Entering into the impenetrable forests, behind armed ranger guides, rolling through while making your own path in search for the gentle endangered species. This flinches the narration about the gorilla tours which is Africa’s most preferred adventure. Today t of ta bigger number of travelers come to Uganda to trek mountain gorillas which is an amazing encounter.
Mountain gorillas are endemic to only countries of Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. Then makes Uganda boost over this thrill of the wild and then availing the best experience ever. The right description of gorilla tours, is setting right from your lodge with all your day pack and spend almost the full day into the forest searching and spending a full hour with the gorilla.
Gorilla tours are not for the heart fainting, more energy is needed as it involves slopes and hiking in the game of searching for human closest relative. However, aged people of even 90 years have trekked through the Bwindi forest and been able to spend an hour before the gorillas.
Well, when planning for a gorilla tour in Uganda, we got you all that you need to understand before setting. Not like other adventures, besides accommodation challenges, permits to trek gorillas are very limited per day. This makes gorilla tours demanding more time to preparations to ensure you’re set to go.
Then, the end result on gorilla tours is finding the gorillas in their natural habitat, and that moment of an hour before the giant. Uganda hosts the highest population of gorillas within the two endemic tropical forests. And the highest of opportunities of watching and interacting with gorillas is Uganda’s Bwindi with the highest number of habituated gorillas.
About mountain gorillas
According to International Union for Nature Conservation (IUNC), Mountain Gorillas are listed on the red list of endangered species. It’s believed there is over 1060 mountain gorillas recorded in the wild according to the last census of 2019. These gentle giants are endemic to only two conservancy zones of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and the Virunga Conservation Area (VCA) shared among Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.
Mountain gorillas are one of the ape family. Apes are primates without tails including Human, Chimpanzees, Orangutans, Gibbon and Bonobo. It’s a reason why gorillas possess about 98% of the human DNA, called human closest relatives.
Mountain gorillas is a sub-species of the eastern gorillas (Gorilla Beringei) which is further splinted into the eastern lowland gorillas and the mountain gorillas. Furthermore, the mountain gorillas are splinted into the Virunga mountain gorillas and the Bwindi mountain gorillas. The Virunga mountain gorillas live in the lowland areas of the Virunga Conservation Area.
The Virunga Conservation Area covers three parks of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of Uganda, Volcanos National Park of Rwanda and Virunga National Park of in the Eastern Congo. And the Bwindi Mountian Gorilla dwell in highlands of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Virunga gorilla live in the valleys and slopes of Virunga which are more cold making them grow much fur than the Bwindi gorillas which live in the steeps tropics.
The mountain gorilla once tested on the edge of extinction by 1980s where only about 300 gorillas existed in the forest. The major threats of the mountain gorillas were encroachments and the political instabilities especially in Rwanda and eastern Congo forests.
In the 1990s Uganda government noticed the need to conserve the gorilla. The need prompted the government to cause a deliberate eviction of the People lived in the forests of Bwindi and Mgahinga to ensure a future of gorilla. However, their eviction without their consent, without pay and without being resettled made many human right body raising up against act.
Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to about 50% of the mountain gorillas in the wild. Then the rest of the gorillas resides in the Virunga Conservation Area. Mountain gorillas are endemic to only the mentioned forests, these are species which survive under captivity not found in zoos and artificial animal zones.
About gorilla habituation
Before gorillas are ready for trekking, are followed as a way making them familiar with human presence. The following process that starts from where the family is first seen, then followed for a period of about 2yrs. Behavioral wise, gorillas are aggressive giant that can react by attacking in case of any threat. This makes it necessary for gorillas to undergo habituation process.
Gorilla habituation lasts for not beyond two years until when gorillas are ready for trekking. The process involves following the apes, studying their daily activities and behaviors, and even naming the group and individuals of the family.
Uganda is a special destination for all your gorilla tours, the country opened up for trekker to join groups of researchers and undertake gorilla habituation. The gorilla habituation adventure means you join the team of research and spend a full day following the gorillas.
