Planning a perfect gorilla trek in Uganda, what to consider – planning your program, transport to Bwindi, accommodation, how to book the gorilla permits, cost of the gorilla tour, booking gorilla permits.
In Uganda, Gorilla tracking can only either be done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, the mountain gorilla family in Mgahinga (Kahungye group) is very mobile crisscrossing borders into Rwanda and this literary leaves Bwindi to be the only place to reliably track the mountain gorillas in Uganda.
To track gorillas you must have a pre-booked gorilla tracking permit (each costs US$600) . 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. The drive from Kampala/ Entebbe to Bwindi takes about 9 hours. This means that if you are tracking gorillas 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.
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 book the permits through a local tour agency like us. Please note that gorilla permits are only confirmed by paying for them in full. So, you will need to send money for the permits in full to get your confirmation ad ensure that you take care of the bank charges involved to avoid disappointment.
If you are hoping to travel in the busy seasons of December to March or June to September, be aware that permits for many dates could sell out 4 months to the tracking and you may not be able to get the gorilla permit for the days period you wish to travel. These permits are not at the Uganda Wildlife Authority but with local tour agents. We can assist our clients to get such permits when contacted.
If you arrange the gorilla permit on your own, please ensure that you pick it from the booking office in Kampala before travelling to Bwindi. 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 Bwindi.
Planning your Transport to the Gorilla Trek in Rwanda and Uganda:
You will definitely require a 4×4 vehicle to go to the gorilla in Bwindi. You need a 4×4 vehicle to navigate the rough pot-holed roads which often get tourists stuck for hours during rainy seasons. 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$510 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.
You need to report to the park registration office at 7:30AM. So whatever method you choose, make sure that it 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).
Planning Your Accommodation during your Gorilla Trek tour
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 range over a wide area. Please have a look at the page www.gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com/Bwindi GorillaTourAccommodationLodgesHotelsCampsitesUganda.htm for more details about which accommodation you will need to book for each different gorilla family in Bwindi.
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.
Joining your gorilla trek with other tours/ excursions
Uganda offers a variety of tours you can join onto your gorilla trek. You can choose to do these safari excursions before or after the gorilla trek. Here are a couple of the many tour options that combine gorilla treks with amazing wildlife and scenery viewing.
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