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Gorilla Trekking Experiences In Uganda And Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking Experiences In Uganda And Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking Experiences In Uganda And Rwanda – A Gorilla Trek stands as the pinnacle of any journey through Uganda and Rwanda, drawing countless visitors to these two destinations primarily to encounter mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking holidays offer the chance to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, amidst the lush tropical forests of Africa.
 
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Acquiring a permit is essential for this extraordinary adventure, with limited availability ensuring the conservation of these endangered species. Various tour companies specialize in organizing gorilla treks, providing expert guides and logistical support for an immersive and unforgettable experience. These treks typically involve hiking through rugged terrain, guided by experienced trackers who lead participants to gorilla families, allowing for awe-inspiring encounters while adhering to responsible tourism practices. Gorilla trekking not only offers the opportunity to observe these magnificent primates up close but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the importance of wildlife conservation in preserving their fragile ecosystems.
 

Which company is recommended for gorilla trekking?

Selecting a gorilla safari tour operator in Uganda and Rwanda requires consideration of factors such as pricing, gorilla permit availability, and online reviews from various websites.

However we recommend;

  1. Kenlink Tours
  2. Africa Travel Hub

When To Go To See The Mountain Gorillas In Africa?

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Gorilla trekking is possible year-round in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. However, the optimal time for this activity is during June, July, August, September, and December when there is typically less rainfall and drier conditions in the parks, facilitating easier hiking and gorilla sightings. In Bwindi, the average temperature ranges from 11°C/52°F in the morning to 23°C/73°F in the afternoon throughout the year.

January and February mark the low season for gorilla trekking, characterized by fewer crowds and minimal rainfall. Conversely, March, April, and May experience heavy rainfall, posing challenges during the trek with slippery slopes. June, July, and August represent the peak season, necessitating early permit purchases due to high demand. These months are considered the optimal time for gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda.

Where To Stay ?

Selecting the ideal safari lodge or accommodation hinges on your budgetary constraints. Prices vary significantly, ranging from as high as $2500 to as low as $50 for a double room. Considerations include amenities, location, dining options, services, and more.

Hotel and lodge prices typically range as follows:

  • Budget accommodation: $50 to $100 per night
  • Mid-range: $150 to $200 per night
  • Luxury: $300 to $2500 per night

For optimal convenience, book accommodations near the tracking point and consult your tour operator for recommendations.

Here are the top 5 gorilla safari lodges in Uganda:

  1. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge: Starting from $760
  2. Gorilla Heights Lodge: Starting from $700
  3. Mahogany Springs: Starting from $240
  4. Gorilla Safari Lodge: Starting from $233
  5. Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge: Starting from $173

Explore our of safari lodges>>

How Much Does A Gorilla Safari Cost In Uganda?

  • 1-day gorilla trekking in Uganda: About $1200
  • 2-day gorilla safari: Around $1380
  • 3-day gorilla tour: Approximately $1650

Typically, the least expensive gorilla safari should start around $1100 per person, though this can vary based on group size. For those seeking super luxury experiences, prices can range from $4000 to $6000 per person. However, the majority of tourists opt for mid-range options, which offer affordability without compromising quality. Booking during the low season can further reduce costs. If Uganda isn’t your destination of choice, you can explore options for Rwanda Gorilla Trekking or Congo Gorilla Safaris. Read More Information About Gorillas In Rwanda>>

You might question the expense of a gorilla trekking safari and whether it offers value for the investment. Here’s a breakdown to help clarify.

In Uganda, a gorilla trekking permit costs $800, with 75% of the proceeds allocated towards conserving the gorilla population. The government receives 15%, while 10% is designated for local communities surrounding the parks. This permit covers park entrance fees, one hour of gorilla watching, as well as fees for advance trackers and rangers.

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Additional costs to consider for gorilla trekking include:

Food Expenses: Expect to spend around $50 per day on food and drinks. However, many tour operators include meals and soft drinks in their packages.

Transportation Costs: Airfare from your country typically ranges from $500 to $2400. Chartered flights from airports to gorilla trekking points can cost around $600, while hiring a car should average about $80 per day.

Packing Essentials: Don’t forget to budget for items like insect repellents, sunscreen, and other necessities.

Visa and Border Crossing: An East African tourist visa costs $100, allowing travel for safaris in Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda.

