Planning a Uganda gorilla safari from Arusha, Tanzania
Planning a Uganda gorilla safari from Arusha, Tanzania. From Arusha in Tanzania, you can get into Uganda by road or air transport to start the gorilla safari. You can use the advantage of the East African Visa, which allows entry into two East African countries, of which Uganda and Tanzania are members. There is no need to re-apply for a visa to Uganda if you have a valid East African Visa. You cross into Uganda from Tanzania via the Mutukula border.
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You can fly from Arusha to Entebbe Airport and catch up with your gorilla safari. If you choose ground transport to the Uganda gorilla destinations, starting the drive from Entebbe or Kampala early morning is best to beat early morning traffic time. The drive time from Kampala or Entebbe is about 8 to 9 hours without stopovers, so it is best to begin the voyage early.
Uganda has two gorilla safari destinations, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, with 18 gorilla families open to public booking for gorilla trekking. Two gorilla families in southern Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are open for gorilla habituation experience.
Mgahinga National Park in southwestern Uganda is another Uganda gorilla safari destination. So far, this park has one gorilla family called Nyakagezi. This gorilla family used to wander into Rwanda but is currently fully settled in Uganda.
Securing a gorilla trekking or habituation experience permit is the only guarantee to participating in this safari adventure. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is the only body that sells and regulates gorilla permits, but you can use the assistance of the tour operators to secure the permits for you.
You can choose to do gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience in Uganda.
What is a gorilla trekking safari?
The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where tourists can visit a fully habituated gorilla family and stay with them for one hour. In Uganda, 19 gorilla families are open for gorilla trekking safari.
Since only a maximum of 8 gorilla permits are open per gorilla trekking family, Uganda has opened 152 gorilla permits to public booking per day.
What is gorilla habituation Experience?
The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where tourists escort a team of researchers and trackers in the wilderness to follow a semi-habituated gorilla family and stay with them for four hours. Only a maximum of four tourists can participate in this adventure daily.
So far, Uganda has two gorilla permits open to gorilla habituation experience, but these are in the southern part of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
How to Plan Gorilla Safari in Uganda from Tanzania Arusha
Secure gorilla permit
Whether you are to do gorilla trekking or habituation experience, securing a gorilla permit is the only entry ticket to any of these activities. The Uganda Wildlife Authority issues 152 gorilla permits for gorilla trekking and 8 gorilla permits for gorilla habituation experience daily.
When booking the Uganda gorilla permits, you must have the trek or habituation experience date and the number of people you hope to travel with. You check for gorilla permit availability per your date of preference through the Uganda Wildlife Authority or an accredited tour operator like Encounter Africa Safaris.
We encourage tourists to secure their gorilla permit as soon as possible, regardless of season, because they sell off fast. The Uganda Wildlife Authority sells gorilla permits on a first-come, first-served basis, and none is secured without payment.
Reserve accommodation to use during the gorilla safari
Basing your choice of accommodation on the area where your gorilla permit is booked in Uganda, secure where to spend the nights of your gorilla safari. It is best to spend the night before the gorilla trekking day or habituation day closer to where the permit is booked to avoid having to wake up in the drive to catch up with the early morning briefing.
The roads connecting different gorilla safari areas could be in better condition sometimes, which may stop you from catching up with the briefing. The last entry into the gorilla trekking destination is briefing. With briefing, you may be allowed to get gorilla trekking or habituation experience.
- Bwindi accommodations include Gorilla Forest Camp, Clouds Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Buhoma Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Safari Lodge, Bwindi Backpacker’s Camp, Silverback Lodge, Trekkers Tavern, Ruhija Gorilla Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Engage Lodge, Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge.
- Mgahinga accommodations: Gahinga Lodge, Majambere Iwachu, Community Camp, Mutanda Lake Resort
Book transport to gorilla Safari destination
The Uganda gorilla safari destinations are far from the city and airport, so you must book the necessary transport in advance. You can travel by road or air transport.
The drive time from Kampala City or Entebbe Airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is about 8 to 9 hours. There are different routes you can take to Bwindi’s impenetrable National Park, some of which include Kampala to Kabale to Kanungu to Buhoma, Kampala to Ntungamo to Rukungiri to Buhoma, Kampala to Kabale to Nkuringo, and others.
To get to Mgahinga National Park, you can use routes from Kampala to Kabale to Kisoro to Mgahinga National Park.
Daily domestic flights depart Kajjansi or Entebbe airport to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. You can secure a seat in advance because they sell out fast. Charter flight services are available too for more private fly-in gorilla safari.
Reserve additional activities to combine with the gorilla safari
Uganda is indeed the pearl of Africa, dotted with mesmerizing features worth your time on safari. You can do gorilla trekking or habituation experience and combine it with other Uganda safari activities based on your days on holiday.
