Uganda gorilla safaris or gorilla trekking in Uganda offer you a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter. Imagine coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla.
A big part of what makes the Uganda gorilla safaris so special is that these gentle giants are so closely related to us. The difference in DNA is only about 1.6%. Mountain Gorillas are also highly endangered species. They naturally restricted to a small area of forested highlands. It is estimated that only 1063 mountain gorillas existed in the entire world.
Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is known to possess half of the world’s population. Other gorillas reside in Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Sadly, the small gorilla habitats are still shrinking due overpopulation. The income derived from Uganda gorilla trekking tours is crucial to secure their future. By booking a Uganda gorilla tour with us, you have the opportunity to contribute to the fight for their survival
Short Uganda Gorilla Safaris
Whether it is the ultimate safari holiday add-on or a mini adventure you seek, these short Uganda gorilla safaris are sure to tick all the boxes. They are loaded with value and affordable. With a duration of 2-6 days, the short Uganda gorilla safaris are the ideal add-on to a longer Africa safari holiday – or a mini adventure of their own
Long Uganda Gorilla safaris Packages
Our long Uganda gorilla safaris and tours include several other amazing Uganda safari experiences. Besides gorilla trekking, there are a variety of other things to do in Uganda. The country has many primates and Kibale Forest offers wonderful chimpanzee trekking. Kidepo, Murchison Falls, and Queen Elizabeth National Parks are great for game drives in savannah with plenty of lion, buffalo and elephant, as well as a range of antelope species.
Uganda Gorilla Safaris From Kigali, Rwanda
These Uganda gorilla tours are designed for those interested in using the shorter route of about a 4 to 5-hour drive to Bwindi from Kigali instead of the 9 to 8 hours journey from Entebbe or Kampala in Uganda.
Of course, it is also possible to trek mountain gorillas in Rwanda. So you might reasonably ask why would I cross into Uganda to do the same activity. The simple answer is that it is cheaper: a Uganda gorilla trekking permit cost US$ 700 as opposed to US$ 1,500 for the Rwanda gorilla trekking permit.
Combined East African Safaris
Seeing the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but there are variety of other amazing things you can see and do in Africa too. You can visit Masai Mara or Serengeti on a safari to see the Big 5 animals or continue with the trekking and tackle Africa’s highest tallest mountain – Mt Kilimanjaro. Make your Uganda gorilla trekking adventure part of your longer African safari holiday with any of the trips below.
FAQs About Uganda Gorilla Safaris
1. Where To Go Mountain Gorilla Trekking?
The only area in the world where you can see mountain gorillas is the Albertine Rift region. This is a forested mountainous area that straddles Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Populations of these gentle apes are found in two regions within the Albertine Rift:
- Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda.
- The volcanic Virunga Mountains – Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
2. 1 Day Gorilla Trekking Uganda
If you are coming from Uganda’s capital Kampala or nearby Entebbe International Airport, you need to set aside at least 3 days and 2 nights to allow for the 8 to 10-hour drive in either direction to/from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks.
This means 1 day gorilla trekking tour is not possible in Uganda unless you already in Kisoro town or Kabale town which are near the gorilla trekking parks.
3. What Is The Age Limit For Gorilla Trekking In Uganda?
The minimum age for gorilla trekking in Uganda is 15 years. This restriction is in place because of many important factors.
- Children may find it difficult to stay calm if a gorilla mock charges during a trekking adventure.
- While wild gorillas rarely charge, it can happen if they perceive anyone in the trekking group as a threat.
- However, an expert and calm tracker can often deter a charging gorilla.
- Unfortunately, a child may become terrified, scream, or be inclined to run when faced with the intimidating bark of a 200kg silverback.
- In such situations, a charging gorilla will typically give chase to a running guest.
- Children also pose health risks during gorilla trekking, as their developing immune systems make them more susceptible to contagious diseases like flu.
- Since these diseases can be transmitted to gorillas, the consequences can be severe and potentially fatal.
- Additionally, children’s limited stamina could make it arduous for them to complete the entire trek. This is particularly relevant in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
- The activity needs a certain level of fitness and determination, which mature travellers are more likely to have.
- Adults are generally better prepared to handle challenges like muddy trails, insects, thick forests and steep inclines.
4. Other Uganda Gorilla Trekking Rules
There are several other strict regulations set for gorilla trekking in Uganda. These rules are designed to protect the gorillas, the trackers and guides, as well as trekking tourists.
- Maintain a minimum distance of 7 metres (22 feet)
- Follow instructions from park guides
- Speak in low tones.
