Gorilla trekking tours-Uganda Safaris and Gorilla safaris.
A gorilla trekking safari is a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter. Imagine coming eye-to-eye with a mountain gorilla. A big part of what makes the gorilla trek so special is that these big apes are so closely related to humans (the difference in DNA is only about 1.6%). They do seem to touch a nerve when they look at us with interest.
The gorillas’ natural habitat is restricted to a relatively small area in a historically turbulent region. But this region has stabilized and tourism is picking up throughout, which make gorilla tours increasingly accessible. Habitat loss is now the main obstacle to the survival of gorillas, and money spent on gorilla tourism goes a long way in securing their survival.
What are the Top Frequently Asked Questions on a gorilla safari?
How does gorilla trekking in Uganda compare to other countries?
“Gorillas have a small range extending over Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Between these countries, four parks offer mountain gorilla trekking. Most popular and accessible are Bwindi Impenetrable NP in Uganda and Volcanoes NP in Rwanda. The experience in these parks is similar, but with some differences. While gorillas live in thick rainforest in Bwindi, their habitat in Volcanoes NP is mainly bamboo forest. Although you can’t predict where gorillas will be each day, the treks in Bwindi are usually more rewarding than those in Rwanda. The tracking is part of the experience, so if you’re physically fit, a longer trek can be a positive.
Volcanoes NP can be reached on a three-hour drive from Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. The accessibility makes it an easy add-on to a safari in Kenya or Tanzania. Bwindi is more remote, reachable by a domestic flight or eight- to10-hour drive from Entebbe, Uganda’s entry point. The remoteness isn’t a factor if you are incorporating your Uganda gorilla trek into a larger tour within the country. Uganda has a lot more to offer. It is a popular safari destination in its own right. With the development of Akagera NP, so is Rwanda. However, safari options in this small country are still limited compared to those in Uganda.
Last is the big difference in price for a very similar experience. The fee for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is US$1500, in Uganda its US$700 and in the DRC its US$400. All prices listed are per person.”
Can I add gorilla trekking in Uganda to a safari?
“It is easy to add a Uganda gorilla trekking experience to a general safari in Kenya or Tanzania. A short flight gets you to Entebbe, a leafy town on the shore of Lake Victoria in Uganda. From here your journey to Bwindi Impenetrable NP continues with a flight by small aircraft, followed by a two-hour drive on a bumpy road.
While gorilla trekking fits into a ‘Best of East Africa’ tour, you can also slot it into a Uganda holiday.
The highlights of Uganda packages include the following. Bwindi or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for gorilla trekking, Kibale National Park or Budongo Forest for chimpanzee trekking, and Queen Elizabeth National Park for a classic safari and the possibility to see tree-climbing lions. Also Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to track rhinos on foot and Murchison Falls National Park for a boat trip on the Nile and more general wildlife viewing.”
18 Day Best of Uganda Gorilla & chimp Trekking, Birding and wildlife safari
What fitness is required for gorilla trekking in Uganda?
“You’ll need to be fairly fit for gorilla trekking in Uganda. If you’re in good health and you’re used to walking or hiking, you shouldn’t have any problems though. As a last resort, you can book a ‘gorilla chair,’ where a team of strong men literally carry you on your chair to the gorillas. However fit you are, it is always important to come suitably prepared.
Bwindi sees high rainfall throughout the year. So, you’ll need waterproof clothing and good hiking shoes. Gloves aren’t essential, but they are recommended to protect your hands from stinging nettles. A good walking stick always comes in handy on the slippery slopes. You might be offered a wooden stick at the start but it is safer to bring your own if you think you’ll need it. Porters are available at the trail head. They will carry your day pack and look after it while you’re with the gorillas (no bags are allowed then). A porter will also help you on the trail. So even if you don’t need anyone to carry your bag, you should definitely hire a porter if you are concerned about your fitness or ability on the steep trails.”
Is gorilla trekking in Uganda safe?
“Gorilla watching is very safe. Incidents with these gentle giants are very rare. Although the gorillas are habituated and used to people visiting them, it is important to pay attention during the safety briefing at the start. It goes without saying that you should also listen to the instructions given by your guide, especially in the event of a gorilla approaching you. The biggest danger on a gorilla trek is perhaps twisting an ankle on the slippery slopes. Make sure to wear good hiking boots that have been worn in before the big day.”
What is the cost of a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda?
“The fee for gorilla trekking in Uganda is US$700 per person. This is the fee paid to the national park and proceeds are used to maintain and develop Uganda’s protected areas. Gorilla trekking is one of Africa’s most amazing wildlife experiences. Due to the limited availability, it doesn’t come cheaply. If you can afford it, it is more than worth it though. The price for a three-day road trip from Entebbe/Kampala, including a gorilla trek, accommodation and transport, starts at about US$1250. A similar three-day fly-in safari starts at about US$2600.
Three days is really the minimum time required to travel from Entebbe to Bwindi and track gorillas. I would, however, recommend spending more time in the country as there is a lot more to see and do. The price for five-day tours including gorilla and chimpanzee trekking start at about US$1600 and seven-day highlights tours (including gorilla trekking) start at about US$2000.”
Are gorilla sightings guaranteed on a gorilla trek in Uganda?
“When going on a gorilla trekking trip, you’re near certain to see these big apes as long as you are fit enough for the hike. I say near certain because, although habituated, the gorillas are totally wild. They move throughout the days searching for food and they spend their nights sleeping in different locations. So, sightings can never be totally guaranteed. To keep track of the locations of the different habituated gorilla groups, trackers stay with the gorillas throughout the day until they make their nest for the night. This way, the trackers will know where to find them the next day. When they rejoin the gorillas at dawn, they send the location coordinates by radio to the guides. This doesn’t only facilitate a smooth gorilla trekking experience; it also helps to protect these endangered primates from poachers.”
Gorilla trekking tours-Uganda Safaris-and Gorilla safaris