How to prepare for a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda
How to prepare for a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda? This article presents valuable information to guide you when planning one of the unforgettable experiences not only in Uganda but in the entire world. Apart from knowing how to prepare for mountain gorilla trekking, the guide will also help you to make decisions that might save you some money. The following is the best way to prepare for a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga national park;
Know the destinations where to find gorillas
Uganda is the only destination in East Africa with two natural habitats for mountain gorillas and these include; Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park. Both these national parks are located in the southwestern parts of Uganda and also offer the same experience. On your holiday, plan a tour and visit one of them, where you will enjoy one of the best memorable experiences in East Africa.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is among the oldest rain forests in Africa with beautiful views of steep valleys, ridges, and waterfalls. Plan a tour to Bwindi forest and get an opportunity to hike through a home to over 500 mountain gorillas, which are divided into 19 habituated gorilla families open for tourism every day. Gorilla trekking in the Bwindi forest is carried out into four regions/ sectors which are Nkuringo and Rushaga in the southern parts of the park, Buhoma in the North, and Ruhijja in the East.
Ruhija sector is best ideal for budget Uganda gorilla trekking tours connecting from Kigali-Rwanda. While the Rushaga sector is good for the luxury and mid-range tourists because it has a high number of habituated mountain gorilla groups than other sectors and it is also surrounded by a variety of safari lodges that offers high-quality services. However, all four sectors of Bwindi offer an amazing experience.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is also a natural habitat for mountain gorillas. With over 80 mountain gorillas, however, it has only one habituated gorilla family which is already for trekking and is known as the Nyakagezi gorilla family. Gorilla permits for trekking gorillas of Mgahinga national park are available and can be acquired directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) or through Africa Adventure Vacations and can be got in the last hours because gorilla trekking permits in this park are not in high demand like in Bwindi forest. Mgahinga is also surrounded by different safari lodges where one can stay which are ranging from budget, mid-range up to luxuries like Lake Mutanda in Kisoro, Mount Gahinga Lodge, and others.
Decide when to go gorilla trekking.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda can be done all year round but the best time to visit the park is during the dry season months of June-October and December-February when the hiking trails are drier which makes the gorilla trekking experience excellent than trekking in the wet season months of March, April and May when there is high rainfall hence makes hiking trails slippery and muddy. However, gorilla trekking during the wet season offers an interesting experience particularly for those who seek to take an amazing shot of the mountain gorillas with different sheds of greenery in the background. Also, gorilla permits are always available at any time, as during this period there is no less demand.
How to get a gorilla tracking permit?
If you’re planning to come to Uganda for gorilla trekking, we always advise you to book your gorilla permits well like 3 months before the traveling dates. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is responsible for process gorilla permits. It goes at 700USD foreign nonresidents, 600USD for foreign residents, and 250,000 Ugandan shillings for East African citizens per person per trek.
You can book with Africa Adventure Vacations and help you with the gorilla permits while booked our gorilla safaris. If you’re interested, we need your full names matching with that one on your passport, date of birth, nationality, passport, travel dates, number of the people coming for tracking, then after sending your payments, we will obtaining your permits. It is important to note that, tourists below 15 years of age are not allowed to trek Ugandan gorillas.
What to expect on my gorilla trekking day?
Wake up very early in the morning for breakfast and make sure you reach the tracking location before 07:30 am for a briefing with your gorilla permit and passport. The park ranger will be available to share with you all the information you need like the history of the park, what to expect, and about the gorilla families. Then after there, you will present your gorilla permit and passport to be confirmed. The allocation of the gorilla group is basing on the fitness of the tourist and age. But you have a right to ask for an easier or harder trek. Porter is also available at the park offices so those with heavy luggage can hire one and their services cost between 10USD-15USD.
Only 8 people are allowed to trek a gorilla family every day. After all your ranger will lead you into the forest while watching a lot of bird species, smaller primates, other wildlife animals, insects, different trees over 250,000 years ago and among others. The difficulty of the hike depends on the location of the gorilla family and the steepness of the park. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is usually done in 2-6 hours depending on the speed of trekkers and the assigned gorilla family. You’re given only 1-hour interaction. After one hour of interaction, your ranger will lead you back to the starting point for celebration and be rewarded with a certificate for appreciating your contribution to the conservation of endangered mountain gorillas.
Chances of seeing gorillas in Uganda, Congo, and Rwanda.
The possibility of seeing mountain gorillas in 4 destinations is 98%. The rules of nature are the reason why we cannot say that is 100%. But after purchase, a gorilla permit expects to see the gorillas.
What to carry on my packing list?
In the process of know how to prepare for a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda; you also need to consider what to carry for gorilla safaris in the tropical jungles;
Long-sleeved clothes protect yourself from tropical insect bites because this activity is carried out through hiking thick forests.
Hiking boots make you comfortable for handling muddy and slippery slopes.
Garden gloves are also important because you hike while touching the mountainous areas.
A good camera with extra batteries to capture the mountain gorillas as well as a binocular for a bird lover.
Other items you need to put in your bag are insect repellent, a hat, waterproof jacket, sunglasses, enough drinking water, snacks, and packed lunch, and others.
A walking stick will be provided at the starting point.