gorilla geting his food

How to Plan for a Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda | 2024 – 2025

How to Plan for a Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda | 2024 – 2025

Introduction

Want to know how to plan for a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda in the years 2024 to 2025?, in this post we detail the steps, process, and all the relevant information you will need to plan for your gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. Hi, my name is Kajura Henry on behalf of Musana Tours and Travel.

With Musana Tours and Travel, we have been organizing tailor-made gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, golden monkey trekking, white water rafting, and wildlife viewing/ game drive safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania for a whopping 10 years.

Yes, that’s right ten years, and for our anniversary we are giving safari discounts to our esteemed clients. Claim the discount! Feeling skeptical? That is understandable, However here is what some of our clients say about our safaris.

From Trip Advisor

We had two weeks starting in Kigali November 28 and ended in Entebbe December 11. Richard our guide picked us up in Kigali and we had a cocktail of adventures and also options. Game drive in Queen Elisabeth NP. Gorilla, chimps and shoebill trekking but the main reason for East Africa was Rwenzori mountains and climbing Margherita Peak 5109m. We where supported with 15 porters, one chef and three guides on our seven days hike. Amazing views in different zones. It was a great adventure and we all came up on the summit. I can strongly recommend Richard and Musana Tours and Travel for your adventure in East Africa.

Göran E

Stockholm County, Sweden Written January 4, 2024

I took an 11-day solo "Primates and Safari" tour with Richard of Musana Tours and Travel in November 2023, and I had a fantastic time. Richard had scheduled a wide variety of activities for me across Uganda that were personalized to my specific interests, including safari game drives, chimpanzee trekking, gorilla trekking, community tours, and boat rides. The logistics of my trip could not have been better handled by him and everything went very smoothly. Plus, he was very knowledgeable and full of information, as he was able to answer all of the many questions I had about the country and its animal and human inhabitants. I had such a good time in Uganda on the tour put together by Richard that I want to go back again and bring friends/family so they can experience the country, as well. And when I do go back to Uganda, I will definitely use Richard again as my tour operator!

Lee

Written December 26, 2023

From Safari Bookings

The planning of the tour couldn't have been better tailored to my short period of just 4 days. This short period of time was perfectly organized and went exactly the same way. Starting with the pickup at the airport, all transfers, lodges and of course the gorilla trekking itself. Communication was absolutely smooth and uncomplicated and an individual request on my part was also taken into account, which was definitely not part of the booked tour as standard (visiting the city of Kigali, before heading back to the airport). All of this was available at the lowest price among all the offers I received. I would like to briefly mention which lodges I stayed in, namely “Bweza Gorilla Lodge” and “Lake Bunyonyie Eco Resort”. These lodges were simply fabulous! With super nice staff, delicious food and fantastic rooms. And also, a big shout out to Matiya, he got me everywhere safely and quickly and was a great companion. All in all, I can 100% recommend Musana Tours And Travel! I always felt like I was in great hands, Richard and the entire team were not only very polite and courteous, you could chat with them about anything and have a lot of fun. I would like to thank you for this wonderful experience and for making my short trip unforgettable. Both Thumbs up!

Dennis

Denmark Reviewed: Dec 2, 2023

It has been an unforgettable experience to trek mountain gorillas and go on a game drive looking for lions. Everything that I have experienced has been at the best level of quality and adventures.

Chris

United Kingdom Reviewed: Oct 4, 2023

From Trip Advisor

We went on an amazing four day trip to Bwindi and Lake Bunyonyi with Richard. The communication before our trip was great, and Richard was really flexible when we wanted to adjust our plans. He has a lot of knowledge about Uganda in general, could answer every question we had, was punctual and we felt really safe. Gorilla trekking, our stay at Bweza lodge and village walk was our absolute highlights in Uganda. I highly recommend travelling with Musana Tours and Travel.

Tea E

Oslo, Norway Written August 10, 2023

Richard the director of Musana Tours and Travel provided transport from Lake Bunyonyi to Entebbe. On the long drive, Richard was very easy to talk to and informative as we passed through a number of towns and the equator. Richard's taste in African music also made the long drive much more enjoyable! We highly recommend Richard's services.

