Is gorilla trekking in Africa one of the must do on your bucket list, here is a super plan to have a double experience in Rwanda and Uganda.
How amazing it gets after having the chance to be in the only two out of three natural homes of the mountain gorillas in the entire world. Only your time and planning gives you the ultimate satisfaction of being close to the huge but gentle giants celebrated worldwide.
The purpose of this itinerary is to give you both Uganda and Rwanda experience. Going through both countries gives you chance to compare and enjoy the Africa Safari feeling.
Day 1 Drive from your overnight hotel or disembark from your flight and head to Bwindi Forest. The drive from Kampala or Entebbe Airport is quite long. Enjoy the amazing scenery that you pass by. Take photo breaks at significant spots like the Equator.
Day Two Gorilla trekking is the main activity in Bwindi Forest. Start with briefing at the ranger station. Do not forget to carry your gorilla trekking gears including an extra face mask. Follow the ranger guide.
You will be introduces to other primates like black and white colobus, blue monkeys, grey checked mangabey, blue monkeys to mention but a few.
Finally when you get to meet the gorillas, enjoy there presence and fun. Do not forget to take as many photos as many as you can to keep these memories.
All trekkers are allowed only one hour with the mountain gorillas as they have been habituated to be in human presence for only that time.
Day three is driving from Uganda to Rwanda which may take about 5 to 6 hours drive to arrive in Volcanoes National park. You may cross to Rwanda through Gatuna border or
Day Four is another chance to be with the mountain gorillas. This time on a Rwanda gorilla trekking experience.
Just like in Uganda, don’t forget all your gorilla trekking gears and also carry an extra mask and hand sanitizer. Head to the ranger station at ORTPN.
After briefing, you are divided into groups of 8 trekkers, followed by a ranger guide into the thick Volcanoes National park. Following the point where the gorillas were seen the previous day, start your search.
Finally when you get to meet the gorillas, take there different poses and return to your lodge.
Day Five is time to return home after enjoying this double encounter with the mountain gorillas. Drive to Kigali Airport to catch up with your flight back home.
The gorilla trekking permits from both Uganda and Rwanda are the first ticket to conform this once in a lifetime primate Africa Safari. In Uganda, the Uganda wildlife Authority is the main body that issue permits.
In Rwanda the Rwanda Development Board has the mandate to sell and issue all gorilla trekking permits. Once these are secured, you are good to go with booking other requirements.
The cost for a Rwanda gorilla trekking permit is $1500 per person per trek and the price for a Uganda gorilla trekking permit is $700 per person per trek.
Accommodation for overnight during gorilla trekking safari is key especially if you are trekking gorillas in Uganda. Bwindi forest in Uganda is vast and has the Northern and southern sector which are fur apart from each other.
These sectors are further divided into areas that is to say Buhoma gorilla trekking area, Ruhija gorilla trekking area, Rushaga gorilla trekking area and Nkuringo gorilla trekking area. Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda are booked according to area which makes it quite challenging to sleep in one area and trek gorillas in another.
The distance from one area to another is way fur coupled with impassable roads at times when it over rains. So to book accommodation in Uganda, you must be in the know of which area your gorilla permit has been booked.
Rwanda on the other hands may have little change in booking accommodation as the mountain gorillas are placed in closer vicinity to most accommodations including Kigali City.
Although it is challenging, you can disembark from an early morning flight to Kigali Airport, do gorilla trekking in case you secured your gorilla permit in time and depart the same day. Even if its possible, its tiresome and denies the chance to enjoy the full safari potential of Rwanda.
A Visa to Rwanda or Uganda before gorilla trekking
Although some countries are exempted from carrying visas to Rwanda, it is in the best interest to acquire a Rwanda Visa before arrival. It gets more exciting when you book an East Africa Visa which allows you to travel to another East African country without applying for a visa. Uganda and Rwanda are members of the East African community so this is a plus.
Even if Visas can be acquired on arrival at Kigali airport or Entebbe Airport, the lengthy procedures are unbearable especially after a long flight.
Full Covid-19 Vaccination card or Negative Covid-19 results confirmed at least 72 hours before travelling to either Uganda or Rwanda. As Corona Virus has affected the operation of everything in the world, travel has also been affected.
Even before the pandemic, one of the key rules of gorilla trekking was “volunteer to stay behind if you feel any illness”. Mountain gorillas have a DNA similar to humans making them susceptible to this Virus. To try save the endangered mountain gorillas tighter measures have been taken by Uganda and Rwanda authorities.
Follow full SOPs including wearing a mask and carry a handsanitiser during gorilla trekking
In addition to vaccinating and negative Corona Virus results, wearing a mask is compulsory, when with the mountain gorillas and its more comfortable wearing an N97.
Carry a spare mask to use when in the presence of the mountain gorillas.
Apply a handsanitiser regularly to protect your hands from any germs and also in case you touch the foliage on which the mountain gorillas feed, it’s not contaminated. All this is to try reduce on the chances of transmitting the virus to the mountain gorillas
As you trek to find the gorillas some short breaks are taken as a breather during gorilla trekking. This is to give you a chance take off your mask and rest before proceeding with the journey to meet the gorilla. Try to give yourselves some social distance even during the breaks.