Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is made even more incredible due to the fact that there are only 3 places in the world where it can be done, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda and the gorilla’s natural habitat is very limited. Although the activity is the same in all three countries the price varies from $600 in Uganda, $400 in DRC and $1,500 in Rwanda. In Uganda, you are able to go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Forest National Park
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda requires an early start at either of the Parks Headquarters. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park has 4 sectors with each having its headquarters you can see the different sectors and Gorillas families within each sector below. After a briefing with the Uganda Wildlife Authority guides you will be assigned a Gorilla Family to track and you Gorilla Trekking adventure will begin. An advance party of guides will have gone ahead into the forest to locate where the gorillas slept the previous night and will have began to track their movements. These guides will communicate with your team via a walkie-talkie and the trek into the forest will begin.
Gorillas Trekking itself can take anywhere from a few hours or the whole day depending on how far the gorillas have moved from the place they spent the previous night. For conservation purposes, the time allowed with the Gorillas is 1 hour. There are also a multitude of other animals that you might encounter including antelopes and rare monkeys not to mention the beauty of the forest itself. Once you have completed Gorilla Trekking you will return to the lodge, for a well earned rest and time to reflect on a truly magical experience.
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda Families
Buhoma - Nothern Bwindi
Mubare: 5 members with 1 Silverback
Rughegura: 15 members with 1 silverback
Habinyanja: 15 members with 1 silverback
Katwe: 8 members with 1 silverback
Ruhija - Northern Bwindi
Bitukura: 11 members with 2 Silverbacks
Oruzogo: 17 members with 3 silverbacks
Mukiza: 13 members with 1 silverback
Kyaguriro: 8 members with 1 silverback
Rushaga - Southern Bwindi
Nshongi: 7 members with 1 silverback
Mishaya: 8 members with 1 silverback
Kahungye: 22 members with 3 silverbacks
Bweza: 10 members with 3 silverbacks
Busingye: 12 members with 1 silverback
Bikyingi: 10 members with 1 silverback
Mcunguzi: 8members with 1 silverback
Kutu: 7 members with 2 silverbacks
Nkuringo - Southern Bwindi
Nkuringo: 14 members with 2 silverbacks
Bushaho: 11 members with 1 silverback
Christmas: 6 members with 1 silverback
Mgahinga National Park
Nyakagezi; 10 members with 3 silverbacks
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda - Activities
Gorilla trekking is the world’s most exclusive wildlife experience and is the highlight of most safari trips to Uganda. All gorilla encounters are closely monitored and timed, mostly for the safety of the gorillas themselves that are highly susceptible to human infection.
The experience starts in the early morning when the location of the gorillas to be observed has been ascertained. Only 8 trekkers can follow each family of gorillas and the encounter is for only an hour each day – never more. The trek in the forest and mountains can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 6hours depending on where the gorillas spent the previous night, and how mobile they are. The magical hour only starts when they are in sight.
The hour spent watching the gorillas is the most enchanting 60minutes that a trekker will ever spend in the wild; indeed many trekkers have returned from this experience feeling a profound connection with the gorillas. The dominating presence of the silverback is not something that one ever gets used to; observing how much alike baby gorillas and their mothers are to their human counterparts even here in the middle of the wild is intriguing.
Gorilla habituation is the process that is undertaken to enable wild mountain gorillas to be able to be visited and observed by tourists. All gorilla groups that are tracked have gone through the habituation process. The mountain gorilla habituation experience for trekkers introduced in 2016, is a pilot program by the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. The gorilla habituation experience gives trekkers a more immersive experience with the gorillas and more of an insight into gorilla behaviour as you spend more time with gorillas than if you were doing the ordinary gorilla trek.
Trekking groups are limited to no more than 4 trekkers that join the rangers and researchers for a maximum of 4hours; the experience only starts once the group arrives at the spot where the gorillas nested the night before. The park trackers do an in-depth inspection of the nests and the paths taken by the gorillas for clues that will help them to better understand the gorillas, and even mimic gorilla sounds to alert them of their presence. The full purpose of the habituation process is to keep within the eyesight of the gorillas at all times, so it can be a gruelling expedition battling through the jungle keeping up with them as they forage for food.
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda - What you need to know
What Does It Cost?
Gorilla Trekking and Habituation fees are on the steep side for a wildlife experience, but part of the fees paid are ploughed back into conservation to ensure the continued existence and survival of the endangered mountain gorilla.
Gorilla Trekking: $600 per person Gorilla Habituation: $1500 per person
When to do it
The Dry season from mid December – February and June – September is ideal because navigation through the thick vegetation that lines the steep slopes of Mgahinga and Bwindi is much easier.
Gorilla trekking can also be done in the wet season from March – May and October – mid December but the journey is significantly harder and requires stronger resolve on the part of the trekkers.
Of course the beautiful Ugandan weather dictates how it goes in the end, so it is not uncommon at all for heavy rain to fall on occasion, even in the dry season.
Good to know
Only 160 permits in Bwindi each day, for a maximum of 8 trekkers per gorilla family
Trekking and Habituation Experience permits must be booked well in advance through a registered safari operator
To protect the gorillas, trekkers that are ill are not permitted on these experiences