The three days on Uganda gorilla safari include travel day in case you are using road transport which lasts about 8 hours to 9 hours from Entebbe or Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga national park. Second day is for gorilla trekking day since the return time is unknown for you to drive back to the airport or city. Then the third day is departure day after gorilla trekking in Uganda. In case you have to transfer to another Uganda safari destination, then the third day is the most appropriate day.
Rwanda has minimum 2 days of gorilla trekking safari because the drive time from Kigali airport is about 3 hours to volcanoes national park. The first day is for driving to Volcanoes National Park or arrival day in the park or at the lodge. It may be hard to immediately connect with gorilla trekking on arrival day although its possible. This is because you need to get your gorilla trekking gears together and cool off jet lag before embarking on the tiring gorilla trekking adventure.
The second day of the Rwanda gorilla safari is for gorilla trekking and depart for the airport or Kigali city since you can embark from gorilla trekking and drive to Kigali airport the same day in case you have late night flights.
Doing gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda is one of life’s best safari experiences that gets you closer to some of the leftover mountain gorillas in the world. By 1980s, the mountain gorillas were put on the list of highly endangered primates of the world by then numbering 250 mountain gorillas. Due to the zealous conservation programs, the current population census shows that over 1000 mountain gorillas are living in the world.
Reserve A Gorilla Permit
When you select the number of days or safari package you wish to book for the gorilla safari either in Uganda or in Rwanda, then you enquire about gorilla permit availability. In case you do not have a specific date when you wish to do gorilla trekking then you can state your arrival day and departure day.
Our tours consultant can help select the date when you are to do the gorilla trek based on your safari duration. For those with a specific date, you can state it so that your gorilla permit is booked accordingly.
You may book your gorilla permits through Uganda Wildlife Authority or our safari consultant checks availability on your behalf.
In case there is positive availability, we advise clients to purchase their gorilla permits as soon as possible because they are sold out fast especially those for the peak season. The Uganda Tourism peak season is normally June, July, August, September, December and January
Reserve Accommodation For Gorilla Trekking Days
Spending a night towards gorilla trekking day within or closer to the gorilla trekking destination saves you from panicking to catch up with early morning briefing in Uganda and Rwanda. In Uganda, briefing before gorilla trekking normally starts at o730 hours while Rwanda briefing starts at 0700 hours.
You must attend in person because everybody is required to listen to these instructions. Failure to attend briefing may cause you to be disqualified from attending gorilla trekking.
In Uganda, you need to book accommodation within or close to the area where your gorilla permit your Bwindi impenetrable national park permit is located. Bwindi forest permits are booked according to areas into which this vast park is sub divided that is to say Buhoma, Ruhija area, Rushaga area and Nkuringo area. Each of these areas has gorilla trekking families that are open to public booking.
In Rwanda gorilla trekking permits are randomly reserved but on the day of gorilla trekking, after briefing at the ORTPN, tourists are allocated gorilla families according to age, physical fitness and others criteria.
The accommodation facilities to use during gorilla trekking are graded according to budget facilities, mid-range facilities and luxury facilities.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Accommodations; Gorilla Forest Camp, Clouds Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Engage Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Trekker’s Tarven And Others.
Mgahinga National Park Accommodations: Gahinga lodge and others facilities are in Kisoro town
Volcanoes national park Accommodations: Sabyinyo Silverback lodge, Mountain Gorilla view lodge, Kinigi Guest House, hotel Mille Collines
Book Transport To The Gorilla Trekking Destinations
In case you hope to travel by road, you need to hire a safari car that can withstand the terrain of the gorilla trekking destinations. This being a volcanic area, expect some muddy ground, drive through winding roads and so much more. Hiring a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle is comfortable during a gorilla safari because of the nature of the roads in this area.
Having an experienced and professional guide is a bonus to a great feeling you may get after gorilla trekking. Not only does such a guide talk about the mountain gorillas but points out a variety of other optional activities you may do in the country. This widens or helps you confirm more information you may have about the destination you visit.
If you hope to travel by air to the gorilla trekking destinations, book your daily domestic flight in advance especially during the peak season especially in Uganda. Each day, flights depart Entebbe airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. You need to hire a transfer vehicle too.
Charter flight services are available from Kigali Airport to Volcanoes National Park even in Uganda from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip for more private gorilla safaris.
Book Additional Activities To Combine With Gorilla Trekking
Both Uganda and Rwanda are gifted with optional safari activities you can combine with gorilla trekking like chimpanzee trekking, game drives, white water rafting, mountaineering, cultural performances, birding and others. In case you intend to have extra days on gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda, you can choose from these optional activities.
Preparing the necessary requirements for either of these activities gives, you chance to make the right choice of these activities and make more memories of your Africa safari.
