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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.

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 $800.

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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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Let us plan your gorilla trekking safari

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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 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.

Accommodation Options

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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