Gorilla Trekking; 2022 Ultimate Guide for Gorilla Safaris & Car Hire Uganda
Gorilla Trekking is without doubt a unique Africa Wildlife experience of its own. Gorilla safari is the only primate tour besides Gorilla Habituation Experience that brings visitors close to a massive Silverback Gorilla weighing up to 200kgs while in their natural habitat. The gorillas being referred to in this article are the endangered “mountain gorillas“.
Gorilla trekking is an African safari where tourists trek into forests in search for mountain gorillas, you can always reach us for safari vehicles that can take to gorilla parks. Do you want to know if you can go on a self-drive gorilla trekking safari, where to go for gorilla trekking or who can do it? Get all the answers here.
Best Places to visit for Gorilla Trekking in Africa?
Mountain Gorilla Trekking safaris are best done nowhere else in the world except only in Africa. In Africa, treks to see the massive Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat is only carried out in the 3 countries that is Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C).
Only 4 Gorilla safari parks offer tourists a golden chance to engage in a trek to see Mountain Gorillas; in Uganda it is only Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the South-west; Rwanda gorilla safari happens in Volcanoes National Park and lastly, in Eastern D.R. Congo, Mountain Gorilla Trekking safaris are only possible in the Virunga National Park.
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What is Gorilla trekking? What does Gorilla Trekking mean?
Gorilla Trekking in general is the walking trip to find a specific group of habituated gorillas in their natural habitat, forests. Firstly, all Gorilla trekkers must have obtained valid Gorilla Permits in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo.
It is also understood differently as a cultural movement; an on-foot primate walk experience where you wind via the jungles to see, have in-depth exploration about Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitats, take pictures and so on.
A normal Uganda, Rwanda & Congo Gorilla Trekking round experience in the wild isn’t predictable and often covers from 2-6 hours inclusive of solid 1 hour to enjoy face to face encounter with a habituated gorilla group family.
Difference between Gorilla Tracking and Gorilla Trekking Uganda, Rwanda & Congo
Gorilla Tracking & Gorilla trekking often confuse people on a gorilla safari but the 2 terms used interchangeable in most of gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R.C.
Gorilla Trekking is all about following the gorillas and on a normal trek, a maximum of 8 trekkers go to look for these rare and endangered species in their natural habitat along with an armed and experienced park guide, allocated to each group. It is the park guide to lead you through to direction or location of your assigned gorilla group family.
Gorilla tracking in most cases is a termed used to mean Gorilla Trekking but for it, it is all about using monitoring methods to search for a specific habituated family of gorillas in the wild.
Tracking is often done by trackers/park rangers who usually get to the field/forest early before gorilla trekkers start to set foot to trek gorillas. They use many strategies/signs to locate where gorillas are and the tracker/ranger is always in touch with the park guides. In other words, Gorilla Tracking starts then Gorilla Trekking follows next.
Where can I see Mountain Gorillas?
Assuming you already rented your 4×4 safari vehicle to cruise you around, do you happen to know where to find the “Gentle Giants”?
Mountain Gorillas reside in only 4 places and they include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla Trekking safari parks are in South-western Uganda. These are reachable from 8 to 9 hours when driving from Kampala/Entebbe city. By road from Kigali, Bwindi & Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks are accessible 3 to 4 hours’ drive.
When in the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda, mountain gorillas are found in Volcanoes National Park also known as “Parc National des Volcans”. In Democratic Republic of Congo, gorillas are trekked in Virunga National park.
Can I Trek Gorillas in a Rented car?
The adventure gorilla trekking is usually done on foot except in circumstances where one hires porters to carry them during the trekking process. But, the road to where gorilla tracking happens can be be reached by a rented car be it on a self-drive or guided gorilla tour.
Best Car Rentals for Gorilla Trekking
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The types of Gorillas in Uganda
Only Mountain Gorillas reside in Uganda and about half of remaining 1063 Mountain Gorilla population is sheltered in the country’s 2 splendid Gorilla trekking safari parks; Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Age limit for Gorilla Trekking.
In order for a traveler to be considered eligible to track Mountain Gorillas, you must be at least above 15 years. It is a standard minimum age limit applied across all the Mountain Gorilla trekking safari parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga, Virunga & Volcanoes National Park.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking in an inclusive adventure because even the persons with disability and the elderly of about 65 years can be part of this memorable experience in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R.C.
For individuals as young as 12 can trek gorillas on condition the company taking them wrote to the responsible bodies and a letter is issued allowing them to track. some of the reasons minors are not allowed to do gorilla trekking are; inability to trek for longer time hiking up and down mountainous forests, minors being unpredictable, they may provoke gorillas and so much more.
Why is Gorilla Trekking expensive? Is gorilla trekking Worth the Cost?
Trekking to view Mountain Gorillas all comes at a cost. There are significant reasons or factors that make Gorilla Trekking is expensive. First, the cost of conserving Mountain Gorillas is too high but has to be met in order to ensure that these apes thrive for generations.
Park authorities also incur a high cost for habituating gorilla families which tourists are to track while on Gorilla Trekking safaris. Mountain Gorillas are rare-never found anywhere else yet endangered with only not more than 1063 of them are left in the world.
The cost for facilitating park guides/rangers/researchers/other park officials is also high and and part of the funds is given to local communities as a way to support a number of projects aimed at boosting gorilla and other wildlife conservation in the area.
Is gorilla trekking safe in Rwanda, Uganda?
Gorilla Trekking/Tracking in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo is safe for all Gorilla trekkers. While on Gorilla Trekking safari in any of the 3 Gorilla destinations, all treks are done in gorilla families already undergone through habituation. This means, they are familiar with human faces and in addition, visitors are led by an experienced guide with the best knowledge about their behaviors.
