Planning a last-minute gorilla trek to Uganda and Rwanda
Planning the last-minute gorilla trekking safari in Uganda and Rwanda may be puzzling, but you need help from a professional and experienced planner. Plan where to start your gorilla trekking adventure from in Uganda in Rwanda. At Encounter Africa Safaris, we pride ourselves on our over 10 years of experience organizing gorilla safaris and other African tours. We consider your gorilla trekking safari as last minute when you book it 90 days to a day to start the gorilla safari.
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It would be best to first have a Uganda and Rwanda gorilla permit even for last-minute gorilla tours. During the peak tourism season in Uganda, availability of gorilla permits narrows as demand is over the top but supply is fixed. Each day only a maximum of 8 gorilla trekking permits per gorilla family is open to the public to book.
In Rwanda, 12 gorilla trekking families are currently open for the public to book all living in Volcanoes National Park. Uganda has 19 gorilla trekking families open to the public to book, all living in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park.
As one planning to do gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, you need to know when you wish to do the gorilla trek and the number of gorilla permits needed in case you have company during this adventure.
Purchase the East African visa for tourists who must possess one before entering Uganda and Rwanda. The East African Visa allows you entry into at least two East African countries, of which both Uganda and Rwanda are members.
Select the transport means to use when crossing from either Rwanda to Uganda and vice versa.
How To Plan for Last Minute Gorilla Trek In Uganda And Rwanda
Book The Gorilla Permits For Uganda And Rwanda
You have to check for the availability of gorilla permits for Uganda and Rwanda since this is a double-country gorilla safari adventure. State the number of gorilla permits you wish to book; otherwise, you may have to move back and forth with checking availability. The Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Development Board are mandated to regulate and sell gorilla permits in Uganda.
You can book your gorilla permit through an accredited tour operator like Encounter Africa Safaris as operators have another option of finding gorilla permits on resale like through the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO).
Doing last-minute gorilla permit booking individually may be challenging, especially if you are a first-timer.
Upon finding gorilla permit availability, purchase the permit as soon as possible to avoid chances of losing them as a first come, first served basis is used when booking gorilla permits. Forward your details like your full name as indicated on the passport, date of birth, nationality, and passport expiry date for identification.
Note that Uganda gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are booked according to area which is Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.
Reserve Accommodation To Use During Gorilla Safari In Uganda And Rwanda
Although last-minute gorilla trekking safari bookings come with limited choices of accommodations, especially during the peak season, you need to find a comfortable place for your safari. Gorilla trekking starts early in the morning with a briefing, which is compulsory for all tourists. When you miss you may be disqualified from going gorilla trekking even though you possess a permit.
You need to book accommodation within or closer to the destination where your gorilla permit is booked. As mentioned earlier Uganda gorilla permits for Bwindi are booked according to the area. Hence, you have to secure accommodation within reach of these areas or drive in the dark to catch up with the briefing. This has challenges too.
- Bwindi accommodations: Gorilla Forest Camp, Clouds Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Ruhija Gorilla Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi Backpackers Camp
- Mgahinga accommodations: Volcano Gahinga Lodge, Volcanoes Camp, Traveller’s Inn, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Mgahinga gorilla Triangle
- Volcanoes accommodations: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Kinigi Guest House, Hotel Muhavura, La Palme Hotel.
Book Transport Mean To The Gorilla Trekking Destinations
Whether you start your gorilla safari from Uganda or Rwanda, you must select the transport means to use: road and air transport. If you are to use the road, you must hire a 4×4 vehicle as the countryside roads sometimes need to be cleaned.
The drive from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park is about 8 to 9 hours but you can make stopovers to national parks en route to break the journey. Later, You can cross Rwanda via the Gatuna or Cyanika border, and the drive is about 5 to 6 hours.
Alternatively, you can start your safari from Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda about 3 hours from Kigali Airport, do the gorilla trek then carry on to Uganda. You may do gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park.
By air, you can do gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, then drive to Kigali airport and fly to Entebbe airport. Catch up with daily domestic flights from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip. You can also fly to other Uganda safari destinations before going gorilla trekking.
You must hire a transfer vehicle from the airstrip to your lodge.
All this arrangement needs a professional tour operator familiar with all alternative means of transport to use and up to date with the road conditions or else you may get stuck in the middle of your safari journey.
At Encounter Africa Safaris, we pride ourselves on over 10 years of experience in organizing African safaris, which has fetched us experience and exposure to various possible.
Identify additional activities to combine with Gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda.
Taking the full safari experience of Uganda and Rwanda is incredible as there is plenty to see and compare in both countries.
While in Uganda, you can combine gorilla trekking safari with alternative activities like chimpanzee trekking, game drives, several water activities although Uganda is a landlocked country, Uganda birding, cultural experience, mountaineering, and scenic viewing, to mention a few.
