-5 per guest per stay. Many of the smaller lodges have central tip boxes where you can put your general tip. At hotels and larger establishments, it is generally given at your discretion to individuals who have performed well.
Many travelers are not aware of what to expect the day of the gorilla trekking, but our driver guides will brief you on the day you will start the drive to Bwindi impenetrable national park. Here are some of that to expect;
One that day of gorilla trekking, you will wake up early morning at 6:00am and have breakfast at the lodge at 6:30am and then drive to the park headquarter of the sector where you are trekking. The drive can be about 10 mins to 1hour depending on the lodge you are staying at. We always recommend lodges that are close to the park for clients to reach in time. Your driver guide will then present your permits to the park wardens and your passports for verification and you sit with other visitors for briefing.
Briefing starts at 7:30 about the dos and don’ts, rules and regulations about gorilla trekking activity. You will then be allocated gorilla family group to trek and grouped in a group of 8 visitors. You will be issued walking sticks per visitor, then you hike or walk into the forest following the trail used by mountain gorillas and once found, you spend only one hour with the mountain gorillas and take photographs. You will observe how gorillas feed, move, rest and live, how guides communicate with them, the trek itself may take up to 30 minutes or three quarters of the day but once you find gorillas.
You will later have your packed lunch and then return back to the starting point and be issued a certificate for a successful trek of the gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park. The certificates are freely offered and they indicate the date of trek, gorilla family group name, Visitors name, and the national park. You will later drive back to the hotel for refreshment and overnight. As Encounter Africa safaris, we make sure we meet your expectations and even exceed them.
For travelers interested and planning to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda, you will need to abide with the following Gorilla Trekking Rules (as set out in the printed leaflet by the Uganda Wildlife Authority ‘Gorilla Rules’).
Before setting off for the gorilla trek:
Do not visit the gorillas if you have a cold or other infectious illness. This will be determined by the head park ranger and he/she has a right to stop you from joining the trek, so before you travel to the park you should always first check with your doctor to confirm your health is okay for the gorilla trek.
Minimum age for tracking is 15 years; this is always confirmed during sign in for the gorilla trek where you will be required to show your original passport for verification to be allowed to go for the gorilla trek.
Human waste should be buried 30cm (12”) deep, this is always guided by the park ranger during your trek who will dig a hole for you to dispose off the waste.
Maximum number of visitors is eight persons per gorilla group, this eases control of the movements in the forest as well reduces on the behavioral disturbances of the mountain gorillas during the encounter.
On the way to the gorillas:
It is advised to keep your voices low. You will also have a chance to spot various bird species and other wild animals and if keen enough you will see some reptiles.
DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out in your backpack with you.
You will have areas and time for relaxing along the way
When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready for the amazing encounter.
When you are with the gorillas:
Maintain a 7m (21ft) distance from the gorilla, this helps avoid transmitting the airborne diseases to the mountain gorillas.
Smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted. This may incite the gorillas to attack you and grab them.
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 when taking pictures you are also recommended to take care and follow the advice of your ranger guide.
What to pack for your gorilla trek should be considered highly when planning your gorilla safari to Bwindi Forest National Park, among the major items for your gorilla trek include, Hiking boots, a rain jacket, garden gloves, long sleeved shirts, khaki trousers, a backpack, drinking water and energy giving foods. The landscape for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is slightly different from other national parks habiting the mountain gorillas, for Bwindi forest is majorly tropical rain forest which tends to be wet, muddy and thick compared to the montane vegetations of Virunga, Volcanoes and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks. Here below is the recommended best gorilla trekking gear for trekking in Bwindi Forest National Park.
Long Sleeved Shirts and Long Trousers
You need to wear a long sleeved shirt and Long trousers (can be either Khaki zip-up trousers or jeans) water proof trousers are as well highly recommended. Both long trousers and long sleeved shirts protect you from branches, nettles, thorns or anything else that can prick/scratch you.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest National Park involves trekking in a forest which has different landscapes ranging from lowland areas which are mostly covered with swamps and tend to be muddy when it rains, some areas are slightly steep which will required you to hike up in search for the mountain gorillas, this will require you to have hiking boats for the trek to enable easy movements through the forest
These gloves will protect you from stingy insects and tree branches that you may hold on for support during the trek. As you move in this forest, remember that it can get slippery and somehow you need to hold on some tree branches just in case such happens.
Consider including a rain jacket or poncho in your gorilla trekking packing list as it is very crucial in as far as gorilla trekking gear is concerned. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a tropical rain forest and as such, rain is received throughout the whole year. You will never tell when it is going to rain so you need a rain jacket in order to be protected from rain. Many clients prefer traveling in drier months of June, July, August and beginning of September and try to avoid rainy seasons of March, April and May but being a tropical rain forest, it can rain any time. When deciding on what to pack for your gorilla trek in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Volcanoes National Park, a Rain jacket or Poncho should be included.
