Uganda Gorilla-viewing Tourism Facts

The rare opportunity to spend a full hour in the wild with one of the world’s estimated 35 mountain Gorilla families drew over about 40,000 trekkers last year to Uganda, the country is home to more than 50% of the mountain Gorilla population in the wild. From 2007, the country’s total number of tourists coming in per year has almost doubled to 1.3 million, and that is according to Stephen Asiimwe who is the CEO of the Uganda Tourist Board. With now over 18 international airlines now flying to the country’s international airport at Entebbe, including Emirates, Qatar, Brussels, KLM and many more.

It us now close to 40 years since the exile of the Uganda’s infamously brutal leader Idi Amin, though now the 30-plus-year of the reigning government been marred by questionable election practices and human rights infringements, the Unites States government writes about Uganda as a relatively political stable, undergoing democratic progress, and economic growth and considers the country as a “reliable, stable partner.”Gorilla safaris in Uganda

A Uganda Safari, is a visit or tour that takes you on journey where you’re assured of encountering friendly locals, stunning landscapes, comfortable lodgings and undoubtedly good food — and all this will leave you yenning to return.

Gorilla trekking safari tourism in Uganda was launched in the late 1990s to create alternative employment to poaching and in the same way protect and conserve the critically endangered mountain Gorillas that were only left in the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Park in the country. In Uganda, 20% of every permit fee which is approximately $180 per visitor goes to the local community. And also jobs as hotel staff, guides, drivers, rangers and porters all go to locals.

Despite some the continued poaching and habitat loss, this conservation plan seems to be yielding positive results. And between 1989 and 2011, the number of mountain Gorillas in these jungles grew from about 620 to about 880, according to Bas Huijbregts, who is the African species manager for the World Wildlife Fund’s Wildlife Conservation Program. And data collected from the most recent mountain Gorilla census, in 2015-16, is still being analyzed.

Mountain Gorilla destination countries get their share in this, Uganda charges $600 each individual per day for the highly coveted, date-specific gorilla trekking permits. Rwanda recently doubled its permit fees from $750 to $1,500, with $150 per gorilla permit given to the local community. The Democratic Republic of Congo has the least charges at only $450 a permit.

Getting to Bwindi National Forest requires a five-to-six-hour drive on dirt roads. But there is also an alternative option of close to 90-minutes flight from Entebbe.

THE BATWA PYGMIES EXPERIENCE IN BWINDI

Echuya Batwa, mostly known as Pygmies, are the most marginalized, vulnerable and voiceless group of indigenous people in Uganda. The Batwa were the first inhabitants of the forests of Bwindi and Mgahinga, but were affected forever with the establishment of the National Game Parks.

When Uganda Wildlife Authority established the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park in 1991, the indigenous Batwa were evicted from their forests, and didn’t even receive any compensation. They were pushed to live on the edges of the other Ugandan society, experiencing consistent and extensive discrimination. And the Batwa became conservation refugees.

Visiting the Batwa  

You can make a Uganda safari tour to visit this interesting pygmy tribe near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. One of the activities on this Uganda safari is to take on the Batwa Experience in Mgahinga and Bwindi. This activity is created by the Batwa pygmies themselves to educate their children and to share their heritage and traditions with the rest of the world.

gorilla safari tour

Another option would be arranging a visit by yourself through your tour operator or guide. But you can be assured that for both options, your contribution will majorly go straight to benefiting the Batwa community. This is amazingly eco-tourism at its core meaning and will give you one of the undisputed and memorable encounter with a marginalized culture.

And you will need just about a 15 minutes’ walk outside of the main village and lodges of Bwindi as your guide takes you through all the needed information about the Batwa and you will arrive at an area of small, wooden houses, inhabited by locals alone, here you will mingle and experience how this marginalized group of people go about their lives.

This tour gets more interesting since this is the very destination for Gorilla trekking safari tours in the forests of Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda.

THE GENTLE GIANT OF AFRICA, ‘SILVERBACK GORILLA’

For those who have embarked on a Gorilla safari tour in Africa or even many who have bothered to research about these gentle primates, you must have heard of people or writers refer to a giant male mountain gorilla as a “Silverback”, but why call it by that name?

