Commonly referred to as the number one primate trekking destination in the world, Uganda is an amazing place to see mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and wildlife. Uganda boasts with 10 national parks and countless species of wildlife all over the country. When it comes to hospitality, Uganda is one of the most welcoming countries in the world for travelers. Uganda is a home away from home. About Uganda
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Our gorilla safaris take you to the heart of Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, as well as Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Our Uganda gorilla trekking safaris, Rwanda gorilla tours, and Congo gorilla safaris are authentic and affordable, offering a unique opportunity to visit mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
The experience of mountain gorilla tracking is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that many people long for. Nevertheless, since 2020, travel has undergone significant changes, making it more demanding in terms of meticulous planning, attention, and caution.
Book with us for African gorilla tours and gorilla trekking safaris to see mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo (in Bwindi and the Virunga Mountains - the primary mountain gorilla conservation areas), and have your safari carefully planned with the right attention and care.
Our gorilla trekking tours cater to different budget levels, offering both high-end and budget-friendly options to visit gorilla parks such as Volcanoes and Bwindi, with permits included.
And besides organizing highend and lowend gorilla tours, we also organize African wildlife safaris to all East African countries at highly discounted rates. Some of these include Bwindi gorilla treks, Volcanoes gorilla treks, Mgahinga gorilla treks, Virunga gorilla treks, Kahuzi-Biega gorilla treks, luxury gorilla holidays, budget gorilla holidays and tours from Kigali to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
We offer a variety of experiences such as big five safaris, group and solo travel, adrenaline and mountain climbing adventures, and much more to cater to every traveler's preferences.
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A Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, Rwanda & DR Congo: Explore Gorilla Tours in Africa
Gorilla tracking is an act of trekking mountains and forests in search for gorillas.
The most common species of gorillas tracked are mountain gorillas and this is because of the adventure that comes with it.
Mountain gorillas live in mountainous areas and can hardly survive at low altitude.
Trekkers have to hike mountains through trails to meet gorillas in their natural habitat and trek back to the starting point to get their gorilla tracking safari certificates, a document that acknowledges their involvement in a trekking activity.
This trek through the jungle entitles you to a certain amount of time around gorillas and prescribed by the country’s governing tourism body.
To be able to trek gorillas, you need a gorilla permit. Permits are documents that permit you to join the search for gorillas.
These documents/cards are issued by the respective country’s governing body; Uganda Wildlife Authority for Uganda, Rwanda Development Board for Rwanda and Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation for Congo.
The money used for purchasing permits is instead used to conserve these gorillas. This practically implicates that by trekking gorillas, you are contributing to the community and helping these gorillas multiply in numbers especially, mountain gorillas; the smallest of all species.
Mountain gorillas share over a 98% of DNA with humans, making them our closes relatives next to chimpanzees.
Trekking with gorillas is an awesome activity that every avid travelers should engage in at least once in their lifetime. Its unique, rewarding and can only be carried out in Africa.
Mountain gorilla safari holidays can only be carried out in Congo, Rwanda and Uganda and nowhere else in the world. Many travelers mistake the actual adventure to be tiresome which the case isn’t.
You can choose an easy hike or hard depending on the level of difficulty that you prefer. The gorilla safari group always moves at the pace of the slowest member so either way, you have to make it to the gorillas and back to the starting point.
Mountain Gorillas: An Introduction
Mountain gorillas are a sub species of the Eastern gorillas and are only found in East and Central Africa in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo and nowhere else in the world.
Apparently, there are only four parks with mountain gorillas in the world and these include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are found in Uganda whereas Volcanoes National Park is found in Rwanda and Virunga National Park is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Of all these parks, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best when it comes to mountain gorilla safari holidays.
Of all primates, Mountain gorillas are the second closes to the human DNA after Chimpanzees. This is no far away from their actions and traits.
Mountain gorillas are identified by their nose prints just like humans, are intelligent like humans and behave like us. At times, they even laugh at us and get angry.
When they charge at humans, a sign of remorse can calm them down and keep them away from attacking you. So by trekking gorillas, you are trekking a species of apes that behaves somehow like us and have a lot of things in common with us.
There is a lot to learn about mountain gorillas and this opportunity is available only for clients planning to trek gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
This is none other than the habituation experience. When you book a Gorilla habituation safari, you will spend a whopping four hours with gorillas instead of the usual one and also get to learn more about these gorillas and how they are habituated before they are made available for gorilla safari tours.
Mountain gorillas have to pass several stages that involve controlling their emotions before they can be tracked else they are more likely to be dangerous to clients. This is the very first step that Uganda Wildlife Authority takes to prepare these gorillas for exposure.
Top Destinations for Gorilla Tracking in Africa
Want to know where to go for gorillas trekking in Africa? Quite a number of African countries have gorillas but apparently only three countries have mountain gorillas and these include Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
You can go to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda or Virunga National Park in Congo for mountain gorilla safari adventures.
If you need a blend of a lowland gorilla experience, you can visit Kahuzi-Biega National Park in Bukavu, Congo. These three countries are apparently the best destinations for gorilla tracking in the whole world and account for the biggest number of trekking clients.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is apparently the best destination for mountain gorilla trips in the world.
This park accounts for half the remaining population of mountain gorillas in the world and has 4 different sectors where clients can trek gorillas from.
