Habituation of two gorilla groups complete

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has announced the addition of two new gorilla families/groups that are now available for tourists who safari to Uganda for a gorilla tracking/trekking – bringing the number to 17 up from 15.

According to a public statement that the conservation authority has issued, the addition of the two families follows the successful habituation of Katwe group in the Buhoma sector and Christmas group in the Nkuringo sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Big demand for gorilla permits

The new development comes at a time when tour operators are stuck with visitors intending to go for a gorilla safari but are hampered by the unavailability of permits – having already sold out! As things stood before the new additions, all August and September permits had been sold out.

In the public statement, UWA made the point saying “we have received overwhelming demand for gorilla permits during the past 3 months.”

The overwhelming demand over the last three months of what is considered the peak season has been partially occasioned by the fact that many tourists and indeed tour operators in Rwanda have been forced to book Uganda gorillas for their customers because of the increased permit price in Rwanda.

Because gorilla permits are generally booked in advance, tour operators have been risking – taking especially safari goers who have been making bookings at short notice to Bwindi in the hope of purchasing permits that become available when tourists that booked them cancel at the last minute.

No betting on gorilla permit availability

UWA said that when such permits have not materialized, tour operators who took the risk of betting on availability have been placing a lot of pressure on UWA to provide permits even when there has been no availability.

In order to address this need, we have increased the number of gorilla families for tracking from 15 to 17, following the successful habituation of Katwe group in Buhoma and Christmas group in Nkuringo.

Tour operators/ safari companies have been requested by UWA to always liase with the reservations office in Kampala before travelling to Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks to avoid being turned away due to unavailability of permits.

In the same vein, tour operators have been discouraged from carrying cash and making on the spot reservations in Bwindi. While the practice of paying cash on the ground in Bwindi or Mgahinga has been discouraged, UWA has said it will be authorized in limited and exceptional cases.

Permits booked at UWA HQ

Visitors or their agents have been advised to book their gorilla permits through the UWA reservations office at the Headquarters in Kampala.

However, a small window has been given to tour operators and individuals who had already booked through the UWA offices in Bwindi and Mgahinga to pay at headquarters and continue to track. Going forward, payment on the day of tracking is possible but has been discouraged.

UWA has also announced that they are working on developing an improved full cashless system for payment of permits and the other services they offer. “Once this is concluded in the next few months, the public will be informed,” reads the statement in part.

Uganda always impresses visitors with its primate population, especially the Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees. It is a premier, year-round travel destination for primate trekking enthusiasts. The dense forests with year-round rainfall make Uganda the perfect place for these primate species. Exploring the forests in search of these magnificent species is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

A Typical Primate Safari Encounter In Uganda Includes The Following Activities:

• Chimpanzee Trekking In Kibale Forest

Chimpanzee Trekking In Kibale Forest

Kibale forest is a moist evergreen rain forest, located above an elevation of 1,100 meters, with some parts of the park reaching as high as 1,600 meters. One interesting fact about Kibale forest is that it is among the last remaining forest expanses comprising of both lowland and montane forests. Kibale forest is a continuation of Queens Elizabeth National Park in an ecological phenomenon where you have savannah grassland meeting rainforest. It forms the major chunk of the Kibale National Park which is famous for chimpanzee trekking tours. The elevation and remoteness coupled with the conservation efforts form the exemplary accommodating place for chimpanzees and it is also home to other primate species. A chimpanzee trekking experience or chimpanzee habituation experience should not be missed if you plan a long safari trip to Uganda.

• Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest

Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest has the highest concentration of Mahagony trees, some of which are more than 80 meters in height and 600 years old, and is deemed the largest mahogany forest in eastern Africa. This forest is in a 3-hour drive north of the capital city of Kampala and has a huge number of chimpanzees with a resident habituated group that visitors track. There are more than 360 bird species and 24 mammal species, 9 of which are primates. Eco-tourism is heavily promoted in this forest and for those that prefer to spend a night, there are eco cabins where they can reside as opposed to driving back to Murchison Falls National Park, where a lot of visitors prefer to base.

• Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the south-western part of Uganda, on the edge of Albertine Rift. Known as the “Place of Darkness,” it is biologically diverse and accommodates almost half of the world’s total mountain gorillas left on earth. These forests form the core of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is the main Gorilla Trekking destination in Uganda. There are 8 habituated gorilla families in this park which comprises of 10 to 20 members. Each family is headed by one silverback which is the male leader of the group. Besides the mountain gorillas, you can always spot other primate species, 120 mammal species, 1,000 flowering plants, and 348 bird species. Because of such significance, the park is a designated World Heritage Site.

• Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga National Park

Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga National Park

Mgahinga National Park is the smallest of all national parks in Uganda but is also one of the most profound. Covering an area of 33 sq km, besides Bwindi Impenetrable, it is the only national park that conserves the endangered mountain gorillas. The park area is in contiguous with Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park of Rwanda and Congo respectively. Thus the only mountain gorilla family of this park is trans-boundary and moves to and fro from this park area. Gorilla Trekking Uganda tours are also organized in this park but depend upon the season and location of the sole gorilla family.

• Golden Monkeys in Mgahinga

Golden Monkeys in Mgahinga

Other than being home to the Nyakagezi gorilla family/group, Mgahinga is home to a significant number of golden monkeys. They’re not as well known as the gorillas, but like them, they too are endangered as there are just 4,000 of them left in the world, all living in the Virunga Volcanoes forests. They cross the boundary and come to the Mgahinga part. The bonus for choosing golden monkeys over gorillas is that the habituation and entrance fees cost a lot less.

• Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyambura Gorge

Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyambura Gorge

Also known as the “Valley of Apes” it is a part of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, located in the far eastern corner of it. The gorge is approximately 1 km across where almost 16 chimpanzees are remaining in its impressive valley. It is usually added as a bonus for tourists who come to visit the Queens Elizabeth National Park which has a wealth of wildlife offerings.

These primate species which are meticulously conserved in the protected areas of Uganda are definitely worth a visit. Ecotourism and sustainable tourism are the only ways to keep these species alive and save them from extinction.

Uzuri Uganda Safari is a premier tour company based out of Uganda providing both luxurious and budget gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking tour packages. Contact Us today to get in touch with us regarding bookings or inquiries.

Uganda is one of the finest countries you can travel to in Africa. It is a premier, year-round travel destination for Primate Trekking enthusiasts – with a high species count, including the rare mountain gorilla and golden monkeys. Not only is it cheaper than other countries like Tanzania and Kenya, it provides good to excellent game viewing experience as well. We, at Uzuri Uganda Safaris, have created a comprehensive guide for you detailing the ultimate primate safari experience in the forests of Uganda.

A Typical Primate Safari Encounter In Uganda Includes The Following Activities:

1. Chimpanzee Trekking In Kibale Forest

Chimpanzee Trekking In Kibale Forest

Kibale National Park in Uganda is an important eco-tourism and safari destination and popular for habituated chimpanzees along with 12 other primate species. The park is 766 sq km in size which is a continuation of the forests of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. This park accounts for the highest concentration of Primate Safaris Uganda which accommodates a large number of endangered chimpanzees. Besides the chimps, you'll come across black and white colobus, red tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey and all.

