Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Uganda Gorilla Trekking Highlights

Gorilla trekking in Uganda offers the most exciting adventure to climax an African safari experience for any traveler. With the highest population of mountain gorilla families evident in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, 80+ gorillas family in Mgahinga, Uganda is the best gorilla trekking destination in Africa with other places being the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On a  typical Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safari, you get a thrilling chance to get very close to one of our closest man’s relatives which are believed to share 97% of their DNA with people. The gorilla trekking experience in Uganda is a top reason as to why Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is among the top 20 hiking trails in the world.

Uganda Gorilla Trekking
gorilla facts

What To Expect on Gorilla Trekking in Uganda?

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Gorilla Trekking safaris in Uganda start as early as 7:00 am assembling at the Parks Headquarters for a pre-gorilla trekking briefing from the Uganda Wildlife Authority guides. The briefing introduces to the basics of gorilla trekking, what to do and not to do, and assign you to a particular gorilla family to trek for the day. The hike through the forest and mountain ranges begins as you search for the location of the gorillas a trek which takes between 30 minutes to 5 hours depending on where the gorillas slept the previous night and their current migration status.

For conservation purposes, the time allowed to be with the Gorillas is strictly 1 hour. There are also a multitude of other animals that you might encounter including antelopes and rare monkeys not to mention the beauty of the forest itself. Once you have completed Uganda Gorilla Trekking you will return to the lodge, for a well earned rest and time to reflect on a truly magical experience.

Uganda Gorilla Trekking Permits

Uganda Wildlife Authority regulates the issuing of gorilla permits and the official price for a Uganda gorilla trekking permit is USD600 per person per trek. The price for a gorilla habituation permit in Uganda is USD1500. This is in contrast to the highly priced  Rwanda gorilla permit which is at USD1500 for the gorilla trekking experience.

How To Book Gorilla Permits in Uganda

In Uganda, a maximum of 80 gorilla permits is issued per day distributed to 8 visitors for each of the 10 groups you are permitted to visit Gorilla for the trek. We recommend that you obtain/book your gorilla permit in advance as they are high on demand especially when you are to do gorilla trekking in the high seasons. Our team of experts is ready to guide you through on acquiring and securing your permit so that you can a thrilling experience in Uganda.

Book Gorilla Permits only with no tour package?

Africa Holiday Safaris gives you the opportunity to secure a gorilla permit for gorilla trekking in Uganda without necessarily having to book a whole safari package with us. We charge a handling fee of $50 per person to arrange this for you. Contact Us today to find out how this is done.

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Gorilla Trekking in Uganda vs Rwanda

The gorilla trekking process in Uganda is somewhat different from Rwanda. For example, in Uganda, specific gorilla groups cannot be reserved in advance. Instead, the park ranger will assign visitors to the various gorilla groups according to age, fitness level, and preference. For this reason, we advise older people, or those wanting only a light hike, to go for gorilla trekking in Rwanda. However, the hiking and jungle experience in Rwanda might not be as thrilling as it is in Uganda. Of course the experience with the gorillas themselves is the same.  Rwanda Gorilla permits are more expensive at US$1500 compared to Uganda at US$600.

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Uganda Gorilla Trekking Families

In Uganda, there is a total of 36 gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, but only 12 of these are habituated groups our of which 10 groups are made available for gorilla trekking. The other migratory group in Mgahinga Gorilla Park that frequently moves between Uganda and the DRC and very unpredictable. The breakdown of Uganda gorilla families can be seen here below in summary. For full details, please click here.

  • Mubare Gorilla Family: 9 members including 1 silverback, Location: Buhoma: Due to its convenient location with the Queen Elizabeth Park and with limited tracking hike, Mubare gorilla permits are now a priority for many tour operators and tourist.
  • Rushegura:- 19 members including 1 silverback Location: Buhoma. They derive their name from “Ebishegura” – a tree species that was abundant in the home area of the new family.
  • Habinyanja:- 18 members including 2 silverbacks Location: Buhoma. The name comes from a local word “Nyanja” which means ‘body of water’. It refers to the swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where the group was first sighted. Habinyanja is a fascinating family with a lot of drama and commotion.
  • Bitukura:- 14 members including 4 silverbacks Location: Ruhija area. The Bitukura group was named after a river where the family members were first sighted. The habituation that started in July 2007
  • Oruzogo:- Family size: 23 members including 1 silverback Location: Ruhija Sector
    The Oruzogo gorilla family is one of the recent gorilla families opened for visitor access in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This family is situated between Ruhija area and is led by a dominant Silverback “Tibirikwata”.
  • Nshongi Gorilla Family:- 18 members Location: Rushaga. Nshongi was the largest group ever habituated with about 36 gorilla members before a split that caused another gorilla family, the MIshaya.
  • Mishaya:- 7 members including 1 Silverback, Location: Rushaga In July 2010, Silverback Mishaya decided to leave the Nshongi Gorilla Group with some females and started his own family.
  • Kahungye:- 13 members with 3 silverbacks Location: Rushaga The group was opened for visitors and gorilla tracking in 2011 but in less than a year the group split, creating the new Busingye Gorilla Family.
  • Nkuringo: 19 members including 2 silverbacks Location: Nkuringo area
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Which Gorilla Group to visit?

Many visitors normally ask us about which gorilla group to visit based on the population or hiking difficulty. However, In Uganda, it’s quite difficult to say which gorilla families are easier or harder to find. As you are aware, mountain gorillas are wild animals whose actions are unpredictable. The ease of seeing the gorillas depends on the movements of the gorilla family on that particular day. Some say that the Rushegura group in Buhoma is easy to spot, but we cannot guarantee this.

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IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT UGANDA GORILLA TREKKING

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Guidelines during the trek for gorillas

  • A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group (family) of habituated gorillas in a day. and 4 visitors for Gorilla Habituation day.
  • Always wash your hands before you head out to see the gorillas.
  • Do not leave rubbish in the park.
  • Please always keep your voices low. This will ensure that you will be able to observe the beautiful birds and other wildlife in the forest.
  • Tip: You will be taken to where the guides left the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow their trail to find them. Look out for the gorillas nesting sites along the way.
  • Tip: When you approach the gorillas, the guides will inform you when to get your cameras ready.
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How to Conduct yourself with the gorillas

  • Keep a minimum distance of 7 meters (21 feet) from the gorillas.
  • Keep your voices low at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  • Do not eat or drink while you are near the gorillas.
  • Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example by crouching down slowly, and do not look at the gorillas in the eyes. Wait for the gorilla to pass you by and do not attempt to run away (as this will increase the risk of attack).
  • Flash photography is not permitted; when taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.
  • Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  • The maximum time visitors are allowed to spend with the gorillas is one hour.
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Gorilla Habituation Experience

Gorilla habituation in Uganda is the process that is undertaken to enable wild mountain gorillas to be able to be visited and observed by tourists. All gorilla groups that are being trekked have gone through the habituation process. The mountain gorilla habituation experience allows visitors to have immense experience with the gorillas as you spend more time with gorillas than if you were doing the ordinary gorilla trek.

Gorilla Trekking groups for habituation are limited to not more than 4 trekkers and a maximum of 4 hours as you study and do an in-depth inspection of the nests and the paths taken by the gorillas for clues that will help them to better understand the gorillas, and even mimic gorilla sounds to alert them of their presence.