How to Plan your Gorilla Trek/ Tracking Tour and Safari in Uganda & Rwanda
How to plan your gorilla trek in Rwanda and Uganda, what to consider – planning your program, transport, accommodation, and other activities for the gorilla trek.
Gorilla tracking can only either be done in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. To track gorillas you must have a pre-booked gorilla tracking permit (US$600 in Uganda and US$1500 in Rwanda per person). Since the gorilla parks are located far away from the airport you arrive from you will need transport (4×4 advisable) to reach the park.
In Uganda you will need at least 3 days to the gorilla trek: One day travelling to the park, another day tracking the gorilla, and the third day driving back to Kampala/ Entebbe.
In Rwanda you need only about two hours to get from the Airport to the Park and you can even do a 1-day tour.
To book your gorilla permit, you will need to either contact the relevant country agency to book the gorilla permit (Uganda Wildlife Authority for Uganda or ORTPN for Rwanda) or book the permits through a local tour agency like us. Please note that gorilla permits are only confirmed in either cases by paying for them in full. So, you will need to send money for the permits in full to get your confirmation.
If you arrange your own gorilla permit, please ensure that you pick it from the booking office in Kigali/ Kampala before travelling to the gorilla park. You must present your gorilla permit and passport on the gorilla tracking day to be allowed on the gorilla trek. In case your permit is booked through a tour agent and you are taking the tour with them you may not necessarily need to think about getting the permit from them but if you are not taking the full gorilla tour with them, consider getting your permit before travelling to the Park.
Planning your Transport to the Gorilla Trek in Rwanda and Uganda:
In both Rwanda and Uganda, you will require a 4×4 vehicle to go to the gorilla parks. Much as you can travel in just two hour to access Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda on smooth surfaced roads, you will definitely require a raised 4×4 vehicle to move from the Volcanoes Park Headquarters to the gorilla trek trail-head – the roads are rough, full of rocks and not easily navigable for a small car.
For Uganda, you also need a 4×4 vehicle to navigate the rough pot-holed roads which frequently get clients stuck for hours during rainy seasons. In both cases, you may be able to hire a vehicle for US$100 per day excluding the fuel but including the driver costs. In Uganda’s case, Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris offers transfers for US$520 for the 3 days (including vehicle, fuel, driver allowances for 3 days tour).
Alternatively you may take public buses to a nearby town but you will definitely have to find a cab (preferably 4×4 and usually costs $100 a day without gas fuel) to ferry you to the gorilla trek trail start an back to your hotel.
In Rwanda your gorilla permit requires that you be at the park headquarters at 7:00 AM or before for the gorilla tracking activity. In Uganda, you need to report to the park registration office at 7:30AM. So whatever method you choose, make sure that is is reliable – if you don’t turn up at the appointed time you risk invalidating your gorilla tracking permit and having to pay again.
The gorilla tracking time is very unpredictable and you may as well take the entire day. So have your accommodation booked for the night after your trek as well. For this same reason also have with you a packed lunch for the day, plenty of drinking water, rainproof clothing (you are trekking through a rainforest and any day it can rain).
Hiring Porters and Walking Sticks for the Gorilla Trek
Usually there are porters for hire (at $15 each) at the park offices and walking sticks (at $5). Do not overestimate your strength; you may certainly need either or both of these. So put it in high consideration to hire one. Besides, it’s another way of giving back to the communities.
Planning Your Accommodation during your Gorilla Trek tour
In Rwanda, you can stay in at any hotel in Ruhengeri town, Kinigi town, or at the park boundary. Some travellers attempt driving from Kigali on the gorilla tracking day by departing at 5AM. It is highly advisable that you spend the night before the trek as near the park as possible. In Ruhengeri (now also referred to as Musanze) which is about 12 kms from the Volcanoes National Park and 20 minutes driving town recommended hotels include La Palme Hotel, Volcanoes Gorillas Hotel, Hotel Muhavura, Virunga Hotel, Ishema Hotel, Fatuma Hotel and Urumuli Hotel. In Kinigi and near the park you can stay at Kinigi Guesthouse,Village Touristique de Kinigi, Gorillas Nest Lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Virunga Lodge and Sabinyo Silverback Lodge.
In Uganda, the accommodation you choose will depend on the gorilla permit you book being that the available 11 gorilla families that tourists visit in Bwindi are range over a wide area. Please have a look at the page for more details about which accommodation you will need to book for each different gorilla family in Bwindi.
Joining your gorilla trek with other tours/ excursions
Both Rwanda and Uganda offer a variety of tours you can join onto your gorilla trek. Please have a look at our website to see which other places you can visit in addition to your gorilla trek.
UGANDA/ RWANDA GORILLA TOUR PACKAGES
4 days Chimps and Gorilla Tour –
3 day Gorilla tracking Rwanda with tour price
5 days Uganda Gorillas and Queen Elizabeth Wildlife Safari
6 days gorilla tracking, wildlife safari
9 days Gorillas, primates wildlife
8 days Uganda Gorilla Game safari
Uganda 4 days Gorilla tracking tour with Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park
5 days Uganda Gorillas, Chimps Tour
5 days Gorillas trek Rwanda and Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda
All Inclusive 12 days Uganda Safari