Trekking gorillas in Uganda on your wedding anniversary
Trekking gorillas in Uganda on your wedding anniversary. Are you looking to spend your wedding anniversary on a gorilla trek safari and looking for the best destinations and what to expect in Uganda? Then you are in the right place because we are going to explain what gorilla trekking is, how to plan for the anniversary, and how to plan it cost-effectively. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has attracted many tourists over the years and is carried out in two national parks in Uganda: Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi National Park.
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Mgahinga National Park: This is the smallest national park in Uganda and one of the two gorilla trekking destinations in the country. The national park is located in southwestern Uganda at the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and can easily be accessed from both counties. Mgahinga has one gorilla family open for trekking, known as the Nyakagezi family, which can be trekked throughout the year. The beauty about gorilla trekking in Mgahinga is that it is not as crowded as Bwindi, and you get to participate in other activities like Golden Monkey trekking, bird watching, enjoying the Batwa trail where you get to learn about the Batwa culture and primate walks through the park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Located in southwestern Uganda, like Mgahinga, Bwindi National Park is the perfect destination for your wedding anniversary celebration. Bwindi has half the population of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world, with about 19 habituated gorilla families open for trekking. Bwindi is divided into four sections, including the Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Rushaga sectors, and each of these has different gorilla families. The other gorilla families that you can trek within Bwindi include:
Ruhija sector has the Bitukura gorilla, Oruzongo gorilla, and Kyaguriro gorilla families.
The Buhoma sector has the Mubare gorilla, Rushegura gorilla, and Habinyanja gorilla families.
The Nkuringo sector has the Nkuringo gorilla family
Rushaga sector has the Busingye gorilla family, Nshongi gorilla family, Bweza gorilla family, and Kahungye gorilla family.
Gorilla trekking permits
The first step in organizing a wedding anniversary is getting a gorilla permit. The gorilla permit can be purchased through a trusted local tour operator like us or directly through the Uganda Wildlife Authority. It is better to purchase it through a tour operator because the process is smooth through simple steps. The first step is contacting us with your desired dates and names as they appear on the passport or national ID for East African citizens. We then check for the availability of the gorilla permits on your exact dates, and once we have confirmed their availability, you will be informed. The next step is to pay for the permit online. When paying, make sure that you send the total amount for the gorilla permit because no booking will be made if payment is not received, and ensure that the payment is made on the company account and not a personal bank account.
Once we confirm payment and make the booking, a copy of the permit will be sent to your email. The gorilla permit cost varies depending on the category of tourists you belong to; foreign non-residents pay $800, foreign residents pay $700, and 300,000 UGX for East African citizens (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Sudan).
There are about 136 gorilla permits printed per day for both Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, so if you are planning a wedding anniversary celebration in either of the two national parks, you need to book in advance at least six months before your desired dates to have a higher chance of trekking the gorillas on your anniversary.
Gorilla Habituation in Uganda
Gorilla habituation is the process where gorillas are studied for research purposes and to ensure that the primates get used to the presence of humans. Gorilla habituation is only carried out in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. During the habituation process, tourists spend a maximum of 4 hours with the gorillas, unlike the one hour spent on a regular gorilla trek. The habituation permit is more expensive than the normal permit, and it goes for $1500 per person.
Gorillas are an endangered species, and because of this, some rules and regulations need to be followed before and during the trek and these include the following;
- Tourists 15 years and above are allowed to trek the gorillas. The minimum age limit was set because it is much easier to control 15 and above, unlike those that are below who can easily run off when approached by gorillas. It is also hard for them to follow all the rules and regulations.
- You are advised not to eat or drink when with the gorillas. This is because food crumbs could easily fall on the ground, risking infections from humans in cases where the gorillas get to the crumbs.
- Flash photography is not allowed, so make sure that you turn off the camera flash before taking photos of the gorillas.
- Wearing sunglasses is also prohibited when with the gorillas, and the reason for this is that they show the gorillas’ reflection, and the gorillas might think that they are being challenged by another gorilla.
- Groups of 8 are allowed to trek a gorilla family per day. This is to ensure that the gorillas’ daily behavioral patterns are not disturbed by large crowds.
- Volunteer to stay behind if you have a viral infection, like flu and cough, as gorillas are highly susceptible to diseases.
- Everyone should keep a 7-meter distance between them and the gorillas.
- Avoid unnecessary movement and making noise, and turn off your phones or keep them on flight mode to avoid disrupting the peace of the gorillas.