Some other Uganda safari activities include chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park, Kaniyo Pabidi forest, Kyambura Gorge and others, white water rafting on Itanda Falls River Nile, Visit source of the River Nile, birding in Uganda, mountaineering, scenic viewing, visiting Lake Bunyonyi the deepest in Uganda with over 29 islands, game drives, launch trips to mention but a few.
It would be best to have a well-tailored itinerary that suits your budget and covers the number of days you have on safari.
How much is Uganda gorilla safari?
The Uganda gorilla safari package costs are categorized according to luxury, mid-range, or budget. It would be best if you secured a gorilla permit first, and this covers all categories.
The current cost of a Uganda gorilla trekking permit is $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and 250000 shs for East African residents.
Gorilla habituation experience permits cost $1500 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents, $1000 per person for foreign residents, and 750000shs for East African residents.
The cost of a gorilla safari in Uganda is calculated based on the number of days on safari, the number of people on safari, the category of gorilla safari package you choose, additional activities to combine with gorilla trekking and others.
Is The Cost Of Gorilla Safari Worth The Money
Paying for a gorilla safari is a fun feeling but a noble act leading to sustainable mountain gorilla conservation. The price of a gorilla permit includes mountain gorilla conservation support, which is money that supports the Uganda Wildlife Authority to keep defending the mountain gorillas. They are vulnerable primates that need to be protected from encroachers.
Every time you do a gorilla safari, you contribute to the survival of the endangered mountain gorillas currently living in Uganda, Rwanda, and D. R. Congo in the entire world.
The recent census indicated that about 1000 mountain gorillas lived in the Virunga area, which is owed to their conservation.
What is the age limit for Gorilla safari in Uganda?
15 years and over is the age limit for gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation. This is because of the nature of the habitat where mountain gorillas live. It is volcanic, with remains of ridges, deep valleys, and plateaus; sometimes, mountain gorillas spend part of their day on the slopes.
Children below 15 years old may not withstand the conditions in the forest. They get tired quickly and may need more time to complete the gorilla adventure.
The time of locating the mountain gorillas is still being determined, so some patience is required, which may be hard to withstand by a child below 15 years.
At a glance, the mountain gorillas look scary because of their physical outlook. They have a huge body structure covered by dark hairs. Their locomotion style is scary, too, as the mountain gorillas use a knuckle-walking style. This may scare the child and cause a stampede in the wilderness.
How difficult is gorilla safari in Uganda?
The nature of the area where mountain gorillas live is hilly because of the volcanic action in this area. This led to highlands like ridges and plateaus where mountain gorillas may spend part of their day. You may be required to hike to where the mountain gorillas feed or lounge.
This makes the trek quite strenuous, but having some fitness level saves you from getting muscle pulls. You do not have to spend the entire day in the gym but take simple strides at a time; you need to stretch your muscles a lot more than normal.
On your packing list, include the gorilla tracking gear you can wear in the wilderness. The jungle has harsh conditions, like stinging nettles and biting insects, which may hurt you. It would be best if you carried a long-sleeved shirt and insect repellant to protect your body from getting hurt.
The ranger guide carries a machete, which he uses to trim the creepers that may obstruct your way. To get extra support, you can hire a porter to help you carry your gorilla safari gear to move with nothing pulling you back. Hiring a porter is one of the most direct ways of supporting the local community. They get to recognize the mountain gorillas’ relevancy and habitat more because they earn a living from being porters.
You must always trust the ranger guides to lead the way during gorilla safari adventures and have patience. You can also keep your mind busy by looking for other interesting features in the forest to avoid getting bored. The mountain gorilla trek may be challenging, but by the end of the gorilla safari, you feel an attachment to the mountain gorillas.
What Are the Guidelines for Gorilla Safaris in Uganda
- No feeding the mountain gorillas; if you are eating, do it at least 200 meters from them. This is to prevent any chances of them grabbing it from you, yet they are wild animals that must search for their food.
- Sneezing or coughing before the mountain gorillas may spread an infection, so do it away from them.
- Keep a distance of about 8 meters from the mountain gorillas when you locate them to prevent chances of spreading infections germs to them.
- Use a clean mask when you are with the mountain gorillas to prevent the coronavirus’s spread to these precious primates.
- Only children aged 15 years and above can do gorilla trekking because of the nature of the entire experience. Hiking to locate the mountain gorillas is challenging at times, which may be challenging for children below this age. Even the time of locating the mountain gorillas is still being determined, which requires patience. A child below this age may not withstand this.
- Dumping in the forest is forbidden, which may alter the nature of the forest where the mountain gorillas live.
- Only enter the forest with an escorting ranger guide because there are other unhabituated forest inhabitants that you may encounter, and they hurt you.
- Only one hour is allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate them. They have been habituated to be in the presence of humans for just that time.
- Surrounding the mountain gorillas is forbidden because it makes them feel ambushed.
Do you plan to start your safari from Arusha? Contact us for more information.