Beginner’s Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Uganda |

For most visitors, mountain gorilla trekking features as one of the prime reasons why they travel to Uganda to strike their imaginations with the Great apes while they are in their natural habitat. These rare species are a few most critically endangered primates and they count not more than 900 in the entire world today. 480 of which call Uganda their home and only confined within the jungles of Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park, southwestern part of the country. The rest is shared between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the magnificent Virunga Mountains.

The treks vary and they range from half an hour to 8 hours depending on visitors’ speed, location of the gorilla family that will be assigned to you and the nature of the habitat. However, the overall experience with these unique primates is magical. The trek involves walking through the stunning and dense vegetation and steep slopes and you will be following the guide who will be clearing the path for you.

Mountain Gorillas after a meal

Before The Actual Trek

When it comes to gorilla trekking, visitors need to be very careful and observant about the habitat and the survival of these endangered apes in the wild. This means that before setting off, make sure that you are in better shape and have no cases of any communicable diseases, cold or flu. In case of cough, sneezing, blow your nose, move your head away from the species so as to reduce the risk of infectious diseases from transferring to the apes.

Note that only persons above 15 years are allowed to track gorillas and make sure that you have washed your hands prior to setting off to the jungles for your actual trek. Do not forget to dress well and the best clothing for this lifetime adventure include long-sleeved shirts or t-shirts, hat, insect repellents, poncho or rain jackets, trekking pants, waterproof hiking boots that are lightweight, gardening gloves, day pack, snacks, bottled water and many more. In case of heavy load, there are many porters at the park headquarters to be hired to help you carry your luggage at the agreed cost.

With gorilla tracking, a trekking permit is a must to have if you are to enjoy your experiences in the jungles of Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park. Permits in Uganda can be purchased at $600 per visitor and given the high demand for trekking permits, you are encouraged to book one in advance. You can book a permit through a local tour operator or through the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) head office in Kampala. Only eight visitors are allowed to track one habituated family each day.

While with Gorillas in the Jungle

While with a group of gorillas, visitors are advised to maintain a distance of about 7 meters away from the apes at all times. You are not supposed to smoke, eat or drink in the presence of these wildlife species in their natural habitat. Show some respect to these unique creatures so as to ensure that they and their habitat are highly conserved for future generations.

When you are spending your one hour with the apes make sure that the camera that you carried has no flashlight for you to take photos. Never tamper to touch the gorillas and always maintain silence at all times but where the need is to ask questions as many as you can.

Best Time to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

The best time for gorilla tracking in Uganda differs from visitor to visitor. What you may consider the best time can turn to be the worst time for other parties. Gorilla tracking in Uganda is an all-year-round adventure. However, most tourists flock for this life-changing adventure during the dry season which starts from June to September and from December to February. This is also regarded as the peak season in Uganda and visitors are encouraged to always book their permits earlier. But this doesn’t mean that there are no visitors who will be tracking during the wet season.

The wet season is equally important for you to realize your dreams as most of these apes tend to live within the foothills of the park feeding since this is the season when the park has plenty of food. The rainy season starts from March to May and October to November. The challenge with trekking during a wet season, the habitat can be slippery and muddy making it hard for visitors to hike through the steep slopes and the thick vegetation to find a group of dramatic creatures. However, you have to expect rainfall at any time of the day given the nature of the habitat.

What you should expect during the trek?

Gorilla treks involve a team of visitors, guides and park trackers. Make sure that you come with passport as this will be asked at the park headquarters for verification. After the early morning briefing from park officials, you will be grouped into eight visitors to track one habituated family with one park guide and maybe two scouts with AK 47 gun and they walk before or after visitors. Never be scared because of their presence as their presence is mainly to ensure that visitors are safe. Moving into the jungle with armed rangers does not mean that the forest is insecure, but just in case forest animals like Elephants tries to attack you, the ranger shoots in air scare away that animal.

Mountain gorilla trekking is a breathtaking experience that needs visitors to be physically well to trek through the steep terrains and thick vegetation of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park. With the above tips, we believe that you have a well planned, organized and successful safari in Uganda.