How to improve the gorilla trekking experience in Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga NPs
Improving the gorilla trekking experience in Uganda is a two-way traffic for the park management and tourists to abide by the gorilla trekking rules.
Uganda has gorilla trekking as the core tourism activity for the entire country. Mountain gorillas in Uganda are residents of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is mandated to make gorilla trekking adventure a reputable safari tour to visitors but preceded by conservation.
Most Popular Safaris
The work of growing the number of Uganda gorilla families, open for gorilla trekking from the initial four Mubare gorilla family, Habinyanja family, Rushegura family, and Nkuringo family, to 19 gorilla families is an incredible milestone. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is celebrating this achievement as the number of gorilla permits is now 152 open to public booking. This is giving more tourists a chance to participate in gorilla trekking. For sure, gorilla trekking is becoming one of Africa’s top-to-do adventures.
Mountain gorilla conservation requires more funding as some activities are put to a standstill due to insufficient financial support, so the Uganda Wildlife Authority since 2014 added gorilla habituation experience to the activities to accumulate funds to support their work.
The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where tourists accompany a team of trackers in the wilderness to follow a semi-habituated gorilla family and stay with them for four hours. Uganda currently has two gorilla families in the southern part Of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park open for gorilla habituation experience.
Since mountain gorilla conservation is the key point for all activities in both Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park, even tourists have to abide by the rules of gorilla safari to support sustainable gorilla activities.
How To Improve Gorilla Trekking Experience In Uganda
Increase Number Of Uganda Gorilla Families
Although the Uganda Wildlife Authority is celebrating the fully habituated 19 gorilla families, more is needed. The number of Uganda gorilla, permits open for gorilla trekking is currently 152 permits per day. This is still a limited number of gorilla permits to serve worldwide demand.
With more gorilla families habituated and opened to public booking, the cutthroat competition to obtain a gorilla permit for each day will be curbed. Gorilla habituation is a process where a wild mountain gorilla family is familiarized to human presence without altering their nature.
Promote Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safaris
Although marketing Uganda safaris is taking high gear, a lot more is needed to get potential tourists to choose gorilla trekking in Uganda. The advertising measures taken to promote gorilla safaris in Uganda still need to be stronger and need an international boost.
The private sector, both local and international, is so far the main gorilla safari advertising sector. However, the government needs to inject more funds into promoting Uganda tourism. Much more is unknown about this wilderness experience, a lifetime adventure.
Standardized Gorilla Safari Accommodation
The accommodations close to or within the gorilla safari destinations of Uganda are limited, yet there are sometimes many. Not only do tourists do gorilla safaris in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park, but some do research, birding, and others.
Both Uganda gorilla safari destinations have accommodations graded according to luxury, midrange, and budget. Some of these Uganda gorilla facilities need to know the right grade for their accommodation. Tourists, especially those on self-booked gorilla safari packages, need to be more informed, leading to getting disappointed when on the ground.
The management of the Uganda Hotels Association and Uganda Wildlife Authority need to set the required standards and emphasize giving tourists value for money.
Provide More Detailed Information About The Mountain Gorillas
Much as Uganda ranger guides are first trained before being mandated to take tourists through gorilla trekking experience, much more research is needed. The mountain gorillas, like humans, evolve, so all these changes must be provided as information to tourists.
The Uganda ranger guides are professional and experienced, with great information about the mountain gorillas, but much more is required over time. As the mountain gorillas evolve, they must keep up with them.
Improve Access To The Uganda Gorilla Destinations
The routes to the gorilla trekking destinations of Uganda, especially Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, maybe multiple but impassable sometimes due to poor road conditions in this area. The roads are punctured, creating a bumpy voyage, which may ignite emotional sickness for some tourists.
During the severe rainy seasons, the upcountry roads to the Uganda gorilla safari destination are impassable, so you must have a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle with enough gas. With the help of the Uganda government, these roads need to be improved, and bridges maintained
Domestic daily flights are available to some upcountry airstrips, such as Kihihi airstrip and Kisoro airstrip from Kajjansi airstrip and Entebbe airport. Tourists need more access to information about this optional transport means to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park. Even the airstrips need more maintenance to look better.
What Is Required During Gorilla Trekking Safari In Uganda?
Book A Gorilla Permit
The Uganda Wildlife Authority is Uganda’s gorilla permit selling and regulating body; however, you must possess a gorilla permit. The gorilla permit is an entry ticket that gives tourists one hour with the mountain gorillas. Only a maximum of 8 gorilla permits are released per day for public booking.
You need to have a date when you hope to do gorilla trekking and the number of people taking this adventure to check for gorilla permit availability.
Upon confirmation of gorilla permit availability, we request tourists to purchase the gorilla permits as soon as possible.
The peak season gorilla permits, that is, June, July, August, September, December, And January, are in high demand. A first come, first served basis is used when acquiring the gorilla permits, so no money, no permit policy is used.
Forward personal details later, like your full name as indicated on the passport, nationality, date of birth, and passport expiry date.
