How many mountain gorillas are in Uganda currently?
Mountain gorillas are one of the unique primate species and most protected species on the planet, mountain gorillas can only be found in the natural habitat and these are only found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park in DR Congo. These national parks are next to one another and therefore managing the conservation and protection of these mountain gorillas is easy for the conservation partners in both countries which all fall under the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration. How many mountain gorillas are in Uganda as of now? Mountain gorillas in Uganda are found in two national parks, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Based on the recent census of mountain gorillas, results show that the total number of gorillas is now 1,063 gorilla individuals found in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. The population in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and the close Sarambwe Reserve in DR Congo, the mountain gorilla population, has increased from 400 gorilla individuals to 459 individuals.
Where are mountain gorillas located in Uganda?
In Uganda Mountain gorillas are disturbed into various groups which are found in the four sectors which include Rushaga and Nkuringo in the south, Ruhija, and Buhoma, and in the northern parts of Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park. The 4 sections of Bwindi have 18 gorilla families as of 30th June 2018. Mountain Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are only distributed into one gorilla family called Nyagezi. These groups are made of habituated mountain gorillas which are used to human presence and can be visited by tourists and their movements are observed on a daily basis, meaning that both parks have more unknown mountain gorillas which are in the wild. Due to the recent baby boom in 2020 in Bwindi which happened during the 2020 covid-19 lockdown where 5 baby gorillas were born in six weeks, this gave much hope for conservationists for mountain gorillas to continue increasing in numbers.
Buhoma sector is located in the northern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It is home to home to four gorilla families open for trekking and these include Rushengura, Katwe, Habinyanja, and Mubale. Buhoma was the first place for gorilla trekking to happen in Bwindi in 1993 after the park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. This sector can be accessed from Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Bunyonyi.
Ruhija sector is located in the Eastern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It is home to Bitukura, Kyanguriro, Mukiza, and Oruzogo gorilla families. Ruhija is one of the excellent trekking areas for gorillas in Bwindi given most of its gorillas are closer compared to other sectors. It stands at an elevation of 2350 meters above sea level, making it the coldest area in Bwindi. Ruhija is also great for birding at Mubwindi swamp as well great for sighting other primates which include monkeys, and mammals like antelopes and elephants. It is the closest sector to Lake Bunyonyi with this you can stay at this lake and trek gorillas in Ruhija in one day.
Rushaga sector is located in the south park to Bwindi impenetrable National Park, Rushaga is a home for 8 Gorilla Families which by far is the most of any sector in Bwindi, Rushaga terrain is also easy for trekking gorillas compared to Nkuringo and Ruhija which stand at higher elevations. Gorilla families in Rushaga include Busingye, Bweza, Nshongi, Mishaya, Muchunguzi, and Kahungye which are all available tracking and open to tourists. Rushaga region is the only region in Bwindi which offers gorilla habituation experience, making it great for those who are interested in both experiences of normal gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience. Rushaga can be accessed from Kisoro and Rwanda.
Nkuringo sector is located in the southern part of Bwindi, it is home to Kuirngo and Christmas gorilla families available for gorilla trekking. We find this region on higher elevations, making it a very hard and strenuous region for gorilla trekking. We recommend it for adventurers and those interested in challenging gorilla trekking. Nkuringo is the closest sector to Rwanda and you can trek here in 2 days with a one-night stay through Rwanda. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park only has one gorilla group open for gorilla trekking that is Nyakagezi gorilla group. For you to trek here you will need to book in advance like 3-4 months given they are only 8 permits available every day for trekking.
FAQ about mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda today
What is gorilla trekking?
Gorilla trekking is an activity that involves walking through the forest following a given trail to search and find the habituated mountain gorillas, you will spend with them one hour encounter taking photographs, learning more about their habits and Uganda is home to over 50% of the total number of the only remaining mountain gorillas in the world. Given the fact, mountain gorillas do not survive in zoos for you to see these unique apes you will need to trek into their natural habitats to have an encounter with them.
Where can one see mountain gorillas in Uganda?
We only found mountain gorillas in Uganda in two national parks, that is, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is in the southwestern part of Uganda, bordering the districts of Kanungu, Rubanda, and Kisoro. The park also borders the Uganda-DR Congo border. It is home to 19 habituated gorilla families open for gorilla trekking which are found in the four main gates/ sections that is Ruhija and Buhoma in the north, Rushaga, and Nkuringo in the south. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the far southwestern part of Uganda in Kisoro district; it shares the border with Rwanda and DR Congo. Mgahinga is one of the 3 main national parks located in the virunga ranges other two national parks include Volcanoes National Park found in Rwanda and Virunga National Park found in DR Congo. Mghainga is home to 2 gorilla families, which include Nyakagezi and Hirwa. However, the trekking is mainly done in the Nyakagezi gorilla family given the fact Hirwa is unstable and hard to find.
Which is the best national park for visiting mountain gorillas in Uganda?
The whole truth is that both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park have mountain gorillas and the experience got after your gorilla trek is almost the same The only difference is that Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Mountain gorillas are in the Virunga/hills with mainly bamboo as the main vegetation while in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, these mountain gorillas are in a tropical rain forest with varieties of trees and plants. Chances of seeing gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are 98% so whichever country you visit, you will be able to see these great apes in their natural environment. It is believed that Mgahinga Gorilla National Park gorillas are easy to see because of the kind of vegetation and offer many clear options to take pictures this is right because it is mainly bamboo which is not very thick compared to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park tropical rain forest.
How much does it cost to go gorilla trekking in Uganda?
