Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

What you should know about Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda, Bwindi Forest, Gorilla Safari overview.

Uganda and Rwanda are the main destinations for gorilla trek visits in East-Africa with a shared habitat for mountain gorillas, these countries attract tourists from all over the world for gorilla trekking holidays. Below is the information you may need to know more about gorilla trekking holidays, how to acquire permits, and tour gorilla trek agents.

Best time to book for gorilla trekking in Uganda & Rwanda.

Gorilla trekking is an all year round activity but seasonal on some months of the year because of change in weather conditions, the mountain habitats become in-accessible, challenging to navigate through the thick forest and mountains, however, despite the bad weather, gorilla permits prices are discounted. Majority tourists prefer to book for gorilla tracking activities between the months of June to September & December to February respectively.

Recommended Tour companies for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda.

There are many tour companies in Uganda specialising in gorilla trekking activities, in my opinion, I advise to opt for a tour company with a good standing track record confirmed through popular travel website tripadvisor.

 Accommodation facilitates during the tour.

Choosing the best safari lodge or accommodation will depend entirely on your budget. Some lodges charge as high as, $900 while the others have a budget range of as low as $ 70 for a double room. These safari lodges provide accommodations, transport as an additional service, food, laundry services and so much more.  Further to decide for an accommodation visit TripAdvisor, a popular travel website for highly recommended accommodations.

Costs of a gorilla safari

Standard gorilla safari costs $1000 person and the luxury package costs $1500 to $2000 per person. Gorilla safari prices are cheaper during months of low seasons despite the above costs, your tour company reservation may charge a little more to cover other services provided along.

How and where to acquire gorilla trekking permits in Uganda

Gorilla trekking activities take place in Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga National Park both located in the western part of Uganda. But due to the inconsistency of gorilla presence in Mgahinga, the majority of the sold permits are allowed to track gorillas in the Bwindi national park as well. Gorilla permits in Uganda cost $ 600 but in previous years especially in the months of April, May, and November, permits were priced at $ 450. Daily an estimated number of 72 people track gorillas into Bwindi national and only 8 people have an opportunity to see ‘a gorilla family’. You are advised to seek the services of a safari agent to book your gorilla permit, this is important because safari agents have trained personnel familiar with routes of the entire Mgahinga & Bwindi National

Choosing the right attire during the gorilla trekking

Come along with gorilla trekking gear guides, Good walking boots for any hikes and climbs, warm layers of cloth for both cold evenings and clothing for wet weather remember it becomes cold and wet at this high altitude. More on Safari clothing wear on an African safari

Brief about Mountain Gorilla– Behavior, History, Facts of Mountain Gorillas, Predators, Habitat plus Diet:

The endangered impressive Mountain Gorillas in Uganda don’t live in any zoo across the planet since they cannot survive in detention and thus there aren’t any known mountain gorillas surviving within zoos. These can only be found and seen in Africa, in just three countries including Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.  There are approximately 786 Mountain Gorilla species left in the world with approximately half of the number habituated in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Mgahinga Gorilla Park both located in Uganda.

Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda wasn’t popular till 1902 by the western world. Rwanda then a German colony, Captain von Berenge with his friends were hiking Mountain Sabinyo located Rwanda at an altitude of 9300 foot-level where they had camped, they sighted a group of Mountain Gorillas, he shot at two of gorillas in a group.  One of the shot gorillas was a young-male approximately five years of age, weighing 220 pounds, however, larger than all apes the Germans had ever seen.  The gorilla skeletons and skin were later sent to Berlin where it was confirmed to be a mountain gorilla.

Nobody had imagined that gorillas could stay in a high and colder environment than West -Africa.  The news of gorillas attracted hunters to the region, especially within Congo and there several Mountain Gorillas were shot and others captured.  Actually, Prince Wilhelm from Sweden shot fourteen mountain gorillas in an expedition within this region from 1920 to 1921.

The Belgians launched a Mountain Gorilla preservation’s program and later followed the English who did it in Uganda.  Within Uganda, for several years no one was allowed to receive visitors to see these Mountain Gorillas.  Within Kisoro, Walter Baumgärtel was offered permission to establish visits for tourists to his beautiful Traveller’s Rest Inn, a facility where up to date you can stay within Uganda.  Baumgärtel wrote an interesting Book “Up among the Mountain Gorillas” which actually is about his personal encounters with the tranquil giant apes in southern Uganda.  It is a great book with reference to a man, the attractiveness of Uganda’s countryside and an inn, and generally about the fascinating Mountain Gorillas and Uganda gorilla safari.  Actually, Dian Fossey lived there on a frequent basis similar to George Schaller many other renowned personalities.

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 holds 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 500 fee of Gorilla tracking permits charged from foreign visitors to Mgahinga as well as Bwindi is offered.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking, How do Gorillas look like?

