It’s also known that Rwanda Gorilla trekking the mountain gorillas with in the thick rain forests in central Africa is not an exact science exercise.
With finding the mountain gorillas, finding and getting to these mountain gorillas is not as easy as the people think, nor are the guests guaranteed to view them. This trek to finding the mountain gorillas will take you through very dense vegetation, on the narrow trails with the muddy and steep slopes. This search of these primates can last many hours since these primates move around in the thick undergrowth shifting deep into the forest at most of the times. Once these gorillas are found, they are enjoyed by the visitors since these are used to human presence.
Starting your gorilla safari,
Trekking the mountain gorilla safari starts so early in the morning, and driving to the boundary of the park for the general formalities before proceeding to the ranger’s station. The tour cars are usually left behind at the ranger station and the walk will start. The group also follows the instructions of the local ranger through farmlands and into the thick vegetation of Bwindi forest national park.
What to know about your gorilla safari
It’s also known that one collective noun for gorillas is a whoop, the rangers will tell you about the real family of the mountain gorillas you are to trek. This will also give you the history as well as sharing in depth the knowledge about the mountain gorillas. The game rangers also trek to the real site where the gorillas were seen the past night and then trace their own movement from there to locate them for the visitors. These gorillas are also monitored daily which helps in keeping track of their locale, safety as well as healthy. After spending 45 minutes ti 8 hours of challenging search along the muddy tracks, you will then come face to face with a family group of mountain gorillas with in the forest. You will usually put your stuff down and also remain silent as you move in a little closer with your cameras to get an opportunity to view some of these beautiful primates.
The exact Gorilla Encounter
This is the real time where the real magic happens as this intimate and unique gorilla expedition unfolds to the guests. You will then have an hour to view these gentle apes at a close range of up to 7 metres in their natural state as you take the photos of them. You will also get chance to watch these fantastic beautiful primates as the feed, groom, play, parent and also interacting with each other. The resemblance which id between the ways these primates behave and also relate with each other as well as their mannerism of the human beings leaves many of the trekkers wondering.
Proceeding after the gorilla expedition
After spending your time with the mountain gorillas, it’s now time to return to the trekking station of the rangers. Along the way to and from the gorillas, you can stop and have lunch that was packed as well as water. You will arrive at the station at the headquarters and the guide will transfer you to your vehicle and make your way back to your booked accommodation.
Disparity of the gorilla experience.
Gorilla trekking varies and you never know what will happen on the ground. The real adventure might also vary depending on the local conditions like the weather, movement of the mountain gorillas, happenings and the politics. These also tend to be in different locations since these are also wild animals, which means that even though they are habituated to the humans, their behaviours are so erratic. These gorillas might also move into the bush while the visitors are viewing them and this is also beyond your ranger’s control since their movements are not so restricted. The mountain gorillas carry out their daily activities uninterrupted, however with the young ones showing the curiosity about the many human visitors.
Why you should trek in Uganda
Uganda the pearl of Africa is a very scenic country with the lush land scapes, flowing rivers, variety of wildlife, the lakes and the mountains that are covered with the dense rain forest. The country is also well known for its very friendly people and its safe place to travel. Uganda also gives fantastic game viewing, chimpanzee trekking, cultural and heritage exchanges, adventure tourism that is added to gorilla trekking which also makes it as well as a experienced safari destination in Africa.
Uganda’s main tourist attraction is the mountain gorillas that are found in Bwindi impenetrable national park. Uganda is also home to many chimpanzees mainly found in Kibale National park that have attracted many tourists to trek them. Queen Elizabeth national park also is a great destination with variety of game viewing as well as the bird species.
The gorilla trekking sector in Uganda is also well established since it started in the early 90’s and is also benefiting the local communities living near the Bwindi forest. Uganda’s gorilla population is so stable and ever growing in recent years. We thank the effective management of the national parks as well as the concerned conservation efforts. Bwindi also provides the walking trails that helps in providing good spectacular views, bird watching, and the waterfall visits. The visitors can also explore the local villages like Buhoma in order to meet and acquire a taste of life in the rural areas.
The Mountain Gorilla regulations.
