The dry season for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is usually from June to September and December to February all factors remain constant. Although this area receives rain any time without warning, these months are known for receiving less rain, making the trails more passable. Even the other forest dwellers, like the monkeys and butterflies, are more active in the dry season. This area receives an average of 2390 mm of rain per year. The wettest months are March to May and October to November, but sometimes due to climatic change, seasons change.
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Temperatures may drop as low as 7 degrees centigrade or rise to about 20 degrees centigrade in the Virunga area.
Gorilla trekking permits for the dry seasons are highly competed for because even other Uganda safari activities are in high demand too. Therefore, making a combo of gorilla trekking with other Uganda safari activities like game drives, chimpanzee trekking, and visiting the source of the River Nile is more sought after in this season.
Where To Do Gorilla Trekking In Uganda And Rwanda
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Uganda’s most sought-after gorilla trekking destination. This forested National park is one of the remnants of the ice age period when Africa faced arid conditions. As a result, this forest which is believed to be about 25000 years became the refugee point for extraordinary fauna and flora.
About 200 tree species, ten primate species, 310 butterfly species, 51 reptiles, and more are believed to be residents of this National Park. The mountain gorillas are the most extraordinary primates of this National Park, with about 18 gorilla families open for tourism.
Over 350 bird species, of which seven are on the red list of IUCN, are residents here. Bwindi Impenetrable forest has about 23 bird species out of 24 bird species of the Albertine rift endemics. A keen birder may be able to identify over 100 birds in a day. Some of the birds you may get to see include Western Green Tinkerbirds, Mountain Masked Apalises, Red-faced Woodland Warblers, Rwenzori Batis, Rwenzori Hill, Collared Apalis
Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National park is another of the hosts of mountain gorillas in Uganda, although its area is small. The park covers an area of 33.7 square kilometers of the land but has a backdrop of three distinctive volcanoes Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Muhavura, and mountain Sabyinyo.
This park is known to host several other primates like golden monkeys, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus, olive baboons, and others. Still, it also offers some of this area’s virgin environments.
Only one gorilla family is known to live in this National park called Nyakagezi Family. In the past, the mountain gorillas used to meander into Rwanda, where they would stay for some time, making it hard to secure gorilla permits for this park. Of late, these mountain gorillas have been living in Mgahinga National Park, and pre-booking these gorilla permits is ok.
One can also hike for 8 hours return trip to the summit of either of these distinctive volcanoes in a day. When you reach the top of Gahinga mountain, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R.Congo from the same pivot.
Birding in Mgahinga National Park is exceptional, with about 115 bird species living there. You may have the chance to spot birds like White-tailed Blue Flycatchers, lagden’s bush shrike, Rwenzori Turaco, Malachite sunbirds, and others.
Volcanoes National Park
This tropical National Park is home to some of the leftover mountain gorillas living in the North Western part of Rwanda. To do gorilla trekking in Rwanda, you must acquire a gorilla trekking permit from Rwanda Development Board.
Volcanoes National park is currently home to about 12 gorilla families open for tourism purposes. Other primates you may encounter in Volcanoes National Park include blue monkeys, golden monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, and others.
More activities you may take part in during your tour in Volcanoes National Park are birding, where over 200 bird species have been recorded to be residents here, including the Albertine rift endemics. A hike through the last steps of American Primatologist and mountain gorilla hero Dian Fossey to where her remains lay. Mountaineering on one of the Virunga Volcanoes like mountain Gahinga, Mountain Muhabura, Mountain Sabyinyo, Mountain Bisoke, and Mountain Karisimbi.
When To Book Gorilla Trekking Permits For The Dry Season In Uganda And Rwanda
Booking your gorilla permit in advance is the best way to reduce the chances of panicking to acquire a permit at the last moment. However, this also disorganizes you because even other safari amenities like accommodation must be reserved in advance.
We advise our clients to purchase their permits for the peak or dry season at least six months in advance, especially if they have other people they are traveling with.
This may also open an opportunity to purchase your gorilla permits in installments but ensure you top up 90 days before the trekking date.
Last-minute booking of your gorilla trekking permit sends you panicking and limits you with choices of the best services to get during your Africa safari.
Hoping to get a gorilla permit on the trekking date is trickier in the dry seasons because you are unsure of a no-show or a possible last-minute gorilla permit opening.
The chances of acquiring last-minute gorilla trekking permits in Uganda are even more challenging in Uganda, where passes are reserved by area in Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Therefore, you must overnight close to or within the areas where your gorilla permits are booked to avoid early rising to catch up with the briefing.
If you are unsure of a gorilla permit availability, we advise you not to get to the parks because you may spend more than you had budgeted for on your gorilla trekking safari. You may also request help from a professional tour operator like Encounter Africa Safaris.
How long is gorilla trekking in the dry season for Uganda and Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is unpredictable regarding when to locate the mountain gorillas. At times, tourists take about three-quarters of the day between 2 hours after starting.
