A life-changing experience! This is what most tourists say after they visit the mountain gorillas in Uganda. We totally agree since we spend many days in a year taking tourists to see gorillas each day is exciting, and discoveries happen all the time. But doing so involves an Indiana Jones-style journey into the depths of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park and Mgahinga National Park.
The jungle is a seemingly everlasting thicket of tangled emerald green with no street signs, walking trails, or Google Maps voice directions. To find the gorillas’ nest, you must get up early and, with the protection of park rangers, religiously follow the footsteps of a local tracker. The tracker uses a machete to clear a path through the jungle, detecting and tracking gorilla trail from the last spot where a gorilla group was seen. These traces can include hand and footprints, bent vegetation, remains of plants the gorillas have eaten, and other signs. Every tiny detail is investigated as the trackers determine the gorillas’ direction.
The hike up or down the mountain slopes that tourists take to get to the mountain gorillas is an exciting experience in itself because it brings you to one of the most beautiful places on earth. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the few remaining tropical mountain forests located on the Albertine Rift edge.
Go Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to almost half of the world’s population of the mountain gorillas. Bwindi Forest hosts a population of over 320 mountain gorillas with 116 gorillas already habituated. On a hike within the forest you can see other primates that live in the park.
The park is inhabited by about 500 mountain gorillas, known as the Bwindi population, which makes up about half of all the mountain gorillas in the world. The rest of the worldwide mountain gorilla population is in the nearby Virunga Mountains shared between Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park, DR Congo’s Virunga National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
With four trail-heads spread over the edges of Bwindi Impenetrable NP (Buhoma, Rushaga, Nkuringo & Ruhija), make sure you pick the right one that will be gentle on your physical fitness and great for forest lodging. The walk to reach a gorilla group can take from one to several hours, but no matter how long it is, the result is always amazing.
It’s not possible to predict how far the gorillas have moved from the previous day or what direction they’ve taken, so patience is definitely a good state of mind while following trackers at this time. But sooner or later, they will find the group they are seeking.
Gorilla tracking is one of the most interesting activities that makes a complete tourism package in Uganda. Gorilla tracking is so challenging, adventurous through rewarding. It is carried out in two national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that is located in the South Western part of Uganda and Mghinga Gorilla National Park. These national parks constitute of more than a half of mountain gorillas in the whole world.Gorilla tracking is conducted in the morning hours. For one to engage in this activity, you must posses a gorilla permit. Therefore it is advisable to book a gorilla permit in advance given that gorilla permits sell out first.’
The gorilla trekking permit
Because Bwindi and Mgahinga are protected environments, the local governments introduced trekking permits to control tourists flocking the destination. This serves to maintain the natural habitat and avoid the gorillas becoming overexposed to humans and continue funding the gorilla conservation efforts.
This has made the demand for gorilla permits higher than the supply. Tourists are flooding to this part of the continent to get a piece of the action, don’t be the last one. It is advisable to book your gorilla trekking safari well in advance so that you can secure the slots in time.
With just about 19 habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi available for tourism, 8 permits are issued for each gorilla group per day, making it just about 152 permits issued out for Bwindi gorilla trekking per day. Will you get yours when you need it? Luckily enough, our local partners deal with the permits, so you won’t have to.
A Uganda gorilla permit costs US$700 per person since July 2020. It is issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) at face value, and when you book a gorilla trip, you get the permit processed for free, and you find the original with your tour manager.
Planning a Gorilla Trek
The following should be considered when preparing for the gorilla trek in Uganda or Rwanda.
Things to Pack include the following
- Solid walking shoes,
- Rain gear
- Drinks and snacks
- A camera a
To protect gorillas and visitors, the following should adhered to when planning a gorilla trek;
- No one with a communicable disease such as flu is allowed to visit the mountain gorillas
- Do not surround the mountain gorillas but remain in a tight group
- Leave a distance at least 5 meters between you and the mountain gorillas
- If the gorillas approach you, move back ward slowly