Must Read: Best Tips for Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda and Uganda

Planning to go gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda? A trip to Rwanda or Uganda for mountain gorilla isn’t that complicated as some might have put it. Within 4 hours’ flight to Kigali International Airport on RwandAir, you would have made your dreams come true in Volcanoes National Park in Northwestern Rwanda or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Southwestern Uganda.

Viewing a group of these unique creatures means you must have a gorilla permit at hand; in Uganda each costs US$600 and in Rwanda it is $1500. The Rwanda Volcanoes National Park features 10 habituated groups and in Bwindi National Park has 15 families that have been habituated for tourism and only one is set for gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park.

The actual trek starts from the park headquarters with an early morning briefing from the park official who takes visitors through how you are supposed to behave while in the forest with apes. To have an ultimate experience with mountain gorillas, below are some of interesting tips.

Know your level of physical fitness

The Volcanoes National Park comes with an altitude of about 1500 meters above sea level and 3000 meters on steep slopes and thick vegetation. Be honest to yourself and know what you do better and leave the rest to others especially when it comes to mountain gorilla adventures. Gorilla trekking entirely involves hiking through the thick forest and the steep terrains of Volcanoes National Park or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park. You will be assigned to only one habituated gorilla family to track in a group of eight people and the length of your trek depends on which group you will be tracking, your level of fitness, nature of gorilla habitat (terrain) and many other factors.

Conduct personal survey about gorilla families prior the actual trek

Each gorilla family comes with its own unique experiences. You can therefore make a request on a specific gorilla family depending on your physical wellness to hike through as you look out for the individuals of the group. Take note of which troop you wish to track, otherwise you might land in a group with only babies and you miss to catch a glimpse of massive silverbacks.

Hire a porter to help you

Gorilla trekking is a strenuous experience and in case of heavy load, do not be unfair to yourself otherwise you will be degrading yourself. There are many porters at the park headquarters to help you carry your day pack and camera gear as you only concentrate on your adventure without any disturbance. Not only will they help you with your day pack, they will also assist you with a walking stick to keep you firm while hiking through the slippery areas. As well, they can also help get you up when you fall down in slippery areas, steep terrains and others. A fee paid to these porters is of great value as you support their families and also encourage them support conservation efforts in the park. Porters can be hired at $10.


Given the nature of gorilla habitat in Rwanda and Uganda, you need to wear appropriately bearing in mind that gorilla trekking is not like a picnic tour. You need insect repellents to protect you from stinging insects, gardening gloves, long sleeved shirts, light weight and waterproof hiking boots, long pants, sun screen, hat, first aid kit, backpack, a bottle of water, camera, binoculars and many more.

The type of camera to use

Consider a three camera body with 3 (three) distinct lenses your best camera for this adventure. Make sure it has a zoom lens of at least 300 to 400mm, wide angle and an in between lens or a fixed focal length lens. The mountain gorillas tend to roam and it hurts if you can not change the lens of your camera to capture them as they move. The camera should be fully charged with at least extra memory cards and batteries in case of shortage of power while in the forest. Also avoid using flash light when taking pictures.

Try and shoot video

It hurts to have no photos or even video to show friends and yet you claim you went for gorilla tracking. Try shooting video and this will make such a dramatic experience ever in life. As soon as you set off, your friends will be expecting a lot more from your trip. Mountain gorillas aren’t like Lions that they roam faster meaning you can take a video.

Make sure you abide by the rules and regulations

Most visitors tend to become very excited that they even forget about the code of conduct. Respect should be given to gorillas, their habitat and their general behavior. They are not aggressive unless they are irritated. This means they won’t attack you unless you misbehave. They come in huge bodies weighing at least 200 kilograms, strong but shy. Some of the rules to follow include avoid direct eye contacts with gorillas, keep a distance of 7 meters away from the gorillas, avoid tracking these species when you are sick-flu or any human infectious diseases, while sneezing or coughing cover your nose or mouth, only persons above 15 years are allowed to track gorillas, don’t drink, eat, smoke while in the forest, maintain silent at all times but ask questions where you wish to get clarification and many more.

When to go for gorilla trekking

If you are planning your gorilla trek in Uganda or Rwanda consider the dry and rainy season. The treks are efficient during the dry season as the gorilla habitat remains dry and hiking through the steep slopes and thick vegetation becomes easier compared to the wet season which is also regarded as the low season. The dry season starts from June to September and December to February. The wet season starts in the months of March, April, May and November. The wet season doesn’t mean that there is no gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda. This season comes with plenty of food and gorillas are kept around the foothills of the park making it easier for visitors to trek them but the only challenge is that the habitat can be muddy and slippery. However note, this being a tropical rain forest, we expect rain any time even in dry seasons.

Utilize the one hour appropriately

Immediately you get a group of gorillas that you were assigned, you will spend one hour with gorillas. Your magical encounters involve exploring their behavior and taking as many photos as you can. Make sure your camera is well set without flashlight, otherwise you will irritate them and they can become aggressive. After the one hour you will really appreciate the spectacular views and thrilling experiences that come once in lifetime.

Read or take time to watch Gorillas in the Mist prior traveling for the actual trek

The movie will give you the highlights of Dian Fossey’s experience with mountain gorillas while she was conducting her research in the Virunga Volcanoes. It comes with the spectacular landscapes and massively beautiful mountain gorillas.
In conclusion, mountain gorilla tracking is one of the most exciting experiences that you shouldn’t miss in life. It is only conducted in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There are currently 900 mountain gorillas left in the world and only thrive in Rwanda Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda as well as the Congo Virunga National Park.