Bwindi is one of Uganda’s world heritage sites and attracts millions of tourists every year. It is apparently the most preferable Ugandan park to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Mgahinga has only one gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi Group. This group sometimes crosses over to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, which brings a bit of uncertainty with trekking gorillas from there.
Next to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. A gorilla permit for Volcanoes National Park normally costs $1500 each and $1050 when visiting all the other Rwanda national parks.
So many travelers prefer Volcanoes National Park to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park mainly because of the short distance from Kigali International Airport, a common place where so many clients arrive from to Rwanda.
The distance from Kigali to Musanze, a town where Volcanoes National Park is found is only 2 hours; which could have been shorter if the Rwandan speed limitations where above 60 kilometers per hour.
Virunga is rarely visited because of the insecurity in Goma BUT it would have definitely been second to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Essential items for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo
The most important requirement for tracking gorillas is a gorilla permit. Each permit entitles you to one gorilla encounter.
Clients who wish to trek gorillas multiple times should require additional permits depending on the total number of encounters they’d wish to have.
Gorilla permits are bought from respective country bodies that govern/manage trekking and these include Uganda Wildlife Authority for Uganda, Rwandan Development Board (RDB) for Rwanda and ICCN and Virunga Foundation for Virunga National Park in Congo.
Permits are sold on a first-come-first-serve basis hence, clients are advised to make their bookings several months in advance to avoid missing out on permits.
Another thing you need is a sound and healthy body. Considering their closeness to humans, mountain gorillas are likely to get infectious diseases and their immunity is not strong enough to fight diseases.
This can lead to the demise of many members of a gorilla family. Clients with infectious diseases like cough, influenza or any other airborne diseases will not be permitted to other travelers in the trek so as to cut out the risk of gorilla infection.
Taking flu shots and ensuring your health is very vital to your preparation process and you should take this seriously to avoid any disappointments.
To make your trek even easier and much more comfortable, you need the necessary trekking gears and the right clothing before you make your entourage into the forest or mountains to search for mountain gorillas.
Some of the gears you need are cameras for recordings, a walking stick, sun shades, insect repellants, energy snacks and many more.
Most important of all is a small first aid kit since there is no hospital in the jungle. Moving with one keeps you safe in case of any minor injuries during your trek.
As for clothing, things trousers, long sleeved tops, rain jackets, hats and long hiking boots are highly recommended.
Expert Tips for a Successful Gorilla Trekking Experience
Before you even think of preparing for gorilla trips in Africa or actually going into the forest, it’s very essential to have a look at the essential tips and pick a point or two.
This will not only keep you safe, abiding by the rules and informed, but will also make you feel more comfortable like you are actually familiar with the activity you are engaging in.
You should know how to trek, keep up with the group, what to do when a gorilla charges on you, how best you can dress to maneuver the forests or mountain jungles smoothly and a lot more.
First and foremost, you should be prepared for any weather. Africa’s climate is quite different from other continents’.
It could shine in the morning and rain heavily a few minutes after and shine bright a few hours later.
Knowing the driest months of the year and booking your gorilla trek for such months can lower the chances of trekking gorillas in the rain.
With this kind of climate, you ought to enter the forests and jungles with rain coats and light clothes so that you are ready for rain or a very hot sunshine over you.
Ought to carry enough energy snacks with you alongside packed lunch and lots of water so that you do not feel hungry when in the forest.
Hiking the trails up the mountains to the gorillas can be tiresome and energy consumptive. You ought to always be ready to trek and keep hydrated so that you do not feel fatigued faster.
You also have to waterproof your camera and deactivate the flashlights. Flashlights upset gorillas and can cause them to charge at you, an event that can lead to serious injuries if not handled well.
Always remember to deactivate your flash light when taking photos of gorillas.
Preparing for your gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo
Mountain gorilla treks can be somehow strenuous if you do not prepare well for it. Mountain gorillas live in highly elevated areas and you’ll need to hike up the mountains to meet gorillas, which can be really tiresome for some clients.
This is reason why you are encouraged to carry out proper preparations for your adventure several months prior.
Good preparation will help you traverse the mountains with ease and feel less fatigued. It will also keep you at the same pace with the group, which could be slow or fast depending on the slowest person’s pace.
Having best preparations is a very essential step towards your tour success.
Preparations could be mental, physical, financial, health-wise and so on. Regarding your physical side, jogging for at least 30 or more minutes every morning should help get your muscles ready for a hike.
Mental preparation is also mandatory. Some clients give up when the mountain gorilla group they are trekking seems to be very far away than usual.
This is an unusual event that can happen sometimes and is because of the high mobility of mountain gorillas.
Sometimes, they move up to extremely high elevations as they search for vegetation and new shelter. This is not good news for trekking clients especially the less prepared.
You should equally consider your dietary preparation. Eating lots of vegetables, fiber foods and hydrating more often will help keep your body in good shape.
A good diet can also improve your energy levels, immunity and muscle growth. As for health preparations, you should take a couple of vaccination shots prior to your travel especially Influenza and Malaria shots.
Financial preparation is mandatory! You do not want to run short of money during your trek especially if you are not so physical.
Clients that feel fatigued along the way are ferried back to the starting point or actually to the gorillas and back using a Sedan seat or Bamboo stretcher. If you are not in the best physical condition, you’ll have to prepare yourself for this.