Gorilla trekking is a year round adventure however tourists prefer the dry season when the mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers’ life is at full blast. The mountain gorillas are some of the remnants of the ice age period and so securing a gorilla permit is like winning a lottery.
Even the trails in Bwindi forest are more passable because there is more sunlight penetrating to the ground to reduce in the amount of precipitation in the forest. The undergrowth along the trails is not protruding to obstruct your way. Even when the mountain gorillas feed from the slopes or the valley, hiking is not so slippery
During the severe rainy season, which is normally March, April, May and November primates are feeding far from the ground and even other forest dwellers like birds are not very active. For those who have a limited budget, this is the best time as at times discounted prices may be offered as promotional permits. This is not guaranteed all the time.
You can start booking your gorilla safari atleast 6 month to a year in advance in case you do not want last minute panic as you search availability. You can also book three months prior to gorilla trekking however chances of not finding gorilla permit availability are high especially during the peak season.
Can I Purchase The Gorilla Permit In Instalment?
The best choice is to fully pay for your gorilla permit however due to unavoidable circumstances, you may opt for instalment purchase of 30% and 70% respectively. To qualify for instalment gorilla permit purchase, you must book your gorilla permit before 90 days to gorilla trekking day. Remember to top up before 90 days to gorilla trekking day but failure too may yield a penalty.
Can I Reschedule The Gorilla Trekking Permit?
In case you are not in position to travel to do gorilla trekking but hope to travel in the future, Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Development Board accept rescheduling of the gorilla permit.
Write to the park management requesting to reschedule your gorilla permit to a stated future date. In case you have evident to back your request up, you can attach it.
Upon approval, your gorilla permit is moved based on prevailing gorilla permit status per your request.
Uganda accepts two free gorilla permit reschedules for the third time, the executive director is the only one allowed to permit this.
Rwanda charges in case you are rescheduling your gorilla permit.
What Is The Return Time After Gorilla Trekking?
Returning after gorilla trekking is hard to determine just like the time you locate the mountain gorillas. This can only be determined by prevailing factors in the forest like the proximity of the mountain gorilla food, in case the gorilla family is adventurous, a fight amongst the mountain gorillas, the prevailing weather conditions on the day of the trek, the pace of other trekkers and others.
Sometimes tourists have returned from gorilla trekking after two hours while others have spent to three quarters of the day in the wilderness.
Some level of patience and determination is necessary to complete the gorilla trekking adventure. Having some level of fitness and carrying the right gorilla trekking gears is important during gorilla trekking.
The experience you get after gorilla trekking varies and so are the expectations because just like humans, mountain gorilla families have different traits. This also explains why it is hard to determine the closest gorilla family in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Volcanoes National Park as the one that was close the previous day may retreat into the deeper forest the following day.
Expect to meet the mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers while you trek to locate the mountain gorillas.
Following the rules of gorilla trekking and being obedient to the ranger guides as you trek to locate the mountain gorillas is very important during this adventure.
The first glance at the mountain gorillas may stimulate some adrenaline however, you must not show this reaction to the mountain gorillas that are very suspicious of intruders in there environ.
The way to the mountain gorillas is slippery and soggy sometimes due to regular rains that fall yet less sunlight is allowed to penetrate through but wearing the right gorilla trekking gears safeguards you.
How Difficult Is Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trekking is a jungle experience so expect to walk through some rough surfaces in the wilderness.
Even the nature of the Virunga area which Uganda and Rwanda gorilla safari destinations are part of is generally volcanic. This is because of the volcanic action that led to formation of numerous highlands like ridges and plateaus over which thick vegetation drapes.
Sometimes when mountain gorillas feed or lounge on the slopes or valleys of these highlands trekkers are prompted to hike to find them. The hikes are challenging sometimes especially if your fitness level is very low.
Is Gorilla Trekking Worth?
Gorilla trekking is worth your time and money which is charged. Gorilla trekking is one of the ways funds that support the conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas is collected.
A number of those that have participated in gorilla trekking emerge feeling an unfathomable connection with the mountain gorillas which is profoundly moving.
Some tourists have returned to Uganda or Rwanda to do gorilla trekking again because that one hour with the mountain gorillas may not have been satisfying to there quest to be with the mountain gorillas.
In Uganda, gorilla habituation experience, which was started in 2014, gives more time to tourists to be in close company with the mountain gorillas for atleast 4 hours. These mountain gorillas however are semi habituated so expect them to show some wild behaviors like hooting at visitors, retreating into the deep forest and others.
At the end of the gorilla safari, there remains a well deserving feeling of achievement at the culmination of the jet lag, travel by vehicle and on foot to the mountain gorilla habitats.