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Planning a Gorilla Safari; important things to know

Planning a Gorilla Safari; important things to know

Are you planning and interested in visiting Uganda for Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forest, these answers to frequently asked questions on Gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest will help you plan well your trip for a great experience during your gorilla trek tour to Bwindi. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is only done in two national parks that is Bwindi Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park both found in the south western Uganda, Gorilla trekking is one of the major activities that attracts many tourists to Uganda and many include this activity on their itineraries when visiting Uganda.

About Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the only 4 national parks home to the endangered mountain gorillas in the world, other national parks include Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DR Congo. Bwindi Forest National Park is one of Africa’s oldest forests with a diverse biodiversity with various species which include 350 birds, 310 butterflies, 200 trees, 51 reptiles, 88 moths and 120 mammals, the park is also home to several primates including chimpanzees, L’Hoest’s monkey and the major one the Mountain Gorillas. The global population of mountain gorillas is 1064 individuals and half of these can be found in Bwindi forest, the park has over 15 habituated gorilla family groups open for gorilla tracking with 8 gorilla permits allocated to each group per day.

Where is Gorilla Trekking done in Bwindi Forest?
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest is done in 4 sectors which include Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga. Buhoma sector is located in the northern part of Bwindi and Ruhija sector in the North Eastern part of Bwindi both sectors are located close to Queen Elizabeth National Park making it easy to combine gorilla safaris in Uganda with wildlife tours if you are trekking at these sectors. In the southern Part of Bwindi it is where Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors are located close to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for gorilla trekking and Golden monkey tracking. Each sector has different habituated mountain gorilla families open for gorilla trekking with Rushaga sector having many families compared to other sectors.

How much is Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forest
A Gorilla Permit costs USD700 per person per trek for Foreign Non-Residents, USD600 for East African Residents and USD70 for East African Citizens. This Gorilla permit gives you an opportunity to spend one hour encounter with mountain gorillas in Bwindi forest once you find them on your trek.

How to purchase a Gorilla trekking permit for Bwindi Forest
Gorilla trekking permits are purchased from Uganda Wildlife Authority, this can be done at their headquarters in Kampala or Kisoro for tourists arriving in Uganda through Entebbe it is recommended to purchase their gorilla permits from Kampala and for tourists arriving in Uganda through Kigali they can purchase their permits at the branch headquarter of Uganda Wildlife Authority in Kisoro town which is 1-2 hours drive to Bwindi. Africa Tours adventure Ltd is one of the best gorilla safari companies which can purchase for you your gorilla permit in advance and on short notice, once you confirm your dates and share them with us via email or whatsapp we will first tentatively reserve the gorilla permits for you online and then send you an invoice for you to make payment and once money comes through on our account we will purchase your gorilla permits immediately and send you scan copies of your permits for your records and perusal and this will confirm you have purchase your gorilla permits for your gorilla trek in Bwindi forest for a given date.

Where is Gorilla Habituation Experience done in Bwindi Forest?
Gorilla Habituation in Bwindi forest is done in the southern part of Bwindi at Rushaga sector and areas between Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors. With this if you are interested in doing Gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi you are required to stay in lodges in the south at either Nkuringo or Rushaga. Gorilla habituation experience involves walking/hiking through Bwindi forest to search for semi habituated mountain gorillas and once you find them you will spend 4 hours encounter with them as you participate in activities geared to make these mountain gorillas get used to human presence so that they can be trekked normally after a given period of time. Gorilla habituation experience gives you an opportunity to spend more hours with mountain gorillas that is 4 hours compared to one hour during normal tracking. Gorilla habituation is always on high demand given they are only 4 permits available per day and tracking is only done by 4 people per day so it is recommended you book your permit atleast 2-3 months in advance. A Gorilla Habituation permit costs USD1500 per person per trek for Non foreign residents, USD1000 for Foreign Residents and USD220 for East African Citizens.

What is the difference between Gorilla Trekking and Gorilla Habituation Experience?
The major difference is during Gorilla trekking you spend one hour encounter with the mountain Gorillas once you find them in Bwindi forest whereas for Gorilla habitation experience you spend 4 hours encounter with mountain gorillas in Bwindi forest, gorilla trekking is done in a group of 8 tourists tracking per gorilla family whereas gorilla habitation is done in a group of 4 tourists tracking a given semi habituated gorilla family. Both activities are done in Bwindi Forest national park and both start in the morning hours you are required to be fit to be able to participate in one of the activity given the fact some time they tend to be strenuous especially when you are hiking through Bwindi Forest.

