Best time For a gorilla trekking safari
Gorilla trekking whether in Uganda or Rwanda is best done when you have time on you. It is an annual activity even through its done throughout the year but what you need to know is it rains in the virunga regions without warning any time.
This is the reason why you are required to carry a rain proof gear as one of the gorilla trekking gears. Gorilla Trekking being a prime safari in Africa is also one of the difficult to book tours in the world.
The mere fact that you need to hassle to get a gorilla permit at the moment costing $1500 in Rwanda and $ 700 in Uganda struggling to make payments confirms it an exclusive holiday. The next question may be “what is the best time to do a gorilla tracking safari?”
As mentioned above, gorilla trekking safaris are all year round and permits are available on each day of the month but only 8 clients are permitted to track gorillas in each family.
A number of reviews have been posted on travel forums like twitter, lonely planet, trip advisor explaining about the most convenient time to do the gorilla tracking tour however majority opinions are based on individual feelings.
In Uganda gorilla trekking is done in Bwindi National Park which is an equatorial rain forest that is likely to experience atleast 4 seasons of rain in the year. Although there are some dry seasons, it is not a guarantee that it will not rain because Bwindi is known for experiencing rain at any time without warning.
Several travellers would like to do gorilla trekking in the dry seasons and this is the reason that yields debates on which is the best time to do a gorilla trek safari.
Uganda is generally a tropical country but also experiences equatorial and semi arid climate in some parts. Bwindi is positioned close to equator prompting it to experience unpredictable seasons. For this reason in case you are driving to Bwindi, you need to note that the roads are a times slippery and at the extreme point the bridges may be washed away by the rain.
This may also prolong the driving time to Bwindi National park as you use the alternative longer routes like Kampala – Kabale – Kanungu – Buhoma (Bwindi) or Kampala – Ishasha – Kihihi – Buhoma.
At times to get to some gorilla trekking families, you need to drive for about 2 hours to the starting point. This is not welcomed by some tourists since the roads are impassable at some moment but you need to note that this is a tour in the wilderness.
Other tourists complain about the obstruction from the tall thick grass which over grows during the wet seasons obstructing them from taking clear photos of the gorillas and the scenery.
The way to meet the gorillas involves hiking ridges and walking across a network of rivers which at times flood and make the way marshy and slippery. This also contributes to your fatigue as you have to get extra support to carry on.
Some bit of fitness is required to be successful but this necessitates you to have tracking boot on and other necessary gorilla tracking gears. In case you have physical disability, you need to book a sedan chair in advance of travel.
Generally Uganda receives dry seasons during the months of February, January June, July, August, September and part of October however because of the changes in climate due to global warming uncertain rainy seasons are currently experienced. November, December, March, April and May are normally rainy months.
We caution all our clients to inquire from our tours consultants about the prevailing weather conditions so that you are advised on what to pack for your gorilla tracking safari in advance.
You need to know what you need to pack for your gorilla trekking safari so that you can comfortably enjoy your Uganda safari.
What To pack for gorilla trekking
Gorilla tracking safari parks in Uganda are situated in the cold South Western Corner of Uganda and Rwanda in the North eastern part of Rwanda. This is a volcanic dominated area with mountain ranges like Muhabura Mountain, Karisimbi Mountain, Bisoke Mountain, Gahinga Mountain and Sabyinyo Mountain that form a dense mountain network. This area is extremely cold and misty almost throughout the day so you need to be advised on what to carry as your wear to prevent getting cold.
At times the temperatures drop as low as 9 degrees centigrade and rain is received unexpectedly so all this calls for prior notice of what to pack for your gorilla trekking safari. Below is a list of what to pack on a gorilla trip
Long sleeved shirt and trouser
This area is known for experiencing cold temperatures almost throughout the year therefore a few long sleeved shirts and trousers would be a better option. While in the forest, there are piercing objects and biting nettles that may get onto your skin so you need to wear long trousers and sleeved shirts to protect your skin from any damage in the wilderness.
Even the way is quite boggy so you need to pack dull colored clothes that can be easily washed.
Water proof simple and soft bag, rain coat or poncho
During gorilla trekking, it may rain suddenly and remember in the wilderness there is no shelter and you need to catch up with time since you do not know when you are to find the gorillas or where they are.
You need to park any of the above to protect yourself and other items like the cameras from getting so wet and cold. The soft bag can be used to carry all your items
Hiking water resistant boots
Mountain gorillas live in a volcanic dominated area and majority live on the slopes of the mountain making the way quite steep. This forested area is a catchment for a network of rivers that support the community and besides the geology is impermeable causing a wet ground always.
You are required to wear boots that can try helping you not to slip off the ground. You also need to be slightly physically fit to complete the trek.
This being a wild forest, there are several biting nettles that may injure your skin so to feel comfortable you need to carry an insect repellent.
Gorilla trekking is a memorable adventure but you only carry memories of it and leaves the gorillas in the wilderness therefore as a souvenir, you need to carry a camera to take photographs.
The best souvenir that will remind you of this great encounter with the huge jungle apes. The camera must be sound proof and flash less because these animals easily get agitated and freighted by light and unusual sounds.
On the way to see the mountain gorillas, there are over bent tree branches and other plants that may be thorny or slipper so you need garden gloves to assist you in getting hold of these branches.
These protect your eyes from the penetrating sun rays, drops of water from the tree leaves and flying insects that may fall into them.
These help you to carry on since you are not sure at what time you expect to see the gorillas. They also keep you busy and not hungry.
A wide brimmed hat would also be of importance to protect your head and hair
A walking stick can be hired before the start of the trek.
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