Which is better for you: luxury or budget gorilla safari trips?
In most occasions, a client’s budget highly determines whether they should opt for budget gorilla adventures, comfortable tracking or upmarket gorilla tracking.
In rare conditions, some clients think they can still get the best experience even with minimal costs.
They try to opt for public transportation to and from gorilla parks, want to camp at camp sites and save on money.
Do not try to be like these people to avoid disappointments. Africa is a continent of its own and what may seem budget in American, European or Asian countries cannot have the same quality as budget accommodation facilities here. Some budget gorilla lodges here are a mess and irritate most clients.
This is why our budget tracking experiences defer from the rest. Our company tries so hard to ensure we get highly discounted accommodation rates from top mid-range lodges and offer it to clients.
We have to keep sending a specific number of clients to the particular lodge to maintain the contractual rates which might call for heavy marketing on our end just to ensure our clients get the best services during their adventures.
We also discourage clients from doing trips on their own because Uganda, just like any other destinations can mean to be unsafe to people that know less about it.
Having a dedicated tour guide besides you guarantees a lot of safety.
As for luxury clients, the level of service delivery is so high that it will make you enjoy your experience to the extreme.
Most times such trips come with 4×4 Safari Land Cruisers, chartered or scheduled flights and extremely comfortable gorilla safari lodges with impressive views of the forest.
If possible, opt for a luxury safari experience. It’s simply out of this world and you will highly enjoy it.
Nothing beats the feeling of seeing gorillas in the forest and coming back to rest at a very comfortable gorilla safari lodge with great views of the forest.
Gorilla Permit Costs: How much should you expect to pay for gorilla trekking?
So what is a gorilla permit? A permit is loosely defined as an authorization document/card for mountain gorilla tracking.
Every client who wishes to engage in gorilla treks has to first purchase a gorilla permit before they are granted access to the gorillas.
These documents are purchased from Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala, Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda and Virunga Foundation in DRC Congo.
You can purchase gorilla permits through a tours and travel operator agency like us. Please note that we are simply facilitators in this process and all the governing body rules and regulations regarding gorilla permits stand in place.
Gorilla permits cost $1500 in Rwanda, $700 in Uganda and $400 in DRC Congo.
Rwanda gorilla trekking permits cost $1050 in the low season when visiting all the other Rwanda national parks (Nyungwe Forest National Park – a place to trek Rwandan chimpanzees in Rwanda and Akagera National Park – the only Savannah wildlife national park in Rwanda perfect for game viewing experiences).
Uganda has a gorilla habituation experience that entitles clients to four hours around gorillas instead of the normal one. Gorilla habituation permits cost $1500 each.
Rwanda has a special experience where a client can book out an entire gorilla family for himself and 3 other travelers at 15,000 USD.
However, these are just ordinary prices for gorilla trips. Gorilla photography and Gorilla filming have separate prices.
Clients are not allowed to carry heavy photography or filming equipment to the forests/jungles/mountains under the ordinary gorilla permit prices.
They’ll have to pay the respective filming and photography charges irrespective of the destination that they are in.
If you need convenience and do not want to travel for long, you can book gorilla tracking in Rwanda as Volcanoes National Park is just 2 hours away from Kigali.
If you need a budget gorilla tour experience or a much more affordable luxury gorilla safari experience, Uganda and Congo might be great destinations for you.
Can you get a refund for gorilla permits?
Gorilla permits are not refundable because the money goes towards the conservation of mountain gorillas.
If you feel you may miss out on your experience, you may have to reschedule the permit to a later date when you are able to travel again.
If you feel you may not travel again in a very long time, you may just have to forego the permit and help the gorillas.
Foregoing the permit does not implicate it’s the government using your money. 80% of this money goes back to conservation and about 10% goes to the community.
Only a small percentage goes to the government body governing gorillas as they already make money from taxing the permits.
The best alternative to foregoing gorilla permits is to reschedule them to a later date.
Gorilla permits may be rescheduled only once but can be rescheduled twice in case the country goes through an epidemic or pandemic like COVID-19.
Such measures are usually come up with by the wildlife governing body of the respective country.
During the Covid-19 period, clients are advised to postpone their safaris so as to maintain the validity of their respective permits. Uganda Wildlife Authority was allowing up to two reschedules for a two year time-frame.
In case of any missed or delayed flights, clients have to communicate to their tour operator and send evidence of the delayed or missed flights along so that the tour operator can contact Uganda Wildlife Authority and do a quick reschedule for your permits.
This is actually one of the advantages of using a trusted tours and travel operator to manage all aspects of your booking.
It helps in case any uncertainty arises as they are always on ground. So before you book your trip, you should know that permits can only be rescheduled and not refundable.
Gorilla Trekking Costs: What You Need to Know
The total cost of gorilla tracking depends on a number of factors ranging from the choice of accommodation, country you are trekking gorillas from, the tours and Travel Company you are using, the trekking iterations you want, the duration of your trip, type of safari vehicle used, any special requests for gorilla trek, the actual type of experience you want (could be gorilla habituation or gorilla tracking) among other factors.
The most important cost of all is the gorilla permit cost as this is what unlocks everything. Without availability of a gorilla permit, it is very hard to determine which accommodation you will sleep in and plan the other aspects of the trip.