What is the best time to go Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forest?
The best time to do a gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest is during the drier months of January, February, June to early September, this is makes it easier to travel to the park and gives a clear view of gorillas given the vegetation cover is not too much high grown
What to pack for Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forest
During gorilla tracking you will need a comfortable, hard wearing, pair of walking shoes or boots.  Conditions are generally very muddy when it is raining. There are uphill sections which may be quite steep and strenuous.  It is also advisable to wear a long sleeve cotton shirt and lightweight long trousers to protect yourself from the undergrowth, stinging nettles and biting ants.  Suggested Items to pack for Gorilla trekking in Bwindi include;

• Insect Repellent              
• Torch/Flashlight - and Spare Batteries
• Wet Wipes                    
• Water Bottle                  
• Camera, lenses etc
• Comfortable walking/hiking boots & socks  
• Gardening gloves for gorilla tracking
• Sandals/strops/walking shoes  
• Hat and Sunscreen
• Rain Jacket
• Sweater/fleece
• Swimwear
• Binoculars (game/bird watching)

How hard and challenging is Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forest?
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest timings and conditions vary tremendously as the gorillas move continuously through the rain forest. It is good to be prepared and remember the weather can change with very little warning. The terrain is often steep and through areas where there are no marked paths. It can be very strenuous it may be just a couple of hours but it can also be for a full day of up to 8 hours or more of hiking in hot, high altitude conditions therefore please be prepared for this by being as fit as possible.

Where to stay during Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forest
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest National Park is done in the northern part that is Buhoma and Ruhija and in southern part that is Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors. In Rushaga lodges, you can stay at Rushaga Gorilla camp, Four Gorillas Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Havens Lodge, Nsongi Camp, Icumbi Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge and Karungi Camp. In Nkuringo lodges you can stay at Nkuringo Bwindi gorilla lodge, Clouds Mountain gorilla lodge or Lake Mutanda Resort, all these lodges are close to the start point of Gorilla Habituation and Gorilla trekking.
In the northern part, in Buhoma sector you can stay at Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi Lodge, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Ride 4 a Woman among others, In Ruhija you can stay at Trekkers Tavern Cottages, Agandi Eco Lodge, Gift of Nature Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, and Broadbill Tented Camp among others.

Which sector is best for Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forest?
Many tour operators and tourists choose Rushaga sector as the best sector for gorilla tracking in Bwindi because of the many habituated gorilla families here it is easy to get the gorilla tracking permit here compared to other sectors, however according to the nature/elevation Buhoma is the best sector for gorilla trekking given the fact sometime you can only spend 3-4 hours on your trek and some trackers are already done by 11am in the morning. Among all the sectors it is Nkuringo sector that has a higher elevation making the treks strenuous. For gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest which ever sector you are booked for your trek you will be able to see the mountain gorillas and you have 99% chances of seeing them on your trek given the fact this is a very well organized activity.

How to get to get to Bwindi Forest for Gorilla Trekking
By Road; This will depend on which sector you will be doing your gorilla trek in Bwindi Forest; Bwindi can be accessed through the main high-way road from Entebbe/Kampala which approximately 8-9 hours drive. The northern sectors of Ruhija and Buhoma can be accessed by turning off along the Kabale-Kisoro road you will see the sign posted of Uganda Wildlife Authority which you will follow up to the designated sector for your trek. The southern sectors of Rushaga and Nkuringo trailheads can be reached using the road turning off at Muko along Kabale-Kisoro High way.
By Air; You can fly from Entebbe International Airport or Kampala’s Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro airstrip to access the southern sectors of Rushaga and Nkuringo and then to Kihihi airstrip for the northern sectors of Ruhija and Buhoma. Scheduled and chartered flights are available and operated by domestic airline operators of Aero link and Fly Uganda. You will need to plan with your tour operator for a transfer from the airstrip to your Lodge you are booked for your stay.

Why Book with Africa Tours Adventure Ltd your Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
Africa Tours Adventure Ltd will help you book your gorilla trekking permits and plan your tours starting from one day Uganda gorilla tour in Bwindi Forest, to longer safaris. We as well have different gorilla trekking safari packages ranging from budget, mid-range to luxury options that we can book for you including the gorilla permits. Feel free to checkout our trip advisor reviews and read from a community of happy satisfied clients. With us, you can be rest assured of a memorable Uganda safari holiday. We are devoted to providing excellent service and customer satisfaction. Our team of excellent tour consultants is always willing to help answer all your safari questions. We guarantee you a great gorilla tour in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo with us.