In a group limited to 4 trekkers a day, trekker have to walk along their day pack with enough drinking water and eats. The trek starts by searching for gentle giants from where they were last seen the previous day. Then finding the gorillas, with gorilla habituation you have more 4 hours before the gorillas.
The gorilla habituation experience permit costs $1500.
Is it safe to trek gorilla in Uganda?
This is an important point of view, is it safe to trek gorillas in Uganda? Yes, gorilla tours in Uganda are safe considering several constituencies of aspects. We believe the safety of trekkers is so much important than anything else. So, with the ranger guides their major focus remains the safety of trekkers. Then trekking policies and systems that ensure security and safety while tracking the gorillas.
Uganda is the prime gorilla trekking destination considering several aspects. Trekking briefing which is made 30 minutes prior to trekking are very important for the safety order. For the period of over 20 years of gorilla trekking in Uganda, there has not been any cases of security. Uganda Wildlife Authority established a team of armed rangers who are to ensure the safety of trekkers from wild animals and insecurity cases in any.
Best time to trek gorillas in Uganda
In Uganda, gorilla can be trekked throughout the year. However, the dry months/seasons have been the most preferred trekking time. The dry time of June to September is a longer time experiencing limited rain and long dry weather and then perfect for gorilla tours. Also the dry month extends other months from December to February. During these dry periods, the grounds are generally dry to avoid you from the slippery and moist grounds. The other months tend to experience too much rainfall and grounds tends to be slippery, moist, and when can trek amidst day showers.
Where to trek gorillas in Uganda?
There are two gorilla parks in Uganda, these are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park both located in proximity in southwestern Uganda in the Kigezi region. However, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best choice for gorilla trekking than any other gorilla destination in Uganda.
Bwindi forest competes no other destination, over half of the gorillas in the world call the park their home. The park is divided into 4 trekking sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. Experiences through these sectors tend to vary considering land scape aspects, and Nkuringo is by far the most challenging trekking sector.
Over 18 habituated gorilla families are ready to trek at Bwindi. This avails the highest rate of opportunities to trek gorillas on the daily basis. And another amazing moment is gorilla habituation experience which is only available at Bwindi Park. Mgahinga is a spectacular trekking destinations but only available for 8 trekkers daily with only one habituated gorilla family.
Trekking gorillas in either parks, a permit costs $700. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is the most affordable considering several aspects and best gorilla experiences.
Packing list on your gorilla tour to Uganda
Gorilla tours are challenging matches through the dense forests of rolling landscapes. This trekking is a lifetime adventure experience that can’t be experience just anywhere. Do you opt for the adventure? Then you got to consider the best preparation time for the adventure. There is no clear path when trekking, you need to go through the unmade routes. The trek can last for about 30 minutes to 6 hours before finding the gorillas, this means a long trek through thick tropic, thorny, a walk through valleys, slopes, moist and slippery grounds before finding the gorillas.
This means one must prepare enough for the long trek to avoid embarrassments. Check through the list of packing list of what you need to pack along your gorilla tour in Uganda. A pair of long trouser, dull long shelved shirt, body repellant, enough drinking water, sugary eats, jungle trekking boots, thick shocks, hardy gloves, rain jacket, wide-brim hat, sunscreen, camera, binoculars and anything that can be important for your trekking. In case you have a heavy backpacker, there are porter who aid in carrying your backpacker at $15 for a trek.
Flying-in gorilla tours in Uganda
The journey to drive from Entebbe Airport to southwestern extreme end of Uganda is very long. Some of the travelers because have come for resting vacations, hate seating into the vehicle and drive for almost a full day. This has been eased, there several local flight feeding airstrips which are spread across the country. Planning fly-in and trek gorillas, instead of the 9 hours’ drive can take almost an hour fly-in from Entebbe airport to Kihihi airstrip in Kisoro. As well arrangement for returning can be made to avoid the long drives which experience is very hectic to some of the travelers.
Fly to Kigali-Rwanda and trek in Uganda
Also flying at Kigali International Airport and drive to trek in Uganda is another trending trekking trial. A drive from Kigali to Uganda’s Bwindi is approximately 4 hours, which is much easier than driving the full day. For the hurried gorilla tour is best with a fly-in plan.