Visiting Bwindi or Mgahinga for gorilla trekking from Lake Bunyonyi or Kabale
Accessing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park from Lake Bunyonyi or Kabale is about 1 hour to 1 and a half hours but expect to go through winding roads. The road is dusty at times and slippery at times during the severe rainy seasons. The distance from Lake Bunyonyi or Kabale to Bwindi Impenetrable national park, particularly the Ruhija area, is about 59 kilometers.
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To connect to Buhoma is from Lake Bunyonyi or Kabale, which takes about 95 kilometers, which is about 3 hours to 4 hours drive. Unfortunately, this area is highly mountainous with a wrong road, so you need a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle with volcanic soils that are slippery at times, especially during the severe rainy seasons.
It is quicker to do gorilla trekking to the Ruhijah area or Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park from Kabale or Lake Bunyonyi. Ruhijah area is composed Bitukura family, Oruzogo family, Kyaguriro Family and Makisa family. Buhoma area is made up of Rushegura family, Mubare family and Habinyanja family. However, you must also reserve accommodation in or closer to this area to avoid driving so early to catch up with a briefing in another place.
Mgahinga National Park is about 94 kilometers from Kabale or Lake Bunyonyi, specifically Ntebeko Center. The drive is about 80 kilometers from Kabale to Kisoro. Later you connect to Ntebeko, driving for 14 kilometers. The road is winding here because of a series of mountains you bypass.
Mgahinag National Park so far has one gorilla family that is open for tourism, which is called the Nyakagezi family. This gorilla family used to meander into Rwanda in the past, and its gorilla permits would be booked upon availability.
Lake Bunyonyi is the deepest lake in Uganda, with breathtaking views of over 29 Islands, including Punishment Island, where girls who are victims of early pregnancy were left to starve in the past. Bunyonyi is a local word meaning small birds; this lake is a habitat for several small birds.
How To Book Gorilla Permits For Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Or Mgahinga National Park
Booking the gorilla permits for the northern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park would be best if traveling from Lake Bunyonyi or Kabale.
Have the date you wish to do gorilla trekking and the number of people you hope to travel with.
When you send us your inquiry, ensure you provide some details of where you may depart from to do gorilla trekking. For example, if it is Kabale or Lake Bunyonyi, our safari consultant must first take the option of gorilla permits for the Northern Part of Bwindi. The southern part of Bwindi permits can also work, but you need northern sector permits to take precedence.
Mgahinga National Permits are limited to only one gorilla family called Nyakagezi. Therefore, the only maximum number of gorilla permits for this park is 8.
Our safari consultant checks the available status for the gorilla permits per your date from the Uganda Wildlife Authority listing.
If available, we advise our clients to purchase their permits immediately. This is because they are sold off fast, and demand for gorilla permits is very high worldwide, yet they are limited in number.
Later we request some of your specifics like your Nationality, full name as indicated on your passport, date of birth, passport expiry date, and others.
When Can I Book A Gorilla Trekking Permit For Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Booking a gorilla permit for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best choice. However, some people secure their gorilla trekking licenses six months to a year in advance.
When you book the gorilla permit early, you reduce the chances of panicking to search for one when they are sold out. Although on-ground licenses may be available, especially in the low seasons, it is not guaranteed.
Chances of paying for the gorilla’s permit in installments are more open with booking the gorilla’s permit. Uganda Wildlife Authority allows paying for a gorilla permit in installments at least when you purchase it 90 days before the trekking date. You may be entitled to spend at least 30 % of its costs. You are supposed to top up the 70% before the 90 days to the date of trekking, and you must do so to avoid losing it.
How Much Is The Cost Of gorilla Trekking Safari To Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The cost of the gorilla trekking safari is preceded by the gorilla permit costs, which are $700 per person per trek. Other factors to consider when making the costs of gorilla trekking safari include
The more people travel where, the more people on safari, the less the costs per person. If you join a group gorilla trekking tour, you get to share costs like vehicle hire, gas, driver guide fees, and others. As a solo tourist, you incur all the expenses of the gorilla safari package.
The timing for booking the gorilla trekking safari as the peak season comes with high prices on accommodation, vehicle hire, driver guide fees, and others. The low season at times has discounted prices levied on services to break even.
The number of days on safari, whereby the more days on safari, the higher the safari cost because most service providers charge per day costs.
Additional activities combined with gorilla trekking. The more activities combined with gorilla trekking, the higher the safari price. Each activity has its own cost. Some activities you can connect with gorilla trekking include chimpanzee trekking, birding, game drives, and more.
What Accommodation To Book For Gorilla trekking In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
It is best to book accommodation closer to the area where your gorilla permit is secured. Before reserving the accommodation before gorilla trekking, check the areas of Bwindi Where your permit is booked. Some of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park areas include the Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo areas.
