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Uganda Gorilla trekking
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in the South Western part of Uganda bordering with DRC subsequent to Virunga National Park in DRC. The park’s total area coverage is 331 km 2 covered with both montane lowland forests and one can easily foot to the thick forests & the uneven nature of its topography. Bwindi is wealthy with fauna, shelters about 120 mammal species, of which 10 are primates and more than 45 small mammals. Mountain gorillas are the famous primate species and contains over 480 gentle giants staying in this tropical rain forest. The national park is therefore the finest destination to go for gorilla safaris appreciating trekkers to spend time with these amazing species. Apart from mountain gorillas, this park also shelters some chimpanzees, L’Hoest’s Monkey, African elephant, African green broadbill and Cream-banded swallowtail, black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, vervet, the giant forest hog and small antelopes. Carnivores like side-striped jackal, African golden cat and African civet can also be noticed in this park. Plus, about 350 bird species and more than 200 butterfly species, several fish species can also be recognized in the Park’s Rivers and streams.
Gorilla Tours in Bwindi
Gorilla trekking is the key tourist desirability for various trekkers to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. The park houses over 400 mountain gorillas, which have been familiarized/habituated into 12 gorilla family groups accessible for trekking. Amazingly, this total makes up almost half of all the mountain gorillas in the world which indicates you how the park is densely blessed with these endangered mountain gorillas and hence the finest place for gorilla tours in the whole world. Most of Uganda’s gorilla safaris are made to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park due to the presence of these plentiful mountain gorillas in the park.
Gorilla permits in Bwindi
All trekkers to spot these gentle giants in Bwindi must have legal gorilla permits as a pass to spot these mountain gorillas in their natural homes. A single gorilla permits in Bwindi rates $600 and it permits trekkers to be in the presence of these gentle giants for strictly 1 hour. Luckily enough, foreign residents purchase them at a rate of $500, East African citizens at Ugx 250,000 which is an added benefit. However, gorilla trekking accommodation rates and transport to the park are excluded off the above gorilla permits. Booking gorilla-trekking permits in advance is highly recommended as they always have a restricted accessibility- at least 3 months in advance.
Getting to the park(travel options
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park can be retrieved by both road and air transport means. Bwindi can be reached through Kampala-Kabale-Kanungu-Buhoma route by road and taking a duration of about 5-6 hours. Another route is via Kampala-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi-Buhoma- the easiest and most suitable route with about 390 km in addition to the marram road to Buhoma. Then if you use Air transport trekkers can either choose to fly from the main Entebbe International Airport / from Kajjansi airfield. These flights will head you straight to one of the three airstrips around the park, which involve the tarmac airstrip at Kisoro, Kayonza and Kihihi airstrips.
What to Pack for a gorilla tour in Bwindi
To guarantee a fruitful and pleasurable gorilla safari to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, a bolt must have a fully prepared packing list. Among your list of items, you should pack hiking boots for easy movements, garden gloves for protecting your hands during your gorilla trekking venture, a rain jacket to deal with the uncertain forest rains and sun glasses/hut to protect you from direct sunshine. A long sleeved shirt or blouse together with a pair of jean trousers which prevent insects like the safari ants from entering you and disrupt your gorilla trekking encounter. Energy giving snacks and enough drinking water are also crucial as per your packing to boost you during the tiring gorilla trekking excursion. A pair of binoculars will also help you to spot some of the far species like birds, monkeys, chimps and other primates. Eventually you may need to pay a porter to give you a push or a pull during your gorilla trekking activity as the gorillas may be far.
Accommodation/Where to Stay in Bwindi
There are many lodges /hotels to stay when for this activity, Bwindi Impenetrable National park has got 4 sections in it with all having where to stay at your disposal. Buhoma being the starting place for gorilla tracking one could stay in lodges like Buhoma lodge, Buhoma Community rest camp, Mahogany springs, Engagi lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi gorilla lodge, Chameleon hill, lodges in Ruhiji like Trekkers Tavern, Rushaga Gorilla Haven, Gorilla mist camp, etc. And all this ranges in levels of Luxury/deluxe, Cheap/budget and mid –range which ever you can afford.
When to Visit Bwindi Forest National Park
The park is open for Wildlife spotting and gorilla tours year in, year out However, the best time for a trekker is from June to August and December to February because these are peak months and therefore forest trails are muddy and slippery.
Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations
- A total number of 8 visitors or tourists is allowed to track /visit a particular mountain gorilla family or group in a day. This number considered helps to reduce behavioral disturbances that humans may cause to these mountain gorillas. It also helps to reduce on the chances of transferring diseases from humans to the mountain gorillas.
- Before your trekking exercise -set off, ensure to have your hands washed thoroughly well. This is to promote the highest level of cleanliness.
- 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. This enables you get an opportunity to watch the other various wildlife species in the course of the trail like Birds, Golden Monkeys, Butterflies, etc. Still the peace of these animals is not disrupted at all.
- 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.
- Do not recklessly litter rubbish in any National park or protected area. You are requested to keep any garbage or trash on you until you are back at the briefing point then dispose it off.
- You are requested to keep a distance of 7m (21 feet) from where the mountain Gorillas are. Though they are habituated, mountain Gorillas are still wild animals and if they feel threatened they can move away.
- Keep in a tight group whenever near the mountain Gorillas, Eating, Drinking or smoking is prohibited in the presence of these Gorillas and keep your voices as low as possible but then you are free to ask questions from your guide.
- Do not look closely and straight /directly in the eyes of the Gorillas, sometimes these animals do charge. Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
- 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.
- 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.
- Body language is important and visitors should not raise hands or arms, or point, nor stare at them because to gorillas their behaviours are signs of threat or aggression.