Updated list of habituated gorilla families in Nkuringo and available permits per day
Nkuringo area is located in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This area comprises one of the first gorilla families fully habituated and opened for tourism in 2004. The Nkuringo gorilla family was sometimes called group N, among the four fully habituated Uganda gorilla families.
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It is from this rich history that the Nkuringo area gets its name. Currently, the Nkuringo area has three gorilla families open for tourism: the Nkuringo family, the Muhozi family, and the Christmas family. The current number of gorilla permits for this area is 24, which you can purchase anytime. A maximum of 8 gorilla permits can be sold daily for each gorilla family.
While in the Nkuringo area, you can take part in birding. Bwindi forest is a Uganda birding haven with over 350 bird species recorded, but chances of expanding this list are open. While in the Nkuringo area, you may spot some Albertine endemics.
A forest walk in the Nkuringo area allows you to spot other primates like blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, vervet monkeys, and red-tailed monkeys.
Taking a community walk in the Nkuringo area immerses you in the life of the local people. This is a community-run project that is affiliated with Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. You may visit a homestead, banana brewery, blacksmith, and others.
What are the gorilla trekking families of the Nkuringo Area?
Nkuringo gorilla family
Muhozi gorilla family
Christmas gorilla family
How To Book Gorilla Permits For Nkuringo Area
Select a date when you hope to do gorilla trekking and the number of gorilla permits you wish to book.
Check for gorilla permit availability through an accredited tour operator like Encounter Africa Safaris or enquire directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority. At Encounter Africa Safaris, we assist with checking the availability of gorilla permits, reserve accommodation for you, and plan your gorilla safari.
Upon finding availability for your dates of preference, we advise you to purchase your gorilla permits as soon as possible. The high-season gorilla permits sell out fast: June, July, August, September, December, and January. None of these gorilla permits is secured without payment.
For identification, you need to forward personal details with your full name as presented on the passport, date of birth, nationality, and expiry date. These are retrieved on the gorilla trekking day from the gorilla permit card.
How Much Is A Gorilla Permit For Nkuringo Area?
A gorilla permit costs $700 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and 250000shs for East African Residents. To be safe, you must purchase your gorilla permit as soon as possible to avoid last-minute panic while trying to secure a gorilla permit.
What is included in the cost of the gorilla permit?
The cost of a gorilla permit includes park entrance fees, ranger guide fees, support to mountain gorilla conservation, community support, security during gorilla trekking, and one hour with the mountain gorillas.
What is excluded from the cost of the gorilla permit?
Accommodation, transport to gorilla trekking destinations, tips, snacks, and any other items of personal nature.
When Is The Best Time To Book a Gorilla Permit For Nkuringo Area?
Booking your gorilla permit at least 6 months to a year upfront is safe other than last-minute permit booking when the scramble for these limited permits is at its peak, especially during the high tourism season.
You can still book a gorilla permit three months before trekking; however, you may need to find availability in the high season. Last-minute gorilla permits are more accessible in the low season, which normally runs in March, April, May, and November.
Chances of finding discounts on other safari amenities like accommodation, driver guide hire, and others are more open in the low season. You can try the low season if you have a limited budget but wish to enjoy excellent services during your gorilla trekking adventure.
How Sure Can I Be To Find The Mountain Gorillas In Nkuringo Area?
Finding the mountain gorillas is 99% a sure deal. Although they are wild animals, their ways usually are not so hard to trace. They normally conquer a particular area for some time only to relocate when tragedies like food scarcity, the death of top family members, having a serious fight with another gorilla family, and others.
A team of trackers wakes up to follow the mountain gorilla families, and they present a report of their possible wayabouts. This is done before trekkers are sent into the forest. These clues are what ranger guides escorting a group of tourists use to find the mountain gorillas.
From the point where the mountain gorillas are seen in the early morning, they usually do not walk very far from there. Their huge body size doesn’t permit them to move fast. An average fully-grown male mountain gorilla weighs about 200 kg or 450lb. The female mountain gorillas normally weigh almost half that of the male.
In case you fail to find the mountain gorillas, the refund policy of Uganda Wildlife Authority is invoked, where about 75% of the total permit cost is returned to you.
Can I Purchase The Nkuringo Gorilla Permit In Instalment?
Uganda Wildlife Authority accepts installment gorilla permit purchases of 30% and 70%, respectively. To qualify for this arrangement, purchase your gorilla permit at least 90 days before the trekking date. Remember to top up 90 days before the trekking date or attract a penalty.
Purchasing your gorilla permit in full is the best solution because you remember to top up.
How can I get To the Nkuringo area?
Kampala to Kabale to Nkuringo
The drive from Kampala to Kabale is 414 kilometers, lasting about 5 to 6 hours. Carry from Kabale to Nkuringo area for 105 kilometers for about 4 to 5 hours. You drive through winding roads, but most preferably, a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle is the best as the roads get slippery sometimes.
