Gorilla Trekking In Uganda

 Gorilla trekking in Uganda

 Gorilla trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda : Gorilla trekking is a once in a lifetime experience on which you get to see the incredible gorillas living in the rainforests of central Africa on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains and in Uganda they are found in Bwindi impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

This article is a guide to gorilla trekking in Uganda

Where to trek gorillas in Uganda

Uganda has two trekking destinations/ national parks that are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Bwindi impenetrable national park is the more popular gorilla destination among the two as it hosts a great population of gorillas and has a greater range of accommodation options.

To choose which part to visit for gorilla trekking in Uganda depend on your wider travel plans and the time you will have, there is no difference in permit prices or chances of gorilla sightings across Bwindi and Mgahinga.

Bwindi Impenetrable national Park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park are located in southwestern Uganda near the border of Uganda with Rwanda to the South and the DRC to the west.

Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Uganda’s main gorilla trekking destination with four gorilla trekking sectors/trail heads namely Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.

Each trail head has its own habituated gorilla families, levels of difficult and characteristics.

The 4 Trailheads of Bwindi impenetrable National Park

Habituated gorilla families in Bwindi impenetrable national park are accessed from four trail heads namely Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. These trailheads serve as launch points for treks to 11 fully habituated gorilla family groups. The standard treks in Bwindi depart in the morning and including one hour of observing the gorillas from a distance of about 7 meters. The treks can be quite challenging and you need to be prepared to trek for up to 60 hours, although most of the sightings take place within 2-3 hours.

gorilla trekking in uganda

Gorilla Treks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Gorilla treks are run on a daily in Bwindi starting at 08:00 am with briefing at the park’s headquarters conducted by a ranger guide, in groups of 8 people you will head into the forests of Bwindi looking for the assigned gorilla family. The trek is relatively difficult as you have to hike through the thick, triffid – like tangles of vegetation, up muddy hills and down into craggy valleys, the high altitude and terrain make the journey tiresome.

Once you locate the gorilla family, you will be mind-blown by the huge size of the gorillas as they emerge from the thick forests. You have one hour of being in their presence while taking pictures and videos, watching them go on with their daily activities in the forest.

Remember flash photography is not allowed.

For visitors who wish to spend more than 1 hour in the presence of mountains, you can take part in the gorilla habituation experience and spend up to 4 hours with these gentle giants.

Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is situated close to the border of Uganda with Rwanda and is a popular option for cross – over itineraries with volcanoes national park in Rwanda. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is part of the Virunga Conservation Area together with Virunga National Park in Congo and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the only place in Uganda where you can trek the beautiful Golden Monkeys, Mgahinga is a popular option to combine for gorilla trekking and golden monkey safari in Uganda.

uganda gorilla trekking


Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a more secluded than Bwindi and the treks are not as challenging, there are few gorilla permits as the park hosts one gorilla family called the Nyakagezi group with five silverbacks, two adult females and three young gorillas.

This gorilla family is known to constantly cross the border from Uganda to Rwanda and back, for the recent years, the group has settled in Uganda’s Mgahinga.

Traditionally Mgahinga national park was used as an over-flow gorilla trekking destination for Bwindi but that changed due to an increase in a Rwandan gorilla permit to US$ 1,500 per person which prompted visitors to explore Rwanda and then cross the border to Mgahinga where the treks cost $ 700 per person.

Another reason is that Mgahinga is such as wonderful place to visit, situated so closely to Lakes such as Mutanda and Bunyonyi. Also you can climb the volcanoes at Mgahinga.

When is the best time to go?

Uganda’s equatorial climate means temperatures remain quite consistent year – round, rainfall is the only thing that separates the seasons. March to May is the long rainy season and October to November is the short rainy season.

The best time to visit the gorillas is during the dry season that is from January – February and June – August.

Mountain gorillas can be visited all year round and the price of the gorilla permits do not change with the season as the price is fixed.

Getting a Gorilla Permit in Uganda

Gorilla permits in Uganda currently cost $ 700 USD per person, these permits are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority and one can secure for a permit through a tour operator.

Travelers are advised to book their permits about 2-3 months before their gorilla trekking safari as the permits are limited when compared to the demand.

uganda gorilla trekking permits

How difficult is gorilla trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking is a relatively challenging but manageable activity, you should be prepared to walk through a challenging terrain of steep ridges and valleys following animal paths through tangled undergrowth for about 3 hours although the trek can last for 45 minutes to 6 hours.

During the rainy season, the trekking routes can become very slippery and much more challenging, the rains can sometimes bring the gorillas to lower ground which can shorten the length of the trek. The gorillas typically prefer the highlands so the trek is made challenging due to periods of steep gradients.

What wear on a gorilla trek?

Perfect clothing will make your gorilla trek more enjoyable and memorable, the essential clothing include

  • Good quality and waterproof trekking shoes/boots
  • Light waterproof trekking pants/ trousers
  • Long socks to pull up over your pants/ trousers
  • Waterproof jacket/ rain coat / wind breaker
  • Long sleeve trekking T-shirt
  • Gardening/outdoor gloves to protect against thorns and allow you to push through the more difficult parts of the trail
  • Walking sticks which are provided during the trek

Where to stay in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

There is a variety of accommodation options in Bwindi ranging from budget, midrange and luxury. These include

  • Engagi Lodge
  • Buhoma Haven Lodge
  • Buhoma Lodge
  • Gorilla Forest Camp
  • Volcanoes Lodge
  • Mahogany Springs
  • Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
  • Nkuringo Lodge

Where to stay in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

There is only one tourist lodge currently available in Mgahinga and is Mount Gahinga Lodge.

Accommodation can also be go from Chameleon Hill and Bird’s Nest in Lake Bunyonyi.

Uganda gorilla trekking Packages

3 Days Uganda gorilla trekking safari 

4 Day gorilla trekking and queen elizabeth park safari.

6 Days Uganda gorilla and wildlife safari. 

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