Rwanda is limited with alternative activities to combine with gorilla trekking like chimpanzee trekking, canopy walks, golden monkey trekking, game drives, boat trips, genocide memorial visits, etc.
Reserving these alternatives in advance saves you from panic and forgetting them, yet doing a repeat visit may be costly.
What is the difference between gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda?
Gorilla trekking is an exceptional encounter that may make you forget to check out the difference between this safari in Uganda and Rwanda. Some of the differences between gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda may come with:
- The cost of gorilla permit
The Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1500 per person, whereas the Uganda gorilla trekking permit costs $700 per person per trek.
- Number of gorilla trekking permits
Currently, Uganda has 152 gorilla trekking permits open to public booking, while Rwanda at the moment opens 96 gorilla trekking permits to the public.
- Time from the airport to gorilla trekking destination
The drive to Volcanoes National Park is about 3 hours from Kigali airport, while from Entebbe airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park is about 8 to 9 hours.
- Alternative activities to combine with gorilla trekking
Uganda has a wide range of activities to combine with gorilla trekking, from game drives, launch trips, white water rafting, gorilla habituation experience, chimpanzee safaris, and many others. Rwanda is limited with optional activities to combine with gorilla trekking like chimpanzee game drives, genocide memorial visits and others.
When Is The best Time To book A Gorilla Trekking Safari In Uganda and Rwanda?
Even though last-minute gorilla trekking permits may be available, a guarantee is a probability. You need to book your gorilla safari at least 6 months to a year upfront. Securing a gorilla permit is the only way to confirm a gorilla trekking permit.
Most tourists prefer the dry season when selecting the period for doing gorilla trekking safari. This is because the mountain gorillas are full of life, and the precipitation in the forest is slightly lower. There is more sunray penetration through the dense canopy to the ground, so trails are passable.
The dry season is the peak tourism season, too: June, July, August, September, December, and January. Demand for gorilla permits for this period is high, creating scarcity for those booking at the last minute.
The low season may favor last-minute gorilla trekking permit boking, but you must secure the permits in advance. The low-season tourism season of Uganda and Rwanda is March, April, May and November you need to buy your permit before travelling. Sometimes, the gorilla permits for the low season sell out, too.
What is the cost of gorilla trekking permits in Uganda and Rwanda?
Currently, the Uganda gorilla trekking permit costs $700 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and 250000shs for East African residents.
Rwanda gorilla trekking permit currently costs $1500 per person for foreign nonresidents, $500 for foreign residents and $200 for East African residents.
- What is covered in the gorilla permit cost?
The gorilla permit cost for Uganda and Rwanda over the park entrance fees, ranger guide fees, security during gorilla safari, mountain gorilla conservation, government tax, local community support, one hour with the mountain gorillas certificate after gorilla trek, briefing before the gorilla trek.
Exclusions in the gorilla trekking permit cost: porter hire, accommodations, transport and others items of personal nature.
What are the Rules of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda?
Protecting the mountain gorillas is top priority during gorilla safaris as mountain gorillas are endangered. About 1000 mountain gorillas are living in the world, so this small number needs to be conserved for sustainable existence. Even their habitats need to be protected from encroachers, so you must religiously abide by the gorilla trekking rules in Uganda and Rwanda.
- Keep a distance of about 8 meters from the mountain gorillas when you locate them. This is to prevent chances of passing an infection to these primates, as they are highly susceptible to communicable diseases like flu, cough, COVID-19 and others.
- In case you are sick with a communicable infection, volunteer to stay behind so as not to pass it to the endangered mountain gorillas.
- If you want to eat or drink while before the mountain gorillas, do it at least 200 meters away from them. They are wild animals that must search for their food.
- The age limit for gorilla safari is 15 years and beyond. This is because the way to locate the mountain gorillas has rugged topography, which requires you to hike sometimes in order to find the mountain gorillas.
- Only go into the forest with an escorting ranger guide. Although the mountain gorillas are fully habituated to human presence, some forest dwellers are not and may be dangerous to you alone.
- When defecating, ask the ranger guide to dig a hole at least 30 centimeters deep and cover well beyond recognition.
- Stay in a tight group with the mountain gorillas because surrounding them may cause them to feel ambushed.
- Please don’t attempt to provoke the mountain gorillas because they are wild animals that even though habituated to human presence. They still possess wild behaviors.
- When taking photos, do it with a flash-less camera to not scare the mountain gorillas, they are often scared by unfamiliar occurrences in there presence.
- When tracking the mountain gorillas, keep your voice low so as not to scare the mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers that may be interesting to add to your wildlife photo collection.
- Never dump garbage in the wilderness, as this alters the nature of the forest where mountain gorillas live.
Contact us for more information to plan your last-minute gorilla trekking safari in Uganda and Rwanda.