How to organize a gorilla tour and Lake Mutanda safari from Mbarara city
How to organize a gorilla tour and Lake Mutanda safari from Mbarara city. When organizing a gorilla tour, you must possess the gorilla permit first, as this is the entry ticket to this activity. You must be sure of doing gorilla safaris in Uganda with a permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. A visit to Lake Mutanda required prior arrangements too.
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Uganda has two gorilla safari destinations, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park, all located in southwestern Uganda. You can do a gorilla trekking tour or gorilla habituation experience, as all give you access to the endangered mountain gorillas.
Gorilla trekking is an adventure where you are allowed to have one hour with the fully habituated mountain gorilla family. Maximum 8 tourists are allowed to visit the gorilla trekking family per day. At the moment, Uganda has 19 gorilla trekking families.
During the gorilla habituation experience, tourists accompany a team of researchers and trackers in the wilderness to spend four hours with a semi-habituated mountain gorilla family. Currently, two gorilla families are open for gorilla habituation experience.
Identify the accommodation type you hope to stay at, as this determines which category of safari you are booking. Having the number of people traveling helps with booking the right number of rooms to use while on safari.
Transport to use during the gorilla and Lake Mutanda safari is important as navigating this area requires a vehicle in good condition and a 4×4 wheel drive.
How To Plan Gorilla and Lake Mutanda Safari
Book gorilla permits
You need to find gorilla permit availability after selecting a date and the number of people you hope to do the gorilla safari with.
At Encounter Africa Safaris, we reserve gorilla permits on behalf of our clients and additional safari support amenities like accommodation, transport and others.
Upon enquiring about your gorilla trip, our safari consultant checks availability according to the details provided. We will get back to you upon finding gorilla permits available, but we request you purchase your gorilla permit as soon as possible to avoid last-minute panic.
Since gorilla permits are scarce, demand is high, especially in the peak season: June, July, August, September, December, and January, booking is needed.
When booking gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, note the area where they are booked as these help with accommodation booking. These Bwindi gorilla permits are booked under four areas: Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the East, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the south.
What is the price of Uganda gorilla permit?
A gorilla trekking permit costs $700 per person for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents and 250000shs for East African residents.
Gorilla habituation experience permits currently costs $1500 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents, $1000 for foreign residents and 75000shs for East African residents.
Inclusions of gorilla permit cost are park entrance fees that last 24 hours from the time of entering the park, security, local community support, one hour of gorilla trekking or four hours of gorilla habituation experience, local government tax, ranger guide fees, certificate of completing the gorilla adventure.
Reserve accommodation to use during the gorilla and Lake Mutanda safari
The best choice is spending nights within or closer to the gorilla or Lake Mutanda destinations. When booking the gorilla safari for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you must note the area where your gorilla permit is booked. This helps with booking accommodation for Bwindi, as the areas of this vase forest cannot be explored in a short time because of the obstacles you may encounter along the way.
Mgahinga National Park not only possesses a few gorilla permits but also limited choices of accommodation facilities.
Lake Mutanda accommodation has limited choices, too, but you can stay overnight in Kisoro town.
- Bwindi accommodations: Rushaga Gorilla Safari Lodge, Clouds Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Gorilla Forest Camp, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Engage Lodge, silverback Lodge, Gorilla Resort, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Mahogany springs
- Mgahinga accommodation: Volcanoes Gahinga Lodge, Traveller’s Inn, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Mgahinga gorilla Triangle, Majambere Iwachu
- Lake Mutanda accommodation: Mutanda Lake Resort, Lake Mutanda Executive cottages, Gahiza Island Resort
Book transport to the gorilla tour destinations and Lake Mutanda
From Mbarara city, road transport is the main means to use when traveling to do gorilla tours and Lake Mutanda visits. Having a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle helps with the rough roads around the highlands in this greater Kigezi region.
A number of routes lead to the gorilla safari destinations from Mbarara, so you need a knowledgeable and professional tour guide to make your safari experience interesting.
You may charter from Mbarara to Kisoro or Kihihi airstrips but need a transfer vehicle to your lodge.
Identify additional activities to combine with gorilla and Lake Mutanda safari.
Besides gorilla safaris, you can engage in other Uganda safari activities as long as your itinerary is well planned according to your time.
Golden monkey safaris
While in Mgahinga National Park, you may engage in golden monkey trekking or habituation experience. You get to meet some of the interesting primates in Uganda with a charming nature. The golden monkeys are first habituated to human presence but still keep you on your toes because of their interesting characteristics.
You can take an excursion mountaineering adventure on either of the three volcanic mountains in Mgahinga National Park. These mountains include Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Mufumbiro and Mountain Sabyinyo. While at the summit of mountain Sabyinyo, you get a 360 view of Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo Boarder.
Uganda Birding safari
During the gorilla safari in Bwindi Mgahinga forest or Lake Mutanda, you enjoy an array of birds that grace this area. The chances of spotting Albertine rift endemics are also open while you enjoy a safari in this southwestern part of Uganda. Uganda has an unrivaled population of birds not seen anywhere else in Africa.
