The mountain gorilla tour is a popular Africa safari excursion in the jungles of Uganda and Rwanda in eastern Africa. Uganda and Rwanda offer the best and easiest primate viewing experience in the world. An overwhelming number of Africa safari travelers highly rate the gorilla experience, with most East Africa safari holidays bound for Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
An all-inclusive gorilla trekking tour allows guests to spend 1-4 hours with the endangered mountain giants in their natural habitat; a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
(From 2,500 per person sharing)
Mountain Gorilla was unknown to science until 1902 when two gorillas were first encountered by a German explorer and promptly killed. It set the tone for the relationship between man and the mountain giants. For much of the time since then, the mountain gorilla was swiftly destined to be lost to the world again. Rampant deforestation and poaching didn’t make the situation any better. Not long after the species’ greatest champion, the American zoologist Dian Fossey was killed in Rwanda in 1985—there were fewer than 300 of the giant primates left in the wild.
The total mountain gorillas population is now confirmed at 1,063 (459 in Bwindi and 604 in Virungas). This suggests that mountain gorillas are the only great ape species to be increasing in numbers greatly.
A gorilla trekking excursion can occur in two regions where the endangered mountain gorillas find sanctuary – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda and the Virunga Massif. The Virunga mountains is an area that encompasses Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park, the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and the Mikeno sector of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.
Mountain gorillas have flourished in Uganda and Rwanda due to government authorities’ combined conservation efforts and the world’s conservation initiatives. Their habitat has been protected and managed by UWA (Uganda Wildlife Authority) and RDB ( Rwanda Development Board). Returns from gorilla trekking permits have helped support local communities living in the gorilla regions with better healthcare, education, sanitation, and employment opportunities, all aided by gorilla tourism.
Gorilla tourism began in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 1993, and it has been more than 25 years of this incredible jungle experience. The current number of fully habituated gorilla families available for gorilla tours in Uganda is currently at fourteen (Bwindi 19 / Mgahinga 1), with one further family semi-habituated in Bwindi. Bwindi Impenetrable NP is divided into four sectors ( Buhoma, Ruhiga, Rushaga, and Nkuringo sectors), which are commonly known as trailheads – where the gorilla tracking excursions are started from.
To visit Mountain Gorillas groups, you must first obtain a gorilla tour tracking permit from the only authorized seller, Uganda Wildlife Authority in Kampala. Members of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) can purchase permits up to 2 years ahead from UWA. Make sure you acquire yours from a legitimate operator.
At Nkuringo Safaris, we assist our visitors with processing and obtaining gorilla tour permits in Uganda and Rwanda, for either the Nkuringo, Bushasho, Nshongi, Mishaya, Bweza Kahungye or Busingye groups on the south side of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Gorilla groups on the Buhoma sector of Bwindi based availability. Contact us to get professional assistance.
A Uganda Gorilla Permit currently costs USD 700 (2021), and Gorilla Habituation Experience permit costs USD 1500, and Nkuringo Safaris’ surcharge is USD 30 per tracking permit. We cannot make tentative bookings for tracking permits with Uganda Wildlife Authority. All bookings we make with Uganda Wildlife Authority must be supported with payment in cash when making the reservation with UWA.
Uganda Wildlife Authority has introduced gorilla habituation experience in the Rushaga region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park for gorilla tour excursions.
To become habituated to the presence of humans, each gorilla group undergoes an extremely delicate process, lasting around five years, during which the gorillas gradually get accustomed to the presence of humans.
UWA Park rangers start by spending a limited time with the gorillas every day and remaining at a certain distance to respect the gorillas’ comfort zone. As the years go by, rangers gradually increase the time and reduce the distance. The habituation process ends when the rangers deem that the gorillas are ready for tourists’ visits.
The gorilla habituation experience allows a few lucky visitors to participate in this process by going on full-day excursions with the rangers and trackers. At present, this type of experience is limited to one gorilla family in the southern part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The mountain gorilla habituation experience price is USD 1500 per permit (including Park Entrance Fee). It is limited to 4 people per day and allows to be with the mountain gorillas for up to four hours. This excludes the time spent reaching the gorillas.
Obviously, if the gorillas are not still but rather on the move, the visitors will have to move along. Minimum age and behavior guidelines remain the same as gorilla tracking.
A mountain gorilla tour in Uganda can be enjoyed either by taking a gorilla tracking excursion or a gorilla habituation experience. Here we identify the key differences between the two African jungle experiences.
Start Time: In Bwindi, gorilla trekking starts at 8.30 AM and 7.30 AM, the gorilla habituation starts. (Briefing before hiking into the jungle is mandatory and starts way earlier. so be at the trailhead at least 30 minutes beforehand.)
Permit Costs: Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs US $700 while Gorilla Habituation costs US $1,500 per permit per person.
The number of visitors allowed: Only 8 tourists can track each mountain gorilla family while only 4 people can do a gorilla habituation experience.
Duration: The time spent with the mountain gorillas after tracking them is 60 minutes but with gorilla habituation, you can stay with the African beasts for up to 4 hours
Location: Gorilla habituation can only happen in areas with mountain gorillas under habituation; now, it is only in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable NP.
It’s highly advisable to book your mountain gorilla tour permit earlier than your planned gorilla trekking date as permits tend to get finished early. Volcanoes National Park is home to 10 Mountain Gorilla groups, and each group can only have 1 group of 8 people visiting a day for only 1 hour.
Nkuringo Safaris for the last 13 years has supported lots of clients source mountain gorilla tour permits, with our Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge we are on the ground to support clients tracking and share our in-depth knowledge as to how they can further maximize their visit to Uganda.
Important: You must be over 15 years of age to obtain a gorilla viewing permit.
A self planner like you needs a local safari company that cares about how you like to plan your Africa Safari. With Nkuringo Safari Experts, you can craft a private tailor-made gorilla tour in Uganda or Rwanda that perfectly suites your style and budget without compromising of experience.
We will guide you in accommodation choices, meals, transportation and also help you process your gorilla tracking permit. Our guest in reviews say traveling with Nkuringo Safaris is hustle free, you too will be treated to the same quality of standards and also get our flexible COVID booking terms during these uncertain times.