Uganda’s Gorilla Families

The main tourist attraction in southern Uganda is its mountain gorillas, found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. The population of gorillas in Uganda is approximately 400 individuals.

The current number of mountain gorillas as of September 2018 in the Virunga Massif, which consists of  Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda, is 604 members.

20 habituated mountain gorilla families are open to tourism in five different sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, Nkuringo, in Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga National Park, all under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority.

This has increased the capacity of tourists allowed to track the gorillas, with over 160 permits available for sale daily. Tourists wishing to track gorillas must first obtain a permit. Permits are restricted to 8 visitors per group.

Selected gorilla families have been habituated to human presence, and the number of visitors is tightly controlled to prevent risks to the gorillas and degradation of the habitat. The gorillas seldom react to tourists. There are strict rules for tourists to minimize the risk of diseases passing from them to the gorillas.

Different sectors you will find gorillas in Uganda

Mountain gorilla in Uganda

Buhoma Region- 4 families – 32 permits available

  1. Mubare family- named after the Mubare hills. This was the first group habituated in 1991 and received its first tracking visitors in 1993.
  2. Habinyanja family- This was habituated in 1997 and began to receive tracking visitors in 1999.
  3. Rushegura family- This was habituated in 2000 and received tourists in 2002. It was split from the larger group Habinyanja group. They crisscross each other and co-exist peacefully.
  4. Katwe- this is a newly habituated group.

Ruhija Region- 4 families, 32 permits available

  1. Bitukura family- habituated in 2008.
  2. Oruzogo- habituated in 2011.
  3. Mukiza.
  4. Kyaguriro- this family is often observed for research purposes.

Rushaga Region- 8 families, 64 permits per day

  1. Nshongi family- This family currently has 8 members. It was originally the largest group to be habituated but split to Mishaya group.
  2. Mishaya family- has 9 members now but following a family dispute, 10 members of this group split from the biggest group Nshongi group.
  3. Busingye family- has 10 members and was habituated in 2011.
  4. Bweeza family- has 9 members and was habituated in 2011.
  5. Kahungye- is the largest group with 18 members, habituated in 2011.
  6. Bikyingi- has 12 members in the group and is currently being habituated.
  7. Muchunguzi- has 8 members.
  8. Has no official name at the moment. 8 members.

Nkuringo gorilla family

Nkuringo Region- 3 families, 24 permits available

  1. Nkuringo family- consists of 14 members. The hike for tracking the Nkuringo is the most challenging, but undoubtedly worthwhile, as it is the most pleasing. Habituated in 2004.
  2. Xmas family has 7 members.
  3. Bushao family has 12 members.

Mgahinga National Park- 1 family, 8 permits available

  1. Nyakagezi- has 10 members who are quite big in size.

How to book for a gorilla permit

A gorilla tracking experience is one activity that must be on your bucket list. A tailor-made safari including this amazing activity can be arranged and booked by Nkuringo Safaris. If you are a lone traveler, however, you can book permits from the Uganda Wildlife Authority, office in Kampala, or check for availability in the information centers in Kisoro or Buhoma. You are however encouraged to book permits in advance.

The permit buys you one hour with the gorillas. Permits are usually priced at;

  • Foreigners- $600
  • Foreign residents- $500
  • East Africans- UGX 250,000

Climate and the best time to visit Bwindi

Gorilla tracking in Bwindi is open all year round, but the best time to visit is during the dry seasons from June to August and December to February.

Bwindi has a tropical climate with the climate and environment regulated by the forest. Annual mean temperatures range from a minimum of 7 to 15 °C to a maximum of 20 to 27 °C. Its annual rainfall ranges from 1,400 to 1,900 mm. The rainy season occurs from March to April and from September to November.

The park’s forest vegetation has high amounts of evapotranspiration increasing the rainfall around the region. The forest vegetation lessens soil erosion, flooding and ensures that streams continue to flow in the dry season. The forest trails are drier and therefore less slippery, photography is easier.

The high season brings many tourists, it is between June to September and booking of permits in advance is advised. The low season is in the months of March, April, May, October and November and permits are readily available.

uganda gorilla

Primate Safety Precaution

Mountain gorillas are gentle giants. They show very little aggression toward each other and their overall demeanour is extremely peaceful. There is always the potential for danger when you are close to wildlife, but these risks can be limited greatly by exercising caution and safety measures and following park rules.

  • Keep a safe distance from primates.
  • Do not visit chimps when you are ill or with an infectious disease.
  • Human waste must be buried 30cm deep.
  • Do not use flash photography.
  • Back away slowly if the animal approaches you.
  • In the forest, the path or trail does not belong to you. Never block an animal’s path.
  • If a gorilla charges follow the example of the guide – crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass.
  • Don’t make any quick movements.

What to pack for a gorilla tracking safari

You must consider the weather when packing for this exciting experience. If your trip entails a fly safari, you may be required to pack light since baggage is limited to 15 kgs. Make sure you have packed sunscreen, poncho or raincoat, warm clothing, insect repellant, money belt, long range camera, sturdy hiking shoes, flashlight, extra rechargeable batteries and many more.

Nkuringo Safaris has a detailed list of items to pack for your safari upon confirming your booking.

Are you ready to meet Uganda’s gorilla families?

At Nkuringo Safaris, we can arrange everything from permits to accommodation to make your gorilla tracking experience the ultimate wildlife experience! Contact us today for more information about gorilla tracking in Uganda or to begin planning your Uganda safari!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: