Self Drive Gorilla Trekking Safaris

Gorilla trekking safaris rank number one among other tourist activities in Uganda. This is because Uganda protects the largest number of Mountain Gorillas in the whole world.

Some travelers find it difficult to choose whether to trek Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Both are located in southwestern Uganda. However, in this article, we are attempting to highlight self-drive gorilla safaris in both parks.

Self Drive Gorilla trekking safaris in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga is the smallest National Park in Uganda at a size of 13.7 mi².  The park was created in 1991 in the Kisoro district near Kisoro town in western Uganda.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. As its name suggests, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkeys.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is not as famous as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In other words, it’s one of the Hidden treasures of Uganda. The park protects one Habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi. Having only the Nyakagezi Gorilla family means that the park offers eight gorilla permits per day, all year round.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is situated in the mountainous region of Virunga crescent which is shared with Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Weak, sick, and aged persons are advised to choose Bwindi over Mgahinga. Then, serious hikers should take the challenge to Mgahinga.

It is possible to self-drive to Mgahinga gorilla national park without the help of any tour guide. Unlike other park passes, a gorilla trekking permit covers for you the game ranger fees. It is the game rangers that also double as tour guides. Therefore all you will need is a gorilla trekking permit and the ability to show up at the park office on the trekking date by 7:30 am.

Self Drive Gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The largest home of mountain Gorillas in Uganda is none other than BINP.  Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in far southwestern Uganda at the size of 127.8 mi²  near the Virunga region. Besides Mountain Gorillas, BINP also offers refugees a variety of attractions; 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds, 220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos, and many endangered species.

Floristically, the park is among the most diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species, including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns among others.

The uniqueness of Bwindi is that the park keeps the majority of the world’s existing rare mountain Gorillas of about 400 members. A large number of habituated mountain Gorillas can be encountered from the Rushaga sector, Ruhija sector, Nkuringo Gorilla sector, or Buhoma sector.

Each sector keeps unique Gorilla families. For example; the Rushaga sector is ranked with the highest number of habituated gorillas such as the Bushingye Gorilla family Gorilla group, Nshongi Gorilla family, Bweza gorilla family, Mishaya Gorilla group, and the kahungye family among others.

While in the Ruhija sector, trekkers are expected to meet the Bitukura Gorilla family, Kyaguriro Gorilla family, Oruzogo Gorilla family and Mukiza Gorilla groups, and so on.

The Buhoma sector is the oldest sector in BINP and is known for hosting the Mubare gorilla family, Habinyanja gorilla groups, Rushegura gorilla families, and Katwe gorilla families.

Nkuringo Gorilla trekking sector protects Nkuringo Gorilla Family, Bushaho Gorilla Family, Christmas Gorilla Family, and Posho Gorilla Family among others.

Unlike Mgahinga, at Bwindi, you are required to choose among the above sector for gorilla trekking. A gorilla trekking permit only grants you access to one gorilla family in the sector specified on your gorilla trekking permit. You can only choose the gorilla trekking sector at the point of booking your gorilla trekking permit.

Self Drive Gorilla trekking fees in Uganda

There are mainly three fees to consider for your gorilla trekking safari assuming you already have your flights confirmed. That is accommodation, transportation, and the gorilla trekking permit

Gorilla trekking permits

The prices of Uganda Gorilla permits vary according to the traveler’s residence; Foreign nonresidents pay US$800 per person, and US$700 for foreign residents of East African countries (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania).

Uganda Gorilla permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a government body that manages Gorilla tourism and wildlife conservation. In the past year, travelers could buy permits direct from UWA head offices in Kampala but the new policy prohibits individuals but allows only licensed travel agencies.


The gorilla parks in Uganda have all accommodation options ranging from budget to luxury. Whether you simply prefer camping, or you wish to save big on your gorilla trekking accommodation, there are a number of camping options available including but not limited to rooftop tent camping.


Instead of worrying about airport transfers, you can have the car rental agency deliver the car to you at the airport. From the airport, you can drive yourself to your lodge or campsite. But the place should not be far from the sector offices for the case of Bwindi or the park offices for the case of Mgahinga.

In conclusion, Uganda is one of the best gorilla trekking destinations because of fair trekking prices, political stability, a large number of habituated gorilla groups, easy accessibility of the gorilla parks, and conservation efforts among others