- Avoiding direct eye contact with gorillas.
- Never attempting to touch the gorillas.
Compliance with these regulations is crucial to ensure the well-being of the primates and the safety of trekking groups. If you are travelling with youngsters, we recommend booking your stay at a lodge that offers child-minding services, special programs for kids, or even safe and child-friendly forest walks.
5. Uganda Gorilla Trekking permit
If you want to see mountain gorillas in Uganda, you will need a gorilla trekking permit.
The permit enables the country to control the amount of people visiting gorilla families. It also allows gorilla parks to raise the fund needed to protect these highly endangered apes.
The gorilla trekking permits in Uganda grant access to one trek and one hour with the gorillas. The length of the gorilla trekking adventure is between 2 to 7 hours depending on where the gorillas are on any given day.
6. How Much Does It Cost To See Gorillas In Uganda?
A Uganda gorilla trekking permit usually costs:
- US$ 700 for a foreign non-resident
- US$ 600 for a foreign resident, and
- UGX 250000 for East African Citizen
Although this might seem expensive, it is cheaper compared to what the same activity costs in Rwanda (US$ 1,500). A permit for gorilla habituation experience Uganda costs US$1,500.
These prices are just for the permit only. It does not include any travel arrangements, such as transport, your guide, accommodation, etc. It only covers the activity, the park ranger who will be your guide for gorilla trekking, and the trackers who go ahead to find the gorillas. T
ips for the guide, trackers and optional porter are extra. Approximately an all-inclusive 3 Days gorilla trekking Uganda tour costs between $1,400 and $2,900 per person sharing.
The proceeds of the gorilla permits go directly toward protecting these apes. We’ll advise you of the exact gorilla trekking price once the discussion about your safari begins.
7. What Is The Cheapest Way To See Gorillas In Uganda?
While “cheap” is relative, the tips below should guide you towards achieving your dream of seeing wild gorillas without having to go over the limits.
- Visit during low season: Planning Uganda gorilla safaris in the low season months of March to May and October to November gives you better chances of seeing the Gorillas without spending a lot of money. This is because some hotels, lodges and camps tend to lower their prices for the low season.
- Consider budget accommodation: Aside from the cost of the gorilla trekking permit, accommodation costs can make Uganda gorilla safaris expensive so it is good to consider budget accommodation for your trek to become more affordable.
- Join a group tour: Joining a group gorilla trekking tour means some costs will be shared and thus making it cheap for you to see gorillas in their natural habitat. We offer affordable group gorilla trekking tours to Bwindi and Mgahinga and you can join one here.
- Consider short gorilla safaris: Another way to go for gorilla trekking on a budget is to cut down on the number of days of the gorilla safari. For example, in case you had planned for 5 days gorilla trekking tour, you can reduce it to three or even a 2 day gorilla trek.
8. Which Month Is Best For Gorilla Trekking In Uganda?
The dry seasons from June to early September and December to February are more comfortable for gorilla trekking tours in Uganda. However, don’t be completely put off by the rains of November and March to May, as you will have the forests and mountains to yourself, the guides and the gorillas.
9. Is It Better To See Gorillas In Uganda Or Rwanda?
Both Uganda and Rwanda offer amazing gorilla trekking experiences, but there are differences. For example;
- Rwanda has 12 gorilla families available for trekking in Volcanoes, and Uganda has 21 groups in Bwindi and just one group in Mgahinga National Park. Only 8 visitors can spend 1 hour with a habituated gorilla family per day
- The price of a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda is US$ 1500 and in Uganda it’s US$ 700 per person.
- Gorilla trekking conditions tend to be a bit easier in Rwanda than in Uganda. This is not absolute though. Conditions change daily depending on the location of the gorilla family. And the high altitude in Rwanda can be a challenge for some people.
- Rwanda has more choice in top-end luxury safari accommodation, while Uganda has a few more mid-range options.
- Several Uganda lodges border the park and have a true forest feel, while in Rwanda many lodges have mountain and/or lake views, but most are a bit farther away from the forest boundary.
- Read more about Gorilla trekking Rwanda Vs Uganda
10. How Do I Book Gorilla Trekking In Uganda?
Uganda gorilla permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a government body that manages tourism and wildlife conservation. It is possible to book your gorilla permit directly with UWA, but the most convenient way is to use a reliable local tour company.
Most tour operators include a gorilla trekking permit as part of the overall cost of a Uganda gorilla safari. Book at least three months ahead of travel to ensure availability.