Energy giving snacks and water
Gorilla trekking can take from 30 minutes to eight or so hours and that’s why a certain level of fitness is required. To add on that, we advise that you carry some energy giving snacks as supplements. Before departing from your lodge, you need to carry your packed lunch and lots of drinking water as you never know when you will return. Energy giving foods can be bought in Uganda so contact or ask your guide to take you to a nearby super market.
Cameras and extra batteries
Photography is an important component of your safari and thus make sure that you have your camera ready, charge your batteries very well and if necessary, carry extra batteries as you will need to take as many photographs in the one hour you will have with the gorillas. Please make sure that you switch off your flash while taking gorilla photographs.
This is important for your gorilla trek given the fact during the trek you will encounter different insects therefore if your body has an insect repellent this will protect you from these biting insects which are as well dangerous.
Bwindi Forest National park is a tropical rain forest which received uncertain rains throughout the year, the park as well is located on a high elevation of approximately 1,190 to 2,607 metres, this makes the park and neighbouring areas get cold at night therefore carrying a sweater will help warm in the evening after the trek.
Hat and Sunglasses
Another element of what to pack for a gorilla trek is a Hat and sun glasses. If it is hot, please carry a hat to protect you from the strong sun rays. You may also need to carry some sun glasses too.
Gorilla trekking activity is a strenuous activity given it involves walking for hours through the forest in search for the mountain gorillas, this may take you half day or full day or even less than one hour depending on where you find them, therefore use of sedan chairs is recommended to use for your trek if you have any disability or your elderly and not fit enough for the walk.
Gorilla trekking sedan chairs are paid for separately and will depend on the distance covered to find the gorillas and then back plus the weight of the client in question. The cost may range between USD350-500. This involves the cost of the people who will carry you to and from the gorillas to make sure that you achieve your dream of getting face to face with the rare and endangered mountain gorillas. There several gorilla trekking sedan chairs in all regions of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga) but they require advance booking. For those in need of gorilla trekking sedan chairs, please contact Encounter Africa Safaris at the time of booking so that we acquire it for you. Once we get your request, we will check availability for the dates of your gorilla trekking and then advise you on how much it will cost you to hire a gorilla trekking sedan chair and porters to carry you to and from the gorillas. In a situation where we fail to get a sedan chair, we will advise you to take a locally made sedan chair which does the same job at a lower cost. Uganda has been a very good case study of providing very good grounds that enable aged and disabled people go gorilla trekking. We have had tourists aged 90 years and above come here and successfully see gorillas.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is dived into different sections that is Buhoma and Ruhija located in the northern part of Bwindi, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the southern sector of Bwindi, at the time of booking your gorilla trek you will need to first confirm the gorilla permits and this will determine where you will stay for your accommodation in Bwindi, depending on your budget you will choose the best accommodation that works for you these range from Budget, Mid-range to Luxury.
Luxury Lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Luxury lodges in Buhoma sector include Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi Lodge, Trackers Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge and Silverback Lodge
Luxury Lodges in Ruhija sector include Bakiga lodge, gorilla mist lodge, Ruhija gorilla resort, and Ruhija gorilla safari lodge these offer luxury services at a fair price.
Luxury Lodges in Rushaga sector include Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge and Four Gorillas Lodge.
Luxury Lodges in Nkuringo Sector include Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge and Lake Mutanda Resort.
Mid-range Lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Mid-range Lodges in Buhoma sector include Buhoma Community Haven Lodge, Bwindi Jungle Lodge, Eco-marvels Gorilla Resort and Engagi Lodge
Mid-range Lodges in Ruhija sector include Bakiga lodge, gorilla mist lodge, Ruhija gorilla resort, and Ruhija gorilla safari lodge
Mid-range Lodges in Rushaga sector include Rushaga Gorilla Camp and Icumbi Gorilla Lodge
Mid-range Lodges in Nkuringo sector include Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge.
Budget Lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Budget Lodges in Buhoma sector include Buhoma community Rest Camp, Bwindi Crested crane Hotel, Ride 4 a woman, CHTP Gorilla Conservation Camp, Bwindi Guest House and Bwindi View Bandas.
Budget Lodges in Ruhija sector include Gift of Nature Lodge, Trekkers Cottages Lodge, Broadbill Forest Camp and Gorilla Mist Lodge.
Budget Lodges in Rushaga sector include, Rushaga Gorilla Havens Lodge, Karungi Camp and Nshongi Camp.
Budget Lodges in Nkuringo sector include, Bwindi Backpackers Lodgea and Wagtail Eco Lodge.