Leanne J

Cape Town Central, South Africa Written June 19, 2023

From Safari Bookings

I did a 21 day tour in January 2023 with Musana Tours. It was my second tour with Richard. The other trip was in August 2022 in Rwanda and Uganda. My 2023 itinerary was planned by Richard specifically around local culture and wildlife which he knew from the previous trip were my priorities. This trip was perfectly planned and I wouldn’t have changed anything. The lodges were exceptional and exactly the types of places I prefer. I love camping and we even got to stay in tents a few nights. Richard is very personable and easy to talk to. He always made sure I was safe and had everything I needed. He has an amazing eye and can spot birds and animals easily. I had a short list of animals I wanted to see that I didn’t see on the previous trip. While wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, I managed to see those remaining animals. He knows where the animals are usually found and does his best to help you see them. If you are interested in birding, Richard knows many birds and is good at spotting them. We followed the itinerary , but the trip was never so rigid that we couldn’t stop to take pictures or visit the village children. The trip started at Lake Mburo. From there I visited Lake Bunyonyi, Queen Elizabeth, a two night stay on a coffee farm, Murchison Falls, Kidepo, Pian Upe, Sipi Falls, and Jinga. I also spent a few days with the tribes of the far north of Uganda. It was an interesting cultural experience learning and seeing how they live. And lots of dancing with the tribes which was so fun. I would definitely recommend Musana Tours for a trip to Uganda. Richard has a great knowledge and love of his country and it shows in his work. I am already planning my third trip to Uganda.

Amy Yoho

United States of America Reviewed: Mar 15, 2023

I did the a 3-days gorilla trekking tour with lake Bunyonyi with Musana Tours. Richard is professional, the communication wife the booking was always swift, the price offered was competitive (esp. for solo traveller) and he always tried to accommodate the tour to my need. The itinerary is done efficiently with the first night stay in Bwindi so I didn’t have to wake up very early for the gorilla trekking the next day (as the lodge, which by the way is fantastic, is located close to the briefing point of the trek). The meals included in the tour were all delicious - which is a big plus. Overall I can highly recommend Musana travel.

Melanie

Denmark Reviewed: Oct 4, 2023

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Brief overview of gorilla trekking in Uganda
  • Importance of planning for a successful gorilla trekking safari
  • Identify gorilla trekking destinations in Uganda
  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
  • Understand permit availability and costs
  • Research the best time to visit
  • Budgeting and Financial Planning
  • Estimate the total cost of the safari
  • Permit fees
  • Accommodations
  • Transportation
  • Packing and Gear
  • Clothing suitable for trekking
  • Conclusion

Brief overview of gorilla trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda offers a unique and unforgettable wildlife experience, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla Trekking is one of the best highlights for every visitor who visits Uganda on a safari.

What is Gorilla Trekking? Gorilla trekking is a wildlife activity of walking and hiking through a very dense forest with forest guides to search for mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is only done in two destinations that are Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This is a fairly expensive activity done after acquiring a gorilla trekking permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority through a trusted Tour Operator at $700.

blackback gorilla Black Back Gorilla Feeding in Bwindi
Gorilla Feeding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Gorilla Feeding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Lets Plan Your Gorilla Trekking Safari

Plan a Safari

Let our Experts walk you through the process of planning your gorilla trekking safari step by step!

Importance of planning for a successful gorilla trekking safari

Are you considering going for a gorilla Trekking safari? It is very important if you plan this exceptionally wonderful encounter with the magnificent gentle giants.

Planning is crucial for a successful gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience.

By the end of this blog post, you will be able to answer all the questions above. A successful gorilla trekking Safari requires careful planning to secure gorilla trekking permits, accommodations around the gorilla trekking areas, and transportation to and from the gorilla trekking destination, while also considering factors like weather, physical preparation, and cultural experiences.

