Gorilla trekking is remarkably a unique wildlife adventure and to get the best of this primate experience, you need to be very keen and plan adequately. To guide you when planning for your gorilla trek as a solo the following gorilla trekking tips should be put into consideration.
Where to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda
In Uganda, gorilla trekking is done only Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the extreme southwestern side about 8-10 hours’ drive from Entebbe or Kampala. Over 21 gorilla families have been habituated and already set for tourism purposes, 20 of which are tracked in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and only 1 is found in Mgahinga National Park. They inhabit about half of all 1004 mountain gorillas that still remain on earth today and only exist in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In Bwindi National Park, gorilla trekking is conducted from 4 major regions of the park; each of which has several habituated groups;
Ruhija sector in the east with gorilla families such as Mukiza, Oruzogo, Bitukura, Kyaguliro; Buhoma region in the north and consists of gorilla groups like Habinyanja, Katwe, Mubare and Rushegura;
Nkuringo area in the southern part has groups such as Christmas, Nkuringo and Bushaho
Rushaga region has habituated families such as Kutu, Kahungye, Rwigi, Bweza, Bikingi, Mishaya, Busingye, Nshongi and Mucunguzi gorilla group.
In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Nyakagezi gorilla group is the only habituated gorilla family set for visitors to trek.
When to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda
Uganda experiences two seasons and each season is significant on its own way; the dry and wet seasons that any visitors intending to trek mountain gorillas should put in mind. The dry season is the best time to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda since the paths are not slipperly. It starts in June, July, August, September and December, January, February. During the dry season, the habitat is kept drier and makes it easier for trekkers to hike through dense vegetation and steep slopes to search for mountain gorillas unlike during the wet/rainy season when there is plenty of rainfall which makes the ground muddy and slippery. The wet season is also considered as low season and starts in March, April, May and October, November. The significant part of trekking mountain gorillas during the wet or rainy season is that there is plenty of forage for these great apes to depend on and visitors can take fewer hours since they do not move to further distances to search for what to feed on in the course of the day.
Book your gorilla permit early
Due to high demand for gorilla permits, you are advised to secure your permit at least 3-6 months before you set off for your actual trek. In Uganda, gorilla permits cost $600 per person-for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and UGX 250000 for East African residents. Note these rates will change to $700, $600 and shs.250000 respectively from 1st July, 2020. You can secure through our reservation team or through reservationist at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). If you want to enhance your experience further, then gorilla habituation experience is the best option and you can secure habituation permits at $1500 and 4 hours of magical encounter with mountain gorillas.
Trekking mountain gorillas requires some physical wellness and that is why we encourage you to do some exercise before your actual trek. Gorilla treks can take you about 2-6 hours and it involves hiking through the dense vegetation and steep slopes while in search for mountain gorillas. These creatures live in high elevation and because of this; you need adequate drinking water and some energy giving snacks as energy boosters and do not forget hiking stick to help you while on hike. Walking sticks can be got at the park headquarters or safari lodge. Besides, hiring a porter is not bad if you do have heavy luggage. They can help carry luggage and let you enjoy your adventure. Porters are around at the park headquarters and can be hired at $10-$20.
What to pack on gorilla tour in Uganda?
The essential items to pack on gorilla trip in Uganda include long sleeved shirts or t-shirts, trousers-clothing attire should be environmentally friendly and avoid shouting colors, rain jacket-to protect you in case it rains; bottled water, energy giving snacks, daypack, camera with no flashlight, insect repellent, first aid kit, hat, sunglasses and others.
Take note of guidelines on briefing day
- Keep a distance of 7 meters away from gorillas at all times. Mountain gorillas share about 98 percent of their DNA with humans making them our closest relatives and also to be very susceptible to human infectious diseases.
- Stand still in case the gorilla charges and avoid direct eye contact with gorillas.
- Do not use flashlight camera and in case your camera has, please turn it off before you begin taking photos of these creatures.
- Only persons above 15 years are allowed to trek gorillas.
- Only one hour is given to you to have magical encounter with gorillas.
- Do not go to trek mountain gorillas if you are sick-please cover your mouth in case you are coughing and nose when sneezing.
- Leave the habitat the way you found-in case you wish to help yourself please burry human wastes at 30 centimeters deep.