The cost of accommodation in Bwindi depends on the nature of the lodge you are interested in staying in during your visit to Bwindi, budget range accommodations cost between USD50 to USD100 per person per night, mid-range accommodations cost between USD100 to USD200 per person per night and for the luxury accommodations these range from USD250 to USD500 per person per night. These prices can be customized depending on how many nights you will spend at the given lodge based on Bed&Breakfast, Half board and Full board basis.
Gorilla trekking is one of the major must do activities in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, but there is so much more to do and see and herewith are the other activities to do in Bwindi.
Gorilla Habituation Experience
Gorilla Habituation experience is only done in Bwindi Forest National Park in Uganda. This experience allows you to spend four hours with mountain gorillas still under habituation. Only four people are allowed to do gorilla habituation activity in Bwindi Forest National Park in Uganda, with this you are required to book your gorilla habituation permit in advance to secure your place. The experience starts and takes up to half or a full day depending on the time you take to find them.
Bird watching in Bwindi Forest
Bwindi Forest National Park is a home to various unique bird species including the Albertine Rift Endemic birds, your visit to Bwindi Forest National park you can go for birding after your gorilla trekking or spare some more extra days to go for birding full day or half day in Bwindi Forest National park. Key bird species to spot on your birding tour in Bwindi National Park include Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Nightjar, Dwarf Honeyguide, African Green Broadbill, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Short-tailed Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Mountain Masked Apalis, Collared Apalis, Stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Batis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Strange Weaver, Dusky Crimsonwing. We have a couple of birding tour packages that visit Bwindi Forest National Park from Kigali, kindly have a look at them and get back to us for a quote. We can also tailor make your birding tour to Biwndi Forest National park fit your budget, time and interest.
Batwa cultural trail and Community experience
Bwindi Forest National Park used to be inhabited by the Batwa people commonly referred to as the pygmies for many years until of recent when they were removed from the Bwindi Forest to the surrounding communities of Bwindi Forest National Park to ease mountain gorilla conservation and tourism. A visit to Bwindi Forest National Park from Kigali will take you on a trail to show you how these pygmies used to spend their time in the forest, where they used to stay, how they used to harvest wild honey as well as hunting. They will show off their dances and explain how they have managed to settle and enjoy normal life outside the forest, this activity can as well be done a day you arrive from Kigali or after gorilla trekking. You can book this activity in advance or on ground with the lodge you will be staying at.
Bwindi Forest National Park is surrounded by different communities with the former inhabitants of the forest the Batwa people making a large number of the people in the communities. Like other communities in Africa, these communities around Bwindi Forest National park have different challenges with some of the children being orphans and others being infected by different diseases many have lost hope. With volunteer work you can help orphans with psychological boosting, offering some items like scholastic items, food, teaching English among others. Those interested in visiting Bwindi Forest National park from Kigali for volunteering we can tailor your trip to include this activity on top of gorilla trekking send us an inquiry we will package for you accordingly.
Bicycle Adventure Tours.
Bwindi Forest National Park is located in areas with a high altitude making biking one of an adventure not to miss on your visit to Bwindi Forest National Park from Kigali. Bicycle safaris will take you through local communities in Bwindi as well giving you a chance to exercise your body as you encounter the local community and environs of Bwindi Forest National park. You can as well get to the start point of gorilla trekking with a bicycle if you are staying in a lodge close to this point. Those interested in visiting Bwindi Forest National park from Kigali and want to include bicycle let us know and we will tailor your trip to include this activity on top of gorilla trekking send us an inquiry we will package for you accordingly.
Nature walking Safaris
Bwindi Forest National Park is made up of a tropical forest which is one of the oldest forests in the world existing for more of the past 250,000 years back; it has ancient tree species and some of them endemic to this forest. It is as well know to be impenetrable due to its thick canopy making nature walks enjoyable, on your nature walking safari in Bwindi Forest you will have a chance to learn about different tree species, spot different bird species as well have a chance to sight different animals including rare forest elephants if lucky, monkeys, baboons and chimpanzees, these nature walks also given you a chance to blend yourself with nature including a visit to the beautiful waterfalls and rivers in the Bwindi Forest National Park.
Encounter Africa safaris is one of the leading tour operator for the East African region, we have been organizing amazing experiences to Bwindi impenetrable National Park for the last 15 years and are in position to give you the best advice in terms of getting the best out of any penny spent. We have a team of competent safari designers and guides who will make sure that planning and executing your safari is done with easy. Encounter Africa safaris is owned and run by Ugandans and part of money paid by you is channeled to benefiting projects that support community development as well as conserving the environment. Follow this easy all guide to bwindi impenetrable National Park when choosing to book a safari and i assure you that the package will work out. Encounter Africa safaris is highly recommended on trip advisor as well as safari bookings. Feel free to visit these platforms and get to see what other clients say about our service.