How to spend more hours with mountain gorillas in Uganda
Doing gorilla trekking in Uganda is limited to only one viewing hour, but you may need some extra time with the mountain gorillas. The mountain gorillas are habituated to being in the presence of humans for just hours. This is done so that they can be left alone to carry on with their day-today activities like feeding, grooming, lounging, and others.
Most Popular Safaris
To some tourists, only one hour is not enough to enjoy the company of the mountain gorillas. Some opt to do double gorilla trekking. They purchase gorilla permits for two or more days so that they can have some more time with the mountain gorillas. The maximum number of people allowed to do gorilla trekking is eight people.
What Is Gorilla Trekking Safari
It is a safari adventure where you follow a fully habituated mountain gorilla family and when you locate it, only an hour is allowed in front of it. Gorilla trekking is required having a gorilla permit which currently costs $700 in Uganda. Uganda so far has 19 gorilla families opened for tourist booking. They live in two gorilla parks Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park.
How Much Is A Gorilla Trekking Permit For Uganda
Each gorilla permit for Uganda costs $700 per person per trek per day. In case you are to double or more gorilla trekking dates, you need to purchase a permit for each time. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is the selling body for these permits. Gorilla trekking is done once a day so that mountain gorillas can be left alone to carry on with their day to day activities like feeding, grooming the infants, lounging and so much more
Others purchase gorilla habituation permits.
What Is Gorilla Habituation?
Gorilla habituation permits are tickets that allow you to follow semi-habituated mountain gorillas to get them familiar to human presence without altering their nature. Gorilla habituation is limited to 4 people per day per trek.
How Long Is Gorilla Habituation?
Only 4 hours are allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate them during gorilla habituation. Do not be surprised to see the mountain gorillas hide during gorilla habituation because they are not yet fully habituated for human presence.
The time of locating the mountain gorillas during habituation is unknown because they keep meandering in the forest with no control because they are wild animals that must search for their own food.
Some patience is required, and follow the information and rules given during the briefing. This is because, during habituation, the mountain gorillas are still very sensitive to intruders, and building trust between them and humans is still going on.
What To Do During Gorilla Habituation Preparation?
After obtaining the gorilla habituation permit, you need to keep doing some simple exercises so as to stretch your muscles a little more prior to starting your trek. The topography of Bwindi impenetrable National Park is generally volcanic with ridges and plateaus.
Expect to hike sometimes to locate the mountain gorillas so you need to have some level of fitness to go through the entire adventure. Sometimes the mountain gorillas love spending there time on the slopes of the highlands.
Make your international flight arrangements early so that you do not have to be delayed by this in case there is no seat available.
Purchase the necessary gorilla habituation gears so that you are comfortable while searching for mountain gorillas.
What Is the cost Of Gorilla Habituation Permits in Uganda
Each gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person per trek. This cost includes 4 hours of viewing the mountain gorillas, the ranger guide fee, park fees, gorilla fund support, security fees, and much more.
The gorilla habituation permit cost excludes tipping, porters, transport, drinks, packed lunch, other items of personal nature and much more.
Where To Do Gorilla Habituation In Uganda
The southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park so far is the only gorilla habituation destination. Two gorilla families so far are available for habituation but only maximum 4 persons are allowed to take part in this adventure.
Each day, the tourists booked for gorilla habituation follow a group of researchers and habituators to the forest to locate the mountain gorillas and spend some time with them. You may be required to take some notes as this data is used as information to give about the mountain gorilla family.
Ensure you book accommodation for your gorilla trekking safari in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park so that you do not have to wake up so early to catch up with a briefing.
When Is the Best Time To Book A Gorilla Safari In Uganda
Whether doing gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation safari, all years round is open for you to book this safari however, the most people prefer to secure there gorilla permits atleast 6 months to 1 year in advance.
This is because for the high demand for the permits yet there numbers are limited. The maximum number of gorilla trekking permits per gorilla family is 8 permits. The maximum number of gorilla habituation permits per day is 4.
With this limited number and yet demand is so high worldwide, many people are left out especially in the peak tourism seasons. In order not to miss a permit for your preferred date, you need to reserve yours in advance.
How To Get To Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Kampala to Ntungamo to Rukungiri to Kihihi to Buhoma
This is the shortest route to Bwindi Impenetrable National park from Kampala city. The drive from Kampala to Rukungiri is about 390 kilometers then connect to Buhoma area for 90 kilometers.
Kampala to Kabale to Kanungu to Buhoma
Driving from Kampala to Kabale is about 414 kilometers then connect to Kanungu and Kanyantorogo for 120 kilometers.
Kampala to Kabale to Nkuringo
When you drive from Kampala to Kabale, you take about 414 kilometers then continue to Nkuringo for about 115 kilometers. You may opt to stay in Kisoro town which is about 80 kilometers from Kabale where you can connect to Nkuringo which is about 35 kilometers away.