Usually, The Males are two times the size of the females, they may grow to 6 ft tall and even weigh 350 -500 pounds.  These are strong, with long arms and muscular.  The males are referred to as the silverback because as they mature the hair on their back turns somewhat silver, hence the name Silverbacks.  The strength of the males is ten times stronger compared to the strongest boxer, even taking steroids.  The arms of silverbacks can stretch to 7 feet

Mountain Gorillas possess longer plus darker hair compared to their lowland counterparts because they stay in colder climates and higher altitudes.  Their lifespan is between 40 and 50 years.

The mountain gorillas mainly stay on the ground although they will climb a tree occasionally given that it can support them, however just like children, their young players in the trees.

A fascinating fact is that Gorillas plus Humans share 98% of their genetic composition.

How Do Mountain Gorillas Feed?

Uganda has two places where these Mountain Gorillas may be seen, one is Mgahinga Gorilla Park; a stunning park and a component of the Virunga chain of towering volcanoes that extend into the DRC and Rwanda, and then in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest supports the hugest Population of Mountain Gorilla.  It is an ancient forest also called the “Place of Darkness.”  The tree cover makes it very dark within this forest.  The forest’s altitudes are between 1,160m and 2,607m above sea level. The Bwindi plus Mgahinga each possess varying characteristics as well as similarities. The Bwindi isn’t an extinct volcanic region while the Mgahinga is.

Mgahinga Gorilla Park sits on higher altitudes and the Mountain Gorillas move up and feed on some of the afro-montane vegetation.  Typically Mountain Gorillas eat large quantities of flowers, leaves, fruit, roots, bamboo, and shoots in season.  The Adults can consume up to 75 pounds each day.

The day of a Mountain Gorilla starts at 6 am up to 6 pm with a snooze around lunch time.  Uganda receives Light just past 6 am and darkness falls around 7 pm.

These move every day to different locations where they make nests using twigs plus leaves and spend their night.  Some people have found these reasonably comfortable, just enough to actually slumber in.

Are Mountain Gorillas Dangerous Species? Will the hurt me during the trek

Visitors into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest frequently inquire if mountain gorillas are dangerous?  Although dominant and very strong, these are gentle as well as shy, and in addition, the mountain gorillas which visitors see within Uganda have been habituated.  In other words, they are habituated to people, which process that takes close to 2 years.  Dian Fossey actually was against the idea of visiting mountain gorillas which are done today, however, it’s the money collected that survival of this endangered species, and seen their number increase over the recent years.

While mountain gorillas are threatened they do an attack so as to protect their very own.  When different Mountain Gorilla groups meet, there is a fight between the leader Silverbacks to death.  Recently 2 Silverbacks fought within the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Rangers had to intervene.

Mountain gorillas exist in groups which differ in size from 2 – 30 or 40, however commonly in groups of 10.  There is no specific mating season while babies are born through the year.  The Males begin breeding at around 15 years while the females start giving birth between 10 and 12 years.  Females can give birth after every 2 to 3 years giving birth to 4 – 6 offspring through their lifetime.

Males leave their group at about 11 years of age, while a little over half of the females will leave their group.

Mountain gorillas communicate through sounds like roars, grunts, and shouts, and 25 sounds currently have been documented by researchers

Mountain Gorilla Predators:

The supreme threat to the Mountain Gorillas is human encroachment for settlement around them.  previously there was a slash as well as burn mentality, however, through an educational program by the Uganda Wildlife Authority plus cash motivation to the community through the tourism industry that the gorillas within Uganda are today no longer as threatened by various poachers as it was in the DRC. Additionally, they are threatened by various diseases transmitted by human visitors into the park, and for that reason, the Uganda Wildlife Authority has set up strict rules to prevent spreading of such diseases.

 Where Can I See Gorillas in Africa?

You can see gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. However, note that gorillas are mainly divided into the mountain and the lowland with a couple of other sub-species in that. We suggest Rwanda, Uganda for views of the mountain gorillas and the Republic of Congo for the lowland gorillas. It is also possible to find mountain gorillas within the DR of Congo however due to the instabilities within the country, it has been challenging in some areas. Some tourists think that you can find gorillas even where you opt for safaris in Tanzania! This is wrong. However, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya can be a great addition to your safari tour.

In case you are thinking about the distinction between lowland gorillas and the mountain gorillas you can check out their pictures. ) these pictures say it all:

Generally, the lowland gorillas are smaller and have brownish-gray far coats and a distinct brow ridge, whereas the mountain gorillas are larger with darker black coats. The Mountain gorillas are the most uncommon primates in the entire world with less than 800 surviving in the African wilderness. on the contrary, there are more than 100,000 lowland gorillas just in the Republic of Congo.

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

This is quite a tricky question since they are all mountain gorillas living in the forests! Almost same environment. Comparing Uganda to Rwanda is not a good idea since Uganda has more wildlife than Rwanda. Besides the mountain gorillas, you can visit Murchison Falls, or see other primates in Kibale Forest National Park. If it is about the cost, please note that Gorilla permits within Rwanda were recently increased up to $1500 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.