Porter Fees: Porters typically charge around $20, and hiring a sedan chair for porters to carry you can cost up to $500.

Tips for Cost-Saving:

  • Travel in groups rather than alone.
  • Opt for budget-friendly lodges.
  • Consider Uganda over Rwanda for a more economical option.
  • Avoid relying on public transport buses due to unpredictable schedules.
  • Minimize expenses by avoiding chartered flights.
  • Book your gorilla tour during the low season for potential cost savings.

 

What Are The Best Destinations To See Gorilla In Africa?

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Gorilla sightings are a captivating highlight of safaris in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. Primarily, these gorillas are classified into mountain and lowland species, with additional sub-species. Rwanda and Uganda offer unparalleled opportunities to observe mountain gorillas, while the Republic of Congo provides access to lowland gorillas. Although mountain gorillas can also be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), instability in certain regions has posed challenges for tourists.

Contrary to popular belief, gorillas are not found in Tanzania, Kenya, or South Africa. However, these countries offer diverse safari experiences, particularly during events like the great wildebeest migration in Tanzania and Kenya’s Serengeti plains. Multi-destination safaris across East Africa can enrich your adventure, showcasing the region’s abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes.

Distinguishing between lowland and mountain gorillas, the former typically exhibit smaller stature, brownish-gray fur, and prominent brow ridges. In contrast, mountain gorillas boast larger size and darker black coats. Notably, mountain gorillas are a critically endangered species, with fewer than 800 individuals remaining in the wild, while the population of lowland gorillas exceeds 100,000 in the Republic of Congo alone.

Where To See Gorillas In Uganda?

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Uganda offers two primary destinations for gorilla safaris: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi is renowned for its 17 gorilla groups, making it an optimal location for witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Beyond gorilla encounters, Bwindi tours provide access to a diverse array of wildlife, including 90 mammal species and 11 primate species, such as the black and white colobus monkey.

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is organized into several groups, each offering a unique experience:

  • Ruhija Trek: Mukiza, Oruzogo, Bitukura, and Kyaguliro families
  • Buhoma Trek: Habinyanja, Katwe, Mubare, and Rushegura families
  • Nkuringo Trek: Christmas, Nkuringo, and Bushaho families
  • Rushaga Trek: Kutu, Bikingi, Mishaya, Bushigye, Kahungye, Rwigi, Bweza, Nshongi, and Mucunguzi families

In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, visitors can track the Nyakagezi gorilla group amidst the stunning backdrop of the Virunga Volcanoes, including Mount Muhavura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabinyo.

For those seeking luxury gorilla trekking experiences, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park offers opulent options such as Bisate Lodge, Singita Kwitonda Lodge, and Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. While Rwanda’s gorilla permits cost $1500 per person, a 9-day luxury safari in the country can exceed $15,000. In Uganda, Clouds Lodge, Mahogany Springs, and Gorilla Forest Camp stand out as top choices for luxury accommodations during gorilla safaris.

How Much Does A Budget Gorilla Safari Cost?

In Congo, a gorilla permit is priced at $450, while in Uganda, it costs $800. For budget-conscious travelers embarking on gorilla tours in Uganda’s Bwindi National Park, accommodation options start from $100 per night. Choices include Bwindi Backpackers Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge, and Buhoma Community Rest Camp. In Rwanda, Hotel Muhabura stands out as the most economical accommodation choice for visitors planning gorilla tours.

Which country offers the superior option for observing mountain gorillas: Uganda or Rwanda?

Comparing Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking can be tricky, as both countries are home to mountain gorillas in similar forest environments. However, Uganda offers a more diverse wildlife experience beyond gorilla encounters. Visitors can explore attractions like Murchison Falls and observe various primate species in Kibale Forest National Park. It’s important to note the difference in cost: gorilla permits in Rwanda have recently increased to $1500 per person, whereas in Uganda, they are priced at $800 each.

Consider the gorilla permit not just as a cost, but as a contribution to mountain gorilla conservation efforts. With each permit allowing one hour with a group of 8 gorillas, you’re granted a priceless opportunity to observe and appreciate these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. It’s vital to acknowledge that only 80 permits are issued daily, emphasizing the importance of sustainable tourism to protect the fragile gorilla habitat. Ultimately, Uganda emerges as the premier destination for gorilla trekking, offering an unparalleled experience amidst its diverse wildlife and pristine landscapes.

