Gorilla trekking in Uganda in
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Gorilla Trekking Uganda
A visit to the mountain gorillas in Uganda is high on the list of activities for many tourists. As before, the gorillas are threatened with extinction and there are only about 1000 left in the world. Besides Uganda, there are also gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
We recommend gorilla trekking in Uganda because Uganda is home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas and the gorilla permits for the safari cost much less here.
Gorilla trekking is an exciting and unforgettable experience. Therefore, it is important that you prepare well before the trip. Here is everything you need to know about gorilla trekking in Uganda, from the best time to travel to the packing list.
Where to go for a gorilla tour?
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in southwestern Uganda is where most tours are offered. Although you can also do this tour in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the number of gorilla families there is smaller and very often the gorilla families are in neighboring Rwanda (Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park). More successful Uganda gorilla trekking will certainly be in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda, the starting points for gorilla trekking besides Buhoma are Ntungamo, Rushaga and Ruhinga. The Gorilla Permit is always booked directly for the location.
The best time for gorilla safaris
The best time for a safari to the gorillas in Uganda is between December and February, when the weather is dry and the gorillas are more active. However, it is possible to visit the mountain gorillas all year round. But conditions can be more difficult during the rainy season from March to May.
Prices for a Gorilla Permit
To see the mountain gorillas every visitor needs a Gorilla Permit. The price of permits in Uganda is $600 per person. It is recommended to book this permit in advance. If you book this safari to the mountain gorillas with us, we will of course take care of your permits.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority only allows a certain number of people to go on gorilla treks each year. Sometimes it is possible to get a Gorilla Permit spontaneously, but we recommend booking in advance.
Packing List Gorilla Trekking
When packing for your gorilla trekking adventure, keep in mind that you will be in a remote, rugged environment. Comfortable walking shoes, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts if possible are a must. Insect repellent and sunscreen should also be packed. A hat or cap will protect you from the sun, and binoculars are a good way to get a close-up view of the gorillas.
Here is a clear packing list:
- walking shoes
- long pants, long-sleeved shirt
- possibly rain jacket
- insect repellent
- Snacks, drinks, food
- Gloves! *
* The jungle is full of stinging nettles, thorny bushes and so gloves are a very useful accessory! But at the gorillas the gloves can be taken off.
Gorilla Trekking Tour Procedure
Gorilla tracking can be challenging, but it is also incredibly rewarding. In search of the gorillas, you will sometimes have to trek for several hours through dense vegetation. Good physical condition is required here. However, the effort is worth it. Because at the end, a glimpse of the gorillas in the wild almost certainly awaits.
The gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park starts at about 9 o’clock in the morning! It is recommended to have enough breakfast and to pack snacks and drinks for the long tour. Drinking is very important, because in the dense, warm rainforest you need sufficient hydration.
Before the hike to the gorillas in the Bwindi National Park starts, the group gets a 15-minute briefing from the tour operator. He gives rules of conduct and explains the procedure. At the end there is the question if everyone is healthy enough for the tour and then it goes on the gorilla trek. Please refrain from the gorilla tracking if you have a cold!
Important note: Both the Gorilla Permit and the passport must be handed over to the guide before the tour starts. Please remember this!
Bwindi National Park is where most of the gorilla families live. During the trek the guide will look for the tracks of a gorilla family and try to reach the gorilla group. A tour through the rainforest in search of the animals can take hours. But in the end, you get to stand near the gorillas and marvel at the giants in their habitat.
The rangers recognize the 12 different gorilla families of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park partly already by the prints in the ground. At the latest when the gorilla group is reached, the rangers can tell which gorillas it is.
Sometimes it happens that the gorillas approach the visitors. Now and then the giants curiously touch the newcomers. But even if this does not happen a visit to the gorillas in Uganda is a once in a lifetime experience.
Is Gorilla Trekking dangerous? Gorillas are wild animals. But the gorilla groups in the national parks are used to people. If you follow the rules of behavior the visit to the gorillas is strenuous but not dangerous.
Is there a minimum age?
In order to do gorilla trekking in Uganda, the Uganda Wildlife Authority prescribes a minimum age of 15 years. However, there are exceptions, for example when children are traveling with their parents. We will be happy to clarify this for you in advance when we apply for the gorilla permits.
Tips for a successful gorilla tracking experience
Follow the instructions of your ranger
When you are gorilla tracking, you must always follow your ranger’s instructions. This includes keeping a safe distance from the gorillas, keeping noise to a minimum, and not touching or eating anything in the gorilla’s habitat.
Gorilla tracking can be a lengthy and difficult experience, so it is important to be patient. It can take several hours to find the gorillas, and even if you do, they may not be very active.
Enjoy the experience
Gorilla tracking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so try to enjoy every minute. Even if the gorillas are not particularly active, just being around them is a great experience.
An exciting alternative – or a good addition to gorilla trekking can be the Gorilla Habituation. Here, visitors get the opportunity to spend up to 4 hours in the midst of a gorilla family, observing the gorillas in their daily lives in the middle of the jungle. An experience for life. Guaranteed!
Information about the mountain gorillas in Uganda
There are currently 12 gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, listed here: https://www.bwindinationalparkuganda.com/information-blog/mountain-gorilla-families-in-uganda/.
The number of mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) living in Uganda was estimated at just over 500 in 2021. About 400 of these live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The remaining mountain gorillas live in Rwanda in the Volcanoes National Park and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.