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Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

A Gorilla Trek is a highlight of all visits done in Uganda and Rwanda and certainly mountain gorillas are the major reason as to why very many people visit these 2 destinations Find information about gorilla trekking holidays to see gorillas in the wild, how to acquire a permit, as well as tour companies arranging such treks. Gorilla trekking is defined as a hike to the tropical forests of Africa to see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

Covid 19 Updates:  Bwindi and Mgahinga parks have been reopened. You can now trek the gorillas of Uganda. Covid 19 restrictions of social distance and other guidelines still apply.

When To Go To See The Mountain Gorillas In Africa?

Gorilla trekking can be conducted all year around in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. The best time to go gorilla trekking in during the months of June, July, August, September and December. This is because there are less rains and the parks are drier, making it simple to hike and see the gorillas .In Bwindi the average temperature throughout the year is 11°C/52°F in the morning and 23°C/73°F in the afternoon.

bwindi gorilla trek

  • January and February: Low season offering less huge crowds. Very little or on rain.
  • March, April and May: Its rains a lot during these months. Most challenging during the trek, the slopes are slippery.
  • June, July & August: Peak season, its important to buy your permits early since they run out. Best time for gorilla safari in Uganda and Rwanda.

Which Company Should I Use For Gorilla Trekking ?

There are so many gorilla safari tour operators in Uganda and Rwanda. How to choose a tour company will depend on various factors including price, availability of gorilla permits, online reviews and recommendations on various websites.

Where To Stay ?

Choosing the best safari lodge or accommodation will depend on how much you can afford. Some lodges charge as high as, $2500 while the budget ones can pocket as low as $ 50 for a double room. Its all about the facilities, location, food, services and so much more.

Average Cost Of Hotels & Lodges

  • $50 to 100 for budget accommodation
  • $150 to $200 for mid range
  • Luxury from $300 to $2500 per night.
  • book close to the tracking point, ask your tour operator.

How Much Does A Gorilla Safari Cost In 2021?

  • 1 Day Gorilla Trekking Uganda Costs About $1100

  • 2 Days Gorilla Safari Costs About $ 1280

  • 3 Day Gorilla Tour Costs About $ 1450

Of course, various tour operators will give you quotes, roughly the cheapest gorilla safari should have a price of about $ 1100 of course depending on the number of people. The super luxury should be cost you between $ 4000 to $ 6000 per person. Based on reviews of most gorilla tour operators in Uganda, most tourists prefer the mid-range, not so budget, but affordable.  Booking your safari during the low season should get those costs lowered! In Case you are not interested in UgandaClick here for Rwanda Gorilla Trekking or Congo Gorilla safaris, otherwise, proceed with the rest of the article.

You may wonder why a gorilla trekking safari is expensive and whether it is worth the money. Here is the breakdown.
A Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs $ 700 and 75% of the money raised is to conserve the gorilla surviving population. The government pockets 15% while 10% is meant for the local communities around the parks. As you purchase the permit, note that the cost includes park entrance fees, gorilla watching for an hour, advance trackers and ranger fees.

Other Trekking Costs To Consider

Cost Of Food
Food and Drinks about $50 per day. Most Tour Operators include meals and soft drinks.

Transport Costs
Air ticket from your country should cost $ 500 to $ 2400.
Chartered flights from airport to close to gorilla trekking points, $ 600.
Hiring a car should cost you about $80 per day.

Cost of Items For Packing
insect repellents, sunscreen and more.

Visa and Border Crossing
East African tourist visa costs $100, which can take you on safaris in Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda.

Cost of Porters
$ 20 dollars, and  $500 to hire a Sedan chair for porters to carry you.

Tips On Cutting Costs

  • Do not travel alone.
  • Stay in best budget lodges.
  • Choose Uganda over Rwanda.
  • Avoid public transport buses do not leave on time.
  • Avoid chartered flights.
  • Book Your gorilla tour during low season.

 

gorilla trek africa

 

 Where Can I See Gorillas In Africa?

You can see gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. However, note that gorillas are mainly divided into the mountain and the lowland with a couple of other sub-species in that. We suggest Rwanda, Uganda for views of the mountain gorillas and the Republic of Congo for the lowland gorillas. It is also possible to find mountain gorillas within the DR of Congo however due to the instabilities within the country, it has been challenging in some areas.

Some tourists think that you can find gorillas even where you opt for safaris in Tanzania ! This is wrong. However Tanzania and Kenya can be a great addition to your safari tour especially during the great wildebeest migration where herds of animals cross the Mara river into the Serengeti plains! On google, you find searches as Kenya gorilla trekking. There are no gorillas in Tanzania, Kenya or South Africa. These are multi destination safaris which we always encourage you to visit especially in East Africa.