So while you make further plans and research regarding the total gorilla safari cost, you should highly prioritize the gorilla permit fees.
As regards to accommodation, budget gorilla safari lodges cost more, mid-range gorilla safari lodges cost average whereas luxury gorilla tour lodges cost a lot of money.
Accommodation highly influences the final cost of gorilla trips as some lodges like Bisate Lodge in Rwanda cost over USD 2000 per cottage per night.
This can highly impact on the final price of gorilla safari tours especially if a client wishes to spend a couple of nights at the lodge.
Regarding the trekking iterations, each gorilla trek requires a gorilla permit, so assuming you are to trek gorillas four times, you’ll need four separate permits for that.
As for duration of the trip, your trips get more expensive as it gets longer because each day in the timeline calls for meals, accommodation, transportation fees, guiding fees and activity fees (if any).
Regarding transportation, land cruisers are charged higher than normal safari vans. If you intent to use a land cruiser (short or extended), you’ll realize a sudden increase in the total price of your safari.
How many sectors are there in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
Referred to as the best gorilla park in the world, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a great place to trek mountain gorillas from.
The park itself is isolated from the rest; Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Virunga National Park that share the Virunga Conservation Area.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has four sectors with Buhoma Sector (Northern Region) turning out to the oldest of all.
Gorilla trips in Uganda started in Buhoma Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the late nineties.
This is the same sector where the Horrific Bwindi Massacre took place from. Besides being the first and oldest, Buhoma has established itself to be among the best and busiest sectors in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
To the east is Ruhia Sector, apparently the most accessible sector of all. Ruhijs sector/region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is not far away from the Tarmacked road.
This is why so many clients prefer trekking here. It is very easy to combine gorilla treks in Ruhija with visits to other national parks like Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Kibale Forest National Park among the rest.
To the south is Rushaga sector, a sector that accounts for the highest population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
So many clients prefer trekking here because of the good scenery, challenging gorilla treks and convenience when starting your Uganda gorilla trekking safari from Kigali in Rwanda.
To the East is Nkuringo Sector, a sector that will give you the best views of the Virunga Massif in DRC Congo.
Nkuringo is the least visited among the other sectors because it doesn’t have so many gorilla families. Trekking in this sector is very enjoyable and scenic.
Nkuringo is perfect for clients who want isolated places to trek mountain gorillas from.
Where to find the best gorilla sightings in Africa
As mentioned above, there are only four national parks in the world where you can trek mountain gorillas from and these include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Virunga National Park and Volcanoes National Park.
Bwindi and Mgahinga are found in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park is found in Rwanda whereas Virunga National Park is found in DRC Congo.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park share the same area.
They are all found in the Virunga Conservation Area, a perimeter that shelters the eight Virunga Mountains.
These mountains include Mount Bisoke, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Muhabura, Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Mikeno, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Gahinga and Mount Nyamuragira. In these mountains are mountain gorillas.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is however isolated from the rest and you have to drive for a couple of kilometers to access it.
Most of Uganda’s mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; making it the best place to see gorillas in Africa and the world at large.
As mentioned before, Bwindi offers an affordable and quality gorilla treks in Africa. It is a perfect place for luxury gorilla treks too.
It is the only park that accompanies all classes of gorilla safari clients, right from shoe-string to super luxury gorilla holidays.
Next to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park; Also known as Parc Nationale Des Volcanes (PNV).
PNV is the most accessible of all the gorilla parks as it is just 2 hours away from Kigali, Rwanda’s Capital City – a common place of entry for tourists.
Virunga National Park in Congo is a great place to see mountain gorillas but for years the insecurity in the park has scared so many clients away.
If Virunga had good security, it would actually be second to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
The best place for trekking lowland gorillas in East Africa is Kahuzi-Biega National Park in Bukavu, DRC Congo.
Discover the Gorilla Families of Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo
Over the years, the population of mountain gorillas has steadily increased; a huge sign that the conservation efforts in place are actually paying off.
Mountain gorillas live in families headed by a Silverback, an alpha-male gorilla that dictates the day to day activities of the group, protects them and reserves the right of mating with the females in the group.
If any other male member of the group wants to mate with a female, he either has to challenge the leading Silverback to a battle and overthrow him or go and start his own family with other females.
The habituated mountain gorilla groups in Uganda include; Nshongi Family, Rushegura Family, Nkuringo Family, Habinyanja Family, Mubare Family, Oruzogo Family, Bitukura Family, Mishaya Family, Busingye Family, Kahungye Family, Nyakagezi Family, Christmas Family, Katwe Family and Bikingi Family among the rest.
The families in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda include; Bwenge Family, Ugenda Family, Hirwa Family, Kwitonda Family, Agashya Family, Sabyinyo Family, Umubano Family, Amahoro Family, Karisimbi Family, Susa A Family and Titus Family among the rest.
The gorilla families in Virunga National Park Congo include; Bageni Family, Nyakamwe Family, Munyaga Family, Lulengo Family, Mapuwa Family, Rugendo Family, Humba Family and Kabirizi Family among the rest. Each of these families have something unique.
Some Silverbacks are aggressive, other are humble, others think snatching females from other groups makes them powerful, others are cowards and so on.
