Mountain Gorilla Tracking

In the foggy tropical forest of Uganda and Rwanda

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Mountain Gorilla Tracking
in Uganda & Rwanda

Mountain Gorilla Trekking is a highlight to every dream traveler for primate encounters in Africa. The exercise is basically conducted in three distinguished countries that inhabit the world’s remaining endangered species which are; DR Congo in Virunga Mountains, Rwanda in Volcanoes national park, and Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park respectively. A lot of efforts are put in place by statutory bodies to conserve the primates from extinction and it’s upon this that a drastic rise in their population is evident to further necessitate human man encounter to the Gentle Giants of the jungle.

Gorilla Habituation

The remaining Mountain Gorillas in the whole world is only found in four recognized National Parks that is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DR Congo. Of these National Parks remaining with Mountain Gorillas, it is only Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park where Gorilla Habituation is done. Gorilla Habituation Safari is the only safari that gives you an opportunity to visit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and spend more time with the Mountain Gorillas with a period of 4 hours with a gorilla family undergoing habituation process where a gorilla family is habituated for a period of 2-3 Years before being open for visitors to encounter it in the forest upon tracking.

Gorilla tracking

Gorilla tracking is considered as an experience because it gives you a once in a lifetime experience to encounter with the mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, this involves hiking/walking in the forest with ranger guides to search for habituated mountain gorillas, once you find them you learn about them and spend one hour with them. each group visited per day visitors are limited to 8 people per trek however before trekking is reached, the gorilla groups to be visited should have previously undergone what is termed as gorilla habituation exercise a process which takes between 2-3 years which involves teaching the primates how to relate to human beings in a non-violent way once you encounter them on the trek and this is done by experienced ranger guides coupled with a team of researchers.

What To Carry

Gorilla Trekking safaris in Uganda are an unforgettable amazing experience that you will last in your memory for a life. Below is a list of the things you may need on your adventure in the jungle.

  • A walking stick for the steep terrain
  • Jungle shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
  • Rain gear since it is a rainforest and rain may come down anytime
  • Insect repellent for protection from the jungle bugs.
  • Long Sleeve shirts and trousers
  • Your camera gear
  • Garden gloves to avoid touching thorny plants on your hike

best time to visit mgahinga gorilla national park

luxury gorilla trekking safari

The Gorilla Permit

Gorilla trekking permits are one of the thoughts of and key essentials while planning for encountering mountain gorillas in Uganda. A gorilla permit is a document that allows visitors to get access to trek gorillas in the defined tracking points. Therefore each visitor is supposed to purchase a gorilla trekking permit either through a trusted local tour operator or through Uganda Wildlife Authority the regulatory organ set up to issue and help in conservation of the great apes in the jungle.

Among all the national parks where gorilla trekking is done, it is safer and affordable to do the gorilla tracking safari in Uganda given the fact the gorilla permit here costs USD700 per person per trek compared to Rwanda which is USD1500 and DR Congo which is USD400 but unstable Habituated Gorilla Families in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park.

Gorilla trekking rules

There are several rules and regulations that guide the gorilla trekking adventure and they are aimed at protecting the endangered mountain gorillas as well as streamlining gorilla tourism and sustainable.

  • Keep distance of minimum 5 metres from the gorillas while in their presence.
  • Do not eat or drink near the gorillas.
  • Flash photography is not permitted.
  • In case of an emergency toilet, dig a hole of 30cm and fill it up after use.
  • Don’t drop litter in the park.
  • No smoking near the gorillas.
  • If you must sneeze or cough, cover your face and turn away from the gorillas and if you have a cold or an infectious disease, do not visit the gorillas.
  • Children below the age of 15 years old are not allowed..
  • Do not look at the gorillas directly into the eyes.

Gorilla Trekking is one of the main tourism attractions in Uganda which can be supplemented with wildlife safaris and or birding safaris

Mountain Gorilla Experience

Gorilla guide briefing group at Bwindi NP Uganda 16 Feb 2014 DB

When to go for gorilla trekking

The best time for gorilla trekking is, most importantly, when you can get a permit to do so. They are like gold dust, but that is where the specialist tour operators like Gap Travel Safaris step in. We’re like the Willy Wonkas who give out golden tickets into the magical worlds of gorillas. Worlds where it rains all year round, but much more so between November or between March and May. Tourists tend to stay away during those times, but the gorillas are always there.

