Whether you go gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda, the feeling you get when standing before these only leftover mountain gorillas in the world is unparalleled. You need to purchase the gorilla permit first for Uganda or Rwanda.
The moment you stand before the mountain gorillas makes you forget what you may have gone through planning the gorilla trek. The hustle of finding the gorilla permits is hectic especially in the peak season, which is June, July, August, September, December and January. Most tourists hoping to travel this season book the gorilla permits atleast 6 months in advance because they get sold out in advance. Frequently Asked Questions about Gorilla Trekking
It is quite challenging to choose where to get the best gorilla trekking experience whether in Uganda or Rwanda because all mountain gorillas are adorable.
Selecting the best destination for gorilla trekking safari may depend on factors like;
The cost of Rwanda gorilla permit is $1500 per person per trek while Uganda gorilla permit costs $700 per person per trek.
The cost of the gorilla permit in Uganda or Rwanda includes the park entrance fees, ranger guide fees, gorilla conservation support, local community support and security during gorilla trekking
Exclusions in the cost of gorilla permit are; porter cost, transport, tips, drinks and any other items of personal nature.
The drive time from Entebbe airport in Uganda is about 8 hours to 9 hours to Bwindi impenetrable national park or Mgahinga national park. The drive time from Kigali airport to volcanoes national park is about 3 hours
Uganda has daily domestic flights from Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe airport to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. The flights take about 1 hour 30 minute to 2 hours then use a transfer vehicle. Charter flights are available too from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi. You need to hire a transfer vehicle from the airstrip to either Bwindi impenetrable national park or Mgahinga national park.
Rwanda currently has 12 gorilla families with 96 gorilla permits open for public booking while Uganda so far has 19 gorilla families with 152 gorilla permits.
You need to purchase your gorilla permit in advance whether in Rwanda or Uganda because they are limited in number yet demand is over whelming high. Purchasing your gorilla permit in advance saves you from last minute panic in searching for any gorilla permits on resell.
Uganda is endowed with a variety of activities that can be combined with gorilla trekking. Some of the uganda safari activities include chimpanzee trekking, game drives, visit source of River Nile, launch trips, mountaineering, birding to mention but a few.
Rwanda has limited optional activities to combine with gorilla trekking like golden monkey trekking, chimpanzee trekking, game drives and others.
In case you have extra days on holiday either pre or post gorilla trekking, you can do some of those activities in each country.
You can do gorilla trekking in Uganda through Rwanda. The drive time from Kigali airport through Cyanika or Gatuna border is about 5 hours to 6 hours to Bwindi Impenetrable National park or Mgahinga National Park. This distance is shorter than the drive from Entebbe Airport or Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park.
Uganda has gorilla habituation experience where you have some more time that is 4 hours with the mountain gorillas other than one hour of gorilla trekking. The cost of permit for in Uganda is currently $1500 per person. Rwanda doesn’t have this activity as yet.
Gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where you follow a semi habituated gorilla family in the wilderness to help them get familiar with human presence without altering there nature. You accompany a team of researchers and habituators in the wilderness. Maximum 4 habituators are allowed to follow the mountain gorillas.
How Can I Book A Gorilla Permit For Uganda Or Rwanda?
Select a date when you hope to do gorilla trekking in either Uganda or Rwanda. The number of people you hope to travel with for gorilla trekking. Consider their age limits too because only persons aged 15 years are allowed to attend gorilla trekking.
You may check gorilla permit availability from Uganda Wildlife Authority or Rwanda Development Board or use a tour operator like Arch Safaris And Tours. We have expertise in putting together a gorilla trekking safari for Uganda or Rwanda. We coordinate with a number of service providers like accommodation facilities, vehicle hire, experienced and professional driver guides to give you the best feeling of an African safari.
In case gorilla permit availability is positive, purchasing it early is the best choice as you prepare for gorilla trekking safari.
Forward some personal details like your full names as indicated on the passport, nationality, date of birth, passport expiry date and others.
Uganda wildlife authority issues a gorilla trekking card while Rwanda Development Board issues a gorilla trekking permit in form of a document.
Where to go gorilla trekking in Uganda?
In Uganda, gorilla trekking is done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park located in the southwestern Uganda. Currently 18 gorilla families are fully habituated and opened for public booking.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is portioned into four areas that is Buhoma area, Ruhija area, Rushaga area and Nkuringo area. Bwindi Forest is vast so connecting from one area to another is challenging especially if you need to rise up early to catch up with briefing.
You need to book accommodation close or within the gorilla trekking area of Bwindi for quicker access to the briefing point.
Some of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include clouds lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla forest lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Ruhija Safari Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas.
Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park national park is the smallest home of the mountain gorillas covering about 33.7 square kilometers. Currently only one gorilla family called Nyakagezi is open for public booking. In the past, Nyakagezi gorilla family used to wonder into Rwanda but of late it has stationed in Uganda and gorilla permits for Mgahinga are open for pre-booking.
You can go golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga National Park where you follow some of the endangered golden monkeys in the world. Mgahinga forest is inhabited by other primates like olive baboons, vervet monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys and others A day’ hike to the highlands of Mgahinga National Park is rewarding. You can hike Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Muhavura and Mountain Sabyinyo on an 8 hours’ return trek.
Where Can I Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda?
Volcanoes National Park lies in the northwestern part of Rwanda. The park currently has 12 gorilla families and 96 gorilla permits open for public booking each day. You can also go golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes National Park.
Other primates living in this park include blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys and several others.
Volcanoes National Park has a rich birdlife with over 200 bird species so far recorded including Albertine Rift Endemics. Some of the birds you may spot include Shelley’ Crimsonwing, Handsome Francolin, Alpine Chat, Malachite Sunbird, Rwenzori Turaco to mention but a few.
At times the trails are soggy and slippery from the regular rains that fall in the Virunga area. Gorilla trekking adventure is done from a volcanic area with ridges and plateaus where mountain gorilla hike to feed or lounge at time. You need to follow them at times so you must have some level of fitness to get there.
Doing some exercises before travelling for gorilla trekking keeps your muscles fit and prevents muscle pulls while you trek to find the mountain gorillas.
Wearing the right gorilla trekking boots saves you from rough surfaces that can hurt you while on the way to find the mountain gorillas.
The ranger guide moves with a machete which he uses to trim some hard creeper that may obstruct your way to where the mountain gorillas are.
What Is The Cost Of Gorilla Safari In Uganda Or Rwanda?
The cost of gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda starts with the gorilla permit, which costs $1500 per person per trek in Rwanda and $700 per person per trek in Uganda.
Others factors that make the cost of Gorilla safari include
The number of days on gorilla trekking safari
Most safari service providers like lodges, vehicle hire charge per day costs. The more days on gorilla safari, the higher the per person cost. You can do 3 days gorilla trekking, 5 day gorilla safari, 6 day gorilla and chimpanzee tour and others
Time for booking Gorilla Trekking Safari
During the peak season which is June to September and December to January, the prices for most service providers are high because of overwhelming competition. The low season which is March to May and November have high chances of discounted safari service prices like on accommodation, vehicle hire and others
Number of people travelling with for gorilla safari
The more paying people join the gorilla trekking safari, the les the per person cost because you get to share some safari amenities like gas, vehicle hire and others. As a solo gorilla trekker, you incur all the safari costs.
Additional activities you combine with gorilla trekking
When you combine gorilla trekking with other activities like game drives, chimpanzee trekking and others, the cost of safari increases.
Is Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda or Rwanda Worth The Cost?
Gorilla trekking permit has a hefty price attached to it but it is worth every coin. When you purchase a gorilla trekking permit, you support the conservation of the mountain gorillas which are some of the endangered primates in the world. Part of the funds from the sale of gorilla permits is used to purchase medication for the mountain gorillas, research about the mountain gorillas and others.
You indirectly support the local community too who work as rangers, porters, drivers and others. They use the funds accumulated to support there day today life. Even annually, profits accumulated from the gorilla activities a percentage is given to the local community to run there projects.
Can I Purchase the Gorilla permit for Uganda or Rwanda in Instalment?
Covering the full payment for your gorilla permit is the best decision you can take however,you can also do instalment purchase of 30% and 70% respectively.
This only applies to tourists who purchase there gorilla permits atleast before 90 days to the gorilla trekking date and top up before 90 days to the gorilla trekking date.
Failure to top up your gorilla permit may attract a penalty according to the policy of Rwanda development Board or Uganda Wildlife Authority.
How Long Is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda?
The duration taken to locate the mountain gorillas is unknown and so is the return time as some tourists have been lucky to locate them after 2 hours of starting the trek while other have stretched to over three quarters of the day.
The mountain gorillas movements determine a lot when to locate the family. At times they have to find new feeding ground in case the food in the previous area is exhausted. This makes locating them a challenge.
When an adventurous silverback leads the gorilla family, the rest are forced to follow his hobby.
During the severe rainy season, the mountain gorillas may spend a lot of time at the slopes so you need to trace them. This may delay the time of finding the mountain gorillas, as the surface is slippery too.
When the mountain gorillas have a fight and the gorilla family you are trekking loses, they may be pushed into the deeper forest so delaying the gorilla trek.