Each day, domestic daily flights depart Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. You need to reserve a seat in advance to be allowed to travel on these flights.
Charter flight arrangement can also be made but early preparations are necessary so that air clearances can be made.
Are Mountain Gorillas Dangerous
Mountain gorillas look scaring at first sight because of their physical appearance. They are huge with dark far allover the body, have dark brown sunken eyes and walk by knuckle movement. This may stimulate some adrenaline a first but when you realize how serene and calm these primates are, then you calm your nerves.
These primates are shy and in the history of gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation, they have never staged any attack on there visitors.
You just need to follow the rules of gorilla trekking and what is explained during briefing so that you do not agitate them mountain gorillas. They are very sensitive primates that are so keen with intruders and what they do in there vicinity. When they get agitated, the walk away in to the deeper ends of the forest leaving there visitors. Remember when doing gorilla trekking, only an hour is allowed with the mountain gorillas while 4 hours are allowed with the mountain gorillas during habituation adventure.
What Else To See In Bwindi Impenetrable National park Other Than Mountain Gorillas
Rich Avian Life In Bwindi Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is home to a wide range of birds where over 350 bird species are residents. The park has about 7 bird species on the red list of IUCN. It is home to some Albertine Rift endemics of which about 23 of the 24 species known to be living in Uganda are present in this park.
When you take a birding safari to Mubwindi Swamp in Ruhija area of Bwindi Forest, you may have chance to spot birds like red-faced Woodland Wabler, African Hill Babbler, Rwenzori Batis and White tailed Crested Flycatcher, collared Apalis, Mount Masked and Chestnut-Throated Apalises, African Green Broadbill, Shelley’s Crimmsonwing
Variety Of Other primates
Apart from the mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National park is home to other primates like olive baboons, vervet monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, blue monkeys, chimpanzees, black and white colobus and others.
Local Community Walks
For conservations of the mountain gorillas to be successful, the local community has to get on board. Bwindi area has some community projects that are run by the local people and all proceeds obtained are used to support their projects like building water sources, road maintenance, building schools, health care center support and so much more.
Some of the community run projects in Bwindi Impenetrable National park include Buhoma community walk project where you can interact with local homesteads, visit traditional healer, local brewer and much more.
Nkuringo community walk where you may visit the black smith, local brewery, traditional healer and others.
With an escorting ranger guide, you can take a walk through the trails of Bwindi Impenetrable National park where you may enjoy a variety of naturally grown trees. Bwindi forest has over 200 tree species that have survived over the years.
More than 88 months live in the Bwindi Forest plus over 310 butterfly species. Bwindi forest also has sparkling waterfalls. When you take the Muzabajiro Loop Trail, you climb to the summit of Rukubira Hill where you can enjoy a wonderful view of Bwindi Forest and its canopy, western Rift Valley and Virunga Volcanoes.
What To Pack for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
- Warm wear to put on early morning and late afternoon because it get so cold you need to keep warm as sometimes temperatures drop as low as 7 degrees centigrade.
- Insect repellant to keep away stinging insects that would harm you while walking to locate the mountain gorillas.
- Garden gloves to protect your palms from stinging nettles and even rough surfaces that your and may land at when you tripe and fall.
- Bugs spray in case your room is infected.
- Toiletries in case your skin is very sensitive or your lodge does not provide.
- Snacks to munch on in case you get hungry because breakfast is taken too early to last the entire time in the wilderness.
- Raincoat or poncho in case it rains while in the wilderness. This area receives rain any time without warning.
- Long trousers and long sleeved shirt to wear in the wilderness in order to protect your body from harsh conditions in the forest.
- A pair of stockings to tack in your trousers and protect your body from insects that would creep into your clothes.
- Safari boots that can go through the soggy surfaces in the jungle as the wilderness is wet most of the times and rivers over flow especially in the severe rainy seasons.
- Safari hat to cover your hair from getting wet in case it rains or dew drips off the leaves.
- Pajamas to wear in the night when getting to bed.
- Duffel bag to carry with your belongings as at times you may get no help with off loading or loading your bags.
- Flip flops to change into in case you come from gorilla trekking and are tired of wearing closed shoes.
- Some cash to exchange into local currency when you wish to purchase anything locally.
- Clean Face masks to wear when standing before the mountain gorillas. This was adopted after the Covid-19 period . The mountain gorillas can be victims of this virus since they are susceptible to human infections because they have about 96% human DNA.
- A camera to take photos and protect memories of your experience during gorilla trekking.
- A light water proof bag to carry with your gorilla trekking gears and in case you hire a porter, they can collectively carry your bags. Even when you tripe and fall, you lose none of your gears.
Contact us for more information about gorilla trekking and habituation.