Silverback Gorillas are male alpha group leaders. They typically lead Gorilla groups or families comprising of 10 – 40 members with a clearly defined social structure and play very many roles in the day-to-day life of a Gorilla family they are heading.

These giant adult male mountain Gorillas derive their name “Silverback” from their silver saddle of hair on their backs. Generally, mountain Gorillas have a well-built body, with a broad chest, long, muscular arms and wide feet and hands and their arms are seen to be longer than their legs.

The dominant alpha is always there to protect and overlook all the activities of the entire group, they are the decision makers, they mediate conflicts, determine the movement of the group, and serve as mentors and protectors of the attire family especially the young and this increases their chances of survival during childhood.

gorilla safari tours

Because mountain Gorillas are nomads, the dominant alpha leads his group and takes charge of making decisions on where they settle and where they find food. The silverback is always there to protect his family from various threats, whether from human beings or other wildlife. They are very huge and can easily scare away any threat by drumming on their chests and stamping their feet.

These critically endangered mountain Gorillas inhabit high in the mountains of protected parks and have been habituated for visitors interested in Gorilla trekking safaris and some of these game parks include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Forest National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and the Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

HERE IS YOUR BEST TIME TO SEE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN UGANDA

Are you intending to embark on an adventurous holiday to Africa? If so, wild Gorilla trekking should be on your bucket list, without a doubt one of the best experiences you can have in the amazing Uganda’s national game parks. Though the very first question most tourist  traveling to Africa ask is “When is the best time to make a trip for mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda”?

Mountain gorillas are among the critically endangered species on our planet earth. Today, they find home in the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Virunga ranges, which cuts across the three countries of Uganda (Mgahinga National Park), Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park) and Rwanda in the Volcanoes National Park. And because these gentle primates are critically endangered, visitors are willing to pay a relatively higher price compared to other safari activities just to go watch or track them. The current price for Gorilla permits is USD600 in Uganda, USD400 in the DR Congo, with Rwanda doubling its permits starting May 2017 to USD1500 for each.

Gorilla safari tours

Best time to track mountain Gorillas

Although mountain Gorilla tracking is a year-round activity, the best time to embark on a Uganda Safari for a Gorilla trekking tour is during the country’s two dry seasons of December to February and from June to July. If you are flexible enough, this would be the best time to visit. Because these Gorillas stay deep in the rain forests, it is recommended that you carry along waterproof clothing even during the drier months. Coming across other wildlife in Uganda at this time is also very likely. The drier seasons can be ideal for tourists looking to try out other safari activities such as hiking and mountain climbing.

Tracking Gorillas During Low Season

Deciding to visit during the low season also means that you will get to enjoy the rainforests with relatively less crowds since there are less travelers to these destinations.

The low season months of February and September are also good for a safari vacation in Uganda since there are less tourists visiting and obviously the lodges are not fully booked as compared to the high season period.

Many of tourists to these destinations avoid these months as the rain creates unfavorable conditions to trek through the jungle and sometimes the roads leading to these places can be tricky to maneuver through.

However, the advantage is, during these wet seasons Gorilla locations are more predictable. And this is mainly because the sustenance of these mountain Gorillas can be found in the lower slopes, where it is warmer and are able to find food easily, surprisingly making tracking Gorillas during the wet season easier.

WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE TRACKING GORILLAS IN UGANDA

Uganda Gorilla trekking offers an incredible wild Gorilla encounter that is worth every penny spent to see these close cousins of man in natural habitat. Uganda is home to half the world’s critically endangered mountain Gorillas with at total number of over 450 in the wild. These mountain Gorillas can be tracked in two places in Uganda; in the mystical forest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. When it comes to why people prefer to do Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda, it goes down mainly to these three factors;

The bigger number of Gorillas in Uganda as compared to its neighboring competitors is an appealing factor to most primate lovers, boasting with 11 habituated Gorilla families living in Bwindi forest and 1 habituated family found in Mgahinga-that is part of the Virunga mountain range that stretches across Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. Tourists coming in from the Uganda side have a chance to view these apes in both the parks to see how different the ones in Bwindi interact from the ones in Mgahinga.