The gorilla sanctuaries: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga NP (in Uganda), and Volcanoes National Park (in Rwanda) are open for gorilla trekking all year long, but the best times to go are from June to August and December to February.

At these times, the forest trails are drier and therefore less slippery. Also, your chance of a dry gorilla viewing experience is higher during these months. This might result in a better experience and photography will be easier.

High Season: June to September (Gorilla permits need to be booked long in advance at any time of the year)

Low Season: March, April, May, October, and November (Some lodges and camps close down)

Habituated Gorilla Families in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park

The following are gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park open for visitors all year round for trekking experience and each of them has its own history, characteristic and offers unique experience along the trek. NOTE: Bwindi gorilla groups are organized according to the location; Buhoma area currently having 4 groups, Ruhija area currently having 4 groups, Nkuringo area group having 2 Gorilla groups (One group for habituation experience only) and Rushaga area having 5 groups (One group for habituation experience only) and Nyakagezi Family in Mgahinga National Park.

Mubare Gorilla family

Mubare is the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda. It was found in the Mubare hills, deep in Bwindi forest, and was fully habituated in 1993. The family apparently has 9 family members led by one Silverback gorilla

Rushegura Gorilla Family

Rushegura gorilla family was brought together in 2002 after one of the silverbacks from the Habinyanja group decided to break away. It derived its name from “Ebishegura” – a tree species that was abundant in the home area of the new family with Mwirima as the lead silverback. Apparently the family has got 18 members including one silverback.

Bitukura Gorilla Family

This gorilla family has a fascinating story whereby it was normally sighted around headquarters and it took only 15 months for visitors to visit it, unlike the normal process which takes 2-3 years. Bitukura is a peaceful family including 12 members and 4 silverbacks.

Habinyanja Gorilla Family

The Habinyanja group was first visited by tourists in 1999. The name comes from a local word “Nyanja” which means ‘body of water’ where it was first sighted. The family is blessed with 18 members including 2 silverbacks but under the leadership of Makara.

Oruzogo Gorilla Family

The Oruzogo group is the second habituated gorilla family living in the Ruhija area and was habituated for trekking in 2011. The group consists of 23 individuals and is led by Silverback Tibirikwata. It’s one of the most popular families’ playful and energetic juveniles.

Kanye Gorilla Family

The group was opened for visitors and gorilla tracking in 2011 after being habituated. Kanye Gorilla Family is led by Rumanzi and there are a total of 17 individuals that includes 3 silverbacks, 3 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 3 sub-adult, 3 juveniles, and two infants.

Christmas gorilla family

Christmas has become a third gorilla family in the Nkuringo sector alongside Nkuringo and Bushaho gorilla families. The family is headed by Christmas as a dominant silverback, which some people believe, was born on Christmas. The family has a total of 9 members including 3 adult females, 3 black backs, and two babies.

Katwe gorilla family

This is a new family in the Buhoma sector north of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Katwe family joins the other three families of Mubare, Habinyanja, and Rushegura making a total of habituated gorilla families in Buhoma to four. It comprises of 7 members in the family with one dominant silverback.

Nkuringo Gorilla Family

The Nkuringo group was named after the Rukiga word for “round hill” and was launched in 2004, currently, the family consists of 19 members including 2 silverbacks.

Mishaya Gorilla Family

This family split from the Nshongi Gorilla family to make up its own family with the supreme silverback known as Mishaya who later died in 2004 and was succeeded by Mwine. The family comprises of 12 family members.

Nshongi Gorilla Family

Nshongi group previously comprised of 36 members, this makes it the largest group ever habituated but due to numerous splitting of the family, the group was reduced to 26 family members after Mishaya and Bweza broke off to make their own Family.

Bweza Gorilla Family

Bweza Gorilla group is located in the Rushaga sector with 9 individuals including 1 silverback known as Bweza. Bweza split out from the Nshongi family where it started its own group.

Bikyingi Gorilla Family

Bikyingi group, whose name also spelled as Bikyingi has 15 members including 1 silverback, 5 adult females, 2 semi-adults, 2 juveniles, and 5 infants. Bikyingi Gorilla Family is one of the two gorilla families in Bwindi available for Gorilla Habituation Experience

Busungye Gorilla Family

Busingye Gorilla Family is a splinter group from the Kahungye Gorilla Group – an event that happened in August of 2012. Apparently the family has a total of 9 family members

Mucunguzi Gorilla Family

This is yet another gorilla family found in the Rushaga sector with 8 family members and dominated by females. The family is led by the dominant silverback Mucunguzi “meaning Savior “named after breaking off from the Bweza family.

