Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda

A Gorilla Trek within the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a highlight of all visits done in Uganda and certainly mountain gorillas are the major reason as to why very many people visit Uganda.  On the other hand, Uganda is recognized as a very safe and more so secure country in which you can see these giant apes  in a serene surroundings.gorilla trekking safari to rwanda

 

When to Go?

Although tracking mountain gorillas can be conducted all year round in these two countries due to the somewhat damp seasons experienced by the national parks in which these gorillas stay, the majority of tourists prefer visiting from June to September as well as from December up to February. You can visit Bwindi N.P at any time of the year, the low season calls for cheaper gorilla permit price.

Where to Stay?

Choosing the best safari lodge or accommodation will depend on how much you can afford. Some lodges charge as high as, $900 while the budget ones can pocket as low as $ 70 for a double room. It’s all about the facilities, location, food, services and so much more.  Among the luxury include Clouds Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp and Mahogany Springs. For the budget traveler, Nshongi Gorilla Resort, Ruhija gorilla friend, traveller’s hotel Kisoro etc. is what we recommend. See our list of safari lodges here >>

How much does a Gorilla Safari Cost?

Of course, various tour operators will give you quotes; roughly the cheapest gorilla safari should have a price of about please inquire to get the updated price. But this in most cases varies from season, and the number of people participating.  Based on reviews of most tour operators in Uganda, most tourists prefer the mid-range, not so budget, but affordable.  Booking your safari during the low season should get those costs lowered!

How to Get a Gorilla Trekking Permit in Uganda

Within Uganda, Gorilla trekking is conducted in Bwindi National Park or in Mgahinga National Park. But because of the inconsistency of gorillas in Mgahinga, majority of the permits are sold for Bwindi NP. In Uganda, every gorilla permit goes for US$600 while from May to April 2024 they will go for US$350. On a single day, nearly 72 people travel into Bwindi to see gorillas and only 8 people are allowed to see a gorilla’s family. We strongly encourage you to book your gorilla permit with a safari agent; the most prominent mistake is to book a gorilla family which is far away from your choice of accommodation! The routes to Bwindi and its various regions are often tricky, this is a remote area. If you would like to do the gorilla trek on your own so as to save costs, you might end up incurring more. Safari guides have been trained to help you with this.

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park

Several travelers intending to trek gorillas have found this process to be tiring and they have opted to the quicker less tiring option of reserving their trekking permits through a local Uganda safari operator. These tour operators normally add an extra fee of US$60 to US$100 for each permit. For us travels explore Africa we charge $35 per permit we secure for a client. And we will not charge you for purchasing a gorilla permit in case you book with us a tour services.

You inform us the dates for your tour to Uganda and specify the date for trekking the gorillas

  • We shall inform you if your preferred dates are available for trekking and also temporarily book them.
  • We shall send you our bank details so that you can transfer the money for the gorilla permits or even pay by credit card.
  • We shall send you an acknowledgement email for the money transfer. Please remember to instruct your bank to deduct the bank charges for the transaction from your account. We don’t ask for any extra money for the gorilla permit if you are reserving the rest of your tour through us. Any additional costs will be for services like telephony and transport that will be incurred when acquiring the permit.
  • You will send a copy of your passport availing the details which will be used to register for your permit. Normally they need just your full names, nationality and the passport number
  • Your names will be registered and then we acquire the gorilla permit. On receiving the payment they will buy the gorilla permit but then having this permit doesn’t 100% guarantee you seeing the gorillas although chances of seeing them are about 98%

Refund and cancellation guideline; Any visitor who shows signs of illness will not be allowed to track the gorillas,  50% of tracking fee will be refunded.  A visitor shall only be declared unfit to track due to illness by the Warden in Charge and this clause only applies to visitors who have made their way to Bwindi INP or Mgahinga Gorilla NP.   Permits are non-refundable, however visitors who track the whole day and fail to see the gorillas for whatever reason will be refunded 75% of the tracking fees.   All refunds shall be effected at UWA Headquarters in Kampala through the Reservations Office.   UWA will retain the following percentages on a gorilla permit upon cancellation. 0 – 30 days to tracking date – no refund, 31 – 60 days to tracking date – 75% (25% refund to client), 61– 90 days to tracking date – 50%, 91 days and above to tracking date – 25% (75% refund to client).

Important to note is under a  joint organization of AUTO normally buy as much as 80% of the permits for a time of up to two years to the intended date of trekking the gorillas.

What to Wear?  Choosing the right Clothing

Gorilla Trekking gear guide, Good quality walking boots if trying any hikes or even climbs, warm layers of cloth for the cold evenings and clothing for wet weather remember it becomes cold and wet at this high altitude.

The majority of Gorillas which you may have seen in a zoo are the lowlands gorillas of western Africa, and the mountain gorillas are actually a subspecies known as Gorilla beringei beringei.    These can only be found in the wilderness of the Virunga highlands of Rwanda within Volcano Park found in Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park as well as Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, and the Virunga National Park found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These parks are found only 48 km from each other.  Within Uganda as well as Rwanda these parks can be accessed easily, while in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to the rebel activities that happened, there was a probable threat to the lives of visitors. Click here for more information about Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

There are more than seven hundred and eighty six mountain gorillas in the whole world.  Uganda hold close to half of their total population, and the majority of them live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, whereas the others are found in Mgahinga Gorilla Park, however these at times cross over to Rwanda.  Fortunately the Gorillas are growing in numbers because of the protection they are offered from the government of Uganda which also included efforts of the adjacent communities to the parks to whom part of the USD 600 fee of Gorilla tracking permits charged from foreign visitors to Mgahinga as well as Bwindi is offered.

What Country Provides the Best Option for Seeing The Mountain Gorillas?

Cost: Gorilla permits within Rwanda were recently increased up to $750 per individual and then in Uganda they go each for USD 600. The permit offers you one hour with the mountain gorillas in a group of 8 people. In case you are threatened by the price look at it in this point of view that you are contributing to the conservation of mountain gorillas and as a form of thank you, you will be rewarded with an hour in the midst observing and enjoying their company. Keep in mind that just 80 people are allowed to see the gorillas in their natural habitat each day. Because their habitat is very fragile, every time you walk in this forest you leave a footprint.