Gorilla trekking takes you up close to the majestic mountain gorillas having fun in their territory – a thrilling experience that leaves adventurers amazed. It is an experience of its kind that comes with somewhat a high level of responsibility. Planning to go gorilla trekking in Uganda this season? Here are the things you need to know to prepare for your gorilla safari;
Where to trek the gorillas in Uganda
There are only about 1,060 mountain gorillas in the whole world and this population lives in three countries; the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. Uganda has more than half of this total population; meaning that if you trek in Uganda you are doing the adventure in the world’s highest keeper of these giant apes.
More to this, Uganda has two national parks where you can trek the mountains gorillas; Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park.
Bwindi is home to more than 450 gorillas living in over 50 gorilla families. More than 20 of them have been habituated for tourism activities.
Mgahinga gorilla national park also has a number of gorillas and boasts one habituated gorilla family.
Book for your gorilla permit prior to your travel
To access mountain gorillas in Uganda, you must have a gorilla permit. Gorilla permits are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
Bwindi has 20 habituated gorilla families while Mgahinga has 1 habituated gorilla family. Each family is visited by maximum of 8 people. Therefore UWA issues out 162 gorilla permits daily. These permits are normally on a very high demand especially for the high season (December –February and June- August). You are therefore advised to book for your permit as early as possible- at least 6 months in advance.
The price of a gorilla permit in Uganda
Trekking gorillas in Uganda is a beautiful dream come true yet at a cheaper price compared to trekking in Rwanda. A single gorilla permit in Uganda costs US$700. It allows you to access any of the gorilla parks to trek for the primates and stay with them for a maximum of one hour.
If you want to spend more time with these incredible apes, you are advised to obtain a permit for gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi impenetrable national park. Permit costs US$1,500 and it allows you spend 4 hours with the gorillas.
Carefully choose your gorilla trekking tour operator
Undertaking a gorilla tour is one of the activities that require great responsibility and you are advised to be extra careful when choosing your tour operator. Book for your safari through a trusted or reputable tour company. To be successful in this, check a number of things including;
- Membership of the company to local associations such as the Association of Uganda tour operators.
- Thoroughly look through the company website. Read the information about gorilla trekking and other related activities. Then go to the “About us” page and check what they do, how long they have been in operation and whether they have location for their offices
- Check Company reviews online. You can tell that a tours and travel company is good and reputable by the good reviews they have from their past clients. Find the Reviews on trip advisor and safari bookings where you can finally rate the company.
Note that gorilla trekking is an adventure that at least requires a small amount of fitness since it is a walk or even sometimes hike around the park. It involves scrambling through dense forests, which get slippery on rainy days. Mountain gorillas are in their natural habitat and their movement is unlimited; they move as far as they want and no one is sure about how long the gorilla trekking experience will last because their location determines the time at which the trek ends. Trekkers sometimes climb to up to 3500 metres or even more searching for the giant apes.
Prepare for your gorilla safari about 6 months before travel by doing physical exercises like jogging, hiking, sit-ups, downhill lunges and walking among others. And if you are not physically fit, arrange with your operator for a gorilla family that is easy to trek. Alternatively, you can be carried on a bamboo stretcher by rotating porters at the park.
What to carry for your Uganda gorilla trekking safari
It is important to know what to pack in preparation for your gorilla safari in Uganda because this is a safari activity not like any other. The adventure takes place in a dense vegetation forest where abrupt weather changes are not a surprise. Coming along with the right gear is a whole solution to this. Pack the following items;
- Waterproof back pack
- Light weight waterproof jacket
- Long sleeved shirt/blouse
- Sunhat or cap
- Hiking shoes
- Gardening gloves
- Light wool sweater
- Reusable bottle water
- Sun glasses and sunscreen
- Insect repellant
- Basic first aid kit
- Energy giving snacks
And amidst this new era of living with COVID-19 remember to pack the following; face mask;
- Surgical mask or two layer masks
- Hand sanitizer
Know the rules of gorilla trekking in Uganda
During the preparation for gorilla trekking it is very important to know that there are a number of rules and regulations to observe. They are strictly enforced and some of these you should know even before stepping at the destination while others should be observed while at the park. They include the following;
- Gorilla trekking is limited to people aged 15 years and above
- All visitors, staff and trackers must wear face masks
- Maximum of 8 people are allowed to visit a gorilla family per day
- You must stand at least 32 feet away from the gorillas
- Flash cameras are strictly prohibited
- Don’t litter in the park
- Once a visits, staff or porter is observed to be sick before the gorilla trekking activity, they are not allowed to trek. Illnesses include; diarrhea, signs of flu, malaria and stomach upset among others.
Find the best time to trek gorillas in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a year round activity although the best time to do it is during the dry season-June to September and December to February. During the dry season, scrambling through the trails is easier because they are dry. Meanwhile, you can as well choose to trek in the wet season- March to May and October to November. However, trekking is more strenuous during this season because of the rains. The advantage of travelling during the wet season is that you will enjoy the discounted prices of accommodation.
Now that you know the important things to do in preparation for you Uganda gorilla trekking safari, ensure to do it right. For more information about gorilla trekking in Uganda as well as booking for a trip, contact us today through firstname.lastname@example.org or call +256-700135510/ +256-414699459