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Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is an extraordinary wildlife experience that allows you to observe and interact with endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Uganda is home to half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population, making it a prime destination for this unique adventure. The main gorilla trekking destination in Uganda is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the other one in the Virunga massive; Mgahiga Gorilla national park.

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park

Buhoma gate
Entrance of Bwindi impenetrable national park

Gorilla tracking is the park’s main tourist attraction, and it generates much revenue for Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Gorilla tracking first became available in April 1993, when tourists tracked the Mubare gorilla group. Tourists wishing to track gorillas must first obtain a permit

Selected gorillas families have been habituated to human presence, and the number of visitors is tightly controlled to prevent risks to the gorillas and degradation of the habitat. The gorillas seldom react to tourists. There are strict rules for tourists to minimize the risk of disease transmission to the gorillas

Bwindi impenetrable forest is inhabited by about 459 individual mountain gorillas as per the last 2019 Gorilla Census, which makes up almost half of all the mountain gorillas in the world. The rest of the worldwide mountain gorilla population lives in the nearby Virunga Mountains. A 2006 census of the mountain gorilla population in the park showed that its numbers had increased modestly from an estimated 300 individuals in 1997 to 320 individuals in 2002 to 340 individuals in 2006 and 400 in 2018. Poaching, disease and habitat loss are the greatest threat to the gorillas.

Bwindi gorilla’s diet is markedly higher in fruit than that of the Virunga population, and that the Bwindi gorillas, even silverbacks, are more likely to climb trees to feed on foliage, fruits, and epiphytes. In some months, the Bwindi gorilla diet is very similar to that of Bwindi chimpanzees. It was also found that Bwindi gorillas travel farther per day than Virunga gorillas, particularly on days when feeding primarily on fruit than when they are feeding on fibrous foods. Additionally, Bwindi gorillas are much more likely to build their nests in trees, nearly always in Alchornea floribunda (locally, “Echizogwa”), a small understory tree.

Gorilla Trekking in Mgahiga gorilla national park

Mgahinga gorilla parkGorilla trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, located in southwestern Uganda, is a unique and rewarding experience. While Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is more renowned for gorilla trekking, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also offers a chance to encounter the endangered mountain gorillas.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has a total population of 80 mountain gorillas, but only one gorilla group is habituated and open to tourists – the Nyakagyezi family. The group used to move to Rwanda and Congo but have now settled in Uganda for more than three years Gorilla safaris to Mgahinga are great because the park attracts fewer crowds. Having one habituated gorilla group means only 8 gorilla permits can be sold in a day.

Mgahinga offers a unique way of watching gorillas compared to Bwindi due to its open bamboo vegetation which is perfect for photography. For exclusivity, Mgahinga is the best place to see gorillas because of the limited number of people in a day (a maximum of only 8)! This makes it less crowded unlike Bwindi and Volcanoes national parks with high number of gorilla families.

Gorilla Trekking Process in Uganda

Planning a gorilla trip to Bwindi
Tourist planning a gorilla trip to Bwindi impenetrable national park
  1. Obtain a Gorilla Trekking Permit:

Gorilla trekking permits are essential and must be obtained in advance. Permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and are limited to a specific number of visitors each day to minimize human impact on the gorilla groups.

Contact us with your details to secure your permit in time.

  1. Choose the Right Destination:

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is divided into several sectors, each with different gorilla families. Depending on your interests and physical fitness, you may choose a specific sector for your trek.

  1. Fitness and Health Considerations:

Gorilla trekking can involve hiking through dense forests and challenging terrains. Participants should be in good physical condition. Inform your guide of any health concerns, and they will assign you to a group with a trekking distance that suits your fitness level.

What to Pack for Gorilla trekking in Uganda?

Tourists geared up and ready for their gorilla trek in Bwindi
  1. Shirts

Activities like gorilla trekking require you to pack long sleeved Shirts, Tops and trousers. This is to protect your skin from wild insect bites like bees, wild Ants, tsetse flies among others.

Drives to the parks require to pack open light clothing (short sleeved shirts) since its hot during the day time, light clothing saves you from the inconveniences of too much heat.

Take natural and light-colored clothing – avoid the glaring primary and neon colors that get you spotted first. Black garments will get you baking in the sun, while white clothes will create glare and become brownish soon anyway. Camo wear isn’t necessary, just go with neutral tones.

  1. Jumper or Sweater

Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla national park are rainforests, its usual business to rain in these areas regardless of the wet or dry season. Be prepared for cold weather. Some parts of the country and the parks are located in highlands where nights are cold. Dawn and sunset drives in vehicle can turn quite chilly. We advise to carry a sweater and wind proof parka shell for such conditions.

  1. Water proof rain Jackets

You will need a strong water proof rain jacket that can be of help in case it rains while trekking.

