What are the chances of seeing mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda
The chances of seeing gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda are very high because both Uganda and Rwanda are home to a significant population of mountain gorillas, the rarest and most critically endangered primate species in the world. As a result, Uganda and Rwanda are among the few safest countries where you can observe mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
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Why are the chances of seeing gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda high?
One of the reasons why the chances of seeing mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda is high is that both countries have several gorilla families that are well-habituated and used to the presence of humans. As such, they will not run away in the presence of humans.
The following reason is that both Uganda and Rwanda have invested in training their trackers and ranger guides who are in charge of locating these gorillas in the forests and guiding you to where they will be on the day of trekking.
It is also important to note that in Uganda and Rwanda, the speed at which tourists move depends on the slowest person in the group. This means that even if you are slow or relatively unfit, the ranger guides will bear with you until you reach the gorillas.
Also important to know is that gorilla family allocation in Uganda and Rwanda depends on individuals’ interest and physical fitness. If you feel you want a more accessible family, please request it, as this will increase your chances of seeing gorillas.
The other factor that will enhance your chances of seeing gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda is hiring porters or sedan chairs. Porters will assist you during the hike by carrying your backpack and giving you a push or pull during the trek.
The elderly and physically unfit people can take advantage of stretchers or sedan chairs, where they are carried to the gorillas. This comes at an extra cost but ensures you see mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda.
In Uganda, the best park to trek mountain gorillas is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, located in the southwestern part of the country and home to approximately half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. This is closely followed by Mgahinga National Park, which has one habituated gorilla family.
In Rwanda, we can find mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, which has 12 habituated families.
Uganda and Rwanda offer escorted gorilla trekking safaris that allow tourists to hike through the forests and see the gorillas in their natural habitat. While seeing gorillas in both countries cannot be guaranteed, the success rate for gorilla tracking is generally relatively high at 99% because the experience is well-planned and organized.,
The chances of seeing mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda depend on several factors. The chances of seeing mountain gorillas in the wild during gorilla trekking is about 99%. Unlike other wild animals whose viewership is a probability in the wilderness, mountain gorillas you are very sure of seeing them. These wild animals live in a particular area for some time, and their movement is not so fast. They have bulky bodies that are not capable of very fast movement.
You need to purchase a gorilla trekking permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority or Rwanda Development Board to be allowed to see the mountain gorillas. Each day only 8 gorilla permits per gorilla family are released for the public to book. The number of gorilla permits is minimized to maximum of 8 clients for conservation reasons. When the number of visiting tourists is more than that, the very sensitive mountain gorillas may get agitated by the enormous crowds and go into hiding.
Where to See Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda And Uganda
Volcanoes National park
This park lies in the North Western part of Rwanda. This is the only home of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Every traveler must purchase a gorilla permit from the Rwanda development Board to be given access to see the mountain gorillas. At the moment, Rwanda has only 12 gorilla families open for tourism, but more are expected to be habituated as the mountain gorilla conservation campaign is still going on.
Volcanoes National Park hosts other primates, too some of them include golden monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus, vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, olive baboons, and others.
Birding in Rwanda is best done when you include Volcanoes National park, as it is home to over 200 bird species so far and the list is still expanding. Of these bird in Volcanoes National Park are those listed on the IUCN red list. The park too hosts Albertine rift endemics like Handsome Francolin, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Rwenzori Turraco, Dusky’s Crimsonwing, Acher’s Robin-chat, and others.
Volcanoes National park also presents a beautiful view of the five high elevated volcanoes, that is to say mountain Gahinga, mountain Muhavura, Mountain Karisimbi, Mountain Bisoke, and Mountian Sabyinyo. You can take a return trek for 8 hours in a day.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies on southwestern corner of Uganda. This park hosts almost half the total number of mountain gorillas in the world. The rich biodiversity of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park makes it a unique destination, which is why it was selected as a world heritage site in 1994.
The fauna and Flora of Bwindi impenetrable National park are attributed to its many years of existence and its survival during the ice age period. The forest is believed to be over 25000 years and has accumulated a long list of fauna and flora. Some of the Bwindi forest inhabitants include over ten primate species, including the mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkeys.
Of the mountain gorillas, 18 gorilla families are so far open for tourism in Bwindi Impenetrable National park. These however are subdivided into gorilla trekking areas, which include the Buhoma area, Rushaga area, Nkuringo area, and Ruhija area.
More than 350 bird species are residents of Bwindi impenetrable National park. This forest hosts almost the largest population of birds in Africa, including seven listed on the IUCN red list. Some of the birds you may get to spot in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Rwenzori Batis, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Western Green Tinkerbird, and others. The Ruhija area, especially in the Mubwindi swamp, is the best birding sights of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi forest also hosts other animals too, like 51 reptiles, over 310 butterfly species, 88 months, and others.
Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National park lies on the southern part of the three of the six Virunga ranges. This park covers about 33.7 square kilometers of land and hosts some of the leftover mountain gorillas in the world. At the moment, only one gorilla family, called Nyakagezi family, is the only one open for tourism purposes.
Since Mgahinga National Park is less visited, it still has its virgin vegetation. With a hike to one of these volcanoes, one can get to enjoy the fantastic vegetation cover that have culminated over time. One can also climb the dormant volcanoes to stand simultaneously on the border of Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Rep of Congo.
Mgahinga National park also hosts several other primates, including golden monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboons, black and white colobus, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, and others.
