Best tips for Bwindi Forest and Gorilla Safari in Uganda
How to plan a Gorillas Trek in Uganda
Mountain Gorillas tracking is one of the most fantastic experience you can do in a life of trips, something that you’ll keep in your heart forever. The only two locations around the world where you can find this incredible animal are the Virunga range of extinct volcanic mountains on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda, that includes Virunga National Park with Mgahinga National Park, and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda. Sadly, the IUCN has listed the gorillas as critically endangered, and the estimated number is about 880.
We have had the luck to track these beautiful primates twice so far: we first met them a long time ago in Congo (D.R.C.), hiking through the forest of Virunga National Park and in January 2018 in Uganda through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Both trekkings were wonderful but with no doubt, for its charm and “not so easy to get there”, the most exciting experience was in Congo.
Bwindi is a small island of forest surrounded by some of the most densely populated rural areas of Africa, where people make their living through subsistence farming. The Park boasts approximately 300 gorillas divided into family groups, but the visitors can track only some of those families. The meeting point is at Rushaga Gate in the southern sector of the Park around 8 a.m., a two-hour drive from Kisoro.
Before starting, the Rangers give the visitors some important notices on how to behave with gorillas. The duration of the walk is always different, could be from 1 to 4 hours or more. After the meeting with the Rangers, they assign to the visitors a gorillas family to track, and at that moment, you’ll find out the duration of your hike. This time we were fortunate because the family they assigned us was quite close, only one hour hiking.
After 30 minutes drive by our vehicle, we start the hike through the forest that, as we come through, becomes very deep and ‘’impenetrable’’ so the Rangers have to open a path with their machete while there is an incredible silence around us.
In almost 1 hour of quite challenging hiking through the dense vegetation, we finally reach the “trackers” that every day follow the gorillas family. In a few minutes, climbing up a thick and steep hill of plants and trees, we meet ”our” marvellous gorillas family.
There are four females, two babies and a big male, called silverback because its back is covered by a thick silver fur, a particular sign that marks him as the leader. Even though their daily bed area is quite inaccessible, the Rangers help us find a suitable position to stand and watch the gorillas family eating leaves and seeds.
Unfortunately, the time flies, and after one hour, we have to leave the primates behind us in the dense vegetation and go back to the vehicle. Even though we’d like to stay longer, we are happy anyway with this incredible experience. See you again!
Need to Know about mountain gorillas’ trekking
1) When to go
January, February, June, and July are the best months for visiting Uganda and gorillas. Click here to find our itinerary out.
2) Where to sleep
The town of Kisoro is the base for the gorillas trekking. We slept at the Ikoro Hotel, in a lovely location. Anyway, If you want to know more about Kisoro accommodations, click here.
3) About the Gorillas trek
On a single day, nearly 72 people travel into Bwindi Forest to see gorillas and only eight people are allowed to see a gorilla family. Only a few people a day can visit the other two national parks where mountain gorillas are living. You need a daily permit, and the price is around 600 US dollars. The way to do the trekking is to book with some local tour operators in advance to be sure to get your permit. Anyways you can also book on the website of Uganda Wild Life.
4) Tour and Local tour operators
You can find the site of some local tour operators by clicking here. Alternatively, you can organise your Gorilla trek through reliable Online Travel Companies such as Viator or GetYourGuide, which offer great deals for tours and activities. You can also look for your Uganda safari using the website safaribookings.com.
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