Gorilla tracking is the activity that involves exploring the endangered gorilla species in their natural habitats through a guided hike into the rain forest by lead trackers or ranger guides.
The gorillas are considered endangered because they have suffered from poaching, habitat loss and disease as well. This subsequently made all gorilla species be classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Where do you find Gorillas in Africa?
In the whole of Africa, you can only see gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo in the wild/ forests. However, there are two types of gorillas namely: the mountain gorillas and the lowland gorillas.
Gorilla tracking is mostly done in Uganda and Rwanda where you get to see the mountain gorillas, and the lowland gorillas in DR Congo. It’s also possible to see mountain gorillas within the DR. Congo, however due to the instabilities within the country, it is challenging in some areas.
As Tanzania and Kenya are famous for the wildebeest migration in Serengeti and Masai Mara respectively, Uganda and Rwanda are globally known with the mountain gorillas. Uganda alone holds 50% of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas and about 1,063 mountain gorillas exist in the entire world. The Democratic Republic of Congo is famous for the lowland gorillas that are smaller in size and have brownish-gray far coats with a distinct brow ridge.
On the day of your trek, you wake up very early in the morning and transfer to the briefing point by 7:30am. During the briefing, you are given instructions and precautions to follow as you head out to do the trekking. Tourists are allocated different tracking routes, each group is made of 8 tourists tracking a gorilla family.
You will be allocated an expert tracker, and two armed rangers to trek with since you will be walking in untamed grounds.. The tracker will also be carrying a fine-edged machete to clear your path and a walkie-talkie to communicate with other rangers and trackers. The armed rangers will make sure you are safe from any harm or dangerous animals.
Your lead tracker will be communicating with another group of rangers who get into the forest early to find the gorillas before they leave their nests and stay with them throughout the day. They then send coordinates to your tracker and make your trekking less challenging and lengthy.
How it feels to track Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
While in the forest, you may see some monkey species, butterfly species and different mammals as well. On some days, expect to leave with mud on your boots or sweaty cloths due to the temperatures. It also requires some level of fitness in order to be able to penetrate through the thick forests.
Once you see the gorillas, you will be reminded to observe the rules ie, distance from the gorillas, turning the flash lights of your cameras among others. This will give you a safe time and wonderful moment with the gorillas.
You will spend a maximum of 1 hour in company of these gentle giants, having taken a number of pictures and videos. It will be such a life changing experience for you as you witness the behaviors of these primates. After the trek depending on the time, you may have packed lunch or head back to your accommodation for lunch.
For those that aren’t fit enough to trek while carrying your backpack, we strongly encourage you to use the porters. The porters offer their services for a nominal amount, and you’ll be providing a livelihood to several inhabitants of a nearby village.
Later in the day, you may opt for a cultural village experience of the Batwa pygmies and learn about their way of life. Or you may decide to transfer to lake Bunyonyi in Kabale for relaxation.
What are the chances of seeing gorillas in Uganda?
While tracking gorillas in Uganda, you have 99% chances of seeing these species in the forests. Because Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers, researchers, and guides closely monitor the mountain gorilla families.
Best time for gorilla tracking.
The best time to do gorilla trekking in Uganda is during the months of June, July, August, September and December. Simply because these are dry months for the park making it easy to hike and see these gorillas.
- January and February is Low season offering less visitors with very little or on rain.
- June, July & August is a Peak season and the best time for gorilla safari in Uganda and Rwanda.
- March, April and May is a rainy season whereby the slopes are slippery and most challenging during the trek.
Bwindi’s average temperature throughout the year is 11°C/52°F in the morning and 23°C/73°F in the afternoon.
Accommodation choices will depend of your budget, however they range from luxury, mid range and budget. You can get a room for as low as 50$ and for as high as 2000$. A number of safari lodges are available to offer you great experience as you trek the gorillas. These include;
- Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge
- Gorilla Height Lodge
- Mahogany Springs
- Gorilla Safari Lodge
- Gorilla mist safari camp, etc.
You can book a 3 days Gorilla safari for 1500$ on full board/ all inclusive, to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
National park with Gorillas
There are 2 national park in Uganda that offer gorilla safaris namely, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has 23 gorilla group making it the best place one can see the gorillas in the wild. The park has 4 sectors where gorilla trekking takes place and these include; Ruhija, Buhoma, Nkuringo and Rushaga.
How much is a Gorilla Permit?
You can purchase a Gorilla permit in Rwanda at USD 1500 per individual and in Uganda they go for USD 700.
The permit allows you trek one gorilla and then spend a maximum of one hour in their presence in the wild.
How many people visit a gorilla family/ group in a day?
A maximum of 8 people can visit a gorilla family in a day visit, according to conservationist and the rules. This is also because their habitat is very fragile, every time you walk in this forest you leave a footprint.
What to park for gorilla trekking
- Hiking boots
- Bottled water
- Energy snacks.
- Gloves, old pair of gardening gloves
- Light weight rain jacket.
- Long pants or trousers
- Waterproof hiking boots.
How to reach Bwindi
On arrival at Entebbe International Airport (EBB), you can connect to Kajjansi Airfield and fly to Kihihi Airstrip in the north Bwindi. There after connect to the park by road.
You can connect to Buhoma and Ruhija via Kihihi Airport, and also Nkuringo, Rushaga, and Mgahinga via Kisoro Airport in the south.
Book for a Gorilla Trekking Safari
Pamoja Tours and travel will book you a gorilla permit and also customize your safari basing on your budget, taste and style of travel. We shall ensure you have a memorable safari as you travel with to Bwindi Impenetrable national park.