Generally, the lowland gorillas are smaller and have brownish-gray far coats and a distinct brow ridge, whereas the mountain gorillas are larger with darker black coats. The Mountain gorillas are the most uncommon primates in the entire world with less than 800 surviving in the African wilderness. on the contrary there are more than 100,000 lowland gorillas just in the Republic of Congo.

uganda gorilla safari

Where To Go For Gorilla Trekking In Uganda

Uganda has 2 sections for gorilla safaris namely, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In total there are 18 gorilla groups or families and you can only track only one group a day.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has 17 gorilla group making it the best place or park where you can see the gorillas in the wild. Bwindi an ancient forest has 90 mammal species, 11 primates including the black and white colobus monkey.

Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Groups

  • Ruhija Trek : with gorilla families, Mukiza, Oruzogo, Bitukura and Kyaguliro
  • Buhoma Trek: Habinyanja, Katwe, Mubare, Rushegura
  • Nkuringo Trek: Christmas, Nkuringo, Bushaho
  • Rushaga Trek: Kutu, Bikingi, Mishaya, Bushigye, Kahungye, Rwigi, Bweza, Nshongi, Mucunguzi

Mgahinga Gorilla Family
In Mgahinga Park, you can track the Nyakagezi group which is surrounded by the Slopes of Virunga Volcanoes, Mt. Muhavura(4,127m) Mt Gahinga (3474m) Mt. Sabinyo(3645m).

Luxury Gorilla Trekking Safari

The most luxurious gorilla tours are done in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. While a gorilla permit costs $ 1500 per person, a 9 day luxury Rwanda safari costs over $ 15,000 when you sleep in luxury lodges like Bisate Lodge, Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Rwanda. In Uganda, Clouds Lodge, Mahogany Springs and Gorilla Forest Camp take the crown.

Budget Gorilla Tours In Africa

The cheapest gorilla permit costs $450 in Congo and $ 600 in Uganda. Budget accommodation in Bwindi National Park for Uganda gorilla tours costs from $100 per night. Choose between Bwindi Backpackers Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge and Buhoma Community Rest Camp. In Rwanda, hotel Muhabura is the most affordable.

 

What Country Provides The Best Option For Seeing The Mountain Gorillas ?  Comparing Uganda Vs Rwanda

This is quite a tricky question since they are all mountain gorillas living in the forests! Almost same environment. Comparing Uganda to Rwanda is not a good idea since Uganda has more wildlife than Rwanda. Besides the mountain gorillas, you can visit Murchison Falls, or see other primates in Kibale Forest National Park. If its about the cost, please note that, Gorilla permits within Rwanda were recently increased up to $1500 per individual and then in Uganda they go each for USD 700.

uganda safari gorillas

The permit offers you one hour with the mountain gorillas in a group of 8 people. In case you are threatened by the price look at it in this point of view that you are contributing to the conservation of mountain gorillas and as a form of thank you, you will be rewarded with an hour in the midst observing and enjoying their company.

Keep in mind that just 80 people are allowed to see the gorillas in their natural habitat each day. Because their habitat is very fragile, every time you walk in this forest you leave a footprint. Conclusion, Uganda is the best place to see gorillas.

Packing List For Gorilla Tours In Africa

  • Waterproof hiking boots.
  • Day pack.
  • Insect repellents.
  • Light weight rain jacket.
  • Poncho
  • Camera.
  • Binoculars,
  • Bottled water
  • Boots: hiking boots,
  • Gloves, old pair of gardening gloves
  • Long pants or trousers
  • Energy snacks.

How Difficult Is Gorilla Trekking?

Gorilla Trekking has a numerical rating of 50 to 100
Difficult Rating: Moderate Hike

There are many factors that influence the gorilla trekking difficulty and the commonest is your physical fitness. Others include weather conditions and your pack weight. It is possible to ask for a gorilla group that will march your fitness levels. A porter is important, Gorilla Trekking is not very hard, some people in their 60’s and 70’s have done it.

So how strenuous is the hike? To begin with 60% of Bwindi Impenetrable National park has an elevation of over 6,600ft. Elevation of the entire park is from 3,904 to 8,553 ft. It has steep slopes in some areas. The experience takes between 2 to 6 hours depending on the gorilla family.

gorilla covid 19 safaris

Gorilla Tracking Rules For Post Covid Visitors

With these apes sharing 98% of our genes, its possible that gorillas can get corona virus. Gorillas can catch flu and other airborne diseases making Covid 19 a big threat to the survival of the gorillas.

  • Observe a distance of 7 meters away from the gorillas.
  • Age limit of 15 years or more stands.
  • You are allowed only 1 hour to see the gorillas
  • Wearing of masks is important
  • Avoid sneezing.
  • Sanitize and observe other SOP guidelines.