2. Gorilla Trekking In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Gorilla Trekking In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable Forests which are part of the Bwindi Impenetrable accommodate the half of the endangered mountain gorillas in Africa. The forests are on the edge of Albertine Rift at an elevation ranging from 1,160 to 2,607 meters, making it a perfect breeding ground for these gorillas. They usually stay in groups ranging from 2 to 30 members headed by male Silverback.  Apart from mountain gorillas, you can encounter 120 mammal species and 348 bird species. The forest also has rich plant life with 104 species of ferns and 163 distinct species of trees. Because of such sheer diversity in every other aspect, it was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

3. Gorilla Trekking In Mgahinga National Park

Gorilla Trekking In Mgahinga National Park

Other than Bwindi Impenetrable, the other place where you can experience mountain gorillas in their habitat is the Mgahinga National Park which is located in the extreme southwestern corner of Uganda bordering with Rwanda. The park is part of the Virunga Mountains where mountain gorillas are found. With a mere 33 sq km in size, it is the smallest national park in Uganda. There is only one habituated gorilla family in Mgahinga and only eight persons per day are allowed inside. Lately, the park authorities are working on increasing the number of activities with the addition of Batwa Trail and Golden Monkey trekking.

4. Golden Monkeys in Mgahinga

Golden Monkeys in Mgahinga

Mgahinga National Park is not only known for the Gorilla Trekking Uganda, but the park is also a good accommodating place for golden monkeys who are a rare primate species only found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Asia. They can be identified by the black and golden orange patch on their upper flanks and back. There is an estimated number of 3,000 to 4,000 golden monkeys in this park and the number is only increasing, thanks to the conservation efforts. In Mgahinga, they can be found near the bamboo plantation which constitutes their main diet.

5. Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyambura Gorge

Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyambura Gorge

Kyambura Gorge is a section in the far eastern corner of the bigger Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is fondly known as “Valley of Apes” where there are 16 and upward chimpanzees. The rich tropical rainforest of the gorge along with a rich block of plant life is what chimpanzees need to survive and prosper. It is often offered as a supplementary bonus to luxury tourists who visit Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Viewing gorillas and other primates is a breathtaking and humbling wildlife experience you'll ever get in your life. These habituated gorillas and chimps are used to the human encounters, so this will not scare them off and they'll continue on with their everyday work. They're not dangerous or aggressive towards humans but may attack if threatened.

Uzuri Uganda Safaris is a tour company based out of Kampala, Uganda having years of experience in arranging gorilla trekking tours and other tours in Uganda. Contact Us today to get a free quote or booking tours to Uganda for seeing the primates in the wild.

Gorilla Trekking is the most highlighted activity in Uganda for most tourists. The atmosphere of the trek through the jungle mist is unreal. Uganda is one of the best places in the world where you can see the mountain gorillas in their wild habitat.

But if you're a first-time safari-goer, which we doubt you are, you must be having dozens, if not kilos of questions running through your mind regarding Gorilla Trekking In Uganda. Based on our years of experience and the questions we have received feedback from clients after a gorilla trek experience, we've curetted a list of ten of the most frequently asked questions!

These Important Questions Are:-

1. Where Are The Mountain Gorillas In Uganda?

Mountain Gorillas In UgandaIn Uganda, Mountain gorillas are only found in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks – part of the larger eco-system where Mountain Gorillas are found in the world. This eco-system is scattered over two forests that span across Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. One is Bwindi Impenetrable and the other is Virunga Range that is a chain of extinct forested volcanoes that extends into Uganda to form Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga are the go-to destinations for spotting Mountain Gorillas in the wild. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is 331 sq km in size and accommodates 400 Bwindi Gorillas is a part of the forest. In Uganda, Virunga Range runs through the extreme southwestern part of the country alongside Bwindi Impenetrable.

