How To Organize A Low-Season Gorilla Safari To Uganda From Kigali
Planning a low-season gorilla safari in Uganda through Kigali starts with securing a gorilla permit. The low Uganda tourism season usually is March, April, May, and November. Even though the low tourism season is known for attracting fewer tourists, the gorilla safari may surprisingly attract a number of tourists.
The availability of gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation permits is limited for conservation reasons. A maximum of 8 gorilla permits per family are open to the public for gorilla trekking Safari. Maximum 4 permits are open to the public for gorilla habituation experience per family.
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Whether it is the peak or low season, the number of gorilla permits remains constant to reduce the effects of mass tourism on the environment where mountain gorillas thrive.
Planning is very necessary even during the low tourism Uganda season. It would be best if you secured the gorilla permit in time, as availability changes anytime, no matter the season. Demand for gorilla permits gets high all year, and chances for last-minute gorilla safaris narrow as the days draw closer.
For clarity about the number of gorilla permits to book, it’s best to know the number of people you are planning for. This helps with checking the right number of gorilla permits and avoiding going back and forth with finding permit availability.
The only entry points from Rwanda to Kigali into Uganda are on the ground via the Gatuna or Cyanika border. To save time, securing the East African Visa allows you to enter at least two East African countries, of which Uganda and Rwanda are members.
By air, you can cross into Uganda from Kigali Airport to Entebbe Airport, then carry on with the rest of the journey to the Uganda gorilla safari destinations. Before establishing how to plan for the gorilla safari in Uganda, we need to understand what each term means: gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience.
What is gorilla trekking Safari?
Gorilla trekking safaris is an adventure where tourists search for a fully habituated mountain gorilla family and have one hour in their company. Currently, Uganda has 19 gorilla families open for gorilla trekking and 152 gorilla permits per day.
What is Gorilla Habituation Experience?
The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where tourists escort a team of researchers and trackers to locate a semi-habituated gorilla family to have four hours in their company. Currently, two gorilla families in Uganda are open for gorilla habituation experience, 8 gorilla permits per day.
What Plans to Make For Low Season Gorilla Safari In Uganda via Kigali
Book a gorilla Permit for Uganda
Uganda is endowed with two gorilla safari destinations: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. You can select where to go from these parks for gorilla safari, as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park currently has 18 gorilla trekking permits and two gorilla habituation permits. Mgahinga National Park currently has one gorilla family called Nyakagezi.
You need to secure a gorilla permit through a tour operator like Encounter Africa Safaris or purchase it directly from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Before checking for Uganda gorilla permit availability, you must have a date and the number of people to travel with.
Upon finding gorilla permit availability, secure your permit as soon as possible to avoid last-minute panic while searching for the gorilla permits. Even though chances of finding gorilla permit availability are open in the low season, sometimes they sell out. Securing your gorilla permit in advance offers no chance to panic.
What Is The Cost Of Gorilla Trekking Permit?
The Uganda gorilla trekking permit costs $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and 250000shs for East African residents. In the past, the Uganda Wildlife Authority used to offer discounted gorilla permits in the low season, but these were for promotional purposes.
The cost of a gorilla trekking permit covers security, briefing, ranger guide fees, government tax, certificate after gorilla trekking, park entrance fees, and others.
Exclusions in the gorilla permit cost are accommodation, transport, tips, porter hire, and any other items of a personal nature.
What Is The Cost Of Gorilla Habituation Experience Permit?
The gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person for foreign nonresidents, $1000 for foreign residents, and 750000 shs for East African residents. Gorilla habituation experience permits are limited to a maximum of 4 per gorilla family per day.
The gorilla habituation experience permit includes park entrance fees, researcher fees, mountain gorilla conservation, local community support, security, etc.
Exclusions in the cost of gorilla habituation permit are: porter hire, accommodation, transport, snacks and any others items of personal nature.
Book accommodations for your gorilla safari
Although sometimes accommodation to use during gorilla safari may be available, especially during the low season, it is only sometimes a guarantee. Some service providers may offer discounted accommodation prices during the low season to break even.
In case you choose Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you need to secure accommodation closer to the area where your permit is booked. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park permits are booked according to the Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo areas.
It would be best to secure accommodation closer to the area where your gorilla permit is booked to easily catch up with briefing at the ranger station before the gorilla safari. At Encounter Africa Safaris, our 10 years of experience organizing safaris African safaris have won us a great working relationship with several accommodation facilities. If they forward us discounts on accommodation, we share this offer with our clients. Even when you wish to get a discount on accommodation, we may forward your request to our accommodation partners.
No matter why you must choose the low season for your gorilla safari, it would be best if you secured your accommodation for the nights on holiday in advance.
