Gorilla trekking in Uganda inundates you into the mysterious secrets of the Virunga area. Every day is gorilla trekking safari time in Uganda however tourist fancy the dry season normally June, July, August, September, December to January. The Bwindi forest or Mgahinga forest is likely to experience less humid conditions in this period all factors remaining constant.
Bwindi impenetrable national Park and Mgahinga national park are known for receiving untimely rains all year because they are tropical rain forest. The mountain gorillas can only thrive in this area of Uganda. Currently Uganda has almost half the total number of mountain gorillas in the world where by as per the recent population census about 1000 mountain gorillas are residents of the entire Virunga area.
No matter the time you set to do gorilla trekking in Uganda, purchasing the gorilla permit upfront saves you from last minute panic to obtain a permit.
During the wet season, there are high chances of having a solo gorilla safari experience without making extra payment. The wet season which also serves as the low season Uganda tourism period receives less demand for gorilla permits so even service providers like accommodation facilities may offer discounts. In case you have a limited budget, the wet season is a better option for doing gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. Usually the wet season is March, April, May, November.
The mountain gorilla area is renowned for receiving rains without warning with annually average rains of 2390 millimeters received annually but the dry season which is June through September and December through January may receive slightly lesser rains. The precipitation in the Bwindi or Mgahinga forest is less too and more sunray penetration through the dense canopy is permitted to the ground.
Mountain Gorillas Are More Active
During the dry season, there is plenty of foliage to feed on closer to the ground. The mountain gorilla move freely in the wilderness as access to food supply is more possible. Since gorilla families may have infants, this family is likely to move freely in the forest during the dry season when these young stars are not prone to drowning.
During the dry season, the mountain gorillas tend to feed and lounge closer to the ground. The wet season keeps the mountain gorillas confined in one location for warmth especially when the temperatures dry so low.
Trails Are Passable During The Dry Season
Much as Bwindi and Mgahinga area are rain forest with vegetation that overgrows, the dry season there is less that protruding undergrowth to cover the trails. The trails in the forest where mountain gorillas live are not so congested to obstruct you from seeing where the mountain gorillas are.
Although the ranger guide carries a machete to assist in trimming the overgrown plants along the trails which is time consuming at times, during the dry season there is less to trim.
Have Company of Regular visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable national Park and Mgahinga National Park
In case you want to have company during the gorilla safari, the dry season gives you this opportunity. When you have other people on your group to walk through the thick jungle to locate the mountain gorillas, you may not get bored as you have some to whisper too about the different experiences. When you are solo on a gorilla safari, you may be bored and get so tired before completing this gorilla trekking adventure.
Rivers in Bwindi and Mgahinga forest are Confined in there normal course
Bwindi and Mgahinga forest have a dense network of rivers, which tend to flood during the severe rainy seasons causing the ground to get soggy and slippery. During the dry season, these rivers flow normally and within the normal course.
Even the waterfalls appear sparkling because the silt is settled and water appear pure clear. Taking photos of the other amazing features in the forest as you trek to find the mountain gorillas is more possible.
Chances of enjoying other forest activities during dry season on gorilla trekking safari
While you trek to find the mountain gorillas, you can do birding too. Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park are Ugandans’ birding haven. Uganda host over 1000 bird species including Albertine endemics but the Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga forest are the prime birding destinations of Uganda. Keen birders can take this double opportunity to do gorilla safaris and enjoy a birding experience, as they are more active in the dry season.
Bwindi or Mgahinga forest birding is attested to by Uganda’s unrivalled birdwatching status. The Mubwindi swamp in Bwindi forest or along the Gorge trail in Mgahinga forest are the prominent birding destinations of this area.
Some of birds you may encounter include Alpine chat, Malachite sunbird, Rwenzori Double collared sunbird, handsome Francolin and several others.
Bwindi and Mgahinga forest host a number of other primates like olive baboons, vervet monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus and others. You have an opportunity to enjoy a huge number of primates in the wilderness while you trek to find the mountain gorillas.
When Can I Book Gorilla Permits For the Dry Season?
Securing your gorilla permit atleast 6 months to a year upfront is the safest approach as they sell out fast especially those for the high season. You may also book these gorilla families 3 months to the gorilla trekking date but chances of acquiring these permits lessen as days draw closer.
Last minute gorilla permits may not available during the dry season because they sell out in advance.
Since the dry season is the peak uganda tourism season too, competition for other amenities that support gorilla trekking is high like car hire, professional driver guides, accommodations before or after gorilla safari and others. This makes the prices for such services high and reduces on the options.