The mountain gorilla trekking regulations include; the number of people allowed to track per day, the time allowed to stay with them, the maximum group size, all this is to ensure the wellbeing of the endangered mountain gorillas, these mountain gorillas are so vulnerable to many human diseases given how much we are related to these apes.
- The visiting hours: this activity takes place during day time hours , this is between 8:00am and 7:00pm
- The small group: it’s also only a maximum of eight people who are allowed per day in order to reduce disturbance and also reduces severe exposure to human diseases.
- The time limit: its only 1 hour that is allowed to spend with the mountain gorillas.
- The age restriction: its 15 or 16 years only.
The mains dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking (the rules of gorilla trekking)
- Protection of the mountain gorillas;
In case you are so sick and have an infectious disease, you are not allowed to go for the trek, more so if you are not feeling well, you are advised to stay at the lodge which will help in safe guarding the wellbeing of these endangered animals.
- Maintaining the good manners; if you sneeze or cough, always turn away and cover your nose as well as the mouth in order to reduce the chances of transmitting the viruses or the bacteria to the mountain gorillas.
- You not to over stay with the mountain gorillas. You are also expected to spend only one hour with the gorillas, departing when the time is up.
- Always to keep a distance: you must also stay 5-7 meters away from the mountain gorillas and it’s because they are dangerous but they are wild animals and we must keep distance to always avoid transmitting the diseases to them.
- Always try to behave yourself; always keep your voices down and donot point or use a flash when taking photos.
- Be prepared; always take warm and the waterproof gear for the cool mountain conditions in the wet forests and also always wear the comfortable walking shoes.
- Don’t snack or smoke near the gorillas, you are not allowed to drink or eat or even smoke around the mountains.
- Keep clean always: the visitors are encouraged to wash their hands before going for the trek
- End ever to keep the hands to yourself. You are not allowed to touch the gorillas even when they come close to you.
- Don’t litter the trash. The visitors are not allowed to throw rubbish around in the jungle
- Always remain calm
- Maintain good toilet etiquettes
Tips of getting out of a gorilla Trek
- End ever to keep yourself covered; always have long pants, socks as well as gaiters that will keep safe from the bugs. The gloves will also protect you from the stinging nettles as well as the thorny branches.
- Always maintain fitness: a gorilla trek needs a physically challenging and tiring activity that passes through the rough terrain, the guests are advised to be physically fit.
- Always be well equipped, remember to carry enough water, water proof bags for the camera and the insect repellent, sun screen and the hat.
- Always stay dry and warm; always carry warm and rain proof clothing with you and this will help you cope with the cool conditions which are found in the mountains.
- Remember to join an organised trip. The visitors are also advised to book through a tour company in order to make the travel simple and getting the gorilla permits that can be arranged for you beforehand
- Remember to choose your timing. Try to avoid trekking in the rainy season when the going get difficulty
How to buy gorilla trekking permits
Each visitor also needs a gorilla permit in order to go for gorilla trekking in any of the three national parks. These activities are also related and so expensive. These should also be arranged in advance which is the reason why many people buy permits through tour operators. For the high season of June to September and December to February, the gorilla permits need to be bought in advance since the guests can easily miss out due to the many travellers. These permits also need to be purchased five months in advance before traveling.
About the price of Gorilla permits in Uganda
The gorilla permits in Uganda currently cost $600 per person per day in high season and $450 per person per day in the low season of April, May and November.
Where and how to get the gorilla permits.
The gorilla permits can be bought in cash or with a traveller’s cheques at Uganda Wildlife Authority central offices in Kampala or from abroad. Obtaining a permit in Kampala is also limited most especially in the high season. This also means that advanced booking is also recommended. And in the low season, the visitors can get the permits on spot at Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters.
Buying of the gorilla permits online.
About purchasing the permits online, direct bookings are made via email and these can be paid for by making transfers called the EEF, these also don’t allow the credit card payment. You can as well purchase the permits two years ahead of time. This can also be done through depositing30% and paying the balance 91 days before tracking. The local tour operators are given first priority on bulk buying of the gorilla permits, this is 80% of the 2 years in advance, which can also be sold to the foreign visitors or the tour operators. These can be issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority via an authorised tour company that sells the permits for the original price and also issuing directly to you.