11. How Fit Do You Need To Be To Go Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda pace is relaxed. Expect frequent stops to admire the beautiful views or identify unique forest birds. But high humidity and steep hills take their toll.
You should be fit enough to hike for 2-7 hours at a relaxed pace.
As a last resort, you can book a “gorilla chair” or “bamboo stretcher” where a team of strong men literally carry you on your chair to the mountain gorillas. However fit you are, it is always vital to come well prepared. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest sees high rainfall throughout the year.
Therefore, waterproof clothes and good hiking shoes (boots) are required. Gardening gloves are also recommended to protect your hands from stinging nettles.
A good walking stick always comes in handy on slippery slopes. This can be offered to you at the start. But it is safer to bring your own if you think you’ll need it.
Porters are also available. They will carry your day pack and look after it while you’re with the gorillas. A porter will also help you on the slippery trail.
So, even if you don’t need anyone to carry your bag, you should definitely hire a porter if you are concerned about your fitness or ability on the steep trails.
12. What Time Does Gorilla Trekking Start?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda starts at 8 am. The activity commences with an informative briefing from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) guides about the gorilla trekking experience and rules. After a briefing, you will be assigned a Gorilla family to track and your gorilla trekking adventure will begin.
An advance party of trackers will have gone ahead into the forest to locate where the mountain gorillas slept the previous night and will have begun to track their movements. These guides will communicate with your team via a walkie-talkie and the trek into the forest will begin.
13. How Long Does Gorilla Trekking Take?
Gorillas trekking adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest can take anywhere from 2 to 7 hours. This depends on how far the gorillas have moved from the place they spent the previous night. This time includes right from the start of the gorilla trekking point, then watching the mountain gorillas and returning back to the meeting point of the park.
14. How long can visitors spend with the gorillas?
Despite the many hours spent trekking in the jungle in search of the Gorilla family, if you are allowed to strictly to spend one hour with the Mountain Gorillas after meeting them. However, if you need to spend more hours with the gorillas, book a gorilla habituation experience.
The government of Uganda through Uganda Wildlife Authority realized that people out like spending more hours with mountain gorillas in the wild and that is why they came up with a 4-hour gorilla trekking program called gorilla habituation experience.
Gorilla habituation experience offers visitors a chance to spend 4 hours with gorillas in Bwindi.
These 4 hours are spent with gorillas which are under habituation and not yet ready for normal gorilla treks. You’ll, thus, move in the company of guides, rangers and people or gorilla habituation team who will show you or take you through the whole process of taming these wild gorillas to get used to the presence of human beings.
15. What shoes to wear for gorilla trekking?
Wear a good pair of closed shoes with a sturdy and slip proof sole with good waterproofing. The shoes should provide proper support for your ankles, offer balance and stability, and protect you against thorns and insects. And if you choose to buy new boots for the Uganda gorilla trek, make sure to break them in first. You don’t want aching feet when you’re still 2 hours out from the start of the hike.
16. Is gorilla trekking safe in Uganda?
Yes – gorilla trekking is safe both for you and this most majestic ape, so long as you follow a few basic rules and listen to your trek guide.
Some might understandably have doubts about the mountain gorillas themselves. A silverback can weigh around 150 to 220 kg, after all! But while gorillas are extremely powerful (especially the fully grown males), they are quite gentle by nature.
Gorillas are even vegetarians (predominantly). So while gorillas will defend themselves if attacked, they are not aggressive creatures. And they have no interest in messing with humans.
17. Are gorilla sightings guaranteed?
Gorilla so closely monitored. And either researchers or trekkers are in touch with them every day. Guides know more or less where the different families are. And you probably have a 99% chance of seeing them. Of course, there are no guarantees with wild animals, but is very seldom that travellers don’t find the apes during a gorilla trekking expedition.
18. What other animals will I see during my gorilla safari?
Other Uganda animals in the region include golden monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, olive baboons and more.
There also forest elephants, duikers, forest hogs, bush pigs, golden cats, jackals and civets – though sightings are rare due to the thick vegetation.
There are over 350 bird species in Bwindi, of which 23 are endemic to the Albertine rift. Mgahinga also hosts over 200 species including several endemics.
And you can expect to tick off many colourful birds as you hike.
Ready to plan your Uganda gorilla safari?
To discuss one of the above Uganda gorilla safaris, click through to view the details and follow the prompts to enquire. Otherwise, if you would like a gorilla safari tailored just for you, please click the red button below