Gorilla safari tours

The cost of Gorilla trekking safaris to Uganda is at a low $600 per permit for each individual as compared to that of Rwanda that was recently in May 2017 doubled from $750 USD to $1500 for each individual is also one of the deciding factors. The total cost of a Uganda Safari is more affordable than in other countries.  Going by the fact that trackers can get to see Gorillas in both countries, the high cost of going on an African adventure Safari for the same attraction in one has made visitors opt for Uganda.

Uganda offers more than just Gorilla Safaris tours as it is blessed with plenty of wildlife making it a more complete Wildlife safari destination. Visitors can get to see the uncommon tree climbing lions of Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth national park and also enjoy sightings of several birds with Uganda boasting of over 1070 species including the much sought-after Shoebill stork.

For a unique and memorable Gorilla trekking experience, a Gorilla Safari to Uganda should be on your bucket list.

TREE CLIMBING LIONS OF ISHASHA – UGANDA IS MORE THAN JUST THE GORILLAS

In spite of the fact that a Safari to Uganda has been famously known worldwide to involve Wild Gorilla trekking for the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Forest National Park, having more than half of the only remaining Gorillas on the planet makes Uganda a perfect destination for Gorilla Safari Tours, but there is a number of other tourist amazing attractions and activities including different animal species, birds, vegetation and beautiful landscapes that this beautiful landlocked country offers.

Gorilla safari tours

Though one of the standouts of your Uganda Safari should definitely include spotting of the mysterious tree climbing Lions in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

There are only two places in the world where you can find these extraordinary animals, the Ishasha sector in the Southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park for those on a Uganda Safari tour plus the Lake Manyara region of Tanzania.

The Ishasha Sector is broadly known for its unusual tree climbing lions which is a one of a kind fascination and is one of the highlights of a safari tour to this park. Lions can be seen hanging on large fig trees while Uganda small antelopes graze in the Ishasha plains.

If you were to find yourself in danger of being chased by a lion you may attempt and climb a tree to get away, this would not be of much help in the Queen Elizabeth National Park since Lions have been seen resting in trees as they enjoy their lunch and as shelter from the hottest part of the day. It is also believed that these Lions climb trees to hide from the Tsetse flies.

These uncommon lions have been found climbing trees in Uganda and Tanzania and can often be seen laying on a tree branches, high above the ground. While on a game drive, look upward in the fig tree branches for the rare big cats.

This very Uganda Safaris route also offers high chances of spotting elephants, buffaloes, Kobs, birds and great scenery.

Plan a memorable Gorilla Trekking Safari in Africa

There is always something unique about trekking to see Mountain Gorillas in the remote rain forests of Uganda Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. That one of a kind feeling and acknowledgment that they are much the same as us, living in closely attached family groups, obviously headed by a “parent”, the dominant silverback there to serve as their defender and protector.

In spite of the fact that these apes are still considered as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Mountain Gorilla numbers have continuously been growing with each year, as their remarkable numbers of new borns and less deaths on account of strict conservation effort and protection of their habitat.

There estimated to be more than 1000 gorilla species, residing in Bwindi Forest National Park in Uganda and in the Virunga conservation area, here there also volcanic mountains with bamboo forest shared by Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Mgahinga National Park Uganda and Virunga national Park in Congo.

Congo Gorilla Safaris

Practical guide to gorilla trekking

Book your gorilla Permit, before you confirm your flights to Africa. You must know there is so much competition for Gorilla permits especially during the peak seasons of June – September. Rwanda offers a total number of 80 gorilla permits for each day, Uganda offers a maximum of 104 Gorilla permits per day, and 8 available for Gorilla habituation experience while Congo offers a total of 48 permits.

The numbers of tourist travelling to see mountain Gorillas in the wild is increasing by each year, there is great need to book your Gorilla Safari tour ahead of time. Accordingly, the government of Rwanda has doubled the cost of Gorilla permits from $750 to $1500 Per Person for 1 hour with the Gorillas to limit the number of visitors. A gorilla permit in Uganda still goes for $600 Per Person, while Congo Gorilla Safari permits go for $450.

Is gorilla trekking worth the hustle?

There is no single traveller who has had the chance to track gorillas that hasn’t cherished it. You can also look at ratings and reviews on trusted travel forums like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and Fodors. Trekking to see gorillas is a standout amongst the most fulfilling and fascinating adventures, not to only save the critically endangered species, as well as to help the poor communities around the national parks.