Depending on which family you are allocated during your trekking, endeavor to carry out more research about the exact group that you are trekking.
Is gorilla trekking a worthwhile experience?
Trekking gorillas is apparently one of the most expensive tours and travel activities that you can engage in but question is, is it worth it?
The honest answer to this question is a YES! If gorilla tracking wasn’t worth it, so many gorilla permits would be available per day.
Uganda is one of the busiest, if not the busiest gorilla safari country.
Gorilla permits get sold out in advance hence, a clear indicator that trekking gorillas in any of the Ugandan gorilla parks is actually more than worth it.
If the activity wasn’t worth it, very few clients would engage in it.
A gorilla permit costs $700 here in Uganda, making it affordable enough for clients who want to engage in mountain gorilla safari tours.
This permit entitles you to 1 encounter inclusive of a full hour around gorillas.
If you’d like to spend longer around mountain gorillas, you’d have to opt for the gorilla habituation experience whose permit goes for $1500 each.
A gorilla habituation experience allows you up to four full hours around mountain gorillas learning how they are habituation and made available for public visit.
This activity only takes place in the Rushaga Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and nowhere else in the world.
Lastly, what makes treks worth it is the fact that you contribute to the conservation of these rare apes when you purchase a permit(s).
When booking your trip, do not look at it in a sense of giving the government a lot of money for the trek but rather giving back to the gorillas and the communities around them.
Over 80% of permit fees goes back to the conservation of mountain gorillas and helping them multiply in numbers considering the fact that they nearly went extinct at one point in time.
Tips for choosing your gorilla trekking accommodation in Uganda, Rwanda & Congo
When you book your safari in Uganda, chances are very high that you’ll trek gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
As earlier mentioned, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has four sectors and these include Buhoma Sector, Rushaga Sector, Ruhija Sector and Nkuringo Sector.
When booking accommodation for your Uganda safari experience, your tours and travel company will book one that is in or near the trekking sector your permit is booked for.
Trekking starts very early in the morning with a briefing session and gorilla family allocation process before actually heading to the forest to trek these primates.
You have to sleep near the park headquarters so that it’s easy for you to drive there and rule out any chances of your safari vehicle getting stuck in mud in case of any rainfall.
Some sector are however close to each other, making it easy and possible to sleep in a different sector and tracking gorillas from another.
Buhoma Sector and Ruhija Sector are very accessible from each other just like Rushaga Sector and Nkuringo Sector.
You can sleep in a sector and trek gorillas in another. This actually comes in handy when you want to trek gorillas twice in two different sectors.
It makes it easy for you to use the same accommodation facility though and avoid moving from lodge to lodge after establishing your comfort in one.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has so many accommodation and lodging facilities ranging from budget to luxury in all the sectors of the park. Depending on your budget for the trip, you can choose what suits you best.
However, there are times when a Uganda tours and travel operator will advise you to increase your budget for a better deal of accommodation.
We advise clients too because we might so much about their comfort.
When we ask you to increase your budget to get a good lodge for your trip, you should endeavor to look at this positively. Most of the times it’s for your own good.
How to choose between gorilla trekking in the rain or sunshine?
Prior to drawing plans for your safari, you’ll want to visit a gorilla tracking country during the driest months possible so that you do not encounter any rain during your trek.
Question is, would you rather go trekking mountain gorillas in the rain or under hot sunshine? Much as you cannot control weather, you can actually try to predict when it will shine or probably drizzle if the day is to have any chance of rain.
This is a big question that most travelers do not ask themselves.
They simply go with what majority say; trek gorillas when it’s dry and fail to understand that someone’s experience or taste might contradict from theirs or perhaps you could have had a better experience than theirs.
Look, what makes like worth it is the fact that it is average. If life was all good, it would definitely lose meaning. Same applies to gorilla treks in Africa.
I would say, choose a random date and book your trek then let nature decide whether it will pour rain on you that say or bless you with sunshine.
Trekking gorillas in the rain is an awesome experience and perfect even for last minute deals.
Rainy months are usually less populated that you can actually purchase multiple gorilla permits days prior to your trip.
Accommodation facilities reduce on their rates too, making it possible to have an absolutely cheap safari during such periods.
It is also much easier to locate gorillas as they hardly move to search for food because vegetation is just around them.
Best of all, the parks are less populated; a great opportunity to encounter gorillas in small groups, which definitely wouldn’t be the case in dry months.
Trekking during the dry season is much easier as trails are not muddy hence, traversing them becomes pretty much easier.
There also less or no chances that you’ll slide and fall or rather feel cold when in the jungle.
The downside is during the dry months of the year, vegetation is scarce. Mountain gorillas have to move to higher elevations to search for vegetation to eat, hence, locating them might be quite hard.
I would recommend trying out both experiences that judging the better experience from your personal encounter.
Gorilla Trekking 101: Proper Attire for Your African Adventure
Dressing right for your gorilla encounter won’t only save you from insect bites but also pricks from the jungle.
All trekking sectors are in the wild. You get to hike through tiny trails as you make your way to an exact location of the allocated mountain gorilla family.
If your clothing is not right, trekking might turn out to be a nightmare for you.
Imagine you forgot your garden gloves and happened to grab a plant that pricked you? That wouldn’t be nice. Clothing should be one of your strongest considerations for gorilla treks.