Birding in Mgahinga National Park is incredible, as more than 115 bird species have been listed to be living in this park, including Albertine endemics. Some of the birds you may get to spot include Dusky’s Tutle Dove, Rwenzori Turaco, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Malachite Sunbird, Montane Double-collared sunbird and others.
How Much Is Gorilla Trekking Safari In Uganda And Rwanda
The cost of the gorilla trekking permit is the only cost that cuts across all packages, that is to say Luxury, Midrange, or Modest safari package. Other factors to consider when costing for gorilla trekking tours include
The number of days on gorilla trekking safari
The more days you are on gorilla trekking safari, the higher the gross cost. Most service providers charge per day cost, and in case you have more time on safari, the higher the gross cost.
The timing of gorilla trekking safari whereby when you book your gorilla tour in the high season, the cost is high while when you book your safari in the low season, you may attract discounted prices from service providers like lodges, vehicle hire, and others.
The number of paying people doing the gorilla trekking safari where the more people booked for gorilla trekking, the less the safari cost per person. You get to share some safari expenses like vehicle hire, driver guide, and much more.
When you combine many other activities with gorilla trekking, the cost increases. You can add activities like chimpanzee trekking, game drives, launch trips, visit source of River Nile, mountaineering, and others.
What Is Included in The Gorilla Permit Cost for Uganda And Rwanda
The cost of Uganda gorilla trekking permits is $700 per person per trek. The Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1500 per person per trek. The price of gorilla trekking permits is inclusive of the below.
The ranger guide fees
For every group heading to gorilla trekking, at least two ranger guides have to lead the way. These rangers have accumulated mountain gorilla experience over time. Through research, physically visiting the gorillas, and attending refresher courses, they learn more about the mountain gorillas’ life.
They pass this information over to you and everybody would like to get the most recent and accurate information about the mountain gorillas they are trekking. With all this work they do to conserve the mountain gorillas and other forest inhabitants, the rangers deserve to be paid their salaries.
Within the gorilla permits cost, medication for the mountain gorillas is included. Even if they are wild animals that must look for their own food, they sometimes need extra assistance from the gorilla doctors.
Routinely, random checkups are made on the gorillas by collecting samples of their dung or blood to establish their general health. All this is sent to different laboratories. This is all costly.
Gorilla habituation support
For gorilla habituation to take place, some funds must support this. These funds are collected from selling gorilla permits and other related activities. Gorilla habituation is the process of getting mountain gorillas due to the presence of humans without altering their nature. This process also involves research about each mountain gorilla and so much more.
Local community support
The mountain gorillas sometimes stray into the community and spoil their food. To make up for this, a percentage of the annual profit got from the sale of gorilla-related activities is given to the community. They use this to support their projects like building roads, setting up schools, setting up water sources, and much more. In turn, the locals pass information about the mountain gorillas to the authorities concerned instead of killing them.
How Difficult Is Gorilla Trekking
Gorilla trekking is done in ragged terrain because of the volcanic nature of this area. The mountain gorillas also meander to slopes of the other highlands, so you have to locate them there at times.
Sometimes even the severe rainy seasons may push the mountain gorillas to the slopes away from the soggy ground. You may have to find gorillas on the slopes when you book your gorilla trekking safari in the intense rainy season.
This is one reason why some level of fitness is necessary for you to locate mountain gorillas. However, you do not need to take on the gym but stretch your muscles beyond normal in preparation for gorilla trekking.
When in the forest and you have to go through thick creepers to get to the mountain gorillas, the ranger guides have machetes that they use to cut through and make a way to where the gorillas are lounging.
When Is The Best Time To Book Gorilla trekking Safaris In Uganda And Rwanda?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is open all year. Still, you must ensure you book your gorilla permit in time. If you want to do gorilla trekking in the peak seasons, which are June to September or December to January, book your gorilla permit atleast six months in advance. This is to avoid last-minute panic to obtain the gorilla permits, yet they are limited in number.
Some people prefer the drier months for gorilla trekking because less rain occurs in the forest. However, even the forest dwellers are most active in the dry months, like monkeys, butterflies, birds, and others.
Note that the prices of most services are high in the peak season because of demand for them, even with other activities like game drives, chimpanzee trekking, and others.
What To Pack For Gorilla Trekking In Uganda and Rwanda
- Foldable Safari hat to use in the wilderness in case there is falling off the trees.
- Safari clothes in colors that are friendly to the wilderness, like Khaki, tan, and others that do not show dirt.
- A duffel bag in which to pack your belongings so that you can carry them easily in case you have no one to assist you.
- A torch to use in the night when lights go out. Most of the lodges here use solar energy for lighting.
- A sweater or warmers to cover you from getting cold, especially in the morning and evening when the weather changes.
- Safari boots to protect your feet from the harsh conditions in the wilderness, like pricking surfaces.
- Insect repellant keeps away biting insects that would cause harm to your body.
- Travel adapter and charger to recharge your electronic gadgets in case you need to
- Extra fully charged batteries to exchange with in case one runs low on power
- Poncho or raincoat to wear if it rains while on the trek to see the mountain gorillas.
- A camera to take photos and preserve memories of your encounter with the mountain gorillas
- Pajamas to wear at night during your stay at the lodges.
- Bug spray to keep away bugs that may be in your room
- Mask to wear before meeting the mountain gorillas in the wilderness. It’s a must-rule for everyone.
- Garden gloves to protect your palms from biting nettles that may be in the wilderness.
- Binoculars to see far-ranging objects in the wilderness that may interest you.
- Some cash to exchange into local currency if you need to make purchases like souvenirs.