Updated list of gorilla families and permits available in the Nkuringo region.
Updated lists of gorilla families and permits available in the Nkuringo region of Bwindi. Nkuringo holds the history of gorilla safaris in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Nkuringo gorilla family was opened to public viewing in 3004 with 19 members and one dominant silverback. Most of the gorilla families in this area are breakaways of the Nkuringo family.
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The Nkuringo area currently has three gorilla trekking families: the Nkuringo gorilla family, the Christmas gorilla family, and the Muhozi gorilla family. Each day, 24 gorilla permits are currently opened to public booking in the Nkuringo area, but more are yet to be added as the habituation process is still happening. The Gorilla public process is where researchers follow a wild gorilla family to get them used to human presence without altering their nature.
The southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also a spot for gorilla habituation experience. The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where a maximum of four tourists escort a team of researchers and habituation to follow the semi-habituated gorilla family and spend four hours with them. This gorilla family may still possess odd behavior like running into hiding, shying away, and hooting, but do as instructed by the ranger guides and research to complete the entire experience.
Nkuringo area is part of the four gorilla safari areas under Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Rushaga in the south, Buhoma in the North, and Ruhija in the East.
The number of gorilla families in the Nkuringo area may vary occasionally as the gorilla habituation process continues.
What are the gorilla families of the Nkuringo area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
- Nkuringo gorilla family
- Christmas gorilla family
- Muhoza gorilla family
From the Nkuringo area, you have access to two gorilla habituation experience families, too. Four permits per gorilla habituation family are open to public booking per day.
How To Book Gorilla Permits For Nkuringo Area In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Select a date for the gorilla safari and the number of permits you would like to book. This helps to avoid going back to check for gorilla permit availability. From the start, state that Nkuringo’s gorilla permits are your preferred choice.
When you book through Encounter Africa safaris, our safari consultant checks the availability of gorilla permits from the Uganda Wildlife Authority list. We are one of the few companies accredited to have access to the list of gorilla permits available.
Upon finding gorilla permit availability, we advise clients to purchase their permits as soon as possible as their status changes anytime without warning. Gorilla permits are only ever reserved with payment because few are open to the public daily. Eight gorilla permits per gorilla family are available for gorilla trekking.
To collect the gorilla permit card, we need some personal details to be added to the permit, like your full name as presented on the passport, date of birth, nationality, and passport expiry date. These are for statistical purposes and identification.
What is the cost of a Gorilla trekking permit for the Nkuringo area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
The gorilla trekking permit costs $800 for foreign nonresidents, $700 for foreign residents, and 300000shs for East Africans. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is the only body selling and regulating mountain gorilla permits. Still, you can also book the permit through a tour operator like Encounter Africa Safaris.
What is included and excluded from the cost of a gorilla trekking permit
Within the cost of gorilla trekking permits are the park entrance fees, security, government tax, one hour with the mountain gorillas, local community support, mountain gorilla conservation, ranger guide fees, and others
Exclusions in the gorilla trekking permit cost are porter hire, accommodation, transport to the gorilla safari destination, and others.
What is the cost of gorilla habituation experience permits
Currently, gorilla habituation experience permits cost $1500 for foreign nonresidents, $1000 for foreign residents, and 750000shs for East Africans. Four gorilla permits from the two gorilla families are open for public booking.
What is included and excluded in the cost of gorilla habituation experience
The cost of a gorilla habituation experience permit covers four hours with the semi-habituated gorilla family, ranger guide fees, mountain gorilla conservation, security, park entrance fees on trekking day, local community support, government tax, certificate after the gorilla safari, and others.
Exclusions of gorilla habituation experience permit costs are tips, snacks, transport, and other personal expenses.
When is the best time to book a gorilla safari to the Nkuringo area?
The Nkuringo area is open for gorilla safaris anytime; however, the dry season is the most preferred. The mountain gorillas are in high spirits, and other forest inhabitants are more accessible to spot, too. Although Bwindi forest receives unpredictable rains, there are more mild chances of receiving unexpected rains in the dry season. The dry season is usually June, July, August, September, December, and January.
This being the peak season for Uganda safaris, gorilla permit demand is over the top, and as the seasons close in, chances of finding availability are minimal. We advise clients to purchase these gorilla permits in advance, at least six months to a year upfront, to be on the safe side.
During the rainy season, demand for gorilla permits is lower, so the chances of finding them at the last minute are higher. The wet season is usually March, April, May, and November, but also serves the low tourism season. If you have a limited budget for your gorilla safari, you may use the low season as discounted logistics may be available. Sometimes, the service providers offer discounted prices to break even.
What accommodation do you book for gorilla trekking in the Nkuringo area?
Accommodations in the Nkuringo area are categorized into budget, Mid-range, and Luxury facilities. Besides the accommodations in the Nkuringo area, you can also overnight in the Rushaga area. The best time to book accommodations for the gorilla safari is when you confirm the gorilla permit. This is because accommodation options for the gorilla safari also run low as the season intensifies.