Kyaguriro Gorilla family

Kyaguriro Gorilla group is located in Ruhija with 20 individuals who feature a fascinating history which is an attraction of itself, and it’s known as Kyaguriro group A and B, this explains that the group’s habituated in 1995 as a group dedicated to research aimed to learn more about the endangered primates, their traits, characters, biology, reproduction and behaviors among by Manx Planc Institute (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Apart from Bwindi which boasts of numerous gorilla families, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has only one gorilla group for trekking. The group is led by Mark, the dominant silverback, who likes traveling and keeps on crossing borders between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Apparently the group resides in Uganda with a population of 10 gorilla families including three silverbacks living together in the family.

Weather in Bwindi

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park has a tropical type of climate with the annual mean temperature ranging from a minimum of 7–15°C to a maximum of 20–27°C Its annual rainfall ranges from 1,400 to 1,900 millimeters. Peak rainfall occurs from March to April and from September to November.

Best time of the year to track mountain gorillas

Tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda may best be practiced in seasons in relation to your holiday or choice of preference on the conditions upon trek and seasons vary in a way that the Peak Seasons for Gorilla Tracking, considered the best months for Gorilla Tracking in Uganda are June-July-August and September and then December-January-February.

What are some of the tailor-made activities on a Gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi?

Visiting the Batwa Community

Batwa pygmies are believed to have been the” indigenous occupants to the mountain slopes of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. They are as well-referred to as “The Keepers of the forest” Before they were evicted from the forest in the 1990s to attain their current location forming communities around the park as one way of survival and as well benefit from tourism to boost the community standards of living since the eviction from their previous way of surviving in the forest. Given the fact that many visitors are undertaking gorilla trekking experience, it’s more likely to arrange a cultural encounter with some of the natives work like craft shops, cultural walks, and enjoying cultural dances where you can directly support community projects and improve the standards of living of the natives.

Bird watching experience in Bwindi

Bwindi has a population of over 347 species of forest birds recorded in the Park, at least 70 out of 78 montane forest bird species occurring in the Albertine Rift region are found in the forest, and 22 of the 36 endemic species in the area. This makes the area another birding destination amidst other catchment areas for birds on this park expect to see seasonal migration birds depending on the weather. This activity is mostly practiced especially during the rainy season where you can capture plenty of birds like; the rare shoebill stork, green breasted Pitta, Dwarf Honeyguide, Fine-banded Woodpecker, African Green Broadbill, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Shelly’s Greenbul, Yellow-streaked Greenbul Red-throated Alethe, Archer’s Robin-Chat and White-bellied Robin-Chat, African Wood Owl, Rwenzori Nightjar, Bar-tailed Trogon, Black Bee-eater, Western Green Tinkerbird among others.

Gorilla Trekking Destinations

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable NP

Mountain gorilla trekking, nature hiking, bird watching, and cultures.

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Volcanoes National Park

Mountain gorilla tracking, golden monkeys and cultural encounters.

Mgahinga National Park, Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Mgahinga National Park

Sharing floors with Volcanoes NP and Virunga NP in Congo

Mgahinga National Park, Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Virunga National Park

Sharing floors with Volcanoes NP and Mgahinga NP in Uganda

Other Safari activities

These are hand-picked activities in Uganda and Rwanda we recommend to give you maximum African safari experiences during your trip to Africa.

Chimpanzee Tracking

Chimpanzee Tracking

Tracking a troop of habituated chimps and keeping up with them.

Family Wildlife Viewing

Family Wildlife Viewing

Family game drives in the African savanna to see wildlife.

Wildlife Viewing Boat Safaris

Wildlife Viewing Boat Safaris

Taking a boat launch on the Nile on the Kazinga Channel to see wildlife.

Cultural Encounters

Cultural Encounters

Meet East Africa’s richest and oldest cultures, people, music, and art.

White Water

Whitewater Rafting

Explore the Nile’s impressive and powerful rapids at the source.

Birding

Birding and Bird Watching

find Africa’s endemic bird list and enjoy the most colorful air creatures.

Cultural Encounters

Batwa Cultural Encounter

Meet East Africa’s richest and oldest cultures, people, music, and art.

Nature Walks & Hiking

Nature Walks & Hiking

Walk through Africa’s jungles and experience nature’s own display.