How To Plan A Bwindi Gorilla Safari From Kigali Rwanda
How to plan a Bwindi gorilla safari from Kigali, Rwanda. When your gorilla safari destination is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, expect to do gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience. For either gorilla trekking gorilla habituation experience, you need a permit.
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Note that gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are booked according to area. Bwindi is subdivided into four administrative areas: the Buhoma area, the Ruhija area, the Rushaga area, and the Nkuringo area. These areas are how gorilla permits are booked, and you must take caution with this, especially when booking Bwindi Impenetrable National Park accommodations.
If you are entering Uganda through Kigali, Rwanda, you may be required to possess the East African visa in case you must have it before entering both countries. The East African visa allows you entry into at least two East African countries. Using a single East African visa saves you from reapplying to purchase the visa for either countries. From Rwanda, you can cross into Uganda Bwindi Impenetrable National Park via Gatuna or Cyanika Border.
You can get into Uganda from Kigali, Rwanda, by road or air, depending on your preferred transport.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a vast forest covering about 327 square kilometers. Its rugged landscape is tangled with thick vegetation that drapes the slopes of the draughty ridges and plateaus. Besides the mountain gorillas, Bwindi forest hosts over 9 other primate species, more than 350 bird species including the Albertine rift endemic and so much more.
With that summary about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, gorilla safaris are the main activity in this park. You can do gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience.
What is Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trekking is an adventure where tourists follow a fully habituated gorilla family in the wilderness to have an hour with them. The gorilla trekking time is limited to one hour for conservation reasons. The mountain gorillas need to be given enough time to carry on with their day-to-day activities like feeding and grooming as human presence disrupts the running of their life. A maximum of 8 tourists are allowed in the presence of the mountain gorillas.
What is Gorilla habituation experience?
Gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where maximum 4 tourists accompany a team of researchers in the wilderness to search for a semi-habituated gorilla family and stay with them for four hours.
How To Plan A Gorilla Safari To Bwindi Impenetrable National Park From Kigali
Identify which gorilla safari of Bwindi You want to be part of
Depending on your safari preference, you can choose to do gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience. Gorilla habituation experience is currently happening in only the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Purchase the gorilla permits.
The gorilla permit is the only document that allows you to see the mountain gorillas. You need to book the gorilla permit in advance, which is at least 6 months to a year in advance, especially peak season permits. They sell out fast, and last-minute gorilla permits take a lot of work to purchase.
At Encounter Africa Safaris we can assist you in purchasing your gorilla permits as long as you state the date and number of gorilla permits you wish to purchase. Our safari consultant will, as soon as possible, check gorilla permit availability from the list of Uganda Wildlife Authority. We lift off your shoulders the burden of searching for gorilla permit availability. Alternatively, you can check for permit availability directly from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Upon finding gorilla permit availability, we request clients to purchase their permits as soon as possible. The status of their availability changes any time as a first come, first served basis is used when purchasing the gorilla permits. None of the gorilla permits can be reserved without payment. You may fully purchase your gorilla permit or make a partial payment.
Provide other personal details like your full name as presented on your passport, date of birth, nationality, passport expiry date, and others. These details are added to your gorilla permit card and retrieved on the day of the safari when you present it.
Secure Bwindi accommodation
Booking accommodation for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park depends on where your gorilla trekking permit is booked. For the gorilla habituation experience, you need to book accommodations in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Accommodations in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are categorized according to luxury, mid-range and budget facilities.
- Bwindi accommodations: Clouds Lodge, Gorilla Forest Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Safari Lodge, Mahogany Springs, Gorilla Resort, Engage Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Silverback Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Lodge, Trekker’s Tarven, Ichumbi Lodge
Reserve Transport Means To Use During Gorilla Safari
From Kigali, Rwanda, you may get into Uganda to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park by road, passing Gatuna and Cyanika border. The drive time from Kigali to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is about 5 to 6 hours.
Using a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle is the best option because of the nature of the terrain with soft volcanic soils that tend to become slippery because of the regular rains that fall and decomposing matter.
By air, you can fly from Kigali airport to Entebbe airport then connect with daily domestic flights to Kisoro airstrip. You must secure a transfer vehicle from the airstrip to your lodge or gorilla safari area. You can drive from Entebbe airport and make stopovers in case you have additional activities to combine with the gorilla safari.
Book Additional Activities To Combine With Gorilla Safari In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
A combo of gorilla and other Uganda safari activities gives you extra experience of Uganda. Uganda is a country endowed with nature, so during your stay, you can also enjoy game drives in National Parks like Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park. Chimpanzee safaris in Kibale National Park, Kaniyo Pabidi and others.
Although Uganda is landlocked, there are quite a number of thrilling water activities like the launch trip to Murchison Falls and Kazinga channel, white water rafting on River Nile, the sunset cruise on Lake Victoria, sport fishing and others.
