Guide to Gorilla Trekking In Uganda
Uganda is located in East Africa, famously known as the pearl of Africa in the travel and tourism world. Uganda has retained over 20 percent of her land to wildlife reserves with 10 national parks each with a different tourism product to offer.
Gorilla trekking is an outdoor activity where tourists get a chance see mountain gorillas in their natural habitants living their daily lives. You get a chance to see them taking care of their families, feed, play, take care of their babies and how they relate to each other, and you, their visitor.
This is an experience that every person yarn to get while in Uganda. Our guides and other service providers are ready to make your gorilla trekking experience worthwhile.
There are many benefits that come with trekking mountain gorillas in Uganda, you get a chance to watch different species of birds, mammals, insects and also engage with the local communities.
Uganda offers tourists with a chance to experience the true life of mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park, each national park offers a different experience from another. Bwindi is so far the best destination for gorilla trekking in Uganda. Bwindi has the highest number of mountain gorillas which makes it easy for you to find them while trekking.
Mountain gorillas are found in in the Virunga conservation area found Mgahinga and Bwindi national park Uganda, volcano national park Rwanda and Virunga national park in DR Congo
Gorilla trekking in Uganda can last from 1hour to 8 hours depending on their movements. The maximum number of people to see mountain gorillas is 8 people per day per family/group of gorillas and minimum age to trek them is 15 years.
The gorillas can be trekked all year round but the best time to trek them is December, September, august, June and July which are dry seasons
Where can you track gorillas in Uganda?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park, Bwindi being the most popular for gorilla trekking because of the highest number of mountain gorillas, it harbors inclusive of 14 habituated groups.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is done in four sectors of Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija.
Is located in the northern part of the park and is the most popular trailhead for gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park, offering treks to 32 tourists per day. It harbors the first habituated family of mountain gorillas called Mubare.It was started after a three-year habituation process. To date Buhoma sector is the easiest to trek.
Gorilla trekking in buhoma sector takes up 1-8 hours depending on how far the gorillas have moved.
You are given a maximum of one hour with the gorillas after finding them. Here you can take photos, ask the guide any questions.There are animals and birds you can see in the buhoma sector apart from the gorillas
Gorilla families in buhoma sector
- Katwe family
This is the most recent gorilla family in buhoma sector with 10 members, having one dominant male a silver back named katwe
- Mubare family
This is the oldest gorilla family in Bwindi impenetrable national park under the leadership of kanyonyi.
- Habinyanja family
This family has 19 members led by a silverback named makara.
- Rushegura family
This family also has 19 members having mwirima as their dominant leader
This is located in the southern region of the park with three  habituated gorilla families. You can also view mountain Nyamuragira and mountain nyiragongo while in nkuringo sector. It’s the hardest sector to trek because of its terrain.
Families in nkuringo sector
- Bushaho family
This is a breakaway group from nkuringo family led by a silverback called bahati with 8 members
- Nkluringo family
This family is under the leadership of Safari having 4 adults.
This is the coldest sector found in the eastern part of Bwindi national park with four  habituated gorilla families.
The families found in Ruhija sector;
- Kyaguliro family
This family consist of 2 smaller families; the kyaguliro A and Kyaguliro B under the leadership of mukiza and rukara respectively, with mukiza family having 10 members.
- The oruzogo family
This family has 17 members led by a silverback called Bakwate
- The bitukula family
This family has 13 members led by a young silver back named ndahura.
This Bwindi sector is found in the southern part of the park with the best number of gorilla families in Bwindi impenetrable national park.
These families include;
- Nshongi family
This is the biggest family in rushaga sector with two silver backs
- Bweza family
This family has 9 members led by a silver back named bweza having one silver back and two infants.
This family was formerly part of Nshongi group later separated due to a misunderstanding
- Kahugye family
This consists of 17 members led by a silver back named rumanzi. The family has 3 black backs, 3 female adults, 3 juveniles and infants.
- The busingye family
This is one of the most peaceful gorilla family with 9 members led by busingye
- Mishaya family
This family has 12 members with two Mishayla adults.
- Rwigi family
This family has 6 members led by rwigi after him breaking away from the kahuye family and he formed his own.
- Mucunguzi family
This family was discovered in mucunguzi area
- Bikiyingi family
This family was discovered in bikiyingi area and is only open for habituation experience
A gorilla permit is an identification showing that you have been authorized to trek gorillas, it is issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
To get a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda, you need to have a valid passport. You can get the permit directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority or through your tour operator.
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Bwindi impenetrable national park is a rainforest, making dry seasons of December and February, June and August the best time to trek gorillas.
Bwindi impenetrable is a thick rain forest, when trekking gorillas wear long sleeved trousers mainly jeans to protect your skin from being scratched by thorns or tree branches, waterproof clothes because it may rain any time, cotton undergarments to keep you warm inside, comfortable bras, water proof sturdy boots like gumboots to use on slippery trails, gardening gloves, rain jackets, a hat, insect repellant, a warm sweater
- The maximum number of people to trek gorillas is 8 per gorilla family per day.
- The minimum trekking age limit is 15.
- The maximum time allowed to spend with the gorillas is one hour
- Keep your voice low during interactions and when inquiring from guides.
- Keep your camera flash off while taking pictures.
- DON’T run gorillas might attack you
- Don’t eat or drink while near the gorillas
- stay in a group when you are near mountain gorillas
- keep a minimum of 7 meters from the gorillas, they can contract human diseases.
- Don’t leave any rubbish in the park
- If you want to ease yourself, ask a guide to dig for you a hole, ensure to cover it well.
- Turn your head away from the gorillas if you want to sneeze or cough
- Don’t trek gorillas if you have a contagious disease, gorillas might contract the disease.
Mgahinga national park is located in south western Uganda in Kisoro district. The park is also part of Virunga conservation area, it was gazzetted in 1991 having about 80 gorillas. Mgahinga has both habituated and wild mountain gorillas with only one habituated gorilla family.
Mgahinga national park has a family called the nyakagezi with 9 members, including 2 silver backs. The family is under the leadership of a silver back called Mark who took over the leadership from Bugingo his father
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park is done in two sessions, one the morning and another in the afternoon at around 2pm. Trekking gorillas can last from one hour to four hours depending on the gorilla movements
The trek in Mgahinga takes place through the year but its better you visit during dry seasons of June-September and December-February when the rain is not so heavy and roads are clear.
Apart from gorilla trekking, there are lot of other attractions like birds, mammals, chimpanzees and a lot more.
Gorilla permits for gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park cost 700 dollars for foreign non-residents, 600 dollars for foreign residents and 250000 for East Africans.
You can get a gorilla permit through your tour operator or directly from UGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY.
Its better you book for trekking permit early before your arrival to Uganda.
Accommodation Options In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park
Accommodations range from luxury, mid-range to basic/budget accommodation
- Sanctuary gorilla forest camp
- Lake kitandara camp
- Buhoma lodge
- Engage lodge
- Gorilla valley lodge
- Gorilla mist camp
- Rushaga gorilla camp
- Eco marvels resort.
- Broadbill forest camp
- Buhoma community camp
- Wagtail eco safari camp
- Bwindi view bandas
- Gift of nature lodge
- Nshongi camp
- Buhoma rest camp.