A small waterproof pack can also help you protect your important documents while trekking from rain waters

  1. Shoes

Gorilla trekking require you to carry light strong outdoor boots to ease movement in the forest jungle while trekking. Closed water proof shoes are comfortable for walking in the bush or in wet conditions. You don’t need Doc Martens or army boots, north face, jackwolfskin and similar outdoor wear brands are better choices. Leave the platforms and high-heels at home.

  1. Gloves

The gloves will protect your hands from germs as you try to support yourself on plant trees along the walking trails. They will also protect you from thorns as you try to grab branches for support while on your trek.

Slipping and falling is common on wet conditions while trekking, gloves will protect your palms when they hit the ground.

  1. Sun protection

Sun block; an eco-friendly 30 SPF (or higher) sunscreen.

A safari hat. Avoid the floppy straw hat, as experience has shown that you’ll spend more time clutching onto it than the shade is worth!

Sunglasses are excellent for keeping dust and small flying insects out of your eyes, as well as the blazing African sun.

  1. Back packer

A back Packer bag is significant in carrying your small items like water, lunch boxes, snacks, repellents, few basic toiletries, first Aid kit sanitizers among others. For activities like gorilla trekking, you may choose to hire a porter at $15 to assist you carry your back packer.

  1. A face mask

A face mask is still required with gorilla tracking. Since gorillas are our closest cousins, we share almost 97% of the DNA. This means we can easily infect them with our disease and they we can as well contract diseases to them. In order protect them; a mask will be a must when you draw close to spend an hour with them. Please carry one for their survival.

  1. Camera

Bush Africans may consider cameras regular pieces of the tourist’s everyday dress, just like their own beaded jewelry. They could be right; you may even be tempted to carry a camera to the bathroom! Everything is mesmerizing and every tourist spots a camera. Please don’t forget to ensure you have a good phone camera or a professional one (any brand of your choice) for a photographic record of your safari.

Gorilla trekking Hotels & Lodges in Uganda

Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
Camp fire at the lodge in Bwindi impenetrable national park

Where to stay in Bwindi Impenetrable national park

Buhoma lodge

Buhoma Lodge is a charming eco-luxury retreat nestled in the Buhoma sector of  Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. With comfortable cottages offering modern amenities and stunning forest views, it’s the ideal base for gorilla trekking adventures.

The lodge emphasizes sustainability and community empowerment, offering guests unforgettable experiences while supporting conservation efforts and local communities. From guided gorilla treks to cultural visits and delicious meals, Buhoma Lodge ensures a memorable stay in the heart of Uganda’s wilderness.

Gorilla mist lodge

Gorilla Mist Camp in Uganda is a hidden sanctuary nestled close to the Ruhija sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Offering a rustic yet comfortable retreat, the camp provides safari-style accommodation in harmony with its natural surroundings. With panoramic views of the mist-covered mountains, guests can immerse themselves in the beauty of Uganda’s wilderness while enjoying the thrill of gorilla trekking adventures.

Nkuringo Gorilla lodge

Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge is a luxurious haven nestled in south of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s Nkuringo sector, offering stunning views of misty mountains and lush forests. With spacious cottages and warm hospitality, it’s the perfect base for gorilla trekking adventures. Guests can immerse themselves in nature, encounter endangered mountain gorillas, and enjoy guided walks and cultural experiences. After thrilling days, delicious meals and cozy accommodations await, creating unforgettable memories in Uganda’s wilderness.

Rushaga Gorilla Camp

Rushaga Gorilla Camp offers a serene escape amidst Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where lush forest and majestic mountains await. With cozy safari tents and easy access to gorilla trekking trails, it’s the ideal base for unforgettable wildlife encounters. Guests can immerse themselves in nature, encounter endangered mountain gorillas, and enjoy guided walks and cultural experiences. After thrilling adventures, evenings are spent around the campfire, sharing stories under the starry sky. Rushaga Gorilla Camp promises an inspiring retreat in the heart of Uganda’s wilderness.

Where to stay in Mgahinga Gorilla national park

 Gahinga lodge

Gahinga Lodge is a haven of luxury tucked amidst the Virunga Mountains of Uganda. With its eco-friendly design and panoramic views, it offers a serene retreat for adventurers and nature lovers alike. Guests can embark on guided gorilla treks in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, immersing themselves in the beauty of the forest and encountering these majestic creatures up close. After thrilling adventures, evenings are spent relaxing on the lodge’s terrace, soaking in the stunning vistas and indulging in delicious meals prepared with local ingredients. Gahinga Lodge promises an unforgettable escape in the heart of Africa’s wilderness.

Travellers Rest Hotel

Travellers Rest Hotel is a cherished sanctuary nestled amidst the awe-inspiring landscapes of Kisoro, Uganda. Steeped in rich history and enveloped by the tranquil beauty of southwestern Uganda, our hotel beckons travelers seeking a blend of comfort, adventure, and connection to nature. With a storied past that includes hosting renowned conservationist Dian Fossey during her groundbreaking research on mountain gorillas, our hotel is more than just a place to rest.