So what is the appropriate clothing that clients should carry for their Africa gorilla safari experience?
I would say wearing long pants (preferable khaki or jeans), leather hiking boots (should be long), long sleeved shirts (protects you from insect bites and un-necessary pricks), a rain jacket in case of downpour, a cap and sun glasses in case of excessive sunshine and garden gloves to protect your palm when you touch rough surfaces.
You should also carry a backpack with you where you’ll put your energy snacks, drinks, cameras, first aid kit and a few other necessary trekking gears.
As regards to your dressing, you should endeavor to wear light clothes as it makes you feel lighter, which is good for long hikes.
Heavy clothing can cause an extra weight on you and lead to early fatigue. Ensure your dressing is light but essential for the trek.
Crucial Tips for Tracking Gorillas
There are so many gorilla trackking travel tips out there that you should definitely read and follow.
Some of them will be read to your prior to your experience; during the morning pre-briefing meeting at the park headquarters.
Some of the most essential tips are as follows.
Get your gorilla permit before you arrive (we always have them ready).
Be prepared for any weather by packing all the necessary clothing just in case the weather changes for the better or bad.
Take food, water, energy snacks and energy drinks with you to the forest so that you are prepared enough for hunger because hiking is energy-consumptive.
Water proof your cameras and filming equipment to protect it from damage in case of heavy downpour.
Deactivate the flash from your cameras as it frightens gorillas and might cause them to charge at you or worse injure you.
Take on the necessary training and physical challenges for several months prior to your actual trek.
Travel in the dry season.
Take all the necessary shots to protect you from contracting infectious diseases as they can be transmitted to gorillas.
Respect the gorillas space by maintaining an eight meter distance because they can get quite dangerous when annoyed or can easily contract infectious diseases from humans.
Ensure your health is sound as hiking can be tiresome at times and just in case you have any health issues, endeavor to communicate this to your operator several months prior to your gorilla encounter.
Clients with severe health conditions are usually carried on sedan seats or bamboo stretchers all the way up to the gorillas and back to the starting point of the trek.
This will save you any unnecessary occurrences arising from your health conditions if any.
Comparison of gorilla trekking experiences in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo
Gorilla tracking in Uganda is awesome and most preferred because of the affordable gorilla permit prices, multiple trekking destinations, various sectors; Buhoma Sector, Ruhija Sector, Rushaga Sector and Nkuringo Sector, various accommodation facilities ranging from budget to luxury and several other advantages.
Mountain gorillas in Uganda are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is very popular and turns out to be the most visited because of the multiple gorilla families it has. Gorilla permits in Uganda cost USD 700 each irrespective of the month you are visiting in (low, high and peak seasons).
Rwanda is a luxury gorilla tour destination. With only one location; Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda gorilla permits are apparently the most expensive of all the gorilla destinations in Africa.
Each gorilla permit in Rwanda costs USD 1500 and USD 1050 in the low season where visiting the other Rwandan national parks as well.
Rwanda also has discounts for delegates who visit Kigali for conferences and other M.I.C.E activities.
If you need a luxurious gorilla tour experience with less driving time, Rwanda is an ideal destination for you.
Volcanoes National Park is just 2 hours away from Kigali, a main point of entry for majority of travelers who visit Rwanda.
DRC Congo gorilla permits cost the least at USD 400 each. Unlike Uganda and Rwanda, Congo has two species of gorillas available for trekking; Mountain Gorillas and Lowland Gorillas.
Mountain Gorillas are found in Virunga National Park in Goma where as Lowland Gorillas are located in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in Bukavu.
Mountain gorillas are mainly found in mountainous areas and clients have to hike up mountains to meet gorillas in their natural habitat.
This isn’t the case with lowland gorillas as they are found on lowlands.
You do not need any hiking to see lowland gorillas in their natural habitat, which is definitely a less tiring experience. Gorilla safari tours in DRC Congo usually begin and end in Rwanda.
Are reviews reliable when planning your gorilla safari?
It’s good to always read reviews from previous trekkers but I believe it’s wrong to do whatever they advise you to. Every one’s experience is different.
Mountain gorillas are very funny and unpredictable.
A client might have an easy trek, advise you to trek in the same sector and if possible request for the exact group but you won’t find the gorilla group at the same spot they found them or worse you could find when it has lost some of its members to other groups.
The best thing is to get advice from gorilla travel agencies like us that handle lots of trips and are always up to date with whatever happens on ground.
This will make your gorilla trips much more reliable, unique and interesting. A gorilla family or sector that offered awesome encounter in the past months or years could be the worst at the moment.
For instance in late 2019, the gorillas in Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park used to be the best to trek BUT because they were over visited, they got frightened and move to upper elevations, calling for longer hiking time for clients.
At this point, the best sectors were Ruhija Sector and Buhoma Sector. Clients who prefer trekking for long hours to the gorillas would actually find Rushaga Sector perfect.
This is information you will not get from client remarks on review platforms but through an agency that has been having trips on ground.
At the time of inquiry, please endeavor to consult with us on the best sector at the moment for your gorilla trip and we shall advise accordingly.
Cross-border gorilla trekking: Uganda from Kigali
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in south-western Uganda and is about eight hours away from Entebbe.
