Visiting the critically endangered mountain gorillas deep in the jungles of central and East Africa is a humbling and torching adventure.
With over 1000 individual mountain gorillas surviving in the central and East African tropical rain forests, mountain gorilla trekking is the main funding source for the conservation and sustainability of these intriguing manlike endangered giants.
Each Uganda gorilla safari is a direct contribution for the protection works of mountain gorillas in Africa and hence, each gorilla permit purchase is a contribution to gorilla conservation and local community sustainability.
In the 20’s, mountain gorilla tourism has become a popular safari adventure – top bucket list for all Africa travels, and hence a great need to guiding information for all travellers planning a gorilla tour in Uganda’s Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park.
Which National park to choose
Uganda had two gorilla national parks – Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park, both situated south west of the country and can be reached both by road and air transport.
By Road, Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla parks are 8-9 hours drive from Kampala capital city. By charter flight from Kampapa, just 30 minutes from Entebbe to Kisori air strip and Kihihi air strip.
From Kigali – Rwanda is a shorter distance crossing into Uganda with 3 – 4 hours drive into Bwindi or Mgahinga national parks.
Check out this amazing video of Gorilla Treks in Uganda from The World Pursuit.
Best Gorilla Park – Bwindi impenetrable forest or Mgahinga national Park?
Bwindi forest national park is the most popular gorilla park for travelers looking at visiting gorillas in Uganda. Bwindi forest is home to half the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population – about 500 gorillas, with 12 habituated gorilla groups, 2 gorilla habituation adventure groups. This means Bwindi offers travelers diversity of gorilla groups with no chance of missing out on gorilla permit and a 100% guarantee to seeing gorillas in the jungle.
Secondly Bwindi gorilla forest offers a typical wild jungle adventure for adventure seekers. Bwindi is called impenetrable because of its thick vegetation cover and a typical hiking adventure. Bwindi comprises of a mountainous terrain for hikers and a gentle terrain for non hikers.
Mgahinga national park has one gorilla group, which in the past Used to periodically migrate with the the Virunga conservation region which has for long settled in Mgahinga national park.
Best Time to visit gorillas
Visiting gorillas in Uganda can be done all year round, but the dryer season is more preferred than the rainy seasons. The dry season runs from December through early March and June – September and the rainy season Late March – April and november.
During the rainy seasons the Uganda Wildlife Authourity (www.ugandawildlife.org) gorilla permits are discounted to $450 from $600 to encourage traveler to come see gorillas even during the rainy seasons at a reduced price!
All in all Uganda is a tropical region with generally cool temperatures all year round and can rain any time of the year even in the dry season or even not rain some days in the rainy season.
Buying Gorilla Permits / Requirements / Costs
Its a must for every visitor to buy a gorilla permit to see one or more gorilla groups, or go for gorilla habituation experience. Uganda gorilla permits go for $600 during the dry / high seasons and $450 during the low / rainy seasons.
Each gorilla family can be visited once each day, but a group of 8 people. Uganda currently has 12 gorilla groups hence, 96 gorilla permits are available each day with 8 others for gorilla habituation experience newly introduced in Bwindi gorilla forest for visitors wanting to stay longer with gorillas as take part in gorilla habituation experience.
Buying your gorilla permit
If you book through a tour company, the company will obtain your permit for you. If visiting independently, you can book your permits directly from the Uganda Wildlife authority website at ugandawildlife.org.
Which Group to choose and level of difficulty
Bwindi national park offers 11 gorilla groups with 2 other groups for gorilla habituation experience. reeking each gorilla group is quite different from the others. Bwindi has both easy, medium and tough hikes, and its necessary to inform your guide of which trek you can manage. Some groups are near the park boundaries ad hence easy to find while others are far away in the mountains and hence require hiking.
Top Tip: Work on your fitness even if going for a simple hike – gorillas are wild animals and keep moving.
Gorilla Trekking Rules
Importantly, don’t go when sick – gorillas are just like human being – we share 98% DNA hence human diseases easily catch gorillas but they have less immunity to fight illness unlike us humans. Gorilla tourism is generally aimed at conservation of mountain gorillas and not to kill them. Don go when sick! Inform your guide and can have a refund
- Camera – No Flash light allowed when photographing gorillas. That spontaneous light can scare off the gorillas and he can become violent.
- Keep a distance of 7 meters say form the gorillas. Meeting the gorillas makes you vulnerable and emotional. You feel you want to comfort them, but no!! Keep the regulated distance to protect the gorillas
- Avoid eye contact, it could threaten the gorillas
- Don’t eat or drink when with the gorillas
For more useful information go to adventureugandasafaris.com