For you to go gorilla trekking in Uganda you will need to have a gorilla permit, on top of other services to aid you for the gorilla trek such as transportation, driver guide, accommodation among others. The minimum days to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda are 3 days, 3 Days itinerary costs from USD1200 per person. The Gorilla permit in Uganda Costs $700 Per person per trek for the Foreign non-residents, $600 per person for residents, and $70 for East African Citizens (Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, and South Sudan), this gives you an opportunity to spend one hour encounter with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Uganda has 19 habituated gorilla family groups with 18 found in Bwindi and 1 in Mgahinga this means 152 Gorilla permits are available every day for gorilla trekking in Uganda. Gorilla trekking in Uganda also gives you an option to spend more time with the mountain gorillas through Gorilla habituation experience which is only done in Bwindi forest, a gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person giving you an opportunity to spend 4 hours encounter with the semi habituated mountain gorillas under the guidance of trackers and researchers as opposed to one hour for the normal trekking.
How long is a gorilla trek in Uganda?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda takes about 3 to 7 hours, the time you take to finish your trek is determined by the nature of the trek that day that is where the gorillas are at that moment, their movements, and weather that day some time the trek can take you a full day to see the gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park starts at 7:45 with a briefing about the does and don’ts whilst in the forest with gorillas, after the briefing you are allocated a ranger guide to take you for the trekking in the forest once you find the gorillas you will spend with them 1 hour.
How many people are allowed to visit a gorilla family in Uganda?
For gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, only 8 people are allowed to trek each gorilla family this is one of the set precautions to minimize the behavior disturbance of the mountain gorillas as well the risk of spreading various diseases to the gorillas.
What is a gorilla permit?
A gorilla trekking permit is a document or card issued to any visitor interested in trekking mountain gorillas in either Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This gives you one hour encounter with the mountain gorillas and is only valid for one day. That is for you to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda for more than one day you will need to purchase more than a gorilla permit. A gorilla permit comes along with a special booking number which determines the validity of the permit specific to a given trekking region that is in Rushaga, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Buhoma in Bwindi or Nyakagezi in Mgahinga.
How much is a gorilla permit in Uganda?
A Gorilla permit in Uganda Costs $700 Per person per trek for the Foreign non-residents, $600 per person for residents, and $70 for East African Citizens (Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, and South Sudan), this gives you an opportunity to spend one hour encounter with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Where can I buy my gorilla permit in Uganda?
Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda can be directly purchased through Uganda Wildlife Authority or through a trusted tour operator in Uganda like Encounter Africa Safaris. For you to book through a trustworthy tour operator you will need to look at his trip advisor reviews then send an email with your planned dates of trekking, then they will go ahead and check for availability with UWA and once they confirm permits are available they will get back to you and then make payment with them after they will purchase for you the permit accordingly.
Can older people visit and see mountain gorillas in Uganda?
Yes, it is possible for an elderly or a disabled person o trek gorillas in Uganda, gorilla trekking for elders is now made possible especially in Bwindi forest through the provision of sedan chair carriers, these chairs are used to carry those who feel unfit and are unable to walk into the forest at the time of their trek, you will be assisted by the hired potters to and from the forest in order to achieve your primary goal of seeing mountain gorillas during your trek, it is also recommended to hire a sedan chair can if you are old and weak so that you are carried to and from the gorilla trek. Sedan chairs can be hired in advance or on the day of your gorilla trek at $400-500.
What is the minimum age for gorilla trekking in Uganda?
In Uganda, the minimum age limit for Gorilla Trekking is 15 years and the maximum age depends on your fitness levels. They prohibit children below 15 years from gorilla trekking given the fact children’s behavior is unpredictable and uncontrollable which may cause disturbances during the trek, then as well children are prone to diseases which they can gain from the gorillas.
What is the best time to see mountain gorillas of Uganda?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done and is possible throughout the year, the best time to do gorilla trekking in Uganda is during January, February, March, early April, and June to early September, this makes it easier for one to travel to the respective national park and gets a clear view of mountain gorillas given the vegetation cover is not too much high grown. During this time there are fewer rains compared to the months of April, May, and November. Which normally receives rains, and it makes the trek uncomfortable.
What to pack and wear for a gorilla trek in Uganda
During gorilla trekking, you will need a comfortable, hard-wearing, pair of walking shoes or boots. Weather conditions in the forest are generally very muddy when it is raining. Hiking in the forest may also be quite steep and strenuous. It is therefore advisable to put on a long sleeve cotton shirt and lightweight long trousers to protect yourself from the undergrowth, stinging nettles, and biting ants. Suggested Items to pack for Gorilla trekking in Uganda include; Insect Repellent, Torch/Flashlight – and Spare Batteries, Wet Wipes, Water Bottle, Camera, lenses, Gardening gloves for gorilla tracking, Sandals/strops/walking shoes, Hat and Sunscreen, Rain Jacket, Sweater/fleece, Comfortable walking/hiking boots & socks, Swimwear and Binoculars for bird watching among others.
Where can one stay while trekking gorillas in Uganda?
There is a wide range of accommodation options, ranging from budget, mid-range to luxury options. These provide services and facilities like comfortable accommodation, local and international food dishes, WI-FI, gorilla trekking among others. Options include Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Havens Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Four Gorillas Lodge, Bakiga Lodge among others.
Why book with Encounter Africa safaris
Encounter Africa Safaris will help you book your gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo contact us and we advise you on the booking process. We as well have different gorilla trekking safari packages ranging from budget, mid-range to luxury options that we can book for you including the gorilla permits. Feel free to check out our trip advisor reviews and read from a community of happy satisfied clients. With us, you can rest assured of a memorable Uganda safari holiday. We are devoted to providing excellent service and customer satisfaction. Our team of excellent tour consultants is always willing to help answer all your safari questions. We guarantee you a great gorilla tour in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo with us.