Organizing a gorilla trekking tour to Uganda or Rwanda
Plan your gorilla trekking tour to Uganda or Rwanda in advance
Is gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda part of your to do activities during your Africa safari, you need to plan in advance on organizing a gorilla trekking tour to Uganda or Rwanda. In Uganda gorilla trekking is in Bwindi impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga.
In Rwanda, Volcanoes National park is the gorilla trekking haven. Having the dates when you wish to do gorilla trekking whether confirmed or tentatively is key in starting to organize your trip to the mountain gorillas in Africa.
At Encounter Africa safaris, we recommend organizing a gorilla trekking tour to Uganda or Rwanda at least one year or six months in advance in order to have ample time to check the availability of permits as well as choosing the right national park between Mgahinga National park and Bwindi Impenetrable National park or Volcanoes National park in Rwanda
Most Popular Gorilla Safaris
- 3 Day Uganda Gorilla Trekking
- 5 Day Gorilla and Chimp
- 8 Day Gorilla Tracking
- 2 Day Bwindi Gorilla Via Kigali
- 3 Day Uganda Gorilla Via Kigali
- 5 Day Chimp and Gorilla Habituation
- 3 Day Fly in Gorilla Habituation
- 3 Day Fly in Safari to Murchison Falls National Park
- 3 Day Bwindi Double trek via Kigali
- 5 Day Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Decide on which country-Uganda or Rwanda as you organize your gorilla trekking tour
When planning a gorilla trekking tour to Africa, you need to decide on which country you want to visit.
Africa has three countries where mountain gorillas call home. These countries are Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Encounter Africa safaris operate gorilla trekking trips to Uganda and Rwanda and sometimes in DRC once we ascertain the security situation in this vast African National.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park have over 19 gorilla families habituated for tourists visits.
In Rwanda mountain gorillas live in Volcanoes National Park Currently about 13 gorilla families mender in this forested Park.
As of now only one habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi family exists in Mgahinga national park in Uganda.
This mobile family meanders Virunga ranges shared between Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo, especially migrating to and from Uganda to Rwanda.
Bwindi Impenetrable National park has 19 gorilla families in different regions of the forest so that’s why you need to be careful when buying your gorilla permits.
You may choose to visit both countries and compare experiences or trek in one country. Once you have made your decision on whether it will be Uganda or Rwanda then contact a tour operator to get you a permit or book you a fully inclusive tour.
Gorilla trekking experience is almost the same in Uganda and Rwanda as it is a one-hour activity in both countries. Uganda provides an opportunity to spend more time with mountain gorillas under habituation you must purchase a gorilla habituation permit.
Kindly note that while selecting a country where to go for gorilla trekking, one needs to be mindful of the price of gorilla permits, distance from the Airport to the park as your overall budget. Rwanda gorilla permit currently costs $1500 per person per day per trek, Uganda gorilla permit is at $800 while Congo gorilla permit costs $450.
Depending on your budget, you can decide on which country to visit for gorilla trekking. If you don’t mind about price, Rwanda works perfectly for you but if you want to save some money and visit a more stable country, Uganda will suit you well.
Many people prefer booking gorilla trekking holidays in Rwanda because of the short time taken to drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park. Getting to Volcanoes national park from Kigali City is about 2-3 hours compared to 9-10 hours from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi impenetrable National Park.
How To Purchase Your Gorilla Permit.
A gorilla permit is a document/card issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda or RDB in Rwanda that gives you permission to see mountain gorillas for one hour in Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Mgahinga National park and Volcanoes National Park
Whether trekking gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda. The only entry ticket is a gorilla permit. You can contact Encounter Africa Safaris or any tour operator in Uganda to get you a gorilla permit. We recommend you contact a tour operator registered with the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) in order for you not to be reaped off.
When organizing a gorilla trekking tour to Uganda or Rwanda, Knowing the dates when you wish to do your gorilla trekking adventure is key in starting the process of checking availability. Most tour operators will check and advise you on the availability of gorilla permits leaving you to decide.
Once you have purchased your gorilla permit, you are required to provide some personal details later like the full names on your passport, your nationality, expiry date of your passport in order to collect your permit.
In Uganda, Uganda Wildlife Authority issues gorilla permits out through registered tour operators on a first come first serve basis. In order to avoid a shortage of gorilla permits, please organize this in advance.