What To Expect On A Gorilla Safari

On the day of your trek, expect to leave your comfortable bed early enough, am move to the briefing point by 7:30am. After briefing, tourists will be allocated different tracking routes, each 8 tourists. Head to the forest accompanied by guides and rangers as you begin you search for gorillas.

In the forest, you may see monkey species, butterfly species, mammals and so much more. Sometimes the forest is challenging and a good level of fitness will be required. At the end of the day, expect to be muddy and sweaty.

Once you see the gorillas, its okay to take photos with your camera or iPhone but avoid flash or else the gorillas might charge. You will spend between 40 minutes and 1 hour in company of these gentle giants. It will be such a life changing experience. After the trek, head back to you accommodation or opt for a cultural village experience of the Batwa pygmies.

How About The Gorilla Habituation Experience?

Gorilla habituation is the training of wild gorillas to get used to humankind. Gorillas are trained by researchers and park rangers for a period of 3 years. Its during the training that that you can join the group of researchers and park rangers. Only 4 visitors are allowed. This makes it special. The cost of gorilla habituation is $1500 per person per day. The most exciting reality about this experience is that you actively engage in the gorilla habituation!

 

How To Get A Gorilla Trekking Permit In Uganda

Within Uganda, Gorilla trekking is conducted in Bwindi  Impenetrable National Park or in Mgahinga National Park. But because of the inconsistency of gorillas in Mgahinga, majority of the sold permits are for Bwindi NP. In Uganda, every gorilla permit goes for US $ 700. In the past years, April, May and November used to cost US $ 450.Please note that these offers no longer exist. On a single day, nearly 72 people travel into Bwindi to see gorillas and only 8 people are allowed to see  a gorilla family. We strongly encourage you to book your gorilla permit with a safari agent, the most prominent mistake is to book a gorilla family which is far away from your choice of accommodation! The routes to Bwindi and its various regions are often tricky; this is a remote area. If you would like to do the gorilla trek on your own so as to save costs, you might end up incurring more. Safari guides have been trained to help you with this.

Gorilla Safaris Permit Price

  • Uganda gorilla permit costs $ 700 (1 Hour with the gorillas)
  • Uganda Gorilla Habituation Permit Costs $1500 ( A full Day Experience)
  • Rwanda gorilla permit Costs $ 1500
  • Congo Gorilla Trekking Permit Costs $ 400
  • East African Citizen ,pay 250,000 shillings for the permit

Several travelers intending to trek gorillas have found this process  tiring and they have opted to the quicker less tiring option of reserving their trekking permits through a local Uganda safari operator. These tour operators normally add an extra fee of US$60 to US$100 for each permit. These gorilla tour companies won’t charge you for purchasing a gorilla permit in case you are going to use their other tour services such as transfers however if you simply want only a permit from them then they will put an extra charge of up to US$100 per gorilla permit they book, since they need to make calls, pick the permit, from Uganda Wildlife Authority and deliver it to you and other administrative costs.

The process is more like the above, although the tour agencies normally speed up the reservation so you will be able to confirm your gorilla permit faster.

  • You inform them of the dates for your tour to Uganda and specify the date for trekking the gorillas
  • They will inform you if your preferred dates are available for trekking and also temporarily book them.
  • They will send you our bank details so that  you can transfer the money for the gorilla permits or even pay by credit card.
  • They will send you an acknowledgement email for the money transfer. Please remember to instruct your bank to deduct the bank charges for the transaction from your account. they don’t ask for any extra money for the gorilla permit if you are reserving the rest of your tour through them. Any additional costs will be for services like telephony and transport that will be incurred when acquiring the permit.
  • You will send a copy of your passport availing the details which will be used to register for your permit. Normally they need just your full names, nationality and the passport number
  • Your names will be registered and then we acquire the gorilla permit. On receiving the payment they will buy the gorilla permit but then having this permit doesn’t 100% guarantee you seeing the gorillas although chances of seeing them are about 98%

 

Important to note is that tour operators in Uganda through their joint organization of AUTO normally buy as much as 80% of the permits for a time of up to two years to the intended date of trekking the gorillas. Each of the member agencies can buy as many as 20 permits in a single month. However individuals as well as those not under the AUTO umbrella can buy at most two gorilla permits every month three months before the intended month of the gorilla trekking when the reservations open on the very-first working days from Monday to Friday of that month. Permits that aren’t sold on opening of the booking days are resold the next day without any limit put on the number of permits sold by a single operator or even individual person.

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Customer Reviews

Ngoni Safaris Uganda

Customer Reviews

Michael T 06/June/2021

TripAdvisor
Above & Beyond
Review of: 3-Day Gorillas trekking and Batwa Experience
Sedrick went above and beyond to accomodate our request for an itinerary alteration due to our compressed time in Uganda. He also compeltely took care of scheduling our covid 19 testing and drove us to the site on arrival.