In case you are waitlisted, chances of acquiring the gorilla permit in Uganda days before the trek or on the day of the trek are a probability. The gorilla permits for Bwindi impenetrable National Park are booked according to area so its hard to determine where the gorilla permit is available so that you can spend the night there in case of a no show you grab this opportunity.
The Uganda gorilla trekking safari packages cost varies with the inclusions in the total price. Gorilla trekking tours are packaged according to luxury, midrange and budget but the cost of the gorilla permit is the universal cost. At the moment, the gorilla permit cost is $700 per person per trek for foreign none residents, $600 for foreign residents and 250000shs for east African residents.
Other factors from which the cost of gorilla safari is calculated include the number of people on gorilla safari, time of booking the gorilla permit, number of days on gorilla safari, additional activities to combine with gorilla trekking and others.
Is the cost of the gorilla safari package in Uganda worth the money?
The cost of gorilla safari is worth every expenditure as conservation of the mountain gorillas take precedent. Gorilla trekking experience was introduced as a way to reduce in the animosity between humans and the mountain gorillas.
Having that one hour with the mountain gorillas is a dream come true experience in felt by just a few lucky trekkers for the day. The number of visitors to each gorilla family is restricted to maximum 8 per day to reduce on the effects of mass tourism to the foliage where they feed.
When you purchase the gorilla permit, you contribute to the conservation fund of the mountain gorillas. The sustainable existence of the mountain gorillas is top priority.
Apart from gorilla trekking, there other interesting features you sight during this search like sparkling water falls, dense network of rivers that crisscross the forest creating a beautiful ground. Bwindi forest and Mgahinga forest have a plethora of birds including Albertine rift endemics. These forests are Uganda’s prime birding destinations. As a keen birder on gorilla safari, you get the double opportunity to do birding with no extra payment while trekking to find the mountain gorillas.
Mgahinga forest and Bwindi forest host other primate species like golden monkeys in Mgahinga national Park, blue monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkeys, olive baboons and others.
Although the cost of gorilla permit is high, its worth every coin and your time on the African holiday. You get to prove the hidden reality about the mountain gorillas, which are portrayed as aggressive in some films and animations.
How long is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda?
The time on gorilla trekking safari varies as its dependent on factors like the proximity of the mountain gorilla food, death of a gorilla family member, weather conditions prevailing on gorilla trekking day, fitness level of trekkers and others. Some tourists have got access to the mountain gorillas in 2 hours while others have spent more time
Tourists need to have some level of patience during gorilla trekking because mountain gorillas move freely in the wilderness with nothing to stop them. in order not to get bored by the long trek, focus on other interesting feature in the forest like birds, other primates, the different natural tree species, and others.
The ranger guide follows the pace of the slowest trekker so that no one is forgotten in the wilderness. Take your time while trekking to find the mountain gorillas but putting in mind that you need not to delay the rest.
Is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda Strenuous?
The way to the mountain gorillas is quite strenuous because of the nature of the topography of this area which is volcanic. There are ridges and plateaus whose slopes are draped by tangled vegetation that creates a thick vegetation cover. You may be required to hike to the slopes of these highlands in case the mountain gorillas are lounging feeding from there.
Even the ground tends to get slippery and soggy during the severe wet season making the trek a challenge. This is why you need to have some level of fitness so as not to get muscle pulls while searching to find the mountain gorillas.
Because the vegetation is crisscrossing, it may obstruct you from proceeding to find the mountain gorillas so the ranger guide with a machete trims the trails to create a path.
Wearing the right gorilla trekking gears like safari boots, long sleeved safari shirt and trousers protect you from stinging nettles that may cause you some skin irritations.
During gorilla trekking adventure, the ranger guides give breaks to freshen up and reenergize because breakfast is taken too early to last the long time in the forest. The moment you locate the mountain gorillas may make you forget what you may have gone through trying to find the mountain gorillas.
How Aggressive Are Mountain Gorillas During Gorilla Trekking In Uganda?
Mountain gorillas are calm primates and not aggressive. Generally, before the mountain gorilla family is opened to public booking it is habituated to human presence for atleast two years to more depending on how fast they adopt. This process however doesn’t change the nature of the mountain gorillas.
Although these mountain gorillas on the outlook seem to be aggressive, when you are immersed into there lives, you realize how sweet and calm they are. Upon locating the gorilla family you are allocated to, they continue doing what they have been doing before you approaching as though not bothered by your presence.
When angry, mountain gorillas show behaviors like hooting, thumping the chest, pull grass around them, dash into the forest to hide and much more. Whenever you see such behavior, it doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong. You need to wait for the ranger guide to observe what may have been the cause of there agitation. Sometimes they are angry with each other or a foreign mountain gorillas is trying to stage an attack. Just listen to the ranger guide and follow the instructions given during briefing.