Various accommodations are available, including those graded according to Luxury, Midrange, and Budget accommodations. These accommodations include Gorilla Forest Camp, Mahogany Springs, Silverback Lodge, Ruhija Safari Lodge, Broadbill Camp, Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge, Gorilla Resort, Lake Kitandara Tented Camp, and others.
How Long Is Gorilla trekking In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The time to locate the mountain gorillas is still being determined, but sometimes it takes about 2 hours to three-quarters of the day, depending on prevailing factors in the forest.
Mountain gorillas are mobile primates because they are free wild animals that meander in the forest with nothing preventing them.
Each day a group of ranger guides wakes up earlier than others to follow the mountain gorillas and establish where they may spend the day.
Some of the factors that determine the time you may take to locate the mountain gorillas include:
The proximity of their feeding area.
When the gorilla family you are allocated to is feeding from far away, you may take a long time to find them. This is because mountain gorillas spend time in a particular feeding area and relocate when food is over. However, if they are close to the starting point of the trek, you may locate them quickly.
In case of a fight with another gorilla family, the family that losses may be forced to abandon their current location, making it hard to find them at times.
When a gorilla family loses one of its members, they may go into hiding to mourn the loss.
If the dominant silverback is adventurous, the rest of the gorilla family may follow his ways, making it challenging to find the mountain gorillas.
During the severe rainy seasons, the trails are sometimes slippery and boggy, making it hard to move quickly. Even when mountain gorillas feed from the slopes, hiking may be challenging, so delaying the gorilla trek.
How Difficult Is Gorilla Trekking?
The topography of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is mountainous, so expect to hike sometimes. This pristine forest is also composed of entangled vegetation that has survived over 25000years so expect to walk through creepers.
Some fitness level helps you not get a muscle pull while in the jungle. The ranger guide also moves with a machete to cut through creepers to create a way for you to locate the mountain gorillas.
It is hard to select which gorilla family is easy to trek because the one you may have seen close to the starting point may be difficult to locate the next day.
Are Mountain Gorillas Dangerous?
Mountain gorillas are naturally serene animals that are shy. The body structure looks scary because of the dark-furred cover and deeply sunken eyes, but they are calm primates in nature. In the history of gorilla trekking, no one has ever been attacked by mountain gorillas.
Everybody must respect and implement the rules of gorilla trekking and the information given during the briefing. Mountain gorillas have general rules, but each gorilla family has its traits that may not be with others.
When mountain gorillas get angry, they thump their chests, walk with one foot, pull grass around them, and may retreat into hiding. Remember, only one hour is allowed in the presence of the mountain gorillas, so you need to maximize every minute to the fullest.
What else To do In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park
This is following semi-habituated mountain gorillas in the jungle to get accustomed to human presence. However, these mountain gorillas still show wild behaviors, so expect them to hide sometimes.
In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the southern part is the gorilla habituation location with so far two families open.
You must purchase a gorilla habituation permit to be allowed to participate. Four hours are allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate them. Only a maximum of 4 people is allowed to escort the habituations and ranger guides.
Birding in Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the Uganda birding haven having over 350 bird species, including Albertine endemics. In addition, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has about 23 species of 24 known Albertine rift endemics known to be living in Uganda.
The Ruhijah area is the prime birding destination for this park, and when you take Mubwindi Swamp, you may spot over 100 bird species. Some birds you may spot include Western Green Tinkerbird, African Green Broadbill, Shelley’s Crimmsonwig, African Hill Babbler, Collared Apalis, Montane Sooty Boubou, and others.
Mgahinga forest has over 115 bird species, through the list is still expanding because fewer ornithologists have so far picked interest in this park.
Nature walks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
When you take relaxing walks in the Bwindi forest, you may spot other primates like black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboons, and others; some of the guided walks in Bwindi include:
The Munyanga River trail that takes the path below Buhoma provides opportunities for keen birders and many primates.
Rushura Hill trail, where you enjoy the Western Rift Valley view, and Lake Edward and Lake Gorge may come into view on a clear day.
River Ivi Trail follows an old road that crosses into the Nkuringo area. It is superb for keen birders.
Local Community Walks
Buhoma Community Walk is a project run by the local community that immerses visitors into the life of the indigenous people. You may visit a homestead, traditional healer, or banana brewery and, with the arrangement, enjoy a local music performance.
The Nkuringo community walk allows you to visit a traditional healer, blacksmith, rural homestead, local brewery, and others.
Batwa Trail and Garama Cave are in Mgahinga National Park and are conducted by a local Mutwa. The Garama cave runs for 342 kilometers and lies beneath the plateau close to the northern edge of Mgahinga National Park. The cave was a retreat point for the Batwa after raiding the Bafumbira farmlands. At the moment, it provides an atmospheric setting for Batwa performances.
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