Our driver/guide Ben was also outstanding!

**We highly recommend using a porter during gorilla trekking as their are some complex parts to the trail/terrain. This also benefits the local people by providing them work.**

David 24/June/2021

TripAdvisor
Seeing Lots of Animals and Uganda
The schedule suited my time in Uganda exactly and was a great opportunity to view some of the top wildlife and natural wonders of the country. Lodgings range from mid-range to near upscale and are in beautiful locations. Food is good and ample. My driver, Stanley, was expert at spotting wildlife and, very importantly on the Ugandan roads, a careful and skilled driver. You see various parts of the country on this tour, and due to distances, be aware you'll spend quite a few hours on the road. One thing they might add is an itinerary going into more detail ahead of time on each day's activity and suggested things to bring. I was concerned about the needed COVID test for return home, but they took care of arranging that, and it turned out successfully. Overall the tour was a real highlight and is highly recommended.

Justo Nov 18, 2019

Safaribookings
I went on an 11 day safari visiting Kampala, Jinja, Lake Mburo NP, Bwindi NP, Queen Elizabeth NP and Kibale NP. Communications with Ngoni were prompt and easy from the start. As soon as I made my booking, Sedrick contacted me through WhatsApp and guided me through the rest of the process. Leading up to the tour he made sure I was well-prepared to begin. He was always very clear and friendly. Service was exceptional. I had the pleasure of going on this safari with three members of Ngoni's staff - Sedrick, Nelson and Joel. These guys made my comfort their priority from the moment we met. Whether it was checking if I was okay with the accommodations or making sure I always had a bottle of water, I always felt like I was being well taken care of. Nelson is an excellent guide. His knowledge about the flora and fauna of Uganda was extensive, always able to answer any questions I had and was eager to teach - it's obvious that he has a great love for his country and it's environment and is eager to share this love with his clients. My experience with Ngoni and Uganda surpassed all expectations I had. Absolutely amazing, and thanks to the guys at Ngoni it feels like a new home - can't wait to come back and visit. Webale, brothers!

Stephany Aug 13, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
Sedrick was unique and stood out from the rest in the high quality communication he provided since the first inquiry. He called me to provide information about the itinerary and see if I had any questions even before booking the tour. We communicated through WhatsApp for any other questions that came to mind after that call. After picking me up from the airport, he and Pilot (additional tour guide) provided plenty of information about the country to give me some context and we started our long drive to the impenetrable forest. The food was delicious with many options; the accommodation was very clean with exceptional service; and the transportation from Entebbe to Bwindi park was very comfortable (although long). As a solo female traveler, both tour guides (Sedrick and Pilot) did an exceptional job at enduring I accomplished everything intended to in Uganda, and always made me feel safe. I highly recommend to book your safari with this company because the quality and professionalism will not let you down.

Shakira Dec 14, 2018

Ngoni safaris uganda is the best tour operator in Uganda. A few weeks back we traveled to Bwindi impenetrable with sedrick to explore the beauty that is Uganda. This company took care of us . with most comfortable car , Great guide .We highly recommend it to the next travelers

Winnie Dec 19, 2018

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
I was going on a gorilla safari with my friend and this was going to be the first ever safari for the both of us. Luckily, the communication with the office was super easy and we got answers to all of the questions we needed. The driver / guide (Sedrick) was very professional and funny and made our time very pleasant. Also, he had a proper knowledge of the local area close to the Mgahinga national park and he promptly spoke some 7 languages which we thought was super positive. The safari was surely the highlight of out East African trip!

Ritah Jan 2, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
My Team and I did a five day trip, including Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Falls and Kidepo. It was truly an incredible experience. Our guide, Sedrick, was knowledgeable, skilled in driving in some challenging settings and just plain fun to hang out with for five days. The lodging was perfect, especially Savannah Lodge. The tents and beds were high quality. The views were spectacular. Meals were delicious and varied. I recommend Ngoni safaris Uganda with all my heart and soul!

Pilot May 28, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
Our six days trip was amazing. The driver/guide had an incredible knowledge of animal and bird-life and are so interesting to talk to. His driving skills through lashing rain and massive puddles was admirable! The cooks managed to produce varied and delicious meals from the kitchen, which we ate both at accommodation or roadside when we were travelling from one place to another . At all times we felt safe and well-looked after. All in all, an incredible experience, due not only to the abundance of wildlife we were lucky enough to see, but also to the great efforts put to have our Safari a better one . The safari was full of fun. Traveling with ngoni safaris is my life time memorable experience and I highly recommend it to travellers who would love to visit uganda or EastAfrica for holidays, vacations or Adventure.. Even five stars are too small .