2. What To Expect When You Gorilla Trek In Uganda?

Gorilla Trek In UgandaGorilla Trekking In Uganda can be both fun and exciting, and also can be extremely rewarding for tourists who've come to Uganda only for seeing gorillas, thanks to the excellent gorilla concentration in its protected areas. During the trek, finding the gorilla family you are tracking can last from less than an hour to upwards of 4 hours in a tropical jungle with the threat of rain overhead. A gorilla tracking team will have departed ahead of your trekking team and will update your team of the exact location where the family you are tracking spent the night. Once you've spotted them, nothing beats the experience of being in their presence in nature. A family of 8 to 13 individuals headed by a dominant male ‘the Silverback’ will be few meters away from you. A playful baby Gorilla could come in contact with you but there is no cause for you to worry. All else around you, the other members of the family will be going about their daily nomadic activity. So be prepared with your cameras and camcorders.                                                           

3. Where Does Your Gorilla Trekking Safari Start From?

You can either start your safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Kampala/Entebbe or Kigali, the Rwandan capital. It depends on your booked flight options. Safari-goers can choose either Entebbe if they are here to see more than the gorillas or Kigali if they are here strictly for a short 4-days gorilla safari.

4. How Many Days Are Sufficient For A Gorilla Trek?

In both of these national parks in Uganda, chances of encountering gorillas are more than 90%. One trek, which usually takes a few hours (1-6 hours) will be enough for you to do a gorilla trek. However, a lot of people especially the luxury travellers are preferring to do two treks for a chance to spot another gorilla family. So safari-goers can either do a 1-day trek or two – depending on their budget!

5. Where In Bwindi Is It Best To Go For Gorilla Trekking?

Best Time To Go For Gorilla TrekkingBwindi is divided into the north and south. The north is gentler in terms of terrain while the south is steep. So as we arrange your safari, we always ask our clients what they prefer! Pure trekkers who have the endurance are always booked to track in Rushaga – the southern sector of Bwindi.

Safari-goers who have a level of fitness even when they are advanced in age we recommend the north (Buhoma or Ruhija) but most probably Buhoma.

For goers who prefer two treks, we generally recommend the two extremes – the gentler north and the steep south!

6. What Is The Best Time To Go For Gorilla Trekking In Uganda?

Gorilla trekking tours are conducted throughout the year in Uganda. However, there is a sweet spot when the majority of the tourist prefer visiting, that is from June to September just after the rainy season and then from December to February, which is the dry season. During this time, the gorillas move further afield in search of food so treks during the dry season last a lot longer.

7. How Much Does The Uganda Gorilla Permit Cost?

A Gorilla permit in Uganda to any of the two parks costs $600 per person per trek. There are no Low season discounts anymore as they were discontinued last year.

8. How To Acquire A Gorilla Permit?

It is advisable to contact a safari agent who will interface with Uganda Wildlife Authority on your behalf to book and pay for your Gorilla permits.

9. What To Bring And Pack For Gorilla Trekking in Uganda?

What To Pack For Gorilla Trekking in UgandaNothing really special. Just watch out for these things:

  • All the documents required, like tickets, permits, vaccination certificate (if any)
  • Hiking or trekking boots
  • Warm clothes and waterproof jackets (in case of rain falls)
  • Insect repellent
  • Gardening gloves
  • Energy chocolate bar
  • Cameras/binoculars
  • Long-sleeved shirt/blouse
  • Khaki trousers/jeans/hiking pants
  • Some amount of cash

10. Is It Necessary To Have A Porter Carry Extra Luggage?

Not mandatory, but highly recommended. Remember the treks can last for hours and your ruck-sack (contains water, camera gear, packed lunch, medicines etc) can get increasingly heavy on a long trek. For especially goers who are advanced in age, we recommend a porter. Hiring a porter is one way of giving back as they are largely drawn from the communities that neighbour the parks. So this gives them an opportunity for a job to literally have them as critical ambassadors in the conservation process.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is nevertheless one of the most memorable and exciting African experiences you can get that appeal to safari-goers of all ages. Besides gorilla trekking, you're bound to enjoy the lush green environment and the tranquillity of the forests.

Uzuri Uganda Safaris based in Uganda has arranged and handled Gorilla safari tours for hundreds of gorilla trekkers since its inception and has developed a good reputation among tourists. Contact us today for a quote on your Uganda Gorilla Trekking Tour and we'll get back to you with the required information.