Gorilla Safari tours in Rwanda

Is it safe?

Uganda and Rwanda are very safe nations to visit, with no security issues. While trekking gorillas in the wilderness, visitors are guided by well-trained rangers, escorted by military armed guards. Visitors’ safety is a priority since tourism is a major revenue earner for these countries’ budgets.

 What to pack for gorilla trekking

Gorilla trekking Safari takes you climbing through the wilderness in search for mountain gorillas, it is essential that you pack the right clothing and footwear to protect you from nettles, slippery grounds, branches and many more.

And for that matter, don’t forget the following…

  • A pair of waterproof hiking boots, as the trails get slippery when it rains.
  • Dress in long trousers to protect your skin against nettles, thorns, long sleeved shirts and a light rain jacket in case of rain.
  • A pair of sturdy garden gloves to protect your hands, in case you touch nettles, thorns, vines, etc.
  • Insect repellent is a must.
  • Essentials for your trek
  • Keep on time for your briefing! If you skip the briefing, you cannot trek to see gorillas.
  • Hire a porter to carry your day pack.
  • A hiking stick comes in handy.
  • Work on your physical fitness.
  • Note that gorilla trekking is possible even for the very old and the disabled.

THE ULTIMATE UGANDA SAFARI EXPERIENCES

Although Uganda is best known for her Gorilla Trekking Safari experience, this beautiful East African country is a much more diverse destination for anyone wishing to do a Safari tour in Africa. From remarkable sports on the River Nile to adventurous National Parks teeming with game and epic scenery, Uganda is fast becoming a serious player in the African safari tour. Here are some of the top 5 experiences visitors to this extraordinarily Pearl of Africa cannot afford to miss on their Uganda Safari Tour.

  1. Gorillas Trekking tour

Uganda is perhaps most well-known for its Gorillas and the adventurous treks tourists can per take in to see these critically endangered primates in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and sometimes in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, of which there are estimated just only 880 Mountain Gorillas remaining in the whole world.

Evidently home to roughly half of the entire populace of Mountain Gorillas, Uganda is prestigious as a top Gorilla Trekking destination. There are 11 habituated families in Bwindi alone, in addition to two that are experiencing habituation and one in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park bordering the Virunga and Volcanoes National Parks in Rwanda and DR.Congo respectively. This expansion implies that there is extension for more tourists to visit in the near future– a tremendous advantage for the conservation efforts going on in this natural forest.

Gorilla trekking Bwindi

2. Chimpanzees Tracking safari

Chimpanzees are obviously one of our closest cousins, sharing a remarkable estimated 98 per cent of their DNA with humans.

Uganda is home to around 5,000 chimpanzees, with the biggest local populace found in Kibale National Park. However, more, smaller groups can be found in places like the Budongo Forest Reserve, which outskirts Murchison Falls National Park, and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. There is likewise a sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees rescued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority on Ngamba Island, a little way off the shoreline of Entebbe.

Chimpanzee Trekking

  1. Birding Safari

A Uganda safari is one of Africa’s top birding destinations, essentially because of the variety of habitat and the sheer volume of unbelievably uncommon birds that can be found country over. The best known about these is without a doubt the exceptional looking shoebill stork, however different species that will most certainly take your attention include the Puvel’s illadopsis, the black-breasted barbet, and the red-throated alethe.

  1. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Situated in south-western part of Uganda, Bwindi Forest is without a doubt best known for its gorilla trekking safaris, yet this extraordinarily diverse, 25,000-year-old rainforest deserves a very special mention of its own.

Other than the Gorilla Safaris Tours, there are more than 340 unique types of birds, 200 known types of butterfly, and more than 300 distinct types of tree. Furthermore, this captivating forest is home to a variety of larger wildlife, for example, elephants, monkeys, and antelopes.

Tourists to this region can appreciate what Bwindi brings to the table by participating in other activities like nature walks ranging from half-day to entire day treks. Visitors who simply need peaceful natures can choose from various shorter trails, including a lovely stroll to a waterfall for an exceptionally refreshing dip.

Gorilla Safaris

  1. The River Nile Tours

With its most distant source yet to be conclusively determined, the River Nile flows through a total of eleven countries, including Uganda.