What Should I Park For Gorilla Trekking?

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  • Waterproof hiking boots.
  • Day pack.
  • Insect repellents.
  • Light weight rain jacket.
  • Poncho
  • Camera.
  • Binoculars,
  • Bottled water
  • Boots: hiking boots,
  • Gloves, old pair of gardening gloves
  • Long pants or trousers
  • Energy snacks.

 

Is It Difficult To Trek For Gorillas?

Gorilla trekking typically holds a difficulty rating ranging from 60 to 100, with a moderate hike classification. Various factors influence the trek’s intensity, notably your physical fitness, weather conditions, and pack weight. Fortunately, adjustments can be made to match the gorilla group to your fitness level, and hiring a porter is advisable to alleviate any strain. Despite misconceptions, gorilla trekking is manageable; individuals in their 60s and 70s have successfully completed it.

Regarding the hike’s strenuousness, it’s essential to note that 60% of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park sits at elevations exceeding 6,600 feet, with the entire park ranging from 3,904 to 8,553 feet. Steep slopes characterize certain areas, contributing to an experience lasting between 2 to 6 hours, contingent on the gorilla family being observed.

What Should I Expect On A Gorilla Safari?

On the day of your trek, prepare to rise early and gather at the briefing point by 7:30 am. Following the briefing, tourists are divided into groups of eight and assigned different tracking routes. Accompanied by knowledgeable guides and rangers, you venture into the forest in search of gorillas.

Within the forest, you may encounter various wildlife species, including monkeys, butterflies, and mammals. The terrain can be challenging, requiring a reasonable level of fitness. By the end of the day, expect to be covered in mud and sweat from the adventure.

Upon encountering the gorillas, you’re permitted to capture the moment with your camera or iPhone, but refrain from using flash to avoid disturbing the gentle giants. Spending between 40 minutes to an hour in their presence is a truly life-changing experience.

After the trek, return to your accommodation or opt for an immersive cultural village experience with the Batwa pygmies.

How To Get A Gorilla Permit In Uganda Or Rwanda?

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Within Uganda, gorilla trekking is primarily conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or occasionally in Mgahinga National Park. However, due to the irregular presence of gorillas in Mgahinga, the majority of permits are sold for Bwindi NP. Each gorilla permit in Uganda is priced at US $800, with previous discounted rates during April, May, and November no longer available.

With nearly 72 people visiting Bwindi daily to see gorillas, only 8 individuals are allowed to visit a gorilla family per day. It’s highly recommended to book your gorilla permit through a safari agent to avoid mistakes such as selecting a gorilla family far from your accommodation. The routes to Bwindi and its various regions can be challenging due to the remote location. Attempting to do the gorilla trek independently to save costs may result in additional expenses. Safari guides are trained to assist you in navigating these challenges effectively.

Here are the current prices for gorilla safari permits:

  • Uganda gorilla permit: $800 for 1 hour with the gorillas
  • Uganda Gorilla Habituation Permit: $1500 for a full day experience
  • Rwanda gorilla permit: $1500
  • Congo Gorilla Trekking Permit: $400
  • East African Citizens: Pay 300,000 shillings for the permit.

Many travelers find the process of securing gorilla trekking permits tiresome and opt for the quicker option of reserving permits through local Uganda safari operators. These operators typically charge an additional fee of US$60 to US$100 per permit. However, if you book other tour services with them, such as transfers, they often waive the permit booking fee. Otherwise, they charge extra to cover administrative costs, including making calls, picking up permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority, and delivering them to clients.

The reservation process is streamlined by tour agencies, allowing for faster confirmation of permits. After informing the agency of your preferred trekking dates, they temporarily hold the dates and provide bank details for payment. An acknowledgment email is sent upon receiving payment, and clients must ensure bank charges are deducted. Providing a copy of your passport with relevant details facilitates permit registration, typically requiring full names, nationality, and passport number.

Once payment is received, the agency procures the gorilla permit, though possessing one doesn’t guarantee a 100% chance of gorilla sightings. However, the likelihood of encountering gorillas is around 98%.

How Do Mountain Gorillas Look Like?

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Male mountain gorillas are typically twice the size of females, reaching heights of up to 6 feet and weighing between 350 and 500 pounds. Known as silverbacks, mature males develop silver-colored hair on their backs, signifying their dominance. They possess remarkable strength, with muscles ten times stronger than even the most powerful boxers, and their arms can stretch up to 7 feet.