There is a possibility of booking a gorilla permit by yourself but it is very hard as Uganda wildlife Authority is slow at returning calls or responding to emails. Better to use a tour operator.
What To Consider Before Buying Your Gorilla Trekking Permit
When organizing a gorilla trekking tour to Uganda or Rwanda, In Uganda especially Bwindi Impenetrable National Park the gorilla permit determines a lot on where to book your accommodation and more.
Gorilla permits in Uganda are issued per area meaning that you need to know were your permit is booked before booking accommodation.
Alternatively purchase a gorilla permit in the area where your dream accommodation is located but this is on rare cases because sometimes the gorilla permits of certain areas get sold out.
If you secure gorilla permits trekking in Ruhija, book lodges in this region. The same applies to permits and accommodation in Buhoma, Nkuringo, and Rushaga.
You need to establish your interest first. If you need a simpler trek, then it is better to book permits for either Buhoma or Ruhija at worst.
If you want a more challenging trek, you can try some given families or Rushaga and Nkuringo regions in the south of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
In case you are afraid of heights or have altitude, then avoid the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National park as it has the highest altitudinal point. Please contact your tour operator about this before you decide.
On Which Side Of Bwindi Will You Be Trekking?
Gorilla permit allocation in Uganda is based on areas. There are four areas with habituated mountain gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National park and are separated by long distances between each.
Buhoma area which is the main administrative area of Bwindi Impenetrable National park is located in the north of Bwindi and is home to four gorilla families namely, Mubare, Rushegura, Katwe, and Habiyanja.
Ruhija area is in the east of Bwindi National Park and has three habituated gorilla families as Bitukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguriro. Rushaga area is in the south of Bwindi and is home to eight gorilla families including Kahungye, Mishaya, Nshongi, Bweza and Busingye.
The Nkuringo region in the south has three habituated gorilla families with Nkuringo Gorilla Family being the first one to be habituated.
Transport and accommodation for your gorilla trekking tour in Uganda or Rwanda
Once you have decided which area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park you are doing your gorilla trekking safari then other safari amenities follow.
When organizing a gorilla trekking tour to Uganda or Rwanda, It’s better to seek advice from a tour operator as they know better which side might suite your interest. Then it’s time to book your accommodation and transport.
Let your tour operator know the level of accommodation and the type of vehicle you want to use.
There several accommodation options in all regions of Bwindi Impenetrable national park so its up to you to explain to your tour operator whether you would like to stay in a budget, mid-range or upmarket Lodge.
In Uganda accommodations to book for gorilla trekking include Clouds lodge, Gorilla forest Camp, Engage Lodge, Mahogany Springs, Silver Back Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Gorilla Resort, Gahinga Lodge to mention but a few.
In Rwanda accommodations you can book for gorilla trekking include Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Hotel Mille Collins, Kinigi Guest House
The same applies to transport getting to Bwindi Impenetrable National park. You may choose to travel in safari vans, land Cruisers or land Rovers depending on your budget.
In Uganda, there daily scheduled flights to Bwindi so if you prefer flying to save on time then contact your tour operator to book you on these scheduled flights to Bwindi.
Even getting from Kigali city or Airport you need to drive for about 2 hours to 3 hours on a fairly smooth meandering road until Musaze.
Gorilla tracking rules and regulations
- You know mountain gorillas are endangered species and according to the 2010 census, about 1000 individuals are remaining in the whole world. Your visit to these gorillas should not reduce their numbers but should increase on it.
- Please ask your tour operator to send you gorilla trekking rules and regulations and how to behave while you are with these great apes.
- The basic thing you need to know is that each gorilla family is visited by a maximum of eight people per day for one hour.
- You are supposed to leave at least Eight meters between you and the gorillas to reduce on any cases of spreading communicable infections like Covid-19, Flue to the mountain gorillas.
- Avoid eye contact with the gorillas and turn off your flash while taking photographs. The most important thing is to listen and follow what your guide will tell you.
What to pack for gorilla trekking tour in Uganda or Rwanda
Packing light but relevantly for gorilla trekking safari in Africa is very important. Mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National park live in thick forests and in an area dominated by steep hills that’s where they derive their name “Mountain gorillas”.
Because of the vegetation thickness, boggy ground and volcanic terrain in Bwindi, you need to prepare the right gorilla trekking gears. You will therefore need hiking boots, long-sleeved shirts, and trousers. You need garden gloves as some shrubs and climbing plants can itch you.
