Gorilla Trekking in Uganda


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Planning to Trek to See Mountain Gorillas in Uganda, here is what you need to know!

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is without doubt Uganda’s number one must-do experience for visitors traveling as individual travelers or on group safari.  Mountain gorillas are one of the country’s greatest natural wonders - making gorilla tracking, Uganda’s main highlight for most visitors. Mountain Gorillas live in mountainous forests of Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga national parks in southwestern Uganda.

Please note that special arrangements for physically challenged persons are available to allow them to enjoy gorilla trekking.

Gorillas can sometimes be moving, Forest vegetation can at times obstruct visibility, and hence taking photos of these creatures can be very challenging!

Gorilla trekking can be a strenuous activity, it is important you are in good health and spirit.

Gorilla Trekking Permits in Uganda

To go on a gorilla trek, it is a requirement to have a gorilla permit/license - which we can arrange for you. Chigo Tours Africa can only purchase your Gorilla permit after you have made a down payment. Trekking to see gorillas is limited to 8 permits – that is 8 persons per Gorilla family daily. Advance booking is always preferred. We advise that you decide early enough on your travel plans, get booking your trip and pay for permits as early as possible.  A delay in payment can result in permits not being secured for the intended dates ahead of time. A percentage of the gorilla permit fee goes to communities living around the gorilla parks.

Gorilla permits cannot be held/booked with the Uganda Wildlife Authority in advance of payment – they are only secured once physically paid for. And… are always 100% non-refundable, except for medical reasons, in which case a medical certificate must be provided. In such rare circumstances, refunds are at the discretion of the park authority and are not within Chigo Tours s control. Gorilla trekking is subject to the availability of permits.

In the event that Gorilla permits are not available in Bwindi impenetrable Forest, Chigo Tours Africa will reserve you a gorilla tracking permit for Mgahinga gorilla national park, away from crowds.

Gorilla permits Availability

Gorilla permits are very competitive, with 22 gorilla families permitted for tourist viewing yet only 8 people are permitted to visit a single family daily. There are 176 permits available every day.  And… availability changes daily. Chigo Tours Africa arranges our tours with Gorilla permits. In the event that there is no availability on your preferred trip dates, we will advise on available dates and help you make adjustments. Gorilla permits In Uganda (Bwindi/Mgahinga) cost $700 per person.

How to book a gorilla trek in Uganda?

It is helpful to contact a good tour operator like Chigo Tours Africa - which has a good reputation for operating gorilla trekking tours and offers in-depth local knowledge with staff or representatives on the ground. They will have visited the lodges personally and be familiar with the locations of each gorilla family. This knowledge can be extremely helpful when planning your trip. We arrange for you a gorilla permit, book your accommodation, and arrange transportation with a guide who knows the routes & the right starting gate following the location of the gorilla permit reserved. Contact us, our expert will get in touch with you.

Gorilla Tracking rules

  • To minimize visitor impact and allow gorillas more time in their wild habitat, the maximum time allowed with the gorillas will NOT exceed ONE hour.
  • There is a minimum age limit for gorilla tracking of 15 years (no exceptions).
  • Anyone with signs of communicable diseases will NOT be allowed to track.
  • You are kindly requested to practice different modes of using your camera in different light situations
  • You are required to keep a distance of 7 meters once you’re with gorillas

Gorilla Trekking Packing List:

What to bring & what to Wear on a gorilla trek?

  • With the right preparation, you can really enjoy your encounter with the mountain gorillas. Take a look at our packing list.
  • Sturdy and comfortable trekking boots or Hiking shoes with long socks to tuck in long pants.
  • Thick pants and a long-sleeved shirt as protection against stinging nettles.
  • Rainwear, warm clothing, evenings can be cold/ chilly, gloves preferably gardening type are very helpful and insect repellant.
  • If you feel safer with a walking stick, pack a folding one. Keep in mind that Local walking sticks – made out of wood, are also available at the park gates free of cost. Your guide will assist you to get one.
  • During rainy seasons, a poncho or raincoat might be a worthy addition to your daypack.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, repellant, and a hat are a good idea at any time of year.
  • Bring a snack or lunch (often provided by your lodge) and at least a liter of water.
  • Make sure your camera gear is well protected in a waterproof day pack.
  • Porter fee is highly recommended ($15) and Tip for rangers.

