This is the ultimate guide to gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda. The experience has grown extremely popular in the past years. In this article, you will find all you need to know about these beautiful primates.
What is the best time of the year to see the gorillas?
First you should know the weather in these two countries, favors you to trek all year round. However due to the damp tropical climate, most tourists prefer checking in from June to September. Others prefer to visit from December to February.
How do Mountain Gorillas look like?
The Males also known as silverbacks are twice the size of the females. They grow up to 6 feet tall and weigh about 360 – 500 pounds. The males adopted their name due to the silver hair that grows on their back.
These gorillas are hairier than their lowland counterparts due to their colder and higher altitude habitats. These gorillas can grow up to 50 years old.
An interesting fact is that Gorillas and Humans share 98% DNA
How Do these gorillas Feed?
The day of a Mountain Gorilla starts at 6 am up to 6pm with a lunch time nap at around 1pm. They feed on foliage and fruits in the forest. These human like primates move to different locations where they nest using twigs and leaves.
Are these gorillas Dangerous?
Given their size and strength, one would assume they must be very dangerous. This is quite contrary, these mammals are such gentle and shy creatures. The gorilla families seen in Uganda have been trained to see humans over a two-year process called habituation.
They only attack when they are threatened and this is only during extreme situations to protect their own. Silverbacks fight to the death when they encounter another silverback from another family.
Mountain gorillas exist in groups which differ in size from 2 – 30 or 40, however commonly in groups of 10. There is no specific mating season while babies are born through the year. The Males begin breeding at around 15 years while the females start giving birth between 10 and 12 years. Females can give birth after every 2 to 3 years giving birth to 4 – 6 offspring through their lifetime.
Males leave their group at about 11 years of age, while a little over half of the females will leave their group.
Mountain gorillas communicate through sounds like roars, grunts and shouts, and 25 sounds currently have been documented by researchers
Who Should I use for the Gorilla Trekking experience?
In Uganda and Rwanda, you will find a ton of travel agencies but we delight in ourselves, Twende Expeditions as the model company for this experience. Check out our About us page to find out why you would choose us.
How much does a Gorilla Safari Cost?
An average safari to trek Gorilla safari is about $2000 depending on the number of people on the trip and its duration. A top notch luxury one will cost you about $4000 to $6000 per person. Based on reviews on TripAdvisor, most tourists prefer mid-range priced safaris. Check out our gorilla adventure safaris here
Where to Stay?
The choice for what accommodation is perfect for you all comes into three categories; luxury, mid class and Budget. Lodges in the area charge between $70 to $900 or more for double occupancy. Among the luxury ones are Mahogany Springs, Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge. See our list of luxury Uganda gorilla trekking lodges here
Gorilla trekking in Uganda Vs Rwanda, what’s my Best Option?
This question is a tricky because the mountain gorillas live in forests both in Uganda and Rwanda. In terms of wildlife, Uganda has more of it than Rwanda but most people really want to know the difference in permit costs. A permit in Uganda goes for $600 while one in Rwanda is $1500. The answer is Uganda obvious.
Why are Gorilla Permits so expensive?
The permits give you one-hour access to see the mountain gorillas in a trekking group of 8 people. These mountain gorillas are endangered so both governments are taking massive measures to preserve them in their natural habitat. Only 80 people a day are allowed to see these beasts of nature per day.
How to Get a Gorilla Trekking Permit in Uganda?
Furthermore, the best place to trek the gorillas in Uganda is in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national Park. You can as well check out Mgahinga National Park though the numbers are more in Bwindi. Permits in either parks will cost you $600. Only 8 people are allowed to see a gorilla family.
The best way to get a permit is through a safari agent. This is one of the few safaris you can’t DIY. This is due to the difficult terrain and remoteness in Bwindi and most common error is to book a gorilla family that’s far from your safari lodge.
It will cost you more doing it on your own than you hiring an agent to get you one. These agents will charge an extra charge of $60 to $100 per permit.
The hack around this is to book the entire safari with the tour operator rather than just purchase a permit from them. This will speed up things and be more cost effective.
Here is our detailed list of the process:
- Provide preferred dates of travel and specify dates for gorilla trekking
- We will update you on whether it’s in high season or a low one and ask you to temporarily book dates for trekking
- Send them the booking fees to our bank details provided at request. You can also pay through PayPal or by credit card
- We will acknowledge receipt of funds
- Provide a scanned copy of your passport. We will process the permit and keep you informed.
Tour operators through Association of Uganda Tour Operators normally buy as much as 80% of the permits valid up-to two years to the trekking safari date. Each agency can buy as many as 20 permits in a single month.
Please note that Gorilla tracking is date specific, so you will need to advise exact dates of travel for us to go ahead and advise availability. Permits are only purchased upon receipt of your deposit, after confirmation from you.
Like wise Gorilla permits are booked on a “first come first served” CASH basis and therefore can be purchased by others.
Please do make a decision as soon as you can in order to avoid disappointment.
On confirmation, please advise full names as they appear in your passports, nationality passport number and date of birth.
Finally, Gorilla trekking is such an amazing experience in that everyone should do it at least once in a lifetime.