Birding in Uganda is never disappointing as the country hosts over 1000 bird species, making it unrivaled in Africa. You may even spot foreign birds in some spots in Africa, like along the Kazinga channel, where a number of foreign birds make stopovers.
The cultural experience of Uganda is amazing as you learn more about the rich African cultures, their similarities and differences. Uganda has kingdoms like Busoga kingdoms, Bunyoro Kingdom, Tooro Kingdom, Buganda Kingdom and several chiefdoms.
When Can I Book a Gorilla Safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park from Kigali?
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park gorilla safaris are open all season and all year; however, the dry season is most sought after. The dry season is normally June, July, August, September, December and January. The mountain gorillas wander freely in the forest, and other forest dwellers are quicker to spot.
You need to secure your gorilla permit in advance because the demand for these permits is overwhelmingly high and advance booking is required.
Last-minute gorilla permits for the high season are hard to find because of the overwhelming demand yet supply is capped to 8 permits per gorilla trekking family and 4 gorilla habituation experience permits.
Low-season gorilla safari in Bwindi National Park is normally in March, April, May, and November because there is less demand for the gorilla’s permits. The chances of experiencing a solo walk to find the mountain gorillas are high.
Thus, however, it doesn’t guarantee gorilla permit availability in the low season as availability changes at any time. Even when traveling in the low season, you must secure your gorilla permit upfront to avoid getting disappointed while in the ground.
Which is the best Gorilla safari area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s best gorilla safari area is hard to determine. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is subdivided into four areas: Buhoma in the north, Ruhijah in the East, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the South.
Each of these areas has its unique characteristics Buhoma was the first gorilla trekking sector, Ruhija area is the prime birding destination of Bwindi, Nkuringo and Rushaga area are hot areas for gorilla habituation experience.
Even identifying the best gorilla family to trek is quite hard because a gorilla family that was previously closer a day before may be the furthest the next day. No matter where your gorilla permit is allocated, embrace that opportunity of just being a few meters from the only leftover mountain gorillas in the world.
How safe is gorilla safari in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
Bwindi gorilla safaris are safe as a well-trained team of rangers guides are in place to offer security to the mountain gorillas, other forest dwellers, the habitants, and tourists. They coordinate with other Uganda security agencies to provide maximum security in this forested area.
Each day a team of rangers wakes up early to patrol where the mountain gorillas might have spent the night, trace possible snares and set them apart or call for extra help, trance any other security-threatening signs. These clues are what rangers guiding tourists use to trace the wayabouts of the mountain gorillas.
A well-trained ranger guide leads every gorilla safari, and the last ranger follows the pace of the slowest trekkers so that no one is forgotten in the wilderness.
Tourists are advised to be careful with personal security by only entering the forest with a ranger guide. The forest has other dwellers not habituated to human presence. Do not let strangers into your room during the gorilla safari, as you may invite the bad characters.
Is Gorilla Safari in Bwindi Strenuous?
Gorilla safaris are quite tiring because of the nature of the topography where mountain gorillas live. This area is volcanic, with a number of highlands where mountain gorillas spend part of their time. The mountain gorillas spend time at the slopes so sometimes you may be required to find them too. The ridges and plateaus are draped with tangled vegetation that you may be required to creep beneath.
The ranger guide carrying a machete uses it to trim the vegetation and create a path to where the mountain gorillas may spend their time.
Having some fitness keeps you going, and munching on some energy bites re-energizes you to complete the entire search and time with the mountain gorillas. Wear the right safari bots to comfortably walk in the forest without breaking an ankle.
What can I pack for Gorilla Safaris in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
- A camera to keep photos of your gorilla trekking experience. Mountain gorillas are frightened by unfamiliar occurrences in their presence.
- Garden gloves in case you need to hold a tight grip when you trip and fall while walking on the slippery slopes.
- Safari boots are comfortable enough to walk through the soggy and slippery jungle.
- Safari hat with a foldable large brim to protect yourself from water dripping off the trees.
- A torch as lights may run low in the night. This area is served by solar energy mainly, but less sunlight may be received sometimes.
- Insect repellant to keep away from buzzing insects in the jungle.
- Long trousers and shirt in wilderness-friendly colors. m
- A pair of binoculars to get a clearer look at far-ranging features
- Backpack with your gorilla trekking gear so they are not scattered in the wilderness.
- Flip flops to change into after the gorilla trek.
- Shoe bags to put in your shoes so they do not stain your other items when repacking.
- Toiletries in case your lodge doesn’t provide
- Extra cash for on-ground purchases as credit cards are not commonly used for African transactions.
- First aid kit with emergency medication
- Travel adaptor and charger in case your battery runs low with power
- Duffel bag that you can carry in case you get no assistance
For more information on how to plan your safari to Bwindi, Please contact us.