Can I find endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda?
Can I find endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda? Mountain gorillas in the world are found in 3 countries, and Uganda is one of them. Mountain gorillas are species of primates that share 98% of their DNA with humans. That’s why so many people around the world want to see these closest relatives. If you are looking for where to exactly find mountain gorillas in Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park are all in the southwestern part of the country.
National parks in Uganda where you can find endangered mountain gorillas
Only 2 places in Uganda do harbor mountain gorillas, and these are Mgahinga National Park, with over 80 gorillas, and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, with more than half of the remaining population left in the world. These national parks (Mgahinga and Bwindi) are located in the southwestern part of Uganda and harbor more than half of the mountain gorilla population left in the world in their thick tropical and montane types of vegetation.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is the most famous national park for mountain gorilla trekking, not only in Uganda but also in the whole world. The national park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda in the Kabale, Kanungu, and Kisoro districts. The park is home to more than half of the endangered mountain gorillas left in the world, and it has over 19 fully habituated mountain gorilla families. The gorillas do live in the Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Rushaga sectors of the park.
The number of habituated gorilla families in Uganda
Uganda has the highest number of gorilla families in the world, totaling 20. One is found in Mgahinga national park and the other 19 are in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. The 19 gorilla families of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park are spread in 4 sectors of the park, with Rushaga having 7, Buhoma 5, Nkuringo 3, and Ruhija 4. All the 20 mountain gorilla families in Uganda are fully habituated and open for trekking at any time of the year.
Total number of semi-habituated gorilla families in Uganda
In Uganda the only place where semi-habituated mountain gorilla families open for habituation is in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park. There are 2 mountain gorilla families undergoing habituation in Uganda, and these are the Bikingi and Bushaho mountain gorilla families in the Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors in the south of Bwindi.
How to spend 1 to 4 hours with mountain gorillas in Uganda?
To spend 1 or 4 hours with mountain gorillas in Uganda, you need to first secure yourself a trekking or habituation permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority, book accommodation in the parks, and then arrange transport to and from the park. With all the above mentioned, Africa Adventure Vacations Limited does help tourists across the globe organize gorilla safaris for them.
All we first do is secure a gorilla permit with the Uganda Wildlife Authority using the travel dates given, after which you look for the accommodation of your choice or budget in or around the national parks you want to travel to. When it comes to transport, we do have safari vehicles for those that want to travel by air. We can book their flights and as simple as that, one is able to fly to Uganda and spend time with mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorilla trekking and habitat permit prices in Uganda
To trek mountain gorillas in Mgahinga national park or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, you require a valid mountain gorilla permit. The gorilla permits can be obtained from the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the body managing these national parks. Mountain gorilla habituation permits for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park cost $1500 for foreign residents, $1000 for foreign residents, and Shs250,00 for East African citizens.
The gorilla trekking permits are sold at $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and Shs750,000 for East African citizens. The permits come with 1 hour of being around mountain gorillas, a park entrance fee, and ranger guide fees. Travelers intending to visit Uganda for mountain gorilla safaris, especially in the dry season, are advised to book their permits in advance of 3–4 months so as to avoid last-minute booking disappointments.
Spending 1 or 4 hours with endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga
Those that have successfully managed to get the gorilla permits are allowed to trek or habituate mountain gorillas in Uganda. On the day of mountain gorilla trekking or habituation, the trekkers must be at the briefing points very early in the morning, where they will meet the ranger guides for a briefing about the dos and don’ts of the trekking activity. After the briefing, those going for trekking will be grouped into no more than eight groups, and those going for habituation will not exceed four.
The armed ranger guides will then lead these trekkers through different trekking trails looking for mountain gorillas but with opportunities to meet different park animals such as elephants, hyenas, bush pigs, giant forest hogs, birds, and different plants. On meeting the assigned mountain gorilla family, the trekkers on habituation will be given 4 hours to be around semi-adjusted mountain gorilla families as they make them get used to human presence, while those on trekking will be given 1 hour to be around these apes as they learn about their habits, watch them do daily activities, and take photos.
Accessing Uganda’s gorilla parks
After understanding that you can find endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda, you need to know the best routes to access Uganda’s gorilla national parks. Mgahinga national park and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park are all found in the southwestern part of Uganda so to access them you need to take the same route. By road transport, the tourists can get to Mgahinga and Bwindi from kampala/Entebbe via Masaka – Mbarara – Kabale or Kisoro. The journey takes 8-9 hours with a stopover at the equator, beautiful views of the country side and smiling people.
Tourists from Kigali can get to Mgahinga national park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in just 4-5 hours using the Katuna border in Kabale or the Cyanika border in Kisoro.
Luxury travelers can book flights to Mgahinga and Bwindi impenetrable forest national parks in advance with their local tour operators. On arriving in the country, they can move to Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe international airport, where they will take flights to Kisoro airstrip or Kihihi airstrip, depending on where they are going.