Mountain gorillas have longer and darker hair compared to their lowland counterparts, adapted to colder climates and higher altitudes. They typically live for 40 to 50 years. While primarily ground-dwelling, they occasionally climb trees if sturdy enough, while juveniles are more inclined to play in the trees.

Interestingly, gorillas and humans share 98% of their genetic composition, highlighting the close evolutionary relationship between the two species.

The majority of gorillas seen in zoos are lowland gorillas from western Africa, while mountain gorillas, a subspecies known as Gorilla beringei beringei, inhabit the wilderness of the Virunga highlands in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. These magnificent creatures can also be found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, as well as in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Remarkably, these parks are situated within a mere 48 kilometers of each other.

Accessing the parks in Uganda and Rwanda is relatively easy, whereas in the DRC, ongoing rebel activities pose potential threats to visitors’ safety. Despite the challenges, the mountain gorilla population has shown promising growth, with over 786 individuals worldwide. Uganda is home to nearly half of this population, primarily residing in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, with some also found in Mgahinga Gorilla Park, where they occasionally cross over into Rwanda.

The increase in mountain gorilla numbers can be attributed to stringent conservation efforts by the Ugandan government, which collaborates with local communities neighboring the parks. These communities benefit from a portion of the revenue generated by the $600 gorilla tracking permits paid by foreign visitors to Mgahinga and Bwindi. This symbiotic relationship between conservation efforts, government protection, and community involvement has been instrumental in ensuring the continued existence and growth of the mountain gorilla population.

How Do Mountain Gorillas Feed?

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Mountain gorillas are primarily herbivorous, with their diet consisting mainly of plants, leaves, stems, shoots, fruits, and occasionally insects. Their feeding habits are influenced by the availability of vegetation within their habitat, which varies seasonally.

One of the primary feeding behaviors of mountain gorillas is browsing. They spend a significant portion of their day foraging for foliage, using their dexterous hands and powerful jaws to strip leaves and branches from plants. Gorillas are selective feeders, preferring young, tender shoots and leaves from a variety of plant species. Their large, muscular bodies enable them to reach high branches and exert considerable force when breaking tough vegetation.

In addition to browsing, mountain gorillas also consume fruits when available. Fruits provide essential nutrients and vitamins, contributing to their overall health and well-being. Gorillas often exhibit frugivorous behavior during periods of abundant fruiting, such as when certain trees or shrubs are in season. They will pluck ripe fruits from trees or gather fallen fruits from the forest floor, using their hands and sometimes their teeth to peel or crush the outer skin before consuming the pulp inside.

Mountain gorillas may also supplement their diet with other plant parts, such as stems or roots, although these make up a smaller proportion of their overall food intake. Additionally, they may opportunistically consume insects, such as ants or termites, by foraging for them in rotting wood or beneath vegetation.

How Dangerous Are Mountain Gorillas?

Visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest often wonder if mountain gorillas are dangerous. Despite being dominant and strong, these majestic creatures are known for their gentle and shy nature. The mountain gorillas encountered by visitors in Uganda have undergone a process called habituation, which takes approximately two years. This means they are accustomed to the presence of humans. Dian Fossey, a renowned primatologist, initially opposed the idea of visiting mountain gorillas, but today, tourism plays a crucial role in their conservation, leading to an increase in their numbers in recent years.

While mountain gorillas typically avoid conflict, they may become aggressive when defending themselves or their territory. When different gorilla groups encounter each other, there can be fights between the dominant silverbacks, sometimes resulting in fatalities. In a recent incident in the Democratic Republic of Congo, rangers had to intervene to stop a fight between two silverbacks.

Mountain gorillas live in groups ranging from 2 to 30 or 40 individuals, with an average group size of around 10. There is no specific mating season, and babies can be born throughout the year. Male gorillas begin breeding at around 15 years of age, while females start giving birth between 10 and 12 years old. Females typically give birth every 2 to 3 years and can have 4 to 6 offspring in their lifetime. Male gorillas leave their group at around 11 years old, while slightly over half of the females may also leave their group.

Communication among mountain gorillas primarily involves sounds such as roars, grunts, and shouts. Researchers have documented approximately 25 different vocalizations used by these remarkable creatures.

 

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