The mountain gorillas are endangered species that are currently remaining in only three countries on the planet: Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. There about 900 mountain gorillas in these three countries however Uganda has half of the gorilla population in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and other few in Mgahinga gorilla national park located in south western Uganda. gorilla safaris in Bwindi
The mountain gorillas are among the wild animals that are close to human beings with about 94.5% DNA similar to humans. This means that the gorillas have some typical human beings characteristics. Deep in the equatorial forest jungles of the Virunga volcanoes, the mountain gorillas live in groups led by silver backs (male mountain gorillas).
Mountain gorillas are dangerous animals and therefore easily attack intruders of their territories however in a struggle to enable tourists to visit these unique apes, most gorilla groups were habituated to make them get used to human beings (especially tourists) presence in their habitants. Today the habituated gorilla groups can be visited and some of them actually now freely pose for photographs- a typical human beings characteristic.
Where to Go for gorilla trekking
Uganda’s mountain gorillas are trekked in the tropical rain forests of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park both in south Western Uganda. A traveler can therefore choose to see mountain gorillas in any of these gorilla national parks or else do a double gorilla trek in both national parks for great comparisons and memorable experiences.
How to get there
Getiing to Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla national parks has presently become easy unlike in the past when it would take days before reaching the gorillas. The easiest way to reach there is to board a flight to Kigali international airport in Rwanda and then cross over to Uganda which only take roughly 3-4 hours drive via Chanika border to Kisoro town or Gatuna border to kabale town. These two towns are the gateways to gorilla national parks. alternatively, travelers can fly direct to Entebbe international airport and drive for roughly 8 hours to Bwindi or Mgahinga gorilla national park. If you donot want a long drive, there are chatter flights connecting from Kajansi to Kisoro and Kihihi airstrips in kisoro and Kabale districts respectively. Travelers can use prvate transport means such as buses and taxis of hire self drive cars at affordable prices.
Habituated gorilla groups in Uganda
In total, Uganda has 12 habituated gorilla families all which are available for trekking. Bwindi is s shelter for 12 gorilla group s while Mgahinga shelters 1 gorilla family named Nykagyezi. Gorillas in Bwindi are shared among the four sectod of the park which are Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. The Buhoma sector is the most popular sector located in the northern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park with three gorilla groups which include Rushegura group with 19 gorilla members including one silverback, Habinyanja group with 17 gorilla members including two silverbacks and Mubare group with 8 gorilla members including 1 silverback and it’s the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda.
In the southern part of the parks, there are two sectors- Rushaga and Nkuringo. The Rushaga sector is made up of five gorilla groups that include: Busingye gorilla group having 9 gorilla members including 1 silverback, Nshongi gorilla group with 26 gorilla members including 4 silverbacks, Mishaya gorilla group with 12 gorilla members including 1 silverback and Kahungye gorilla group with 13 gorilla members including 3 silverbacks.2 gorilla families named Bushaho and Bikyingi both in Rushaga sector are undergoing habituation expereince and will be opened for tarvelers at any time.
The Nkuringo sector has one gorilla group-Nkuringo group with 19 gorilla members including 2 silverbacks.
The eastern part of Bwindi has the Ruhija sector that is comprised of three gorilla groups which include Oruzogo gorilla group with 25 gorilla members including 2 silverbacks, Bitukura gorilla group with 14 members including 4 silverbacks and Kyaguriro group with 15 gorilla members including 2 silverbacks (the Kyaguriro group was mainly left for research and its not usually visited by tourists).
The Nyakagezi gorilla group is located in Mgahinga national park and has 10 gorilla members including 3 silverbacks. gorilla safaris in Bwindi
Getting gorilla permits
Gorilla tracking permits in Uganda can be got at the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala or from a trusted tour operator at $600. Only 88 gorilla permits are issued out daily and only 8 tourists are allowed to track a gorilla group. This is done to minimize impact of behavioral change and disease spreading. This means that all tourists interested in viewing gorillas should make early bookings so that they do not miss. However in the low tourists season around April, May and November, gorilla permits are sold at $350 for foreign non-residents and $300 for foreign residents.
When to trek gorillas
Interestingly, mountain gorilla trekking can be done at any time of the year from January to December. However, the dry season in the months of June, July, August, September, October, December and January are best for trekking. During this time, there are less of no rains hence an ease of movement through the forests unlike in the rain season where the ground becomes slippery and muddy which make it difficult to walk through. Despite the difference, each season is unique in its kind and travelers are assured of an extra ordinary experience.
How to book for a gorilla tour
A gorilla tour can be booked privately or through ant trusted tour operator depending on the choice of the traveler. Tour operators can arrange independent and group tours at affordable prices which make it easy fro travelers saving them of time and long booking processes.
All the tourists interested in a gorilla safari should note that the gorilla trekking process has an age limit-Only individuals from 15 years and above are allowed.
Tourists are also very free to choose their preferred gorilla group in order to fully enjoy the gorilla experience. You are therefore advised to give in full details of your desired gorilla group to avoid misallocation. Mountain gorillas in Uganda can be trekked at any time of the year but best experiences can be got in the dry seasons.
Africa Adventure Safaris Limited is the only safari company that ensures that tourists gain money value while on a gorilla safari in Uganda. The company has well trained workers especially tour guides well equipped with gorilla tracking information and tips any tourist can be interested in.