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Mountain Gorillas in Uganda reside in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (almost half of the World’s population) being the most popular park to track them from. Bwindi’s Buhoma section (North) of the park famous for tourists, while in the South is Ruhiji section, Nkuringo section & Rushaga section also do introduce you to other gorilla families. Mgahinga National Park (One Habituated Gorilla Family),
Most Prominent Gorilla trekking tours include:
3 Days gorilla trekking Bwindi.
4 Days Gorilla and Chimpanzee Trekking Tour.
5 Days Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking.
5 Days Gorilla and Wildlife Tour in Queen Elizabeth.
5 Days Gorilla and Lake Bunyonyi Tour.
Cost of the Gorilla Permit in Uganda
Cost of Uganda Gorilla permit through -Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters costs $600 per person (Foreign Non- residents), $500 (foreign residents), Ugx 250,000 (East African citizens) and the Gorilla Habituation experience permit is $1500.
What you must know when Gorilla Tracking in Uganda (Gorilla Tracking Tips).
There is always a meeting of trekkers before commencing their actual hiking in which they are briefed, rules and regulations outlined for them as to be respected and followed in the Gorilla trekking activity as below.
1.A total number of 8 visitors or tourists is allowed to track /visit a particular mountain gorilla family or group in a day and before your trekking exercise -set off, ensure to have your hands washed thoroughly well so as to ensure the highest level of cleanliness.
2.You are advised to keep your voices extremely low as you are heading to track the mountain Gorillas and requested to even be quieter when you finally meet them and always follow your tour guide through the whole trekking process and make sure you stick with the group for both safety purposes and also be able to get thorough explanations of the attractions seen along the way to the mountain Gorillas
3.Do not recklessly litter rubbish in any National park or protected area, requested to keep a distance of 7m (21 feet) from where the mountain Gorillas are, do not look closely and straight /directly in the eyes of the Gorillas, sometimes these animals do charge and do not touch the Gorillas because they are wild animals and flashy photography is not allowed, so move slowly and carefully when going to do that.
4.The time spent with the Gorillas is limited to one hour this is simply to minimize any behavioral disturbances, stress and possible risk of infection, keep your voices very down after the visit until you are 200m away from these animals.
5.All wastes must be buried, a 30m hole is dug, dispose of every waste there then fill up the hole when finished. This is done because these wastes(faeces) can highly be infectious to the great apes and other animals.
6.If you feel ill, carrying a contagious disease, please don’t engage yourself in the activity. So another visit will be arranged for you or your money refunded back.
What must you wear & Pack for this Activity in Uganda –Gorilla Tracking
- Wear long sleeved blouse(ladies), long sleeved shirts/Trousers (Men)- Now the longness of this blouse, shirt and trouser protects you from being pricked by thorns, anything that can scratch you, nettles or insect bites, the sun burnings, tree branches, itchy plants, etc. Wear Water proof sturdy boots (These good hiking boots will give you good stability, balance, traction & support to your ankles).
- A Rain Jacket Tourists are advised to carry wind proof and water proof rain jackets with hoods on them. This is so because Gorillas are trekked in rain-forests, usually in morning hours, it might rain anytime it doesn’t matter whether dry season or not therefore rain jackets should come handy.
- Sturdy Gardening Gloves -these will protect you from harm of germs and other items which could scratch you and a Hat and Sun Glasses all you need is a wide brimmed hat which will protect your heads and neck from rain or the sun.
- Pack a Pair of Binoculars (enable you view a lot of other various plants and simple animal species in the National Park), Cameras, Extra Batteries, Flash light, Trekking Pole to enable you balance when moving on the steepy grounds within the forest and Energy giving Snacks- Trekking seems to take long hours and you might get hungry and thirsty, so these light snacks can help out,etc Gorilla Families in Uganda
- Rushegura Gorilla Family-This family located in Buhoma (one of the sections in Bwindi Impenetrable National park) and having a family size of 18 members headed by Kabukjo (Silverback). The calmest family &. Tracking time for this family group tends to be shorter in recent times since they have stayed around the park headquarters
- Habinanja Family-This group is migratory, sometimes it can be sighted an hour’s time before arriving at Buhoma trail-head but they reside more in the parts of the North end of the forest. It is a larger family of 17 individuals with 2 silverbacks inclusive, being led by Makara(silverback) It normally takes a full day-5 hours or more tracking this group.