You can also overnight in Kisoro town, which is 80 kilometers from Kabale town. Drive early morning to the Nkuringo area, 35 kilometers from Kisoro town. The drive is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Daily domestic flights depart Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe Airport to Kisoro airstrip, from where you catch a transfer vehicle to the Nkuringo area for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
What Accommodation To Book For Gorilla Trekking In Nkuringo Area?
Nkuringo area has a variety of accommodations that are categorized into Luxury, mid-range, and budget facilities. You can also overnight in the Rushaga area, located in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Nkuringo Accommodations: Clouds Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Safari Lodge, Bwindi Backpacker’s Camp, Nshongi Camp, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge.
How Safe Is Gorilla Trekking In Nkuringo Area?
Nkuringo area is safe for gorilla trekking because a team of trained ranger guides is in place to protect the mountain gorillas, the forest, and the rest of the forest dwellers. On the day of trekking, tourists must get a briefing at the ranger station before starting the trek. At least two ranger guides escort tourists, one holding a machete while another carries a rifle in case you need some defense. These rangers carry a radio call to constantly communicate with the security team on the ground in case backup is required.
The ranger guide team collaborates with other Uganda security agencies to maintain law and order in and around the gorilla trekking area.
During the gorilla trek, the rangers follow the pace of the slowest trekkers so that everything is remembered in the wilderness.
As a tourist, you must pay attention to personal safety by only entering the forest with an escorting ranger guide because you are not sure of what may cross your way.
Do not trust anyone unknown to you with your room, especially those you find on the ground. They may have bad intentions for you.
Refrain from hanging around with your precious items to avoid attracting the wrong characters whose intentions may not be great for you.
How Difficult Is Gorilla Trekking In Nkuringo Area?
The nature of the topography of the Nkuringo area is volcanic, with remains of plateaus and ridges over which vegetation drapes and tangles. Sometimes, the mountain gorillas spend part of their day on the slopes or deep in the valleys.
It would be best to hike to find where the mountain gorillas may spend their day. Having some fitness level may save you from getting tired before locating the mountain gorillas. Be patient to get where the mountain gorillas are, as when you start the trek, the only point in returning once you find the mountain gorillas.
Wearing the right gorilla trekking gear like tracking boots, long-sleeved shirt, and insect repellant saves you from getting hurt while you trek to locate the mountain gorillas.
What Else Can I Do In Nkuringo Area?
Gorilla Habituation Experience
Nkuringo area, being in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, allows you to participate in the gorilla habituation experience. The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where you follow a team of trackers and ranger guides in the wild to help semi-wild mountain gorillas get used to human presence without altering their nature.
So far, two gorilla families are open for habituation experience, and only a maximum of four tourists are allowed to attend this adventure. Only four hours are allowed in the company of these mountain gorillas, other than one hour of viewing the mountain gorillas during gorilla trekking.
Community Visit In Nkuringo Area
You can visit the Nkuringo community during a walk in this area. The Nkuringo community walk takes you into the life of the local people, that is, you can visit the local homestead, traditional healers, blacksmiths, and banana beer breweries.
You learn more about how the local people run their daily lives.
Primate walk in Nkuringo area
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park hosts a number of other primates other than the mountain gorillas. During a guided walk, you may spot primates like blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, L’Hoest’s, black and white colobus, and others.
Birding In the Nkuringo Area
For keen birders on a gorilla safari, the Nkuringo area may allow you to spot a number of birds. Bwindi forest hosts over 350 bird species that meander through the forest. You may spot even Albertine rift endemics.
You may take the River Ivil trail, which follows an old road through the stunning forest and emerges through the Buhoma area in the northern part of Bwindi’s Impenetrable National Park. For keen birders, this is a walk worth your time. You may have the opportunity to spot birds like the African Green Broadbill, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Western Green Tinkerbird, Rwenzori Turaco, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, and others.
What Guideline To Follow During Gorilla Trekking In Nkuringo Area?
- No one with a communicable infection can visit the mountain gorillas as you may transmit a contagious infection to the mountain gorillas, like cholera, flu, cough, COVID-19, and others.
- Never surround the mountain gorillas when you find them, as this makes them feel ambushed.
- Do not use flash photography, as you may scare the mountain gorillas.
- While eating or smoking, do it away from the mountain gorillas because they may try to grab it from you and eat, yet they are wild animals that must search for their food.
- In case you need to sneeze or cough, do it away from mountain gorillas to reduce the chances of passing an infection to the mountain gorillas.
- Only one hour is allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate them.
- Never litter the forest because it’s where mountain gorillas live and feed, altering the nature of the forest where these primates live.
Contact us for more information about gorilla trekking in Nkuringo.