Adequate planning ensures that your safari is not only memorable but also contributes to the responsible and sustainable tourism practices essential for the conservation of gorillas and their habitats.

gorilla in Bwindi Close up photo of a gorilla

Identify gorilla trekking destinations in Uganda

Uganda is blessed with the most number of mountain gorillas that live in their natural habitat in the whole world.

There are two gorilla trekking destinations in Uganda and is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park which has the biggest number of Mountain Gorillas and over 23 gorilla families habituated and ready for tourists to visit.

The other Gorilla trekking destination is Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In this park, there is only one habituated gorilla family. This park is also gifted with a Golden monkey that can also be trekked.

Black Back Gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Black Back Gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the prime destination for anyone who wants to go on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. The National Park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It spans across districts of Kanungu, Rubanda, and Kisoro and has five trailheads, Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo.

Close Photo of a Silverback Gorilla Close Photo of a Silverback Gorilla

Gorilla Trekking Trail Heads in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

A Trailead is a place designated by the Uganda Wildlife Authority where guests meet with the ranger guides to breifed about the history of the park, rules and regulations around the mountain gorillas.

At a given trailhead you are put into groups of a maximum of eight people and assigned around two to four ranger guides to take you to the gorilla family you are observing for the day.

Buhoma Trail Head

Buhoma Trailhead is the most popular gorilla trekking trailhead in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park located in Kanungu District. This trailhead can be easily accessed by road.

Buhoma trailhead has five habituated Gorilla Families namely Habiyanja Gorilla Family, Mubare Gorilla Family, Rushegura Gorilla Family, Katwe Gorilla Family, and Muyambi Gorilla Family.

Ruhija Trail Head

Ruhija Trailhead is yet another gorilla trekking area where guests go for gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and is located in Rubanda District the gorilla families are, Bitukura Gorilla Family, Oruzogo Gorilla Family, Kyaguliro Gorilla Family, Mukiza Gorilla Family.

Rushaga Trail Head

Rushaga Trailhead is one of the sectors within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda, Kisoro District, and it serves as another significant starting point for gorilla trekking. This sector provides a unique experience for visitors seeking to encounter mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

The Gorilla families in this sector are; the Bweza Gorilla Family, Kutu Gorilla Family, Nshongi Gorilla Family, Mishaya Gorilla Family, Bikingi Gorilla Family, Kahungye Gorilla Family, Busingye Gorilla Family, Mucunguzi Gorilla Family, Rwigi Gorilla Family.

Nkuringo Trail Head

Rushaga Trailhead is one of the sectors within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda Kisoro District, and it serves as another significant starting point for gorilla trekking. This sector provides a unique experience for visitors seeking to encounter mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

Nkuringo Trailhead is another significant sector within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, offering a unique gorilla trekking experience in southwestern Uganda, Kisoro District bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. The gorilla families in the Nkuringo sector are; the Bushaho Gorilla Family and the Nkuringo Gorilla Family

Gorilla Feeding in Bwindi Gorilla Feeding in Bwindi

Want up to over 35% discount?

As you know, this is our best offer of the year. So why not get your buddies who wish to travel to Africa and Trek the magnficent mountain gorillas, on the action too? We'll give y'all $35% each, if you and your friends make up a group of 6 and above.

$1650

$1059

Claim Discount

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in southwestern Uganda, Kisoro bordering Rwanda. In this park you can encounter the magnificent mountain gorillas and golden monkeys hence the saying “Where Gold meets silver”. This is the smallest National park in Uganda and has only one habituated gorilla family called the Nyakagyezi gorilla family.

gorilla pulling a branch Gorilla Pulling a Branch

Understand permit availability and costs

What is a Gorilla Trekking permit? This is a card or document issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority; each document is per person and is valid till the day you are scheduled for the gorilla trek. On a given day only eight people are given a permit to visit one habituated gorilla family.

Once you get to the Family of Gorillas with the guidance from the experienced Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger guides you will observe these gentle giants for a maximum period of one hour.