Gorilla Tracking in Uganda – Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does it cost to see gorillas in Uganda?
Uganda has more budget and mid-range accommodation options and also has a number of excellent luxury lodges.
  • Budget travel: $40-$60 per person per night based on two sharing
  • Mid-range travel: $80-$120 per person per night based on two sharing
  • Luxury travel: $450-$3,000 per person per night based on two sharing
The low-priced 3-day gorilla trek starting from Kampala will cost around $1,200 per person and will include one gorilla tracking permit, private transport, an English-speaking guide, and lodging with meals. A 3-day luxury gorilla safari may cost upwards of $3,000 per person. Higher-priced tours may include flights to one of the small airstrips a half-hour drive from the gorilla tracking region.
2. How is a gorilla trekking day like?
Gorilla trekking is an all-day activity with an early start; the day begins at around 7:45 am with registration and orientation on gorilla trek etiquette at the national park gate. The park rangers will have a general idea of the location of each gorilla family and the estimated distance with help of radio communications with a team of advance rangers – trackers, who go as early as 6 am to find where the gorilla family spent a night. Your trekking preferences; from easy, to medium to furthest, and personal fitness will determine which gorilla family you are allocated to visit. Please share your trekking preferences and fitness details with your driver/guide, he/she will help you get an appropriate family matching your preferences. After the orientation, depending on the location and the gorilla family you’ve been allocated to visit, you will either start right away into the forest or have a short drive to the start point and will start trekking around 8:30 am.
3. What should I expect on a gorilla trek?
On the day of your gorilla trek, your guide will transfer you to the orientation point, where you’ll meet everyone else permitted to go on a trek. Here you’ll be put into groups of 8 people and assigned a family to trek to. At this point, your ranger will request those interested in hiring a porter and you will be given one. If you have mobility issues, now is the time to let the ranger guides know—they typically try to appoint the fittest with the gorilla families that are the most challenging to reach, while those who may need to move at a slower pace are assigned to families easier to find. This is also when you’ll be briefed on safety measures. Trekking for gorillas often means hours of hiking through dense forests on steep, narrow paths, always behind your guide. Once your group finds your gorilla family, you have one hour to observe them. After your hour is up, you’ll walk back to your starting point.
4. When is the best time to go gorilla trekking in Uganda?
While it can be argued that there is no bad time to come face-to-face with these incredible animals, certain months are better than others—specifically during the dry seasons of December through February and June through August. Rains can make trekking trails, muddy and slippery. That said, it’s easier to get permits and is less crowded during this low season. If you’re planning to travel during peak/ high season (June–August), it’s good to book as far in advance as possible, as there are only eight permits permitted each day for each habituated gorilla family (meaning they’re used to seeing humans). There are a total of 22 gorilla families.
5. How long do gorilla treks take?
No two gorilla treks are the same. It can take anywhere from one hour to eight hours round trip to find a family in the forest, and once there, visitors are allowed one hour with the gorillas.
6. How hard is gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Bwindi forest landscape often has hills and valleys with forest cover. Trekking through the jungle can be tricky. The good thing is - there are local porters, who will give a helping hand to maneuver difficult points (and muddy in the rainy season). Rangers will cut pathways with machetes to help you navigate easily.
7. What else can I do besides gorilla trekking?
Most visitors to Uganda combine gorilla trekking with a safari. Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls are the country’s two most popular national parks, offering amazing boat ride safaris, on which you can see hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, elephants, and birds, with Queen Elizabeth is home to over 600 bird species, more than any other national park in Africa. Kidepo Valley National Park in the far northeast of the country is an up-and-coming safari destination.