It is best to book accommodations within or closer to the Nkuringo area to avoid having to drive in the dark from another area to catch up with a briefing in the Nkuringo area. On the way, the chances of encountering obstacles like blocked roads, slippery roads, and logs falling across the road are high. If you cannot arrive in time for the briefing, you may be disqualified from the gorilla trek.
Nkuringo accommodations: Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Clouds Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi Backpacker’s Camp, Nshongi Camp.
How to get To Nkuringo area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
From Kampala or Entebbe Airport, you can get to the Nkuringo area via Kabale to the Nkuringo area. You need a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle in good condition and a professional and knowledgeable driver guide, as this mountainous area has winding roads.
Kampala or Entebbe to Kabale to Nkuringo area covers a distance of about 414 kilometers from Kampala or Entebbe to Kabale and connects to Nkuringo for about 105 kilometers. You can also overnight in Kisoro, about 80 kilometers from Kabale and 35 kilometers from the Nkuringo area.
Daily domestic flights from Kajjansi or Entebbe airport depart for Kisoro airstrip per day. You need a transfer vehicle as the Kisoro airstrip is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from the Nkuringo area.
Charter flights for a more private gorilla safari experience can be arranged at Kajjansi Airstrip or Entebbe Airport. Booking is needed to make an advance clearance.
Are mountain gorillas aggressive during gorilla trekking in the Nkuringo area?
Mountain gorillas are not aggressive. They are generally shy and love moving into hiding when agitated. At a glance, the appearance of the mountain gorillas is intimidating because of their large bodies. A fully grown male gorilla may weigh about 300 kilograms, and the female may weigh almost half this weight. Their bodies are covered with dark fur, have dark brown sunken eyes, and walk by knuckle style.
Even though the mountain gorillas are calm, they do not provoke their patience as they can charge. When agitated, the mountain gorillas hoot, thump their chests hard, walk on one foot, and so much more drama. When you notice such behavior, act slowly but wait for the ranger guide to establish the root cause.
Sometimes, the mountain gorillas have a family feud; other times, it is an attack from another gorilla family. Follow the instructions the ranger guide gives to complete the entire time you are with these primates.
When is the return time from gorilla trekking in the Nkuringo area?
Although some tourists have returned from gorilla trekking in two hours, others have been in the wilderness for over three-quarters of the day. The time of finding the mountain gorillas varies with factors prevailing in the forest like the proximity of the mountain gorilla feeding spot, weather conditions prevailing in the day, in case the gorilla family is adventurous, the pace of other tourists, and others.
Upon finding the mountain gorillas, you have just one hour with them during gorilla trekking and four hours during gorilla habituation experience. The time to be with the mountain gorillas is restricted for conservation reasons as human presence disrupts the running of the daily life of the mountain gorillas.
At the elapse of one hour, slowly get away from the gorilla family so as not to appear suspicious before the already insecure mountain gorillas.
Open your mind to other interesting features in the wilderness before finding the mountain gorillas to avoid getting bored. Bwindi forest is a biosphere reserve with chances of seeing over ten primate species, more than 350 bird species, 88 butterfly species, 51 reptiles, and so much more. When standing at some locations, you may get an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the dense Bwindi forest canopy.
What are the Guidelines for Gorilla safaris in the Nkuringo area?
- Keep a distance of about 8 meters from the mountain gorillas when you locate them. This is to prevent chances of passing an infection to these primates, as they are highly susceptible to infectious diseases like flu, cough, COVID-19, and others.
- If you are sick with a contagious infection, volunteer to stay behind so as not to pass it to the endangered mountain gorillas.
- If you want to eat or drink before the mountain gorillas, do it at least 300 meters away from them. They are wild animals that must search for their own food.
- The age limit for gorilla safari is 15 years and beyond. This is because the way to locate the mountain gorillas has rugged topography, which requires you to hike sometimes to find the mountain gorillas.
- Only go into the forest with an escorting ranger guide. Although the mountain gorillas are fully habituated to human presence, some forest dwellers are not and may be dangerous to you alone.
- When you need to defecate, ask the ranger guide to dig a hole at least 30 centimeters deep and cover well beyond recognition.
- Stay in a tight group with the mountain gorillas because surrounding them may cause them to feel ambushed.
- Please don’t attempt to provoke the mountain gorillas because they are wild animals habituated to human presence. They still possess wild behaviors.
- When taking photos, do it with a flash-less camera to not scare the mountain gorillas. They are often frightened by unfamiliar occurrences in their presence.
- When tracking the mountain gorillas, keep your voice low not to scare them and other forest dwellers, which may be interesting to add to your wildlife photo collection.
- Never dump garbage in the wilderness, as this alters the nature of the forest where mountain gorillas live.
Contact our safari consultants to plan your safari to Njuringo for gorilla trekking experience.