Where Can I See Mountain Gorillas In Uganda

where can i see mountain gorillas in uganda

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Mountain gorilla trekking can be carried out as a standalone adventure in Uganda, but most travelers normally combine it with other safari encounters in south-western Uganda or with a safari to Murchison Falls National Park. Our team at Devine African Safaris can help you put together the trip that is right for you or build a traveler’s tailor-made itinerary that gets the most out of your time in Uganda.


Where can I trek with mountain gorillas in Uganda?

Uganda has two mountain gorilla trekking destinations, namely Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is by far the most popular choice for many travelers, as the park has the highest population of mountain gorillas, is better situated for fly-in mountain gorilla safaris, and offers a greater range of accommodation options. The park you would visit depends on a tourist’s wider travel plans and the availability of time. There is no difference in mountain gorilla trekking permit prices in these two national parks offering mountain gorillas or chances of seeing mountain gorillas.


Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park: Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is Uganda's major mountain gorilla trekking destination. whereby the habituated mountain gorilla families can be trekked from four different trail heads, namely the Buhoma sector, the Ruhija sector, the Rushaga sector, and the Nkuringo sector. Each gorilla trail head offers its own characteristics, gorilla families, and levels of trekking difficulty.


Departing from one of these four mountain gorilla trekking trailheads on the perimeters of the dense tropical rain forest, travelers join a group of other mountain gorilla trekkers (maximum group size of 8 travelers) for a guided hike into the tropical forest searching for one of the 11 habituated mountain gorilla families led by an experienced Uganda Wildlife Authority park guide. All travelers are introduced to the ecology of this tropical rain forest and the changing landscape as they enjoy trekking with mountain gorillas. Your guides keep communicating with the other team of trackers, who have also been shadowing the gorillas since daybreak. The trackers will direct your guides to bring you closer to the gorillas.

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi's impenetrable forest, on the imposing southwestern sloped hills and terraced interlocking spurs, proves the adversary. Bwindi Impenetrable is gorilla territory, and accessing it requires moving through the dense, triffid-like tangles of thick vegetation, up muddy hills, and down into rugged valleys. The Bwindi impenetrable forest is located at a high altitude and on testing terrain, which makes the journey tiresome but also rewarding and magical.


Once a traveler has seen the group allocated to them, there is normally a silent wait deep within the thick foliage as the mountain gorilla’s edge draws closer. Seeing mountain gorillas in their natural environment, where the verdant tropical rain forest offers the perfect backdrop, is a truly breathtaking encounter. Although travelers can spend longer with mountain gorillas by taking part in a mountain gorilla habituation experience and spending 4–8 hours with the gentle apes,

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park offers four trailheads.

Bwindi impenetrable forest-habituated mountain gorilla families can be reached from four trail heads, namely Buhoma sector, Rushaga sector, Ruhija sector, and Nkuringo. Each trekking trail head has its own mountain gorilla families, characteristics, and levels of difficulty.


Bwindi Gorilla trailheads serve as launching points for all trekkers to the 11 fully habituated (and three semi-habituated) mountain gorilla families. Mountain gorilla standard treks start in the morning and include one hour of observing mountain gorillas from a distance of about seven meters.


Mountain gorilla trekking can be a bit challenging, and travelers need to be prepared to hike for up to 6 hours or more depending on the location of these apes, although sightings may take place within 2–3 hours.


Mgahinga Gorilla National Park: Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is near the border of Rwanda. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a popular option for cross-over tailor-made itineraries with Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the only travel destination where tourists can trek Golden Monkeys in Uganda, making it a popular option to combine gorilla trekking in Nkuringo (of the Bwindi impenetrable forest) with a mountain gorilla trek at Mgahinga.


Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is more secluded compared to Bwindi Impenetrable, and gorilla trekking in Mgahinga is less challenging. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has fewer gorilla trekking permits available here; there is only one mountain gorilla family habituated to contact mountain gorillas in Mgahinga. Called the Nyakagezi gorilla family, Nyakagezi has five silverbacks, two adult females, and three young gorillas.


When is the best time to see mountain gorillas?

Uganda experiences an equatorial climate, which means temperatures remain consistent throughout the year. Rainfall is the only thing that separates the seasons. March to May is the longest rainy season, and October to November is the shortest rainy season. Meanwhile, December to February is the shortest dry season, and June to September is the longest dry season in Uganda. Mountain gorillas can be visited throughout the year.


Uganda’s price for mountain gorilla permits used to change according to the season, but this is no longer the case. Gorilla permit prices are now fixed throughout the year, so the decision on when or where to visit should be guided by the availability of mountain gorilla permits, the availability of your time, and your other travel plans outside of mountain gorilla trekking.


Uganda’s mountain gorilla permits are currently $700 per person. Uganda’s gorilla permits are no longer discounted during the low season, but gorilla permits are easier to get at short notice if anyone is traveling to Uganda in the long rainy season from March to May or in the short rainy season from October to November.

Uganda’s peak travel months start in December–February and June–August, when permits are sold out so fast in advance. Uganda’s gorilla permit numbers are limited, so we advise planning early.


One strong advantage of visiting Uganda’s gorillas is that it offers a cheaper mountain gorilla trekking permit compared to Rwanda’s trekking permit, which costs an eye-watering $1500 USD per person to trek mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.


If the standard one hour of seeing mountain gorillas is not enough, you are free to participate in the fascinating mountain gorilla habituation experience in the Rushaga section, offering an amazing encounter in the southern Bwindi. The gorilla habituation experience includes up to four consecutive hours with the mountain gorilla family, observing them, and the gorilla habituation permit costs $1,500 per person. Gorilla permit fees are non-refundable.


How difficult is gorilla trekking?

Travelers should be ready to hike through challenging steep terrain ridges and craggy valleys, following different animal paths via tangled thick undergrowth, for about 3 hours or more, although sometimes contact with the mountain gorillas can be made immediately after 45 minutes and other times it takes like 6 hours.

During the low season, which is the rainy season, gorilla trekking routes can be very slippery and more challenging. Although the rains can sometimes bring the gorillas closer to the lower ground, which can make trekking shorter, travelers should be ready to hike for 6 hours in any case.


What is the guarantee for sighting mountain gorillas?

Uganda’s mountain gorilla sighting rate is 99% due to the rising population of gorillas in Uganda. The experiences of the trekking guide show that encounters are always made in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.