The Gorillas are habituated and are comfortable around human beings. However, being wild animals and the fact that you have found them in their habitat, there is a certain set of rules you are required to follow so that you don’t irritate these gentle heavy weights.

For your safety follow the instructions of the experienced ranger guide provided to your group by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

To access these permits, you need to first check for their availability with the Uganda Wildlife Authority. You can also let your tour operator do all the hard work for you and just get ready for the amazing experience.

gorilla injured hand Close Up Photo of a Gorilla Hand

Research the best time to visit

Visiting the gorillas is an all-year-round activity. However, given that you are to trek through a very dense rainforest called the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, you need to find out the best time for your physical ability.

During the rainy seasons, which are September to November and March to May, the gorilla trekking trails tend to be slippery which adds an extra layer of hardship to this experience. But in the dry seasons, which are December to January and June to August the trails are not so slippery and a little bit easier to maneuver.

Either way, the experience of the Uganda Wildlife Ranger guides will ensure that you get the desired experience at any time of the year.

guests observing gorillas Guests Viewing Gorillas

Budgeting and Financial Planning

Given that you are required to spend a certain amount of money to see these magnificent creatures, you will need to research and find out how much you should save so that you don’t get disappointed along the way.

Here I will point out the key factors to consider while you plan for a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda.

Uganda as I mentioned above has only two gorilla trekking destinations which are Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park all of which are found in the southwestern part of Uganda.

Close Up Photo of a  young gorilla Close Up Photo of a young gorilla
Gorilla Feeding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Gorilla Feeding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Lets Plan Your Gorilla Trekking Safari

Plan a Safari

Let our Experts walk you through the process of planning your gorilla trekking safari step by step!

Estimate the total cost of the safari

The estimated amount you will spend on the gorilla trekking safari you are planning will depend on the type of service you require.

These services include Budget, Mid-range, and Luxury. Normally between these three categories there are variations in the type of transport vehicle you use and the kind of Lodges you choose for your stay.

Also, a solo/private tour tends to be slightly more expensive than a group tour, for example,Musana Tours and Travel gives a discount which may be up to 45% if you get over 6 of your friends on board.

gorilla legs Legs of a Gorilla

Gorilla Trekking Permit fees

The number one thing you will need to consider while planning for a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda is definitely the gorilla trekking permit.

The price of this document is fixed by the government of Uganda through the Uganda Wildlife Authority and for 2024 - 2025 the price is $700 per person. This price can only be increased or reduced by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, not the tour operator.

gorilla wide shot Wide shot of a gorilla

Accommodation Options

There are various accommodations around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks.

I strongly suggest that before you book any accommodation in any of the destinations, check for the availability of the gorilla trekking permit so that you book an accommodation that is near to your destination or trailhead allocated to you in the permit.

It will be a great inconvenience if you book accommodation in Buhoma when you are allocated to trek gorillas in Nkuringo, Rushaga, Ruhija, or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

For a smooth process, I recommend you consult with tour operators who are very familiar with all these places and let them arrange everything for you.

Lastly, your accommodation budget will vary according to the accommodation you have chosen, the lodges around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks range from as low as $40 for budget travelers all the way to $1500 for luxury travelers.

Check for the availability of the gorilla trekking permit before booking accommodation to ensure proximity to your destination or trailhead.

lodge around bwindi lodge around bwindi

Transportation

While you plan for a Gorilla Trekking safari in 2024 - 2025, you need to figure out how to travel from your home country to the gorilla trekking destinations.

The Gorilla Trekking destinations can be accessed from two international airports which are Kigali International Airport in Rwanda and Entebbe International Airport in Uganda.

Of the two airports, Kigali International Airport is the closest because all these destinations are closer to Kigali than Entebbe.

The closest Gorilla Trekking destination to Kigali International Airport is Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which takes an estimated time of four and a half hours to five and half hours, not including the time spent clearing at the Gatuna of Cyanika Border points.

From Kigali to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park may take between 5 to 7 hours also not including the time spent clearing at the border points.