- Mubare Gorilla family – is the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda, located in Buhoma section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with a size of 9 individuals including 1 silverback (Ruhondeza).
- Nkuringo Gorilla family-The name was derived from a Rukiga word “Round hill” and the habituation process was concluded in 2004. The family is located in Nkuringo having 19 members with 2 silverbacks inclusive, initially the family was led by the silverback” Nkuringo” who died in April 2008, leaving behind 2 silverbacks (Safari & Rafiki) in the family.
- Bitukura Gorilla Family – family consists of 12 members including 4 silverbacks, located in Ruhija (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and this family learns so quickly- so normally it takes two years of habituation training but this family was ready for tourists/visitors in 15 months.
- Oruzogo Gorilla Family- is the second habituated gorilla family living in the Ruhija village area. This family consists of 17 individuals and headed by Tibirikwata(Silverback). The family opened greatly for tourism in the mid-2011, not because of its size but due to the playful Juveniles & toddlers in the group that keeps the tourists entertained
- Mishaya Gorilla Family- This is another family of Gorillas which resides in Rushaga section of Bwindi forest and gorilla trekking is one of the main activity practiced. This group consists of 12 members led by “Mishaya” who is a fighter with 1 dominant silverback.
- Nshongi Gorilla Family- largest family group ever habituated, located in Rushaga covers a size of 36 members and including 5 silverbacks.
- Kahungye Family-This family is one of the most recently habituated Gorilla family in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and was opened up for tourism in October 2011 but in less than a year this family split up forming a new group called Busingye.
- Busingye Gorilla Family -After having been formed out of the split of Kahungye family group, this group has got 7 members including 1 silverback. It’s located in Rushaga section of Bwindi. This family is the newest group gotten out of the Kahungye family split. “Busingye means Peace, Bweza gorilla family, Kyaguriro Gorilla Family and Nyakagezi Gorilla Family.
Travel options for seeing mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda)
Uganda’s main roads are generally in better shape/condition just a little slow though. Now some/ most of these roads are very slow and very bumpy, especially when approaching Uganda’s Gorilla parks. So 4*4-wheel drive vehicles are ever recommended for specific routes especially in seasons with rain pouring. From Kampala / Entebbe – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is roughly 8 hrs drive by road. This drive gives you a wide view of African life in areas/ places you come passing through, proceed through the magnificent green Pearl of Africa, cross the Equator (where if time allows can stopover and take photos)
Another alternative is having a flight from Entebbe – Bwindi of which a round trip Air ticket costs $450 specifically with the Aero link Uganda in about 1.5 hrs. You will fly over the Lake Victoria Islands in the south-western Uganda. Transfer from Kisoro Airstrip or Kihihi is about 30 mins-1 hr, depending on your choice to trek gorillas from.
Gorilla Trekking Lodges in Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable National park being the home of a large number of Mountain Gorillas, it has gotten 4 sections within, that of which all have accommodation facilities or services at your exposure and there are plenty of options ranging from Budget(B), Mid-range(MR) and then Luxury(L). Your choice of accommodation will contribute highly to the nature of your Gorilla Tour/Safari. Among the most famous safari lodges include: -Chameleon Hill lodge(Rushaga), Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Ruhiji Gorilla Safari, Iachumbi Gorilla lodge, Gorilla mist Camp, Buhoma Haven lodge, Trekkers Tavern, Rushaga Gorilla Haven, Buhoma Community, etc.
What else to do After Uganda Gorilla Tours/Safaris
- Nature Walks
Here you experience penetrating into the forest by foot, hear sweet singing of the birds, rewards you with the exclusive feeling of the natural forest, this is the most transparent and flexible way to discover the hidden treasures in Bwindi. And still can walk to adventure from one sector to another sector in Bwindi.
- Batwa Experience
This is an experience that allows you to dig deeper and know this community’s unique culture like how they are sheltered in trees, how they live, hunt within the forest and meet the Pygmies –old dwelling forest tribe.
- Game drives
This gives you a wide game view of different animals like Elephants, lions, etc. that you have not seen well, different bird species,
- Boat cruising/launch cruise and Canoeing
Here you are bound to view those mammals along and on the lake and river banks even those within the water-bodies like crocodiles, Buffaloes, etc.