Places to see and support mountain gorillas in Uganda
Which places can i go to see and support mountain gorillas in Uganda? Uganda is one of the three countries where the endangered mountain gorillas still live in its tropical forests and bamboo vegetation. Uganda protects more than half of the mountain gorilla population in Mgahinga national park and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in the southwestern part of the country. There are over 1071 mountain gorillas left in the world and apart from Uganda one can find them in Virunga national park DR Congo and Volcanoes national park Rwanda.
Areas / places to see mountain gorillas in Uganda
Mountain gorillas in Uganda can be found in the tropical and sub-tropical forests of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park as well as the bamboo shoots of Mgahinga Gorilla Park both located in the western part of the country. Mountain gorillas live at high elevations of some of the Virunga Mountains in Mgahinga national park and hills of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park.
There are over 20 habituated families in Uganda, of which 19 are found in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, and 1 Nyakagezi gorilla family in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors have 2 gorilla families Bikingi and Bushaho that are open for gorilla habituation at any time of the year. All these parks are protected by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga national park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda on the borders with Virunga national park of DR Congo in the west and Volcanoes national park in the south. Mgahinga national park is part of the Virunga conservation area together with Virunga national park, the volcanoes national park and hosts 3 of the Virunga volcanoes namely Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabinyo.
Mgahinga national park is one of the smallest parks in Uganda that is blessed to be home to a few of the remaining species of mountain gorillas in the world. Mgahinga national park has over 80- mountain gorillas living in the park’s bamboo vegetation.
Out of over 80 mountain gorilla families that live in Mgahinga gorilla national park, there is only one fully habituated gorilla family that is open for tourism at any time of the year. The fact that there is only one habituated gorilla family means that only 8 permits are available for sale in Mgahinga national park every day.
The topmost done activity in Mgahinga national park is gorilla trekking which is done on one habituated gorilla family Nyakagezi which has the highest number of silverbacks. Gorilla trekking in the park begins with a briefing at the park headquarters where trekkers are taught about the dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking then the ranger guides lead the trekkers into the jungle to look for this habituated gorilla family. After meeting Nyakagezi, trekkers are given a maximum of 1 hour to be around the gorilla family as they learn about the behaviors and take pictures.
The other activity done in Mgahinga gorilla national park is golden monkey trekking because these primates are only found nowhere else in Uganda. Trekking golden monkeys start with a briefing at the park headquarters after which rangers lead all the participants irrespective of the number into the jungle to look for the beautiful primates. After meeting the golden monkeys, the trekkers are given a maximum of 1 hour to be around them giving them an opportunity to learn about their behaviors and taking pictures.
Mgahinga national park is not as famous as Bwindi impenetrable forest national park when it comes to gorilla trekking. Bwindi impenetrable forest has more gorilla families than Mgahinga national park. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has over 19 habituated gorilla families and 2 gorilla families that are undergoing habituation in Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors. The only advantage of trekking mountain gorillas in Mgahinga gorilla park is that there is privacy and less crowding in the park.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is one of the best places to see mountain gorillas in Uganda; located in the southwestern part of the country covering an area of 331 sq. km of tropical and sub-tropical rain forests. The Park is famous for having the highest number of primate species in the world while the rest are shared by Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Virunga national park in DR Congo, and Mgahinga national park in Uganda. There are 19 habituated gorilla families in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and these are found in 4 sectors – Rushaga, Buhoma, Ruhija, and Nkuringo.
This is the oldest sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and is located on the northern side of the park. The sector has the oldest habituated gorilla family in the park called Mubare and other families namely the Katwe gorilla family, Rushegura gorilla family, Muyambi gorilla family, and Habinyanja gorilla family.
There are so many accommodation facilities where one can see sleep while on a safari in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and these range from budget to mid-range to luxury options. Accommodation facilities in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park include Buhoma Lodge, Buhoma Rest Camp, Lake Kitandara Camp, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Volcanoes Safaris Bwindi Lodge, Gorilla Resort, Engagi Lodge, Bwindi Guest House, Mahogany Springs Camp, Gorilla Friendly Lodge, Jungle View Lodge, and Bwindi View Bandas among others.
Nkuringo sector is located in the southern sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and is home to only 4 gorilla families namely the Nkuringo gorilla family, Christmas gorilla family, Bikingi gorilla family, and Bushaho gorilla family. Nkuringo gorilla family is the best place for photographers due to its location that gives beautiful views of the early morning mist and the sunrise.
There are so many accommodation facilities ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury options where one can sleep on a safari to the Nkuringo sector of the park. Accommodation facilities in the Nkuringo sector include Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Nshongi Camp, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Nyundo Valley Hill Bandas
Ruhija sector is one of the sectors of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park located on the eastern side of the park. The sector is home to 4 gorilla families Bitukura gorilla family, the Kyaguriro gorilla family, and Orugozo gorilla family.
Accommodation facilities in the Ruhija sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park include Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, Cuckooland Tented Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp, Gift of Nature Lodge, Trekkers Tavern Cottages, Ruhija Gorilla Resort, Ruhija Community Rest Camp, Ruhija Gorilla Friends’ Resort and Campsite, Chameleon Hill Lodge, and Wagtail Eco-Safari Camp.
Rushaga sector is located in the southern sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and has over 8 gorilla families that are open for trekking at any time of the year. Rushaga sector is famous for being the only place where mountain gorilla habituation takes place in 2 gorilla families namely Bikingi and Bushaho. Gorilla habituation in Rushaga sector requires one to have a gorilla habituation permit which permits them 4 hours around mountain gorillas.
Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has so many ccommodation options ranging from luxury to mid-range to budget options and these include Gorilla Safari Lodge, Chameleon hill lodge, Ichumbi lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge, and Rushaga Gorilla Camp among others.
How is the government supporting mountain gorilla conservation in Uganda?
The government is sensitizing the communities around the gorilla parks about the benefits of mountain gorillas. This has helped in reducing the poaching in the park, there is no destruction of mountain gorilla habitats around the park. The government gives out 10% of the total money collected from gorilla tourism to the people around the park to improve their lives.
Protecting mountain gorillas
The government has so many well-trained guides, rangers, trackers, and doctors who take care of these mountain gorillas and make sure that they are safe. The rangers help in patrolling the areas so as to watch on the poachers and people who could destroy the habitats of these animals.
The government is constructed roads leading to the park so as to fasten the transport in these areas. They are also constructing hospitals and schools in the nearby communities of the park to improve on lives and education of these people.