The time you take to locate the mountain gorillas depends on several factors like
The proximity of the mountain gorilla food
The further the location of the mountain gorilla food, the longer the gorilla trek. The mountain gorilla family conquers a particular area for some time then when food is done, they seek new feeding grounds.
In nature, mountain gorillas are vegetarians that feed on foliage through the day and take them through the night despite their sheer bodies. Their favorite meal is bamboo, soft stems, fruits, branches, leaves, tubers, etc.
In case of a nasty fight Among the mountain gorillas.
If the gorilla family is attacked by another gorilla family and loses, the members may seek refuge in the deeper ends of the forest, prolonging the gorilla trek. When there is a nasty fight within the gorilla family, and members disagree, they may split, and each troupe finds its way out. This gorilla family, too, may be hard to trace.
A happy family may be seen celebrating, and locating them may not be so challenging, but this is not definite. Sometimes you may even receive a visit from a particular gorilla family right by your doorstep.
Prevailing Weather Conditions in the area
The severe wet season typically pushes mountain gorillas to the slopes. They tend to avoid very soggy ground or slippery surfaces because of their bulky size. Mountain gorillas usually feed closer to the ground in the drier months because their food is easy to grab, and walking is not so difficult.
The pace of the gorilla trekkers
If you are allocated a gorilla trekking group with slow people, the time to see the gorillas may be extended. On the other hand, speedy and energetic people may move faster, so locating the mountain gorillas may also be quick. The ranger guide follows the pace of the slowest trekker so that no one is forgotten in the forest.
Which Is the Best Country For Gorilla Trekking Of Uganda And Rwanda
When you meet mountain gorillas, you forget about the hassle you may have gone through to make your gorilla trekking dream come true.
Whether you go gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda, the feeling you get after meeting them is unmatched. That moment when you look into the dark brown eyes of these gentle giants sinks deep into your inner being. However, a few notes may create a difference in the gorilla trekking experience between Uganda and Rwanda.
The difference in gorilla permits price
The cost of gorilla trekking permits for Rwanda is $1500 per person per trek, whereas the cost of gorilla trekking permits for Uganda is $700 per person per trek.
Distance traveled to the gorilla trekking destinations
The drive time from Kigali Airport to Volcanoes National Park is about 3 hours through winding roads, while the drive time from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National or Mgahinga National Park is about 8 hours to 9 hours.
Uganda has about 19 gorilla families opened for tourism purposes, while Rwanda currently has about 12 gorilla families opened for tourism purposes.
Uganda provides more options to combine with gorilla trekking, like game drives, white water rafting, visiting source of River Nile, chimpanzee trekking, birding, and hiking, to mention but a few. On the other hand, Rwanda has excellent scenery, chimpanzee trekking, Rwanda birding, game drives, Kigali city tour, and others.
The reception for briefing before gorilla trekking in Rwanda is more defined and organized than that of Uganda.
Rules Of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda And Rwanda
In case you catch a contagious infection, volunteer to stay behind. Unfortunately, then train gorillas are susceptible to these infections.
No littering in the forest because it is where the food for the mountain gorillas grows. If you dump indecomposable garbage, it may alter the nature of the forest.
No surrounding the mountain gorillas when you meet them. This makes them feel ambushed.
When eating or smoking, do this beyond 200 meters away from the gorillas to avoid them grabbing it from you. They are wild animals that must not depend on the human provision.
Spitting on vegetation is forbidden because it may contaminate the food for the mountain gorillas spreading germs to them.
When you locate the mountain gorillas, stand about 8 meters from them to reduce the chances of spreading germs to them or them to you.
Provoking the Mountain gorillas is forbidden because they may get agitated by what you do to them.
When taking photographs before the mountain gorillas, do it using no flash photography because the mountain gorillas are often scared of strange occurrences in their presence.
Wearing a mask before finding the gorilla is a must. It must Be at least N95 as a measure taken to reduce the chances of passing the coronavirus infection to the mountain gorillas. Also, sanitize your footwear before stepping into the forest to start gorilla trekking.
Children aged 15 years are forbidden from attending gorilla trekking because of the matters surrounding this experience, such as the time of locating the mountain gorillas. Some patience is needed, which may be hard to deal with by searching for a child. Even though the forest is slippery, you may need to hike to get to the mountain gorillas. This may be challenging for a child of this age.
When you locate the mountain gorillas, only one hour can be with them. After that, they need to go about their daily activities.
No one likes to trek gorillas during rainy seasons, so we will try to look at the advantages of trekking gorillas in dry seasons. In Uganda and Rwanda, the traditional dry seasons are June, July, August, September, December, January, and February. These months have been described as the best for gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Mgahinga National Park, and Volcanoes National Park in Uganda and Rwanda, respectively. Gorilla trekking in dry seasons has advantages and disadvantages worth exploring to enable all those interested in gorilla trekking to make the right decision.