What Is The Cost Of Uganda Permit?
An Uganda gorilla permit costs $700 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and 250000shs for East African residents.
The inclusions of the cost of gorilla permits are ranger guide fees, security, park entrance fees, certificate after gorilla trekking, local community support, one hour with the mountain gorillas, mountain gorilla conservation, and several others.
Exclusions of the cost of a gorilla permit are no transport, accommodation, tips, porter hire, and snacks, to mention but a few.
Book Accommodation To Use During Gorilla Trekking
Spending the night in the area where your gorilla permit is booked for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is very important. In Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park permits are reserved according to the Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija, and Nkuringo areas.
This is because the drive connecting one area to another is long and may face some hurdles like getting a puncture, slippery roads, driving in the dark with poor visibility, and so much more to catch up with briefing in another area.
Bwindi Accommodations: Clouds Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp, Silverback Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi Backpackers’ Camp, Bwindi View Bandas, Gorilla Resort, Ruhija Gorilla Lodge, Trakker’s Tarven
Mgahinga National Park has so far one gorilla family called Nyakagezi that is open for public booking, so accommodations are limited too.
Mgahinga accommodations: Gahinga Volcanoes Lodge, Traveller’s Inn, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Mgahinga Gorilla Triangle
Reserve Additional Activities To Combine With Gorilla Trekking
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park can be combined with other activities in Uganda. Some of these are just an hour’s drive from these destinations or within these Uganda gorilla destinations
Some Uganda safari activities combined with gorilla trekking include chimpanzee trekking, game drives, water activities, sightseeing, mountaineering, forest walks, and birding.
During the Uganda safari, you need extra days to enjoy additional activities to combine with gorilla trekking.
Book Transport To The Uganda Gorilla Trekking Destinations
Reserving the means of transport you wish to use on your voyage to the mountain gorilla destinations in Uganda is very important. Because of the nature of the terrain and poor road network in the countryside, a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle is comfortable.
There are several routes to get to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, but you need a well-experienced driver guide to take the best route.
Some Of The Routes To Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Include
Queen Elizabeth National Park to Kihihi to Buhoma . The drive from Mweya is about 160 kilometers and 64 kilometers from Ishasha sector
Kampala To Kabale to Kanungu to Buhoma. The drive to Kabale is about 414 kilometers, then connect 120 kilometers to Kanungu And Kanyantorogo
Kampala To Ntungamo To Rukingiri To Kihihi To Buhoma driving 390 kilometers TO Rukungiri then connect for 82 kilometers to Buhoma Area OF Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Kampala To Kabale To Ruhija To Buhoma taking a drive of 414 kilometers from Kampala to Kabale then continue95 kilometers to Buhoma area via Ruhija area.
Kampala To Kabale-Nkuringo driving 414 kilometers to Kabale then continue 105 kilometers to Nkuringo area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
How long is gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park And Mgahinga National Park?
The time taken to do a gorilla trekking adventure is hard to predict as a number of factors prevailing in the forest contribute to there day’s way about. The proximity of the mountain gorillas food, in case of an internal and external fight, the weather conditions prevailing on the day of trekking, the pace of the trekkers, the adventurous nature of the mountain gorillas, and so much more.
Only one hour is permitted with the mountain gorillas when you locate them, as they are habituated to be before humans for just that time. Besides, with human presence, the running of the mountain gorillas’ day-to-day life is disrupted. Procreation doesn’t progress with human interference.
Some patience is required during gorilla trekking. The forest has other interesting fauna and flora like black and white colobus, vervet monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboons and so much more.
Which is the best gorilla trekking destination of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park?
Mgahinga National Park still offers the virgin gorilla trekking experience since it is less visited. The park offers great views, including an unforgettable regional backdrop of three Virunga volcanoes: mountain Gahinga, mountain Sabyinyo, and mountain Muhavura. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a regularly sought-after gorilla trekking destination with distinctive trails created by regular visitors.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has had 19 gorilla families open for tourism purposes, while Mgahinga National Park is hosting only one gorilla family called the Nyakagezi family.
A variety of accommodation facilities of all ranges are available in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, while Mgahinga National Park is limited in choices.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is more accessible or close to other Uganda safari parks like Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kibale National Park, to mention but a few. Mgahinga National Park lies far from other Uganda safari parks, especially on the western side, because of the poor road network up the country.
When in Mgahinga National Park, you can do other activities like excursion mountaineering to one of the three volcanoes in the park, scenic viewing, birding in Mgahinga Forest, Batwa trails, and Garama cave visit, to mention but a few. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has other activities like birding, community visits like the Buhoma community walk and Nkuringo community visit, birding, forest walks, and others.
Regarding transport, the domestic daily flights from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airstrip to Kisoro and then Mgahinga National Park are conditioned by prevailing weather conditions. This area experiences foggy conditions, especially in the morning and demand. The daily domestic flights to Hihihi airstrip and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are more reliable since even locals going up country often reserve seats on them too.
If you are interested in a gorilla trekking experience, please do not hesitate to contact us.