Gorilla Trekking – the once in a lifetime experience for most – it is not something that one can hastily put together. There are exceptions where things fall into place at the last moment, but for the most part it is best to plan your gorilla trek well in advance – especially during the peak season months of June to September and December to January.
If you plan well in advance - 3 - 6 months – you will have permits in hand even during high – peak seasons of June to September and December to February in Rwanda and or Uganda the two best places for gorilla Trekking in East Africa.
Both Uganda and Rwanda offer safe and accessible gorilla trekking all year-around - one difference between Uganda and Rwanda is the price of permits – US$750 in Rwanda and US$600 in Rwanda – Uganda also offers discounted – promotional permits during the months April-May-November at US$450. Interested in saving some $$$ off your gorilla trekking Safari to Uganda, read " Uganda Discounted gorilla permits"
Chimpanzee Trekking – Golden monkey tracking, Volcano Hikes and Climbs – hiking, birding, wildlife, nature walks, biking safaris, chilling out at Lakes – plus Uganda has five Savannah Parks including the most remote and un-visited park in East Africa – Kidepo Valley Park.
You can start your Safari in Entebbe Uganda or fly-in through Kigali – Rwanda and end it Uganda or Rwanda – lessening drive times.
Best Places for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is the best places for gorilla trekking in Uganda:
This ancient forest which survived the massive plate shift of the earth that created the Western Rift is a most amazing. Bwindi in the local Bagika language means "a dark, difficult, a fearful place", so actually one could say Impenetrable Forest. In some places of Bwindi the canopy of the trees is so thick that no light gets through. There is also a large swamp deep in the forest. Thankfully the mystical Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is not so impenetrable – in fact it is quite accessible and it is the best place in Uganda to track Mountain Gorillas if not the best place to track them in the three countries where Mountain Gorillas exist.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is the only place in East and Central Africa where mountain gorillas and chimpanzees live in the same environment. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is not only the home to 400 (last census) endangered Mountain Gorillas, it is also a place of tremendous biodiversity rarely found. 310 species of trees, over 100 species luscious ferns, over 310 species of butterflies, 346 identified species of birds including birds that are only found in the Western Rift Valley.
There are Forest Elephants (slightly smaller and hairier than their savannah cousins, smaller tusks and an extra toe on each foot, found in the southern regions of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest), Duiker Antelopes, Bushpigs, Giant Forest Hogs, Leopards, Civets, Clawless Otter, Golden Cats, Genets,Side Striped Jackals, Bats, and even rare Rodents. When it comes to other primates you can often see L Hoests Monkeys, Red Tailed Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Vervet Monkeys and nocturnal Prosimians such as Bushbabies and Pottos. Simply – This forest is an island of tremendous diversity surrounded by a sea of densely populated picturesque terraced farmlands. All the flora and fauna found here are more reasons why Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is the best place for Mountain Gorilla Tracking.
Best Places for Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Uganda:
The Buhoma area is the lowest altitude in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, it is also a less strenuous tracking location, it has the most lodging facilities from budget to luxurious up-market establishments with splendid views of the incredible forest.
At times some of the lodging facilities even have a visit from a gorilla family group. An added plus. There are three habituated groups in the Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The Mubare Group – Habinyanja Group – Rushegura Group.
There many other activities at Buhoma such as Village Walk where you learn about the local people, their culture and their ways, various hikes into Bwindi apart from Gorilla tracking, mountain bike rides, village bike rides – all guided.
Simply more reasons to make Bwindi Impenetrable forest one the best places for Gorilla trekking in Uganda.
The Ruhija area is a diverse area of the park and if you are tracking a gorilla family group here such as the Bitukura Group or the newly added Oruzogo Group it is best for you to stay in one of the lodging facilities (from budget to up-market) in the area, unless you would like to take a 2 hour ride on a rocky road prior to your gorilla tracking experience at Ruhija.