So many clients hate this long journey and ty to find all possible means of avoiding it.
Others take chartered or scheduled flights to Kisoro or Kihihi Airstrips whereas the rest arrive from Kigali.
This cuts on the distance and leaves clients less fatigued and much more ready for their coming gorilla experience since trekking gorillas when fatigued isn’t as easy as it seems.
Arriving from Kigali in Rwanda cuts the journey by 4 or 5 hours. The distance could have been shorter if it wasn’t for the driving speed restrictions in Rwanda and clearances at the border point.
This being said, it is actually possible to arrive, do a brief city tour in Kigali City and visit several land marks like the Kimironko Market, Caplaki Crafts Village, Kigali Genocide Monument, Hotel Rwanda and several other more and drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park on the same day.
You also have a chance to make stops along the way and explore scenery and nice places like Lake Bunyonyi or have sights of the great Virunga Mountains without being in a rush.
Trekking Uganda gorillas from Kigali is very ideal for clients who intend to do short trips or want an affordable way to see gorillas without travelling big distances to and from the gorillas.
There is actually no point in travelling for over 17 hours to see the gorillas yet you would have saved 10 hours of road travel.
Also, Trekking Uganda gorillas from Kigali has made it possible for clients to do 2 day gorilla trips to Bwindi and Mgahinga or 1 day gorilla trips to Mgahinga and save on money.
The Uganda gorilla safari experience in Bwindi is equally awesome and far better than the Rwandan experience.
How to Trek to Bwindi Gorillas from Arusha
Arusha is the tourism capital of Tanzania. This city shelters some of Tanzania’s best tourism attractions like Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha National Park, Lake Natron, Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro among the rest.
These attractions are highly visited by clients who come to Africa for safaris especially Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
These are the prime spots in Tanzania where you will reward yourself with the greatest wildlife viewing experiences in Africa.
The annual wildebeest migration takes place in Serengeti, partly one of the reasons why it turns out to be Tanzania’s most visited parks.
As an avid traveler or someone who likes adventure travel, it makes no point spending hours in your flight to Africa and visiting only one country.
Most clients who book gorilla safari tours in Uganda end up visiting Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar Island or any other great attraction in East Africa.
If you have plans of visiting any of the northern Tanzania circuit destinations in Arusha and trekking gorillas in Uganda, you have to book flights to Kigali and drive to Bwindi.
Entebbe is 8 – 10 hours away from Bwindi whereas Kigali is only 4.5 hours away.
This gives you a chance to spend less hours flying and travelling on the road all together.
Depending on where you intend to depart Tanzania from; could be Arusha International Airport or JRO Airport, you can get flights to Kigali International Airport in Rwanda then drive to either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda depending on where you intend to trek Uganda gorillas from.
After trekking with gorillas in Uganda, you can depart from Kigali to your next destination.
With this kind of arrangement, you can trek gorillas first and fly to Arusha through Kigali or do it the other way round. Either way works just fine. Read more here
Guide to Trekking Uganda Gorillas from Nairobi: Routes and Preparations
Kenya is one of Africa’s top travel destinations and is visited by millions annually. Most of the safaris in Kenya begin and end in Nairobi, making it a common point of entry and departure for tourists.
Trekking with gorillas in Uganda from Nairobi in Kenya is very possible and should be planned appropriately to save on costs, time and money.
You shouldn’t feel fatigued either because trekking with gorillas requires you to be in the best physical shape as it involves a lot of trekking to higher-altitude areas in search for gorillas.
This activity could last up to eight hours on a bad day and 4 hours on a good day depending on how long you take to locate your allocated mountain gorilla family.
The prime tourist attraction in Kenya is Masai Mara National Reserve. So many tourists who visit East Africa end up visiting Masai Mara and trekking with gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Question is how best can you organize this? First of all, if your primary reason to visit Kenya is Masai Mara National Reserve, it’s much cheaper to fly straight from Masai Mara to Bwindi.
You will only make 1 stop at Entebbe International Airport for customs clearance then proceed to Bwindi in South Western Uganda.
The whole journey takes approximately 4 hours and cost between $450 to $500 per person. This will save you so much time and money. It is equally convenient.
This is also recommended to clients who take on long trips. You can request us to tailor your itinerary in a way that Masai Mara National Reserve is last if you plan to take a chartered flight from there.
The other option is flying from Nairobi to Kigali in Rwanda and driving to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Flying to and from Kigali in Rwanda will save you a lot of time and money. Read more here
Planning Your Gorilla Trek from South Africa to Uganda
South Africa is not only the most visited country in Africa, but a great destination too.
Besides foreign clients who fly there for safaris and connect to trek with gorillas in Uganda, South Africans love to travel too especially to East Africa.
We have received quite a number of South African travelers and actually advised many on how best they can go Uganda gorilla safari tours from South Africa.
With this, your arrival point matters and we highly recommend arriving and departing via Kigali in Rwanda as it is much shorter to access Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (4.5 hours) or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (3 hours) from there.
There is no point flying to Entebbe International Airport in Uganda and spending about 9 hours to Bwindi and another 9 hours back yet you could have spent far less than that.
South African flights usually arrive in Kigali, Rwanda between 04:00 or 08:00 hours which is perfect.
The time could be earlier depending on the flight you use and just in case you arrive earlier than 04:00, we advise you book accommodation and rest for a few hours.