Long socks are advised and you should tack in your trousers to avoid safari ants and other insects entering through your trousers. A hat and sunglasses are highly recommended as well plus energy-giving food. You should pack your insect repellent, your camera for your photography. For more details please ask your tour operator.
What Is The Best time to trek gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda
June to September and December to Mid-January have the most favorable times for gorilla trekking in Africa. During these months, there is less rain and chances are that the trek will be easier since the trails will be less slippery as well. These are dryer months of the year but still receive less rains.
April, May, and November are the wet seasons and clients avoid them but the good news is that during these months, Uganda Wildlife Authority May likely annual discounts and Lodges around Bwindi, Mgahinga National Park.
Even in Volcanoes National park Rwanda, these months are likely to be less demanded for tourist visits but may call for discounted gorilla permits according to Rwanda Development Board policy.
While planning a gorilla trekking safari to Uganda or Rwanda, you need to know the best time to trek gorillas in Uganda. While we can trek gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda throughout the entire year
Why You Need Porters and walking sticks
Porters and walking sticks are the best companions on your gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda and Rwanda. You will need a walking stick to help you trek those hills.
Most lodges provided walking sticks and if the lodge cannot provide them, then they are always available for sale for around USD10-15 Dollars.
If less fit clients, we advise you to take a porter with you who will give you a push or a pull when the going gets tough. He/she will carry your backpack and stay with most of the things you may not require as you approach the gorillas.
For example, you are not supposed to move with your packed lunch up to the gorillas as gorillas might check you and if they find you with food and they taste it, they might change their behaviors something not good for gorilla conservation.
How is gorilla trekking like?
On the day of gorilla trekking, rise up early and put your gorilla trekking gears in your light back pack. Dress up accordingly and then go to the restaurant for an early breakfast and to pick your packed lunch and walking sticks. Make sure you have all that you need to have for your gorilla trek.
After breakfast and depending on which lodges, you would have slept in, you may drive or walk to the park headquarters for registration and allocation of gorilla families depending on your interests and physical fitness.
Some lodges are closer to park headquarters while others are not so take care of this before deciding.
You will definitely be divided into groups of maximum eight people per gorilla family and after the briefing, each given a guide, a ranger and a tourism police officer who has to ensure that you are safe while trekking gorillas.
Look out for other Bwindi Impenetrable National Park inhabitants like chimpanzees, olive baboons forest buffaloes and Elephants among other wild animals
The Armed police officer is there to keep you safe in the jungle and scare away any of these animals if they dare come closer. You will then walk/drive to the starting point as each gorilla family has several starting points depending on its movements within its territory.
Please note that mountain gorillas are not territorial, but they at least stay in a given dimensional area. From the starting point, you with begin your trek, which may take 30 minutes to even six hours and once you have seen the gorillas, you will then spend an hour with them before returning to the park headquarters.
At the park headquarters, they will give each of you a certificate in recognition of your contribution to the conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas. The experience varies from one family to another, from one day to another, and from hour to hour, depending on the mood and activity of a mountain gorilla family.
Combining Gorilla tracking and other excursions or destinations
Apart from Gorilla trekking, a variety of other activities are available to book for a Uganda Safari. Uganda is the Pearl of Africa, meaning that it summarizes what Africa offers. Uganda has lots to see and you may choose to spend more days and these are just a few of them.
Tailoring the right Uganda safari itinerary without back tracking and having more time gives you a chance to visit most awesome tourism destinations in Uganda.
You may choose to visit the source of the River Nile which is the longest river on planet earth, combine your gorilla tour with chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park. Visit Queen Elizabeth National Park for game drives and boat cruises on Kazinga Channel.
In a nutshell, Uganda has 10 National parks, different cultures, so many water bodies including Lake Victoria which is the largest freshwater lake in Africa, and Lake Bunyonyi the second deepest lake in East Africa. You can ask your tour operator what you can do before and after your gorilla trekking tour in Uganda or Rwanda.
What You Need To Know About Uganda and Rwanda
When organizing a gorilla trekking tour to Uganda or Rwanda, Having a sneak peek into the local life Uganda or Rwanda gives you some comfort during your Africa safari to Uganda or Rwanda. Yes, you are coming to Africa, a different continent and country altogether. Ugandans are friendly people and they respect their culture.
We don’t want you to experience a cultural shock while on your tour. Ask your tour operator to provide you with information about Uganda, its people, and culture, Visa, banks, flights, etc.