Gorilla Trekking Safaris – in Bwindi Forests and Mgahinga Volcanoes
Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda is done in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Parks both found in south western Uganda. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is about 540Km from Kampala and Mgahinga National Park about 572km from Kampala. Gorilla tracking is mainly done in the Bwindi forest due to its first inception in 1993 of Gorilla tracking in Uganda thus capturing most attention of the worldwide Market for Gorilla tracking in Uganda. This included building lodges around Bwindi and later calling for more Gorilla Habituation in the area with many Gorilla families. Well-as Mgahinga has 1-Gorilla family thus making it less frequented.
Gorilla Family Groups in Bwindi
Approximately half the population of mountain gorillas live in Uganda, including six habituation families. The gorilla groups are found in different locations of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park: The UWA website guide states there are 4 main ones; we bring you accurate and updated information about these endangered and magnificent creatures. Below is a list of mountain gorilla families if Uganda for which Gorilla pass/tickets are issued. Click Here to Read about the Gorilla Families
The African Mountain Gorillas in Uganda is one of the main attractions to visitors to Uganda. Mountain Gorilla Tracking (Trekking) permits are a much sought after commodity and with a small number of people allowed to track each day, it takes a lot of planning to ensure an opportunity of the tracking of Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Since the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is unstable presently, there is more pressure on Mountain Gorilla Tracking Permits in Uganda. Fortunately, we also have Rwanda that is just a hop across the border from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and at times the Mgahinga Gorilla Park area.
Your best bet for obtaining a Mountain Gorilla Tracking Permit is to book a Mountain Gorilla Tracking Safari with us either as a 3 day safari or as part of a longer safari taking in other Uganda National Parks such as the Chimpanzees at Kibale, the wildlife, birds, and chimpanzees at Queen Elizabeth National Park. Read More…
Why are Gorillas viewed despite the fact they are wild animals?
Gorillas are naturally afraid of humans and typically will flee or aggressively charge if people get too close to them. Gorillas that are visited by people have undergone a “Gorilla Habituation exercise” Habituation refers to a process where through daily peaceful contact with humans, gorillas have lost fear of Humans and have gained and learnt to view them as neutral beings in their natural environment. Habituating a Gorilla group usually takes about 2-years and after this exercise, Duiker Safaris can be allowed to trek/track that particular family with all family members given names that Rangers will at-times call when in the rain forest tracking them mainly to calm them.
Why Mountain Gorillas are rare and the tracking so Unique.
There are very few Mountain Gorillas remaining in the world for several reasons despite several efforts by government and researchers like Dian Fossey who was an American zoologist who undertook an extensive study of gorilla groups over a period of 18 years in Rwanda and Congo discouraging local people especially in Congo to kill Gorillas and other Monkeys as a delicacy for such reasons with fears of people misunderstanding and mistreating Gorillas, most travellers to Uganda will want to track these amazing Giants in their natural habitat in the rain forest to make sure they have a life time tour of the Gorillas in Uganda.
The viewing of the Gorillas will last no-more than 1-hr once found during tracking but one major thing is there is no guarantee what time/how long it will take any group of travelers to find the gentle giants. they can be from 5-minutes after tracking in the morning which normally starts at 8:30 am to 7 pm in the afternoon which marks the end of any days tracking. Tracking can be a hard experience depending on how far the Gorillas walked and where they fed on the previous afternoon. Remember Gorillas like keeping a territory in order not to mix with other families .finding them is like finding bearded Human beings with a lot of fur on them in the jungle.
Why go on a Mountain Gorilla tracking in Uganda
Why Uganda is the best place to go on an African Mountain Gorilla tracking (trekking) Safari Tour
The question one is asked often – “Why should I go on a Mountain Gorilla tracking (trekking) Safari Tour in Uganda?” Why not Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo?
The answer to that is very simple and there are many reasons why Uganda is the best choice to go Mountain Gorilla tracking (trekking) and in Uganda, you can easily combine Mountain Gorilla Viewing with the fabulous Ugandan Wildlife and or go Birding.
Social life and feeding structure of the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda.
Gorillas are very social with all group members cohesively coordinating their daily activities. A typical day consists of alternating between several hours feeding and moving through the forest and then resting for a few hours. Usually, interactions among individuals are peaceful, but occasionally conflicts may arise over feeding spots, with individuals giving aggressive ‘cough grunt’ vocalizations, screaming, or even fighting. Relationships among females are relatively weak. These groups are non-territorial; the silverback generally defends his group rather than his territory. Silverbacks are dominant over all other group members. Dominance hierarchies exist among adult females and among males in multi-male groups as well as between groups. Inter group encounters occur about once a month; this can be the only opportunity for the females to transfer between social units and hence the time for males to out compete for their opponents and appear the most impressive to attract females. Friendly interactions among gorillas consist of resting together and grooming. Infants and juveniles have endless energy for playing occasionally up on short tree branches.
Group sizes vary from five to thirty, with an average of ten individuals. A typical group contains one dominant silverback, who is the group’s undisputed leader; another subordinate silverback (usually a younger brother, half-brother, or even an adult son of the dominant silverback); one or two black backs, who act as sentries; three to four sexually mature females, who are ordinarily bonded to the dominant silverback for life; and from three to six juveniles and infants. These groups are non-territorial; the silverback generally defends his group rather than his territory.