Ruhija 2350m elevation, 1000m higher than Buhoma.The Ruhija area has been a birders destination for years, now there are two groups of gorillas that you can track here. You can also take a village walk similar to Buhoma and support the local community, waterfalls, birding walks and more.
There is the interesting a guided walk to the Mubwindi swamp or the Bamboo trail with its various vegetation and the rewarding stunning view of Lake Bunyonyi when you reach the top – more reasons to make Bwindi Impenetrable forest the best place for Gorilla tracking.
The Rushaga area is a part of the southern sector Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Relatively newly developed but there are up-market and rustic budget choices for you. Rushaga area is home to the Mishaya Group, the Nshongi Group the Kahungye Group, and the newly added Busingye and Bweza Groups .
The Mishaya Group led by the silverback Mishaya broke off from the Nshongi Gorilla Family and started his own in the Rushaga area. The Nshongi Gorilla Family was a part of the “Friend a Gorilla” campaign as it was launched, a most wonderful celebration with various celebrities in attendance. In the Rushaga area once again you can not only track gorillas, but hike the trails, take a village walk and do some rewarding birding – all reasons to make Bwindi Impenetrable Forest the best place for Gorilla tracking. The newly added Busingye and Bweza groups are also split-offs from the Nshongi and Kahungye gorilla groups due to family feuds. Some lodging is available at Rushaga, but you can also stay at scenic Nkuringo.
The Nkuringo area is one of the most scenic areas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest but it also an area where you are going to burn a few calories gorilla tracking especially as you return from your gorilla trek climbing up a long distance toward the top – no one complains – the experience of visiting the Nkuringo Group is well worth the effort.
Lodging wise – there is a prestigious lodge here and moderate and budget facilities. Other activities in the area include a village walk where you get to taste locally brewed sorghum beer and some local food, meet the people.
There is also the top of world walk with stunning panoramic views of the Virunga Volcano chain, simply amazing and at times you can see the fire and smoke from a volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo – all more reasons to make Bwindi Impenetrable Forest the best place for Gorilla Tracking.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park:
There are 80 Mountain Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, there is however only one habituated Gorilla Group that can be tracked within the park.
On the positive side permits can be obtained at the last minute here unlike Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where often permits, even there are many more gorilla families run in short supply.
One can stay between Nkuringo which is in the South of Bwindi Forest and track Gorillas in both Bwindi Forest and in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Best Places for Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda:
Volcanoes National Park -Rwanda:
There are 10 habituated Gorilla Family Groups that can be visited at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. – that is translated into 80 permits a day available for visitors at US$750 per person.
The Gorilla Families range in size from less than 10 members to 40 in number – your fitness level helps in matching you with the right gorilla group for you to track on the day of your Gorilla Trek in Rwanda.
At 7 am the gorilla orientation begins with a cup of coffee or tea and a traditional Rwandan Itore Dance Performance.
The treks range from shorter hikes to all-day treks in the case of Susa Group. As in Uganda Pre-trackers are out locating your gorilla group – meaning that very rarely do visitors not see their gorilla gorilla group on their scheduled day -only one of our clients – out of hundreds did not see the gorillas on the first day but did so on the second day.
Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda is different from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda – both are found to equally rewarding – Rwanda Tracking is on the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes – and in Uganda in he ancient Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Rwanda and Uganda – Best Countries for Gorilla Tracking:
There are three countries where you can track Mountain Gorillas in East and Central Africa – Uganda – Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Democratic Republic of Congo is not recommended for Gorilla Tracking by most Western Nations and there are various Security Advisories in place.
Rwanda and Uganda are safe options for gorilla Tracking and are the best countries for visiting a Gorilla Family Group.
In both countries you can add on activities and places for a more complete African Safari in Uganda and Rwanda.
Rwanda and Uganda Gorilla Tracking Safaris can be combined and one can add the best of Uganda and the best of Rwanda…Enjoy your Gorilla Trek in Uganda or Rwanda…