Gorilla trekking is one of the best adventures one can ever take in Africa. This experiential safari can be done in only three countries in the whole world; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Would you like to visit the mountain gorillas in the wild? Are you looking for a discounted gorilla safari in Africa? Take use of discount gorilla permits this November and track the endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda.
The mountain gorillas are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are about 1000 individuals left in the whole world and there are jealously protected in four known national parks;
- Virunga National Park in Eastern DR Congo, the oldest park in Africa
- Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda
- Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda
The Mountain gorillas are found in two Ugandan national parks; the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. These two parks are separated by a distance of of about 28kms.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the most popular of all the known national parks that protect the mountain gorillas. This park is located in south west Uganda is home to nearly half of the world’s total remaining population of the endangered mountain gorillas. It takes about 8 hours drive from Kampala to reach Bwindi while from Kigali it takes about 4 hours.
Bwindi was named from a local Lukiga word “Omubwindi meaning a thick impenetrable rain forest! Amazingly the forest is almost impassable! Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is found in South Western Uganda, on the edge of the Western Rift Valley (Libertines rift) shared by Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro districts. It habituates half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas (400 -820 of them) Bwindi Impenetrable National Park remains the only park in the whole world where mountain gorillas co-exist with wild chimpanzees. It is here that Gorilla tracking is basically done in Uganda (with various gorilla family groups) and Mgahinga has 1-Gorilla family thus making it less frequented.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is part of the Virunga Ranges. Mgahinga lies in a distance of just 3 hours drive from Kigali while from Kampala, it takes 10 hours to reach the park.
Mountain Gorillas are a top attraction in both Uganda and Rwanda. Many tourists travel to Uganda to meet these great apes in the jungle. Considering their fierce appearance, an experience to meet the mountain gorillas in the wild is not only adventurous but also memorable. Despite the fierce look, the mountain gorillas are very shy, calm and peaceful creatures. A trip to Bwindi Impenetratable Forest or Mgainga Gorilla National Park brings you excitement and amazement having a close encounter with these gigantic rare creatures.
To meet these great apes, one must be in possession of a valid gorilla permit. A gorilla permit costs USD600 per person and it can be booked either through a local tour operator or the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Given that gorilla tourism was developed on responsible tourism guidelines, there is need to book your gorilla permit well in advance so that you can avoid disappointments.
Plan Your Trip
Driving to Bwindi National Park offices is through a rugged and dusty road and it is advisable to always use air conditioned cars to avoid getting flue. Mountain Gorillas are always visited in small groups. At the office, before jumping onto the track, you will be briefed on your trekking process, and here you will be able to get a porter for your back pack. You need lots of water and some food.
The forest is very dense, slippery, and uneven and there is no accurate way of telling how long it will take to find the gorillas so you need to be prepared. The trails are very steep, they do not use switchbacks. You need to have a decent level of fitness to do this tracking. The porter can also help you climbing up and down the mountain. Usually, trekkers/trackers go out in the morning to find the gorillas and radio the information to the guides. This works well except that gorillas keep moving so the guides keep trying to find out where they are and you go where he goes as he cuts the trial. The gorilla family groups can be found in about one and a half hours or even more depending on their movements.
Once with the gorillas, you are allowed an hour to be with them taking pictures. After an hour, you can climb back up the mountain then down the other side to reach the road and the truck.
When you return to headquarters you receive a certificate that you did the tracking. The tour guides and the porters are great, friendly and extremely helpful. Being within four feet of the gorillas is truly amazing. Tracking is best done during the summer and its best always buy your tickets early. Though it’s an exhausting and strenuous activity, it is such a wonderful experience staying with these creatures and when not in proper shape or of old age, consider this activity very carefully before engaging in it.
For more information about planning a safari to Bwindi visit the following resourceful websites;