Planning a Uganda gorilla safari from Nairobi, Kenya
Planning a Uganda gorilla safari from Nairobi, Kenya. Do you plan to connect to Uganda for gorilla trekking through Nairobi? There are two ways, that is by road and by air. Uganda and Kenya share a border, and all are in the East African community, so you can book the East Africa visa to avoid having to purchase another visa into Uganda.
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It would be best to have a gorilla permit, as this is the only permission to enter any gorilla safari destination in Uganda. When planning, consider the date and the number of people you hope to travel with for gorilla safaris to keep your distance from moving back and forth while checking availability.
It would be best if you fixed the gorilla permits by purchasing them upfront, as they sell out fast, especially in the peak season: June, July, August, September, December, and January.
Choose the destination where you wish to do gorilla safaris: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park.
If you wish to combine gorilla safari with other Uganda safari activities, state that in advance so that an itinerary is meticulously drawn.
When you choose road transport, the entry point into Uganda from Nairobi, Kenya, is through the Malaba border. There are daily flights from Nairobi to Entebbe, Uganda, at different times. For a fly-in gorilla safari in Uganda, you can arrive in Uganda and connect with daily domestic flights to the Kihihi or Kisoro airstrips. You need a transfer vehicle later as the airstrips are about two hours away from the gorilla destinations.
How to plan for gorilla safaris in Uganda through Nairobi, Kenya
Book your gorilla permit
The gorilla permit is the number one priority when planning a gorilla safari. In case you hope to do gorilla trekking or habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you must note the area where your gorilla permit is booked, as this will determine where to secure accommodation.
You must have a date and the number of gorilla permits you hope to purchase.
Enquire about availability from a tour operator or Uganda Wildlife Authority. If you enquire from us at Encounter Africa Safaris, our safari consultant checks availability from the Uganda Wildlife Authority list per your trek date.
Upon approval, we advise tourists to buy their gorilla permits as soon as possible because their status changes at any time. The gorilla permits are limited to a maximum of 8 per family and sold on a first-come, first-served basis. The peak season gorilla permits sell out fast, so you need to secure them at least 6 months to a year in advance.
Later, forward some personal details for identification like your full name as presented on the passport, nationality, date of birth, and passport expiry date.
Secure international and local transport.
It would be best to secure a seat on the flights from Nairobi to Entebbe if you use air transport. You must secure a seat even when you must use public transport, that is, buses from Nairobi to Kampala.
Uganda has daily domestic flights from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airport to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip. You can disembark from one flight on these flights and connect in the early morning or late afternoon.
You must secure the transport to these destinations to avoid giving a gap for chances of interruption in your journey to the gorilla safari destinations.
Book Accommodation To Use During Gorilla Safari
Gorilla safaris start early in the morning with a briefing, and missing a briefing may result in being disqualified from this safari even though you possess a gorilla permit. You need to reserve accommodation closer to or within the area where your Uganda gorilla permit is booked.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the main source home of Uganda, hosting almost half the world’s only mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has four areas: the Buhoma area, the Ruhija area, the Rushaga area, and the Nkuringo area.
In these areas are different categories of accommodation facilities: luxury, mid-range, and budget facilities. You need to spend the night where your gorilla permit is booked to avoid driving in the dark to catch up with briefing early in the morning.
Bwindi accommodations: Gorilla Forest Camp, Rushaga Gorilla Safaris Lodge, Engage Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Ruhijah Gorilla Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Bwindi Backpaker’s Camp, Nshongi Camp, Trekker’s Tavern
Mgahinga accommodations: Gahinga Lodge, Mgahinga gorilla Triangle, Majambere Iwachu, Community Camp, Mutanda Lake Resort.
Reserve additional activities to combine with the gorilla safari.
If you want to be on a Uganda gorilla safari for more than three days, you can engage in other Uganda safari activities to spice up your safari experience. Uganda is a land gifted by nature, and on the way to the mountain gorillas, you can make stopovers to destinations like Kibale National Park to do chimpanzee trekking, game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, visit Lake Mburo National Park for game drives, visit the source of River Nile in Jinja, white water rafting on the Nile and several others.
You need to pay park entrance fees to the game parks in advance to avoid being disturbed on arrival, as game parks no longer accept cash at the gates of the national parks.
When is the best time to plan a gorilla safari from Nairobi, Kenya, to Uganda?
Gorilla safaris are conducted all year round, but the dry season is preferred. The Uganda dry season is normally June, July, August, September, December, and January. The mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers are more active, and the thick Bwindi forest is full of life.
It’s best to purchase the gorilla permits for this season at least 6 months to a year in advance to prevent last-minute panic trying to find availability.
Uganda currently has 152 Gorilla trekking permits from 19 gorilla families and 8 gorilla habituation experience permits from two gorilla families. The Uganda Wildlife Authority emphasizes that no gorilla permit is secured without payment, yet a first-come, first-served basis is used to reserve these permits.
