Although gorilla trekking is one of the sought after African activities travelling safely to the rural destinations is quite challenging at times. For first timers it is not easy to use just the direction of the google map but need physical direction from a driver guide.
Gorilla trekking in the entire world is only known to Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Rwanda gorilla trekking is known to Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park in D.R.Congo.
Getting to the National parks where gorilla trekking is known to happen must be done in advance to avoid being stuck by the roadside or abandoned at the airstrip with no transfer vehicle.
Generally the roads to these national park may not be in very good condition or even slippery at times because of the nature of the volcanic soil in this area. It is best to hire a 4×4 vehicle just in case of such road conditions. Being stuck on the road may cost you your dream gorilla trekking experience.
How To Get to Gorilla Trekking Destinations in Africa.
From Kampala or Entebbe Airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you can use a number of routes depending on the weather conditions prevailing. Even the enroute stopovers contribute a lot to which road to drive on. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the south western part of Uganda with in a distance of about 530 km from the capital Kampala.
Kampala to Kabale to Kanungu to Buhoma
When you drive from Kampala city or Entebbe to Kabale, you drive a distance of about 414 km which last approximately 5 hours to 6 hours. Continue driving for about 120 km on curving marram road going through Kanungu and Kanyantorogo lasting about 4 hours to 5 hours.
Queen Elizabeth National Park to Kihihi to Buhoma
In case you do a Uganda game safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and wish to connect with gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park then you have to drive through Ishasha Sector. This is home to the famous tree-climbing lions. This route is most suitable when the bridge is in fine state.
Going through Ishasha sector in southern part of Queen Elizabeth national Park, you may drive for about 4 hours to 5 hours on to Buhoma area in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. You need to know the condition of the Ishasha bridge. This journey may take about 160 km from Mweya the main administration center of Queen Elizabeth National park. The road trip to Bwindi park from Ishasha sector is approximately 64 km.
Kampala to Kabale to Ruhija to Buhoma
The drive from Kampala through Kabale is about 414 km then continue to Rujiha and Buhoma for close to 95 km . The time expected to be used to get to Buhoma from Kabale is about 3 hours to 4 hours driving through the murram road which is in a very poor condition.
Kampala to Ntungamo to Rukungiri to Kihihi to Buhoma
This is the most direct route from Kampala to Buhoma. Its takes about 8 hours from Kampala without stops. This route is winding to Rukungiri for about 390 km. When you arrive in Rukungiri town, you drive on a murram road to Buhoma for close to 82 km.
Kampala to Kabale to Nkuringo
In the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Nkuringo gorilla trekking area. The drive from Kabale to Nkuringo may take about 105 km lasting about 4 hours. The roads were curved from on the mountain slopes creating winding murram road .
You may decide to overnight in Kisoro which is 80 km from Kabale. From Kisoro to Nkuringo gorilla trekking area you may get to drive for about 35 km lasting close to 1 hour and 15 minutes. We recommend using a 4×4-wheel driver because of the nature of the roads especially when it rains.
Public transport is available from Kampala to Butogota then continue with a private vehicle to arrive in Buhoma area. We do not recommend public transport because you are not sure of the time of arrival since the buses stop any time to load or off load passengers. Even the conditions of the buses is not always good where by the bus may get a mechanical condition and another has to be sent from Kampala to pick passengers. Such inconvenience may cost you the gorilla trekking experience in case you arrive after briefing,
Travel by Air to Bwindi Impenetrable National park
Getting To Bwindi Impenetrable National park by air can be by using daily domestic Scheduled Flights or Charter flights from Kajjansi Air trip or Entebbe airport to Kisoro or Kihihi Air strip.
Every day, domestic scheduled flights commence from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip. Advance booking for the seats is necessary because they get sold out quickly especially during the peaks season that is June to September and December to January.
While at the airstrip, you must have arranged for a transfer vehicle to Bwindi Impenetrable National park. The drive from Kihihi Air strip on the road is about 2 hours before arriving in Buhoma.
Charter flight services are available at Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe Airport but advance clearances must be done. These flights land in Kihihi air trip. Since this is not the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you need to hire a transfer vehicle to arrive in Buhoma the main headquarters for the Park.
From Kampala the capital city of Uganda Mgahinga National Park is about 540 km. the drive time may be approximately 8 to 9 hours passing winding roads especially when you reach Kabale to Kisoro. The topography of this area is full of highlands making accessibility by road quite challenging.
The drive from Kabale to Kisoro is about 80 km lasting approximately 2 hours. Continue to Ntebeko gate the main headquarters of this park for about 14 km on a bumpy road.
Mgahinga National Park daily domestic flights from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi Airstrip landing in Kisoro Airstrip. These flights however are dependent on the weather conditions of Kisoro area where by at times its foggy making visibility very challenging for the pilots.
