Uganda currently (2021) has 20 gorilla families available for tourism. 19 of the gorilla groups are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and tourists can trek them from any of the four trailheads in the four corners of the park. The twentieth gorilla group is found in Mgahinga National Park with about 10 members.
With more than half the total world gorilla population found in Uganda, many gorilla families live deep inside the rainforest jungles far from human reach. The ones available for tourism have gone through a slow, careful process of getting them used to human presence called the Habituation Process. After the process, which takes from 3-5 years, the gorillas are availed for trekking within their natural habitat.
The main tourist attraction in southwestern Uganda is the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. The two habitats in Uganda harbor more than half of the world’s total population of mountain gorillas.
The latest gorilla census (2019) on mountain gorillas living in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the adjacent Sarambwe Reserve in DR Congo shows over 459 individuals living in the Bwindi area. When the mountain gorillas living in the Virunga mountain range of Rwanda and Congo are included, the mountain gorillas’ overall total stands at approximately 1,063 gorillas.
Twenty habituated mountain gorilla families in Uganda are open to tourism in five different sectors distributed around park boundaries. Four sectors in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, Nkuringo, and the other trekking sector in Mgahinga National Park. All sectors are under the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Many sectors’ availability to track different gorilla families increases the probability of tourists trekking and meeting the mountain gorillas face-to-face. UWA issues out over 160 permits per day. However, the number of permits issued per day still falls below the demand for them.
Selected gorilla groups are fully habituated to human presence, and the number of visitors is tightly controlled to prevent risks to the gorillas and degradation of the habitat. The mountain gorillas seldom react to tourists. There are strict rules for tourists to minimize the risk of diseases passing from them to the gorillas.
Buhoma sector has 4 Gorilla Groups, with 32 permits are available
Ruhija Sector has 4 Groups, with 32 permits available
Rushaga has 8 gorilla groups, with 64 permits per day
Nkuringo sector has 3 gorilla groups, with 24 permits available
Mgahinga has 1 gorilla family, with 8 permits available
Suppose you are a lone traveler; in that case, you can secure 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.
UWA issues gorilla permits in Uganda at face value for:
You might want to check out: Discounted Gorilla Permits & Promotional Rates 2021
Gorilla tracking in Bwindi is open all year round. However, the best time to visit a gorilla family is during the dry seasons, from June to August and December to February, when the heavy rains have toned down.
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 March, April, May, October, and November, and permits are readily available.
Mountain gorillas are gentle giants. They show very little aggression toward each other, and their overall demeanor is exceptionally peaceful. There is always the potential for danger when you are close to wildlife. However, you can reduce risks significantly by exercising caution and safety measures and following park rules.
It would be best if you considered 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, and extra rechargeable batteries.
Nkuringo Safaris has a detailed list of items to pack for your safari upon confirming your booking.
When booking a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda, the UWA booking office asks that we specify which park sector from the five available. The chosen sector will determine which gorilla group you get to meet on your trekking excursion. Nkuringo Safaris is licensed (since 2007) to process gorilla permits on your behalf and our experts will guide you through getting familiar with the gorilla groups on your permit.
Contact our local safari experts at email@example.com or use our contact form to request information. We’ll be glad to have a chat with you.