The Mountain Gorilla is primarily a herbivore animal the majority of its diet is composed of the leaves, shoots and stems and other plant species. It also feeds on bark roots flowers, and fruit, as well as small invertebrates. Adult males can eat up to 34 kilograms of vegetation a day, while a female can eat as much as 18 kilograms.
Uganda is safe and secure
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park are in safe areas, since presently there is no conflict and there are no rebel groups are operating in Uganda. The parks are safe and secure and the Ugandan government does everything within its power to ensure your safety both with the Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers and the Ugandan Army. For more information regarding safety in Uganda see the Staying Safe in Uganda page.
- Since Mountain Gorillas are closely related to us they are susceptible to diseases carried by humans.
- If you not well, let it be known and remove you from the gorilla tracking team.
- If you need to cough, sneeze, blow your nose, move your head away from the gorilla in order to keep the risk of infection to a minimum.
- No smoking, eating food or drinking of beverages is allowed in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas.
Uganda has over half the population of Mountain Gorillas in the World
In Uganda, you will find the largest population of Mountain Gorillas. Besides they are thriving and growing in number to the tune of about 7%. Recently rare twins were born in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. The Mgahinga Gorillas have returned to Mgahinga Gorilla Park which is good news and you now can track mountain gorillas in two areas of Uganda which is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
What to bring during Gorilla tracking in Uganda.
Before you pack your bag to come on a gorilla trekking tour with L’hoest’s Safaris, make sure you have done some physical training with running up hills and some pressure ups.
It is advisable that you must be physically fit and be ready to carry with you:
- A walking stick,
- a cap/hat,
- Over ankle Hiking shoes,
- Rain jackets
- water proof pants.
- Long sports or thick socks.
- back pack
- Enough food
- drinking water
- Insect repellant
- Camera a must
- Enough Camera batteries that cater for a full day.
- Water proof Safari kachi clothes are the best ORdark blue water proof pants and jackets during the trekking adventure.
Uganda Mountain Gorilla Tracking Tips and Guidelines
Just Practical Advice to make your Gorilla Safari more enjoyable.
For most travellers, trekking the Mountain Gorillas ranks among one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Uganda, and the spine-tingling feeling that you get being so near to one of our closest relatives is hard to describe.
Mountain Gorillas are one of the world’s most endangered apes and it is estimated that there are only 720 (approximately) left throughout the world. Almost half of these can be found in Uganda, as well as populations in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to The Ugandan Wildlife Authority, there is a 95% chance that you will come across the Gorillas on your trek. Your journey will be an exhilarating one: cutting your way through dense jungle, thick bamboo, past local homesteads and up forested hills… Tracking spans vary and can be anything from a little as 30 minutes to 7 hours! Your efforts will be rewarded with your first sighting of the Gorillas, as these gentle giants shyly approach you and you come face-to-face with one of nature’s greatest animals.
Before you set off on your Mountain Gorilla Tracking (Trekking) Safari
- Be in reasonable shape and have no communicable diseases or cold or flu. If you need to cough, sneeze, blow your nose, move your head away from the gorilla in order to keep the risk of infection to a minimum.
- Be at least 15 years of age.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
- Wear appropriate clothing since it is often cool there, a jacket might be helpful, a light backpack where you can put your packed lunch, proper boots to support your ankles.
The Mountain Gorilla Tracking Experience
- A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group (family) of habituated Gorillas in a day. This minimises behavioural disturbances to the Gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the Gorillas.
- Pack it in and pack it out. Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back with you since it would spoil it for the next visitors.
- You will be taken to where the guides left the Gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the
Gorillas’ trail to find them
- Look out for the Gorillas nesting sites along the way.
- When you approach the Gorillas, the guides will inform you when to get your cameras ready.
- Please always keep your voices low. This will ensure that you will be able to observe the beautiful birds and other wildlife in the forest.
In the Presence of Mountain Gorillas
- Keep a minimum distance of 5-7 meters (15-21 feet) from the Gorillas. (This reduces the risk transmitting diseases between humans and Gorillas.
- Keep your voices pretty low at all times but it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- Do not partake of food or drinks in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas.
- Sometimes the Mountain Gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example by crouching down slowly, and do not look at the Gorillas in the eyes. Wait for the gorilla to pass you by and do not attempt to run away (this will increase the risk of attack).
- Flash photography is not allowed, when taking pictures, move slowly and carefully. Do not make lots of movements when taking pictures-keep it calm.
- Do not touch the Mountain Gorillas, remember they are wild animals.
- The maximum time visitors are allowed to spend with the Gorillas is one hour; however, if the Gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will end the visit early.
- After the visit, keep your voices low until you are at least 200 meters away from the Gorillas.
Combine Mountain Gorilla tracking (trekking) with a Uganda Wildlife Safari
Uganda gives you a diversity of wildlife combined with gorillas that other surrounding countries cannot match or like the Democratic Republic of Congo are presently unstable and unsafe. While Uganda gives you diversity and safety. Climb the extinct volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. You can go Chimpanzee tracking (trekking) Kibale Forest National Park, see the wildlife in Lake Mburo along with its Zebras or simply swim and relax at Lake Bunyoni with its Bilharzia free waters and of course go on a wildlife Safari at Queen Elizabeth Park, all within the same region of Uganda.
Combine Mountain Gorilla tracking (trekking) with the most fabulous Birding in Africa
Uganda is the best Birding Destination in Africa, over 1000 different species of birds have been identified in Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has an incredible population of birds found there, many that are unique to the area