Is Uganda and Rwanda safe for tourists?
Yes, Uganda & Rwanda are very safe for all African safari tourists whether you are interested in Gorilla Trekking, Chimpanzee Tracking or Wildlife safaris. All visitors are welcome to have their travel dreams achieved.
How do you prepare for Uganda/Rwanda gorilla trek 2022/2023?
When you think of trekking gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R.C, you must be well-prepared. This includes ensuring that you are fit enough to conquer the high altitude of about 2607m-meaning it is better to do some exercises, carry/pack only essentials especially waterproof daypack, valid gorilla permits, passports, yellow fever cards, negative covid-19 test certificate, long sleeved shirts, first aid kit, hat, camera-free from flashlight, Gardening gloves, long trousers, snacks, bottled water, insect repellents etc.
What is the best time for Gorilla Trekking?
Trekking Gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo is open all year round though the dry season is the best time no matter the gorilla destination. The drier seasons begin from June to September/December to February.
But, the wet or rainy seasons are never excluded when it comes to gorilla safaris, it is possible to arrange your trip to Uganda, Rwanda or Congo to see gorillas even during this period. The 2 rainy seasons occur from March to May & November to December.
Gorilla permits and when to book
Only persons above 15 years with valid Gorilla permits are allowed to go track Mountain Gorillas. In Uganda, Gorilla trekkers book permits at USD700; in Rwanda at USD1500 while D.R.C issues her permits at USD450.
We recommend that you have your Uganda gorilla permit or Rwanda gorilla permit booked at least 2 to 4 months prior actual date of trekking gorillas in either destinations.
Car Hire for Gorilla Trekking
When it comes to car rental for gorilla trekking, you need to book at least 7 days in advance before your departure day. Since mountain gorillas live in highlands, it is advisable to hire a 4×4 WD car that will easily cruise around the mountainous areas.
For self-drive gorilla safaris, make sure you have an international driving permit or at some in stances, a driver’s license of some countries are accepted so long as it has worked for more than 3 years, you should be 23 years and above and also take time to read traffic laws of the country.
How difficult is Gorilla trekking?
Mountain Gorilla tracking is notably a breathtaking experience and it all requires some level of physical wellness in you. Before setting off, our advise do more practice because this activity is done not in the ordinary savanna but in the dense vegetation/rain-forest with terrains as you look for Mountain Gorillas.
You should also be prepared to meet porter fees in case of heavy luggage, the porters can be hired to relieve you from the heavy load. Besides, on actual trek, you will be given a walking stick for support purposes while in Uganda, Rwanda or DRC.
How long can I take on gorilla trek?
Finding Mountain Gorillas can take you from 1-6 hours though at times it can take you longer or shorter hours depending on your speed. The adventure is inclusive and persons from 26 to 65 have managed to conquer it.
Are gorillas friendly?
When someone hears about Mountain Gorillas for the first time, he or she may wonder if these apes are really friendly. Yes, Mountain Gorillas or Eastern Lowland Gorillas are all friendly except only where they get hurt, attacked or irritated that they can charge against you. When hurt/irritated, it is easier to notice how the gorillas can behave, most often, they scream, hit the tree bark, throw the nearby vegetation etc.
Watch a Mountain Gorilla encounter with Tourists
Which country has more Mountain Gorillas?
Mountain Gorillas are in only Uganda, Rwanda & Congo but of the 1063 that still exist, about half of them reside in Uganda alone making it a home to many mountain gorillas. Rwanda & D.R.C share the remaining portion and they are equally incredible places to visit to strike your imaginations with these rare apes while in their natural habitat.
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The Difference between Gorilla Trekking and Gorilla Habituation
Gorilla Trekking to see Mountain Gorillas is carried out in all the 4 national park and for Gorilla Habituation, it is only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. On a normal Gorilla trekking experience, there is only 1 hour guaranteed for visitors to enjoy a close interaction with a family of gorillas and during Gorilla habituation, you have 4 hours.
It takes you fewer than 2-6 hours to get done with Gorilla trekking but Gorilla habituation is a complete day adventure while following the semi-habituated gorilla family. Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda cost USD700 unlike Gorilla habituation permits which are issued at USD1500.
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda Vs Gorilla Trekking Rwanda
Uganda and Rwanda are among the best Gorilla Trekking safari destinations but which country is the best to visit. Here are a few differences: The advantage Gorilla Trekking Uganda has over Rwanda is that tourists have 2 parks to choose for Gorilla safaris; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This is not the case in Rwanda with only Volcanoes National Park which is open for trekking.
About 21 habituated family groups of Mountain Gorillas are in Uganda and there are 5 sectors to begin the trek, 4 sectors in Bwindi and 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Rwanda, 13 habituated groups reside in Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri and only one sector/trail is available for Rwanda gorilla trekkers to begin their treks.
Uganda is considerably a budget friendly gorilla destination while Rwanda is a luxury gorilla safari destination. Looking at the costs of gorilla permits, in Uganda, gorilla permits cost USD700 per person and Rwanda, permits cost each USD1500.
To access Bwindi & Mgahinga, Uganda Gorilla Safari visitors spend longer hours driving on road about 8-9 hours unlike Rwanda whose gorilla park is at proximity to Kigali Capital City. Driving from Kigali to Volcanoes NP can take 2-3 hours to drive.
Can I go for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda from Rwanda?
Yes, tourists who fly to Rwanda can cross over to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park/Mgahinga National Park to start their Mountain Gorilla adventure. Crossing to Uganda from Rwanda involves border crossing via Chanika which connects to Kisoro town and you can connect to Kabale via Katuna border.
Please carry essential items (including valid passports, visas, yellow fever certificates, negative covid-19 test certificates etc) to avoid delays during clearing time at the border.
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