It gives you an opportunity to kill 2 birds with one stone. You can carry out a city tour in Rwanda, have breakfast, cross over to Uganda and spend time at Lake Bunyonyi before proceeding with your drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
So you actually get to explore a couple of places before seeing the gorillas and can do it after too.
Sounds awesome right? It’s actually awesome, affordable and convenient as well. The same goes on for departure.
You can trek with gorillas in Uganda and depart from Kigali International Airport in Rwanda.
If you need us to plan your entire arrival, book your flights and guide you, we can do this as well.
You just need to communicate to us in advance and give us enough time to take care of everything. Read more here
How old should you be for gorilla tracking?
So many people go to see gorillas in Africa and everyone has a different story to tell. This is what actually makes it fun.
You can never predict what your experience will be like. You could spend longer or shorter to reach the gorillas or actually trek in Rain or hot sunshine irrespective of the month you are visiting in.
Gorilla tracking is loved by many and we admit it is an awesome activity. However, it can be dangerous sometimes as it involves meeting wild gorillas.
Much as these gorillas are habituated and made friendly to humans, they still remain wild gorillas as they roam in the wild.
It is easy to cross the line and annoy them if you do not follow the set rules and guidelines.
Because of this, not all age group are allowed access to a gorilla trek. An adult is likely to consent to set rules and regulations which is exactly the opposite with kids are so playful in nature.
Besides, the actual trek is tiresome as well and much as the group moves at the pace of the slowest person, the last thing the rangers want is a member of the group giving up early and causing delay to the rest.
Because of this, the set minimum age for gorilla tracking in Africa is 15 years of age.
Authorities assume at this age, a kind is old enough to adhere to set rules and guidelines and hike in the forest without or with less disturbances.
In Rwanda, a child younger than 15 years of age cannot trek gorillas and nothing can be done to turn this around.
However, in Uganda you stand a chance. A child between the ages of 11 onwards may trek gorillas on condition that the parents sign an indemnity form claiming responsibility of any unexpected occurrences that might arise from the trek should your child break any of rules or rather fail to make it to the gorillas.
If your child gets tired along the way, you will have to pay approximately $420 for sedan seat services so that they are carried up to the gorillas and back.
Is it possible to get gorilla tour discounts during the low season?
If you are asking yourself if Uganda offers discounts on gorilla permits, Uganda no longer has low season gorilla permit discounts.
Previously, Uganda offered low season permits at $450 whereas the normal gorilla permit fee was $600.
Starting July 2020, all gorilla permits in Uganda cost $700 all year round. This however, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel in the low season.
Several accommodation facilities and transportation service providers offer their services at low discount rates.
This makes your safari way cheaper in general, which is exactly what some tourist’s want especially backpackers and budget travelers.
The money might look much but over 80% of this money goes back to gorilla conservation hence, when you book a gorilla permit, look at it as you are giving back to the gorillas.
Rwanda gorilla permits normally cost $1500 each and $1050 each in the low season considering you are visiting Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park as well.
The country also has discounts for travelers who are visiting for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & exhibitions) events.
Even with all these discounts in place, Rwanda gorilla permits remain the most expensive among the other two destinations.
The main reason why clients prefer trekking gorillas in Rwanda is the short distance from Kigali International Airport to Volcanoes National Park in Musanze.
The scenery at Volcanoes National Park is equally awesome.
DRC Congo does have low season gorilla permit discounts and they cost $200 each.
This fee however, only applies for a few months of the year and these are months with high levels of rainfall.
We wouldn’t recommend traveling in such months. You’d rather pay $400 to trek under a perfect weather and enjoy your trek.
The price still remains the cheapest irrespective of the season you are trekking gorillas in.
We will show you Mountain Gorillas in the best way possible!
Africa is a gem with lots of unique and awesome travel experiences that you will definitely love. Commonly termed as the best primate trekking continent in the world, Africa has so much more to offer in terms of wildlife, adrenaline activities, mountain climbing adventures, and honeymoons among other experiences.View trip ideas
2023/2024 Africa Gorilla tracking guide & travel information
Check out essential African gorilla trackking articles below and plan your trekking experience like a pro.
- Updated on: March 2, 2023
Tipping Guide for Gorilla Trekking (How to Tip on Treks)Read post
- Updated on: April 3, 2023
Kigali to Bwindi Gorilla Trekking – Guide for Uganda Gorilla Trekking from Kigali to Bwindi Impenetrable ForestRead post
- Updated on: March 2, 2023
How Difficult is Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda, Congo, Uganda?Read post
- Updated on: March 2, 2023
Planning 4 Gorilla Trekking & Hiking When Pregnant 2023/24Read post
- Updated on: March 2, 2023
Minimum Age for Gorilla Trekking (Gorilla Trek Age Limit)Read post
- Updated on: March 2, 2023
Uganda Gorilla Habituation Experience in Rushaga 2023/24Read post
- Updated on: March 2, 2023
Best time to See Mountain Gorillas in Uganda in 2023/2024 SeasonRead post
- Updated on: March 2, 2023
Best Time to Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda in 2023 SeasonRead post
- Posted on: February 28, 2019
The 8 Virunga Mountains/Massif & Volcanoes in AfricaRead post
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