Charter flight services from Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe Airport are available too
Whether trekking gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National park or Mgahinga National park, you can use Rwanda ( Kigali Airport) and cross into Uganda with the East African Visa. The entry points from Rwanda to Uganda is at Gatuna and Cyanika.
Driving to Volcanoes National park may take about 2 hours and 30 minutes depending on the stops you make along the way from Kigali Airport. The park which lies in the Northern part of the country is made up of four districts that is Musaze, Burera, Nyabihu and Rubavu.
The distance from Kigali airport to Volcanoes National park is about 105 km, 10 km from Musaze and approximately 60 km from Rubavu driving for about 1 hour and 30 munites.
The road network to Volcanoes National Park is one of the best driving from Kigali to Musaze. In case you use public transport, you need to get a special hire or cab at this point to continue to Park headquarters.
When you look outside the vehicle window, the journey has some of the most stunning views similar to the Alps of Switzerland.
Each day helicopter flights commence from the Kigali International airport organised by Akagera Aviation service landing in Musaze Air strip. The flights lasts approximately 30 minutes so it is easy to get off an early morning flight and catch up with briefing at the ORTPN in Kinigi by 0700 hours.
At Arch Safaris and Tours, we put together all these arrangements so that you can enjoy the gorilla trekking experience in Africa Rwanda.
Democratic Republic Of Condo is a vast country so most of its tourism destinations including Virunga National park home of the mountain gorillas are located in far ranging places from international airports. Some of the routes you can use include
Rwanda via Kigali Airport drive to the Gisenyi in Rwanda the Goma border in D.R.Congo. This border is approximately 15 km from Virunga National Park. From Goma, armed officers escort all tourists into Virunga National Park to avoid the attacks from the regular rebels that affect this area.
Alternatively, you can land at Entebbe Airport and drive to Bunagana Border which is shared between Uganda and D.R.Congo. This is a very long but scenic drive as you go through the highlands of kigezi in Uganda. Lately, this border has been closed off because of the rebel activities in this area.
You can also fly to Goma International Airport in D.R.Congo where some international flights often land. You later connect with a road trip to Virunga National Park.
What to Pack for Gorilla Trekking Safari In Africa
Packing light but relevantly is the best way to travel and trace your bags easily. When you have a lot of luggage, you get inconvenienced even with the people in your company. There is limited space in the vehicle or is an obstruction from stunning outside views.
There must be light and able to go through the soggy and slippery ground. They should be comfortable enough to use for a long period while in the jungle.
This must be wilderness friendly, in colors that may not attract insects like tsetse flies. Packing colors like blue, white and black may attract such insects. Colors like Khaki and tan are jungle friendly. You may reuse them just in case you run short of clothes to change into.
To catch a tighter grip on the creepers in case you slide. Even your palms are securely protected from biting nettles.
To keep away biting insects in the jungle that may harm your skin.
First Aid Kit
Within pack some medication that can be used in case of emergency. It should be prescribed too to make it easy for another person to use in case you are unable to speak.
A pair of stocking to tack in and keep away insects that may want to creep into your clothes.
Binoculars just in case you wish to see other jungle dwellers like birds or monkeys that may not be at close range.
Sun glasses to protect your eyes from buzzing insects in the jungle.
A camera with no sound or flash because these may scare the mountain gorillas. They are often frightened by unfamiliar noise in there vicinity.
A travel adapter and charger to use in case you have to charge your electronic gadgets.
Pajamas to wear in the cold nights because this area receives humid conditions almost throughout the day and night.
A light backpack to protect your belonging while in the jungle from scattering in case you fall.
Raincoat or poncho to wear when it rains because it falls anytime without warning.
A sweater to keep you warm from the cold conditions of the jungle.
Foldable water bottle to fill it with water and quench thirst while in the jungle.
Safari Foldable hat
One that covers your head from dripping water off the tree leaves and buzzing insects that may creep into your hair.
In case your lodge does not provide, you can carry your own for emergency.
Some hard cash to exchange into local currency in case you want to purchase any local items or service.
A duffel bag with packing cubes that can easily be repacked just in case of check ups at immigration.
What Are The Dos And Don’ts Of Gorilla Trekking in Africa
Volunteer to stay behind in case you catch a communicable infection before gorilla trekking.
While with the gorillas remain in a tight group so that they do not feel ambushed.
Keep a distance of approximately 8 meters from the mountain gorillas when you locate them.
No using flash photography while taking photos in the jungle as this scares the mountain gorillas.
Never eat or smoke while in front of the mountain gorillas because they may be prompted to pull it from you yet may not go well with the gorilla’s health
In case you want to cough or sneeze, do it away from the mountain gorillas.
Donot spit or sneeze on the vegetation in the jungle because this is food for the mountain gorillas.
Children below 15 years are not allowed to do gorilla trekking because of the unknown time of location the mountain gorillas, the distance to trek , the look of the mountain gorillas and so much more.
Only one hours is allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate the. To allow them time to feed and interact freely as a family without human interference.