Trekking gorilla permits in Rwanda
The gorilla permits in Rwanda can be got through Tourism Board offices from either Kigali or Ruhengeri near the volcanoes National park. The visitors can all or email the offices directly, but it’s so tricky to get just the gorilla permit and not the whole tour package. A gorilla permit is Rwanda costs $1500 per person per day and many visitors get the permits through a tour operator. However, early booking is also advised and this must be 4 months in advance during the peak season of June to October.
The Gorilla permits of Democratic Republic of Congo.
If you are planning on tracking in DRC, it’s better to book with a tour operator with in the country. The permit here costs only $400 per person per day.
When to go for gorilla trekking
Gorilla tracking can be done at any time of the year, even though the paths are more difficult to pass through in the rainy season. The rainy season also includes March to April to May and October to November. The gorilla permit here is cheaper in Uganda and costs $450. In the dry season, you can visit Rwanda, Uganda or DRC from mid-December to late February or June to late September in the dry seasons.
The frequently asked Questions (FAQS) about gorilla trekking
- What time of the year should I travel to see the gorillas?
The mountain gorillas can be visited any time of the year though it can rain any day of the year due to the rain forest climate, therefore there is no time of the year to avoid traveling. May and April are also the rainiest months, so most people avoid travel during these months.
- Do I require to be fit to trek or find the gorillas?
All the guests need a level of fitness and willingness to hike up the muddy slopes and through the varied vegetation and the terrain. The mountain gorillas live in montane forests, so the treks to view them are at a higher altitude.
- Is it guaranteed to see the gorillas when you set out?
The mountain gorillas live in their natural habitants so it’s not a guarantee that you will sight them though, we have never heard any of the tourists regretting their treks. To help in ensuring this, the trackers set off at dawn and then locate the gorilla groups and then radio their GPS coordinates to the park headquarters, so this means that when you set off for the trek with the guide, you know where you are headed. The trackers also stay with the gorillas even though they are not moving.
- What type of clothing should I wear?
For the safety of the camera, a water proofed day pack is so vital. Always pack water bottles and snacks as well. Just for a small fee, porters can be so helpful in carrying the luggage to the steep slopes. The waterproof jacket is also important since when setting out you get to expect the muddy and rained on. Always wear long trousers to be able to guard your legs against the nettles and a T-shirt with a long sleeved shirt over the top.
- Is there a minimum or maximum age of visiting the gorillas?
Trekking is mostly done by the people with 6 years and above and there is no elasticity to this rule. This is the same for both Rwanda and Uganda and its being enforced by the national parks. There is also no upper age limit!
- Do I need a gorilla permit?
You must obtain a gorilla permit to be able to visit the gorillas. Its only 8 visitors that are allowed to see the gorillas per group per day. You must secure a gorilla permit 4 months before you intend to travel and we can ensure that you have a permit in advance before you travel. The permits currently in Uganda cost $600, $1500 in Rwanda and $450 in DRC and the price is per person. This money goes directly towards conservation of the habitants, anti-poaching efforts and education of the local communities.
- Will this be covered by my travel insurance?
It’s also important that your travel insurance does cover you for gorilla trekking as they may need an additional premium to be paid.
- Can you track the gorillas when feeling un well?
This is a big no, the gorillas are vulnerable to human diseases and even something that is minor to us can be very dangerous to them. You need to take care of yourself before the safari and avoid getting sick. You need to warn your guide in case you are feeling un well.
- How big are the gorilla tracking groups?
There is also a maximum of 8 people per group in Rwanda or Uganda.
- How much distance is my accommodation to the park headquarters?
You will be located within the easy access to the park headquarters, but the distance will depend on which accommodation you chose. The distance to the headquarters will vary from a one minute walk to an hour.
- How long can I spend with the gorillas.
Once you have sighted the gorillas, you will be given one hour to spend with them. We also recommend that you track them at least twice. This also means that the second time, you can ignore taking the photos and then concentrate on enjoying the experience.