Planning a Uganda gorilla safari from Mombasa Kenya coastal region
Planning a Uganda gorilla safari from Mombasa and Kenya coastal region. Road or air transport is possible to connect for gorilla safari in Uganda from Mombasa, the coastal area. Uganda and Kenya lie on the Eastern side of Africa, sharing a border on the Eastern side of Uganda.
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The Kenyan coastal area, especially the Mombasa area, is worth visiting for water experiences to relax, wind, and unwind from life hassles. You can book a seat on the buses from Mombasa via Maraba into Uganda, but this long drive may take about two days. Air transport is the most favorable and quickest transport means into Entebbe Airport.
You must reserve a gorilla permit for a gorilla safari in Uganda. Getting a gorilla permit on arrival is hard as they sell out fast, especially during the peak season. To acquire a gorilla permit, you need to check for their availability according to the date of your preference.
Ensure you know the number of people you hope to travel with for the gorilla safari to prevent chances of moving back and forth with checking availability.
In Uganda, you can do gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience. Gorilla trekking is an adventure where tourists follow a fully habituated gorilla family and stay with it for one hour. The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where a maximum of 4 tourists escort a team of researchers in the wilderness to spend 4 hours in the company of a semi-habituated gorilla family.
Book accommodation to use during gorilla safari in advance as options become slimmer as the trekking date gets closer. Accommodations to use during gorilla safari must be booked immediately after confirming where your gorilla permits are.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has four areas where gorilla permits are booked: Buhoma in the North, Ruhija in the East, Nkuringo, and Rushaga in the South.
How to plan for gorilla safari in Uganda through Mombasa
Secure a Uganda gorilla permit
Choose a date when you hope to do a gorilla safari and the possible number of people you hope to be with. Check availability by enquiring from a tour operator like Encounter Africa Safaris or Uganda Wildlife Authority.
We advise clients to secure their gorillas as soon as possible upon finding availability because they sell out fast. For conservation reasons, Gorilla permits are limited to a maximum of 8 per gorilla family.
Uganda gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are sold according to area, so you must take note of the area booked. Forward some personal details to add to your gorilla permit card, like nationality, date of birth, passport expiry date, and full name as indicated on the passport, to mention but a few.
Pre-book accommodation to use during the gorilla safari
Reserving accommodation to use during gorilla safari in Uganda is key when planning a Uganda gorilla tour. Bwindi Gorilla permits are booked according to area that is Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija, or Nkuringo for conservation reasons.
Tourists are advised not to spend the night before the gorilla safari in an area far from the trekking destination. Tourists must be near the trekking area since there is an early morning briefing before the gorilla trek or habituation experience. If you overnight in another area, you may be required to drive early in the morning in the dark, which is sometimes misty. The chances of finding obstacles on the way are high. Once you miss a briefing, you may be disqualified from attending the gorilla safari.
Book Transport To The Gorilla Safari Destinations
Flights depart Kenya into Uganda to Entebbe Airport each day at different flight times. It would be best if you served a seat on the international flights so that you arrive in time to start the gorilla safari. Missing your international flight may disorganize your plans for this adventure.
From Entebbe or Kampala, you have two optional transport means to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park. You may use road transport, which takes about 8 to 9 hours but is scenic. You can also make stopovers to the different destinations along the way to the gorilla tour parks like Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Kibale National Park, to mention but a few.
From Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip, you can connect to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip, but you need a transfer vehicle as these airstrips are some distance from gorilla habitats.
During the peak season, transport becomes challenging as competition from other Uganda safari destinations for safari vehicles and driver guides is high.
Reserve additional activities to combine with the gorilla safari
You can include other Uganda safari activities if you have extra days on your African adventure. Uganda is a land endowed with various natural beauties like chimpanzees, the source of the River Nile, cultural diversity, game parks, and multiple highlands like Mountain Rwenzori, to mention a few.
To be on the comfortable side of your itinerary, you must reserve these activities in time to avoid just walking in and being unsure if you will be allowed to be part of them.
When is the best time to book gorilla safaris in Uganda through Mombasa
Gorilla safaris in Uganda are open all year, but the preferred time is the dry season. The dry season is normally June, July, August, September, December, and January. Although Bwindi forest and Mgahinga forest receive rains any time of the day and without warning, during the dry season, there are fewer rains.
The mountain gorillas feed closer to the ground in the dry season as there is plenty to feed on. Other forest occupants are also more active in the dry season, that is, birds and butterflies, to mention a few.
The trails in the forest are drier and more passable in the dry season since more sunlight penetrates through the dense canopy.
During the dry season, completion of gorilla safaris is high, bringing a scarcity of gorilla permits. It is best to reserve the gorilla permits at least 6 months to a year upfront as last-minute gorilla permit availability may be hard to find.
In the wet season, which is also the low season, chances of finding the last gorilla permits are more open, although not guaranteed. The number of gorilla permits is limited, yet demand is high no matter the season.
Is Uganda Gorilla Safari Difficult?
Gorilla safaris are strenuous due to the nature of the topography where mountain gorillas live. The vegetation of this area is thick and tangled from the over 30000 years of Bwindi forest existence. While searching for the mountain gorillas, tourists follow the traits created by regular tourists who visit these forests.
During the trek, you may be required to hike to the slopes where mountain gorillas may spend part of their daytime or creep under the thick vegetation to the mountain gorillas. One of the escorting ranger guides carries a Machete to use in case the need to trim the way arises. Sometimes, the traits are covered and obstructed by the thick undergrowth that protrudes to cover them.
Having some fitness level before the gorilla safari saves you from getting muscle pulls when doing gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience.
What is the cost of gorilla safari in Uganda?
The cost of Uganda gorilla safaris depends on factors like the number of days on safari, the activity to take part in, the category of package you choose, whether it is budget, mid-range, or luxury, additional activities to combine with gorilla safari, number of people traveling with to mention but a few.
The gorilla permit cost is the common factor for all safari package quotations. Uganda’s current gorilla trekking permit cost is $800 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents, $700 for foreign residents, and 300000shs for East African residents.
The Uganda gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person for foreign nonresidents, $1000 for foreign residents, and 750000hshs per person for East African residents.
Is the cost of a gorilla safari worth the price?
The cost of gorilla safari is hefty but worth every coin you spend. Meeting the mountain gorillas in the wilderness is a once-in-a-lifetime experience felt only in Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R.Congo in the entire world.
Meeting the mountain gorilla leaves a deeper connection with them in you. Some tourists say they feel as if they have met their lost relatives. Mountain gorillas are adorable primates whose jungle life is exciting to be part of while on an African safari.
When you purchase a gorilla permit, you contribute to the conservation of the mountain gorillas. Their life is fragile as they were at the brim of extinction by the 1980s, all thanks to Dian Fossey, who conducted a census. The mountain gorilla population then was 300 in the entire world, but currently, the mountain gorillas are about 1000, according to the recent census.
How long is the gorilla safari in Uganda?
The gorilla duration of the gorilla safari depends on factors prevailing in the forest. Sometimes tourists have located the mountain gorillas in two hours while others have spent more time. Finding the mountain gorillas depends on factors like the proximity of the mountain gorilla food, in case of a severe fight in the forest, prevailing weather conditions, the death of a gorilla family member, the pace of other trekkers, etc.
Every tourist is required to have some patience and follow the rules of gorilla safari. Mountain gorillas are very sensitive primates, so you may push them into hiding if you violet any.
Having some level of patience keeps you going and prevents you from delaying the rest of the group.
How are Uganda gorilla families or areas allocated?
No specific criteria are followed when allocating gorilla families on the day of the trek. Sometimes, the gorilla families are allocated according to age brackets, level of fitness, interest, physical capability, and others.
It would be best to have an open mind during the gorilla safari to avoid getting bored and fatigued before finding the mountain gorillas.
When you locate the mountain gorillas during gorilla trekking, only one hour is allowed, while four hours are allowed upon meeting the mountain gorillas during the gorilla habituation experience.
What is the age limit for Uganda gorilla safaris?
The age limit for gorilla safaris is 15 years and beyond. This is because of the nature of the gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience. Children below 15 years may not be able to withstand the forest conditions. Even the time of locating the mountain gorillas is hard to determine, which may cause impatience on the side of a child below 15 years.
Such incidents may cause a quarrel amongst the tourists because the ranger guides follow the pace of the slowest trekker. This is to remember everyone in the wilderness.
How dangerous are mountain gorillas?
The mountain gorillas are naturally serene but portrayed as violent in films and animations. When you stare into their dark brown eyes, they are shy. When you come into view, the mountain gorillas mind their business as though saying you are the usual visitors. Despite their calmness, they do not violate the guidelines of gorilla safaris.
These primates have feelings and possess mood swings, too. Try not to agitate them to be in the good moments with them.
When angry, the mountain gorillas thump their chests hard, pull grass around them, hoot, walk on one leg, and many more signs of anger. It’s not always that when you notice these behaviors, the mountain gorillas are angry with you. Please wait for the ranger guide’s instructions, as sometimes it’s a family feud or an attack from a wild gorilla family. Follow the guidelines given by the ranger at this moment so as not to push the mountain gorillas into hiding.
When departing from the mountain gorilla, you need to walk away so as not to seem suspicious stealthily. Mountain gorillas are serene but have mood swings, too.
Contact us for more information if you are planning to have your safari start from Mombasa Kenya Coast.