Secure transport to use during gorilla safari
Road transport is the main means of transport to use when planning a gorilla safari in Uganda through Rwanda. You cross into Uganda from Kigali at the Cyanika or Gatuna border, then Kabale and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park. You drive through winding roads as this area has several highlands due to volcanic action in this area.
You need to hire a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle because the roads are bumpy and slippery, especially as you go deep into the countryside during the severe rainy season. Even having an experienced and professional driver guide makes this peculiar drive more interesting. All these require booking to have a blast during your gorilla safari holiday.
Air transport from Kigali airport to Entebbe airport is possible too. You may later connect with the daily domestic flights in Uganda from Entebbe or Kajjansi to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. You need to hire a transfer vehicle from the airstrip to your lodge as there is a drive of about 2 hours.
Charter flight services from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip in case you wish to enjoy a more private gorilla safari experience.
Reserve Additional Activities To Combine With Gorilla Safari In Uganda
Although gorilla safaris are Uganda’s foremost safari activity, combining gorilla trekking with other Uganda safari activities enriches your Africa safari experience. Uganda is a country endowed by nature with lots of engaging activities, especially in the wilderness.
You can do chimpanzee safaris in Kibale National Park, Kaniyo Pabidi, Kyambura Gorge, and others during the Uganda safari. Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and others. White water rafting on River Nile and visit to the source of River Nile, Golden Monkey trekking in Mgahinga National Park, and others.
At Encounter Africa Safaris, our safari consultants are ready to advise and tailor the best itinerary, inclusive of gorilla and other additional Uganda safari activities, according to your choice. This is dependent on the number of days available on your holiday.
When Is The Best Time To Book Season Gorilla Safaris In Uganda Through Kigali?
You can book gorilla safaris in Uganda all year, but at least secure your gorilla permit for the low season, at least 3 months to gorilla safari day. It is possible to purchase a gorilla permit or the low season at the last minute, but this is not a guarantee all time. The low season for a gorilla safari is normally March, April, May, and November.
Chances of going for an unprepared solo gorilla safari experience are high in the low season because fewer tourists are booking in. You may be lucky even to get a lodge upgrade during the low season if you request some discounted cost on accommodation.
You may get less obstruction during your encounter with the mountain gorillas during the low season.
How difficult is Uganda gorilla safari during the low season?
Since the low Uganda tourism season is normally wet, more rains are expected to fall, making the ground soggy. The dense network of Rivers sometimes overflows, flooding the ground. Bwindi and Mgahinga forests have a dense canopy that allows less sunray penetration to the ground. This logs the ground, making the trails challenging to walk through.
Since the terrain of the Virunga area is volcanic, with highlands covered by tangled vegetation, sometimes you may be required to hike in case the mountain gorillas are spending time at the slopes.
The mountain gorillas love keeping away from the ground during the low season when it gets so chilly, and the humidity is high. You may have to hike in order to locate them.
Is Gorilla Safari in Uganda safe during the low Season?
Your safety during gorilla safari is a top priority as the Uganda Wildlife Authority has a team of well-trained ranger guides who escort you into the forest. Even before the gorilla safari adventure, you are taken through the rules and regulations of gorilla adventure. This is to prepare you for meeting with the mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers that need to be habituated for human presence.
Each day, a team of trackers wakes up earlier to monitor where the mountain gorillas may have spent the night, their possible day handout, and the general security of the forest. The rangers escorting tourists use these clues to lead the tourists. One of the rangers carries a rifle in case of an emergency, while another has a machete to use for trimming and creating a way for tourists.
Tourists should always stay within the others in the group to avoid getting lost in the wilderness. The ranger guide follows the pace of the lowest trekker so that no one is forgotten in the wilderness.
Also, only enter the forest with an escorting ranger guide as the forest has other occupants that are not habituated to humans, which may harm you.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger guides coordinate with other Uganda security agencies to provide law and order to the tourists and the locals in this area.
How Sure I Be To See The Mountain Gorillas During The Low Season?
Mountain gorillas are present all year, but during the low season, they tend to get confined in far places. During the low season, which is March, April, May, and November, there are normally severe rains bringing very cold conditions of the day. Even though the mountain gorillas have furred bodies, they also feel the extreme coldness and the soggy ground. This may push them into higher places like the slopes or the valley.
Before being opened to the public, Mountain gorillas undergo a gorilla habituation process, which takes about 2 years or more, depending on how fast they adopt. Researchers and trackers follow a wild gorilla family during this process to get them accustomed to human presence without altering their nature. Since these mountain gorillas stay in a particular location for some time and are monitored almost daily, be sure to see them.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority refund policy states that 75% of the total gorilla permit cost is returned to you if you fail to see the mountain gorillas.
Are you interested in a low-season gorilla safari? Contact us and let us organize your safari today.