Mountain Gorillas in UgandaBwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are the two magnificent parks where mountain gorillas in Uganda are found. Mountain gorillas are by far star attractions, a reason why thousands of tourists visit Uganda the pearl of Africa each year for gorilla trekking safaris. Out of the 1063 mountain gorillas which today still exist on the planet earth, over half of them are confined within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which makes Uganda an outstanding gorilla trekking safari destination in Africa. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park alone hosts about 459 of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas making it one of the most sought-after gorilla trekking safari destinations in Africa. The other portion is shared by the Virunga Conservation Areas; Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Trekking to see mountain gorillas in Uganda while in their natural habitat is remarkably the most thrilling wildlife experience of a lifetime.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Mountain Gorillas in UgandaTrekking mountain gorillas while on Uganda gorilla safari in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is only possible in any one of the park’s four major gorilla trekking regions and they include Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector, Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors. Visiting any one of these gorilla trekking regions lets you track different habituated gorilla families, each sharing a unique story and rewarding trekkers on Uganda gorilla safari with a distinct experience. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is comprised of 20 habituated gorilla families which are distributed in the four gorilla trekking regions/sectors.
The four gorilla tracking sectors/regions in Bwindi National park include the following;Buhoma region is found in the Northern side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and it is such an outstanding gorilla trekking region to consider exploring while on Uganda gorilla safari. This region is composed of 4 habituated gorilla families and they include Mubare gorilla family, Katwe group, Habinyanja, and Rushegura group. Ruhija region is in the Eastern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and it is a unique gorilla trekking region of its own that is why you should consider it a must to explore on Uganda gorilla safari this coming holiday. The habituated gorilla groups to track in the Ruhija sector include Bitukura, Oruzongo, Mukiza, and Kyaguriro. Nkuringo region is located in the Southern gorilla trekking region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It is an amazing region to explore especially for trekkers in need of a bit challenging treks. This region features habituated gorilla groups like Nkuringo, Bushaho, and Christmas. Rushaga sector is on the Southern side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It has the largest number of habituated gorilla families and they include Bikingi, Bweza, Mishaya, Mucunguzi, Kahungye, Busingye, Rwingi, Kutu and Nshongi. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is shared by Kabale, Kisoro and Kanungu districts in the Southwest, about 9-10 hours’ drive from Kampala and 3-4 hours’ drive from Kigali city in Rwanda. This park was founded in 1991 primarily to offer refuge to endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife. In 1994, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it occupies an area of about 331sq.km, largely consisting of a lush tropical rain-forest.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – mountain gorillas in UgandaMgahinga Gorilla National Park is in Kisoro district and it is the second place where mountain gorillas in Uganda are found and trekked. This park sits on an area of about 33.7sq.kms which makes it the smallest of all the ten national parks in Uganda. Visitors on Uganda gorilla safari in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park start their treks to see mountain gorillas with briefing at Ntebeko Visitor Center. Gorilla treks are conducted only in the Nyakagezi gorilla family and now Hirwa group which migrated from Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Trekking to view mountain gorillas in Uganda is entirely a process involving visitors hiking through the tropical rain-forest and steep slopes while in search of the allocated gorilla group. It starts with an early morning briefing on the set safety measures. The visitors are then allocated into a group of 8 people that embark on the trekking alongside the guidance of the park ranger guide. Trekking normally begins at 8:00 AM and can last between 2 and 6 hours depending on visitors’ speed of hiking, nature of the habitat and where these apes are found in the course of the day.
What is gorilla trekking in Uganda like?
Gorilla trekking safety measures or rules and regulationsDuring the briefing, visitors are enlightened about safety measures to observe to ensure they have an enjoyable and memorable gorilla trekking experience in Uganda. Some of the safety measures that will be briefed to you include;
- Only persons above 15 years are allowed to trek mountain gorillas
- Visitors should keep a distance of 7 meters must be kept at all times from mountain gorillas, that one is not allowed to trek mountain gorillas when sick
- Visitors should always cover their mouth in case they need to cough or while sneezing
- Visitors should leave the gorilla habitat the way they found it or in a better state and should not eat, drink or smoke in the presence of mountain gorillas.
- Flashlight cameras are never allowed when taking pictures of mountain gorillas.
- A maximum of 8 trekkers are accepted to track 1 habituated family
- And on finding a gorilla family, visitors spend only an hour of magical encounters.
- Visitors should keep their voices low while on the trek but feel free to ask the guide as many questions.
To trek mountain gorillas in Uganda, you need a valid gorilla trekking permit. Compared to Rwanda, Uganda stands out as an affordable gorilla safari destination with each of its gorilla permits costing $600 for visitors under the category of foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and shs.250, 000 for East African citizens. However, beginning 1st July 2020 to 2022, Uganda will be issuing her gorilla permits at $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and shs.250, 000 for East African citizens. Gorilla permits in Uganda can be reserved through our reservation team or directly through reservation team from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Please make ensure you secure your gorilla permit early enough before you set off on the actual trek. Booking gorilla permit
How much is gorilla permits in Uganda
For any plans to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda, visitors are advised to pack appropriately starting with essential items first. Some of the essential items to pack include waterproof daypack, waterproof hiking boots, non-flashlight camera, long-sleeved shirt/t-shirt, bottled drinking water, energy-giving snacks, socks, sunscreen, hat, walking stick (you can get one at the park headquarters), rain jacket or poncho, sweater, insect repellent, toiletries, first aid kit.
What to pack for gorilla trekking in Uganda
When to visit Uganda for gorilla trekkingTrekking mountain gorillas in Uganda can be conducted throughout the year. This is because Uganda has favorable weather and climate conditions. However, the dry months of the year are recommended for visitors on Uganda gorilla safari to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to trek mountain gorillas. The dry months begin in June, July, August, September, and December, January, February. You can also visit Uganda to trek mountain gorilla during the wet months of the year that is March, April, May and October, November.
On Uganda gorilla safari in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, some of the best accommodation options to spend a night range from budget to luxury. Luxury options include Chameleon Hill Lodge, Buhoma Lodge. Mid-range lodges include Gorilla Mist Camp, Bakiga Lodge. Budget accommodation options include Wagtail Eco-Safari Camp, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Nshongi Camp, and Ruhondeza Guest House. In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the notable lodges include Mount Gahinga Lodge-Luxury, Mucha Hotel Kisoro-Mid-range, and Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp-Budget.
Where to stay while on Uganda gorilla safari – mountain gorillas in Uganda
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National ParkBwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are situated in Southwestern Uganda. The two parks can be reached by road or by air. By road, it takes you about 9-10 hours to drive from Entebbe or Kampala to Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park. From Kigali capital city, it is a 3-4 hours drive. Alternatively, one may use the domestic flights from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi National park. You can take a flight from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kisoro or Kihihi airstrip where you can connect to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In conclusion, trekking to see mountain gorillas in Uganda is a rare opportunity you shouldn’t miss while on Uganda gorilla safari. Mountain gorillas exist only in Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC.
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