You may be asking yourself why the closest Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is not as popular as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest yet it is the nearest, well the reason is, that Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is the oldest destination and has over 20 habituated gorilla families versus Mgahinga which was allocated later and also has only one habituated gorilla family, therefore there limited number of gorilla trekking permits issued for Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Accessing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park from Entebbe International Park takes around 12 hours by road depending on the allocated trailhead for your gorilla trek.

If you have a big budget, you can access Bwindi Impenetrable Forest by air which takes about 45 minutes to land on Kisoro Airstrip which is about 3 hours away from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It also takes about 1 hour to get to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Headquarters.

Another factor you definitely need to consider while you plan for a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda in the years 2024 to 2025 is the type of vehicle you need for smooth transportation from the airport to the two destinations.

Southwestern Uganda the location for the two gorilla trekking destinations is a mountainous area, it sometimes is very hard to maneuver with pot-holes and bumpy roads, especially during the rainy season, I therefore recommend hiring/ or choosing a 4 by 4 land cruiser vehicle so that you don’t end up getting to push at a certain point.

This however, doesn’t mean other vehicles can not reach these destinations, they do but if you are unlucky you may end up wasting a lot of time to pass through the roads leading to these destinations. they do but if you are unlucky you may end up wasting a lot of time to pass through the roads leading to these destinations.

The price of hiring, fueling, and driving these vehicles is in most cases handled by the tour operator. The price ranges from $40 to $400 depending on the type of vehicle.

Musana Tours and Travel can still help you get the right vehicle for your gorilla trekking safari, you just have to holla at us.

Transfer vehicle Transfer Vehicle

Packing and Gear

There is definitely no way you will plan for a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda from 2024 to 2025 without considering the packing list. This list consists of what to wear, the right camera gear, and some other personal items.

Clothing suitable for trekking

The fact that you will be trekking through a very dense rainforest, some plants and insects may cause harm to your body, this therefore calls for you to pack the right clothing in preparation for this safari.

You need a rain jacket or raincoat, long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, insect repellent, gloves (garden is ideal), bottled water, snacks, a sweater, non-flash camera for photography(Flash Photography is strictly not allowed around the Mountain Gorilla). , walking sticks (get it at the park office or request one from the place of stay), hat, and more.

silverback with two gorillas Silverback with two other Gorillas

Conclusion

And that is what you need to know to plan for a memorable gorilla trekking safari in Uganda in the year 2024 - 2025.

    In summary, you have been able to know;
  • 1 Brief overview of gorilla trekking in Uganda
  • 2 Importance of planning for a successful gorilla trekking safari
  • 3 Identify gorilla trekking destinations in Uganda
  • 4 Learn about the gorilla families and habituation process
  • 5 Research the best time to visit
  • 6 Budgeting and Financial Planning
  • 7 Estimate the total cost of the safari
  • 8 Permit fees
  • 9 Accommodation Options
  • 10 Transportation

Above all, it is very important to plan your gorilla trekking safari as early as possible. Musana Tours and Travel is more than happy to help you all through these steps no matter what.

Gorilla Trekking Safaris

Are you in Rwanda and would wish to compare gorilla trekking on this side of Uganda? Do not worry, It only costs you a few extra dollars and a short distance. The tour takes you through the Rwanda - Uganda chyanika board to kisoro town on the Uganda side. Short as it is but its very scenic and surely rewording.

Uganda

2 Days/ 1 Night

View Tour

This 2 day gorilla trekking trip is designed for the travelers who have a short time in Uganda and could be interested in tracking the mountain gorillas found nowhere else except Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Its also suitable for travelers who want to climax their Tanzania or Kenya tour with gorilla trekking, This short trip will expose you to the great encounters with the gorillas and the people of Uganda.

Uganda

2 Days/1 Night

View Tour

The 3 day mid range tour covers Gorilla Trekking and Lake Bunyonyi relaxation. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is the forest that houses the largest number of the world's remaining wild mountain gorillas. You will get a chance to see various birds, interact with the local population and also have a chance to know about the Batwa people and their culture.

Uganda

3 Days/2 Nights

View Tour
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