In the peak season, last-minute gorilla permits are easy to find if those on resell or no-show permits. During the low season, chances of last-minute gorilla permits are high, although only some of the time. No matter the season, you need to enquire about gorilla permit availability before traveling and expect a change in availability status at any time.
After securing the gorilla permit, you must book other supporting safari amenities, especially during the high tourism season.
How Sure Can I Be To See The Mountain Gorillas In Uganda
There is a 99% chance of seeing mountain gorillas in Uganda. Before a gorilla family is opened to the public, it is habituated first for an unknown period. It is opened when it is finally confirmed that humans can visit the gorilla family.
Mountain gorillas live in cohesive families under the leadership of a dominant silverback. It is hard to depart from the family. The gorilla family feeds from a particular area for some time, then relocates only when food becomes scarce. Since they occupy a particular area for some time, trekkers can be sure to see them.
Each day, a team of trackers wakes up earlier than others to follow the gorilla family and establish the possible direction they may take. These clues are what ranger guides use when escorting tourists so that they do not move anyhow in the forest.
How long is the Uganda gorilla safari?
The duration of the gorilla safaris varies depending on how close or further the mountain gorillas are. Some tourists locate the mountain gorillas in two hours while others more than three-quarters of the day.
The location of the mountain gorillas depends on factors like the proximity of their food, in case of a family fight, especially power struggles, death of a family member, paces of tourists, and so much more.
Although gorilla safari is strenuous, the reward when you stand before these giant but serene primates is unmatched. For a while, you may forget all you have been through while searching for the mountain gorillas and only gape at the family life of the mountain gorillas.
Upon locating the mountain gorillas, only one hour is allowed for gorilla trekking and four hours for gorilla habituation experience.
How much are the gorilla safaris in Uganda?
The cost of gorilla safaris is categorized into luxury, mid-range, and budget packages. These gorilla safari packages are developed on factors like the number of people traveling with them, the number of days on a gorilla safari, the time of booking the gorilla safari, and additional activities to combine with the gorilla tour, to mention but a few.
The costs of a gorilla permit cut across all budgets. The Uganda gorilla permit costs $800 per person for foreign nonresidents, $700 per person for foreign residents, and 300000shs for East African residents.
The cost of the Uganda gorilla permit includes Park entrance fees, briefing, one hour with the mountain gorillas, ranger guide fees, mountain gorilla conservation support, and local community support, to mention but a few.
Exclusions of gorilla permit cost: tips, transport to gorilla destination, accommodation, snacks, and any other items of a personal nature.
Is the cost of a gorilla safari in Uganda worth it?
The price of the gorilla safari is hefty but worth every penny. Not only do you have that precious time in the wilderness with the only mountain gorillas in the world, but you also support conservation.
Many tourists worldwide would like that heart-melting moment with the mountain gorillas, but many need to be included due to the limited number of gorilla permits. Taking photos of the mountain gorillas gives you flashbacks after returning home from a gorilla safari. Even physically confirming how vulnerable the mountain gorillas are makes gorilla safari a special wildlife encounter.
When you purchase a gorilla permit, you contribute to the conservation of the mountain gorillas whose lives lay on the brim of extinction by the 1980s with the then mountain gorilla population of 300. The conservation program started, which required funding, so gorilla safaris are some ways of collecting funds to support the sustainable existence of the endangered mountain gorillas.
The recent mountain gorilla census indicates that about 1,000 mountain gorillas live globally. This is owed to the dedicated conservation team.
How aggressive are mountain gorillas?
Mountain gorillas are serene primates despite their rough-looking faces and huge bodies covered in dark fur. The Mountain gorillas are shy primates, too, which is why their visitors are advised not to stare into their dark brown eyes. When agitated, the mountain gorillas run into hiding. In the history of gorilla safaris, nobody has ever been reported to be a victim of an attack from the mountain gorillas.
When the angry mountain gorillas thump hard their chests, hoot, walk on one foot, pull grass around them, and dash into the forest.
It is not a time when mountain gorillas show such behavior; visitors anger them. Sometimes, they offer such behavior due to a family feud or an attack from a wild gorilla family.
Upon seeing signs of anger from the mountain gorillas, please wait for the ranger’s advice because they know how to calm the situation. Try not to escalate the situation by running and shouting while standing before the mountain gorillas, or you may cause a forest stampede. The dominant silverback loves showing off his power, so give him a chance to be your forest master to have harmony during the gorilla safari adventure.
Avoid flash photography during the gorilla safari because you may anger the mountain gorillas and push them into the deeper forest. Try to stay in a tight group to make mountain gorillas feel ambushed. These are very sensitive primates that fear intruders in their vicinity.
Contact us for more information to plan your safari from Nairobi