Starting from Lake Victoria at the Ripon Falls near Jinja, this winding river has a ton to offer depending on where visitors go. Jinja can be considered as the adrenaline capital of Uganda, giving some truly epic activities like white-water rafting, bungee jumping, and kayaking. However, the river additionally has some highlights for Safari tourists, for example, a spellbinding 3 hour Boat Cruise Safari up in Murchison Falls National Park.

Plan your Uganda Safari Tour to experience wilderness in its natural state!

IS IT YOUR FIRST TIME!? UNDERSTANDING GORILLA TRACKING SAFARI IN UGANDA

Uganda Gorilla Tracking Safaris continue to be the icing on the cake for those interested in Africa adventure safaris today. It is a life changing experience and the kind of experience that would require establishing a monument in everyone’s life story. The world’s largest concentration of primates living in their natural habitats can be found in Africa and Uganda is opportune to have a big percentage of this population. Better more is that Uganda has a number of rarely sighted primate species like the world’s critically endangered Mountain Gorillas and the endangered Golden Monkeys.

Uganda’s population of Mountain Gorillas is 400 plus with new baby gorillas being born, making Uganda the best destination for Gorilla safaris tours in the whole world. These endangered mountain gorillas, just like humans, live in families; but not every one of these families are open to tourists though. It is just the habituated mountain gorilla families which have been gazetted for tracking by tourists.

For a Uganda Safari tour, there are twelve habituated mountain gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and one other habituated family can be found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, making it thirteen habituated mountain gorillas families altogether. And of the thirteen habituated families, the Kyaguriro mountain gorilla family was left aside for research only and does not receive any Uganda Gorilla Safari visitors.

Irrespective of whether it is a high season or low season and regardless of the changes in demand for Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda, The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) maintains its stand of only up to eight tourists that can visit a selected mountain gorilla family per day. This is done primarily to preserve the mountain gorillas and furthermore to accord each and every group of trekkers a chance to fully make the most of their lifetime experience.

And for anyone wishing to make a Gorilla Trekking Safari, having a gorilla permit is a must. As per Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) standard cost, a gorilla tracking permit goes for 600 USD for Foreign Non-residents; 500 USD for Foreign Residents and 250,000 UGX for nationals of the East African Community. UWA keeps up the mandate to either increase or cut on these set tariffs basing on whether it is a high or low season.

Trackers can choose to buy their permits through a tour operator or they can purchase the permit directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters. Using a tour operator is a quicker option though and will most often be less expensive than setting out on the Gorilla Safari all alone. Tour operators will package for you a well-tailored to your pick including accommodation and transportation and also present you with quotations which many times comes with a few discounts.

When the permit is available and the scheduled date is set, tourists can embark on their Gorilla Safari Tour to Bwindi Forest National Park or Mgahinga National Park for a memorable encounter with the endangered Mountain Gorillas.

GET MORE OF YOUR GORILLA SAFARI TO BWINDI FOREST NATIONAL PARK……

Gorilla trekking Bwindi

So, you’ve made the decision to make a trip to Africa to see the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, home to more than half of the world’s only remaining mountain gorillas, now you need to find lodges or where to stay within or near the park.

With all the competition out there, this is not an easy decision to make – believe me, but it is always a good idea to head over to TripAdvisor and get to check out reviews of such lodges and find out more what people that have been there before have to say about each in particular but still keeping in mind that there will always be folks who dramatically rave and those who are quite negative, but the thing to keep in mind is to investigate those matters that are most important to you. It’s your money, your time, and your well-being; ultimately the choice is yours.

Choosing the right Lodges for your Uganda Safari online by a mere search on the internet may not be straight for you considering a number of factors, you cannot go to a lodge website and clearly know what you are getting when it comes to quality, service, cleanliness, food, or even the nearness to the park that you want to visit.
Today you can easily book lodges on line but you can’t be sure of what you’re getting especially such lodges in the wilderness, it may not be in the best location for your safari or in the case of Gorilla Trekking you may book a lodge not suited to your gorilla trek by being in the opposite or wrong location.

But worry not, we know Uganda and even across Rwanda and beyond way better than the internet, we’re are natives here ready to create your memorable Safari experience, we will give you the best lodging choices by engaging you before we can make that lodge reservation and be able to make that decision based on your preferences and budget.