You may engage with the local community while on this gorilla and Lake Mutanda safari. The Nkuringo and Buhoma community visit gets you to understand people’s local life. You may visit a homestead, spend some time at the local beer brewery, traditional healer, blacksmith, and others, especially in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The visit to the Batwa community is home to some of the survivors of eviction as gorilla conservation was taking precedence. The Garama cave was very important in the lives of the Batwa as this is where their council of chambers used to happen. They used this cave as retreat point after raiding the Bafumbira farmers.
How Long Is Gorilla Tour?
The gorilla tour time is still being determined as locating the mountain gorillas is hard to determine. Mountain gorillas live freely in the wilderness, so it’s hard to determine their next move. Each day, a team of ranger guides wakes up to find where the mountain gorillas might have spent the night and possible day hangout spot. They provide these clues to the ranger guides, which they use when leading the tourists.
You start the gorilla trek from the trail where the mountain gorillas were last seen the previous day and then follow the clues of earlier trackers. Some patience is required as you need to know the exact time to find the mountain gorillas.
Have an open mind because different features are interesting in the forest, such as the sparkling waterfalls and primates like black and white colobus, vervet monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, and olive baboons.
When you locate the mountain gorillas, only an hour is allowed with them during gorilla trekking and four hours during gorilla habituation experience. This time is restricted for conservation reasons as mountain gorillas are highly sensitive to intruders in their presence. This is why you need to attend a briefing before the gorilla safari.
Finding the mountain gorillas gives you chills and excitement because their huge body structure is covered in dark fur. Their shy and sunken dark brown eyes tell how vulnerable they are.
How difficult is gorilla safari in Uganda?
Gorilla trekking or Habituation experience safari is quite strenuous because of the nature of the topography of this area. This area is covered by volcanic remnants, including ridges and plateaus covered in tangled vegetation. On the slopes of these highlands, the mountain gorillas, at times, spend their daytime. To find them, tourists have to hike, which is quite difficult.
You need to have some level of fitness to get through with the gorilla safari. Carry some energizers, wear the right safari gear, and others. The ranger guides follow the pace of the slowest trekkers so as not to forget anyone in the wilderness.
What Can I See in Lake Mutanda?
Lake Mutanda is a haven for tranquility after the tiring gorilla safari. When sitting by the bay of Lake Mutanda, you feel the cool breeze and listen to the soothing calls of the jungle. Lake Mutanda has amazing views of its surroundings, and keen birders can spot a wide range of birds.
You can explore Lake Mutanda by boat in order to enjoy more about the stunning views around this lake. Visiting the islands in Lake Mutanda is exceptional as you may spot some primates that love spending the day feeding on the freebies of the forests on these Islands.
Are Mountain Gorillas Harmful?
Mountain gorillas are not harmful as they are shy and serene primates. On the outlook, mountain gorillas seem intimidating because of their huge bodies, dark fur, walk-by-knuckle style, and much more. This is just a show, but in reality, mountain gorillas are cowards that love running into hiding when agitated.
This, however, does guarantee anyone to try their patience as mountain gorillas have mood swings too. When angry, the mountain gorillas thump their chests hard, pull grass around them, hoot, walk on one leg and so much more. When you observe this behavior during gorilla safari, do not panic as you may cause a stampede in the forest. Wait for the ranger guide to establish the trigger of the mountain gorilla aggression.
Sometimes, it’s a family feud or an attack from another gorilla family. Follow the advice given by the ranger guide as they understand what may be the cause of the matter.
While on gorilla safari, try not to do anything that can annoy the mountain gorillas, like touching their infants, mimicking or provoking the mountain gorillas, staring deep into the shy brown eyes of the mountain gorillas and others. During the briefing, you are given the guidelines of how to behave while with the mountain gorillas. Religiously follow the rules of the gorilla safari to enjoy the four or one hour with the mountain gorillas.
What To Pack For Gorilla and Lake Mutanda Safari from Mbarara City?
- Warmers as the gorilla safari area and Lake Mutanda area get cold early morning and late afternoon.
- Safari boots
- The mountain gorillas live in the jungle with a rough environment, so you need safari boots for your feet.
- Safari clothes
- Wearing a long-sleeved shirt and trousers in wilderness-friendly colors like tan makes you feel comfortable while you trek to find the mountain gorillas.
- A waterproof backpack to carry with your safari gear.
- Insect repellant to apply as you walk into the forest and keep away stinging insects
- Safari hat to cover your head and protect it from dripping water off the leaves.
- A camera to keep memories of your gorilla safari.
- First aid kit with emergency medication in case you need it.
- Extra batteries to exchange with in case one runs low.
- A torch for lighting in the nights when lights are out.
- Flip flops to change into after a long day in the wilderness.
- Foldable water bottle to carry drinking water with in case you need to quench your thirst.
- Some hard cash in case you need to do on ground purchase. Credit cards are not commonly used in Africa because of the long process of obtaining money from them.
- Toiletries in case your lodge does provide
Contact us for more information.