- The park must be kept clean at all times, meaning you must take all your rubbish with you as you leave the park.
- Since there are no toilets, request a machete from the guide, dig a hole 30 cm deep away from the crowd, and cover it up after doing your business.
What to pack for a gorilla safari
Besides packing what you think you might need for your wedding anniversary celebrations with the gorillas, there is a packing list that will help you have a fulfilled and comfortable wedding anniversary celebration with the gorillas in Uganda.
Essential things you should pack for the gorilla trek safari include:
- Comfortable hike boots that are ankle length, waterproof, and well-fitting to avoid blisters on the feet.
- Pack appropriate and warm clothes for the trek. Long-sleeved shirts are the best since they keep you warm and prevent tree and branch scratches, not to mention insect bites. Trousers are also appropriate for the trek, but avoid jeans. Also make sure that the clothes are neutral colored (brown, green, or khaki) and avoid brightly colored clothes, black which absorbs heat, and blue attracts tsetse flies.
- Wet wipes, biodegradable toilet paper, personal toiletries like toothpaste, sanitary towels, and soap, although some of these amenities are provided at the hotels.
- Insect repellent to protect your skin from bug bites and sunscreen for protection from the sun.
- Gadgets like cameras and binoculars. The camera should have all the necessary equipment, including extra lenses, lens cleaners, batteries, and a tripod.
- A waterproof rain jacket and warm sweater are a must regardless of whether you visit during the wet season (March to May and October to November) or the dry season (June to September and December to February).
- Socks, if possible, get thick ones to keep you warm. (Trousers are usually tucked into socks to prevent insects from crawling up your leg).
- Garden gloves to protect your hands from scratches during the trek.
- Gaiters and these are usually used during the rainy season.
- A first aid kit, refillable water bottle, snacks, a day backpack to help you carry all the necessary luggage needed on a trekking day, sandals for after the trek, and a walking stick will be provided in case you need it.
The cost of a Uganda gorilla safari
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is considered to be one of the most expensive safari activities, and this is due to the high cost of the gorilla permit, which is $800 per person per day, and this does not include the park entrance fees, accommodation, personal purchases, and transportation. Uganda previously had a discount on the permits during the low season, but this is no longer available. Some of the factors that affect the cost of the gorilla safari include:
Season of travel: Uganda has two seasons, the dry and wet seasons, and the one you choose will determine whether you are to have a gorilla safari on a budget or a luxury gorilla trek safari. The dry season from June to September and December to February is also a peak season, and due to the large tourist crowds, prices are hiked, making it an expensive time to go for a gorilla trek. The rainy season (March to May and October to November), on the other hand, has fewer tourists. To attract more people, the costs of most accommodation facilities are reduced.
Type of accommodation: Accommodation around Mgahinga and Bwindi is categorized into three categories: basic/budget, mid-range, and luxury accommodation facilities. The type of accommodation chosen will determine how much the safari will cost. Tourists traveling on a budget can check out either budget or mid-range accommodation facilities, and those who want to splurge can check out the luxury accommodation facilities.
How to get to Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park
Bwindi and Mgahinga are located in the southwestern part of Uganda, and there are two ways you can get to them: by driving or flying to the national parks.
We use a fleet of well-maintained customized safari vehicles from Kampala to transport our clients reasonably cheaply. The 4×4 safari vehicles have a well-trained and experienced guide and drinking water. Note that the National Parks are 9 to 10 hours from Kampala, and this is the most frequently used mode of transport. You can also drive from Rwanda through the Gatuna border, which is about 4 hours from Mgahinga National Park, but you need to have all your documents in place, and the best way to do this is by purchasing the East African Visa.
Charter flights from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi Airstrip or Kisoro can be arranged daily. A 4×4 safari vehicle will then take you to the park headquarters. You need to book in advance so that your dates align with the schedule of the charter flights.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is an exciting activity that will make your anniversary memorable, and we are to ensure that we help you organize your intimate safari for you. If you have any more questions regarding a gorilla safari to Uganda and whether it is possible to enjoy it on your wedding anniversary, contact us to organize a stress-free safari. We have accommodating staff that is always available to help you with any inquiries that you might have. Start planning your wedding anniversary with the gorillas with us as soon as possible so as not to miss out on the most exciting activity in Uganda’s jungles.
There are also other activities in Uganda after gorilla trekking that you can engage in while on your wedding in the different safari destinations. These include boat rides, white water rafting, bungee jumping in Jinja along the River Nile, Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, and Semuliki National Park.
Contact us for more information.