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Mountain gorilla, Bwindi, Uganda Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris

Uganda Gorilla Trekking & Golden Monkey Trek - 4 Days

Gorillas and Wildlfe Safaris Hall of Fame Trip Advisor RecommendedThis Uganda 4 day Bwindi gorilla trekking tour with golden monkeys trek in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers some unique lifetime experiences with the endagered and endermic primates' species. We shall arrange for you to trek the mountain gorillas in Bwindi and after that, track the endagered golden monkeys. Uganda has over 53% of the habituated mountain gorillas families and you stand a very high chance of seeing them on this gorilla tour with us. Just like the gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking starts with tourists arriving at the Park headquarters by 7:30am for pre-tracking briefing (on the dos and don’ts of tracking the golden monkeys). The actual trek begins at 8:00am. Hiking through the forests to sight the golden monkeys is not so strenuous like gorilla trekking because golden monkeys live in lower areas, so tourists do not track for more than 3 hours. When tourists encounter the golden monkey family, they are given one hour to spend with them (to take photographs and observe their behavior). With this activity, there is no minimum number of tourists who track each group and age limit is 12 years.

Overview
Itinerary
Inclusions
Overview

Uganda Gorilla Trekking & Golden Monkey Trek - 4 Days

Uganda 4 day Bwindi gorilla trekking tour with golden monkeys trek in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

This 4-days gorilla trek tour and golden monkey tracking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers you more time with the unique primates of Uganda at an affordable cost in Uganda's most popular national parks.

  • Day 1: Start from Entebbe or Kampala or Kigali, drive to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with stop over at Equator and other places for photos.
  • Day 2: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Day 3: Golden Monkey Tracking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
  • Day 4: Depart from Bwindi back to Kampala/Entebbe
Itinerary

Day 1: Start your Uganda Gorilla trek tour by driving to Bwindi impenetrable N. Park (the mountain gorillas' home)

Meet and greet with our local guide in Kampala/Entebbe/Kigali at 07:00 hours before starting the gorilla trek tour on your drive heading to southwestern Uganda to the home of the mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

En route, there is a local community popular for making local drums and crafts and a fruit market. Stopover, admire and buy yourself souvenirs. Proceed to the Equator line taken as one beautiful scenery in Africa - the pathway of the sun and take photographs.

Pass by mountains, tropical rainforest and bamboo forest during the nine-hour journey.

The drive to the mountain gorilla sanctuary is over 7 hours from Entebbe or Kampala, most of the time on the smooth-surfaced road with about 45 minutes of dusty murram. You could choose to fly to Bwindi if you don't feel like driving. One way flights range from 280$-360$ pp.

Uganda Gorilla Trek Accommodation options  (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge or Chameleon Hill Lodge 

Moderate: Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge | Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge

Low Budget: Gorilla Haven Lodge Rushaga |  Rushaga Gorilla Camp 

Day 2: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Today enjoy gorilla trekking in Bwindi.

After breakfast, proceed for the morning briefing before enjoying the highlight of the trip - gorilla trekking, which may last the entire day. We trek the gorillas through the rainforest and bamboo covered slopes, accompanied by a guide and gorilla trackers, in search of a mountain gorilla family. The walking can sometimes be tough and long, but when you catch a glimpse of the magnificent silverback, any discomforts will be quickly forgotten. When the gorillas are sighted, visitors will be guided to within 6 metres from the gorillas, sit around them for a whole hour while gazing into their big round eyes.

Gorilla trekking is unpredictable. It's difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike. The gorilla tracking excursion can take from 2 up to 8 hours. Expect to walk along distance in steep and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. A good physical condition is recommended. For conservation purposes, time spent with the gorillas is limited to one hour. A ranger will brief you on how to behave with the gorillas.

While most of today's forests are no more than 12,000 years old, Bwindi's vegetation has been weaving itself into tangles over at least 25,000 years, in the process accumulating a lengthy species list. This includes 310 species of butterfly, 51 reptiles, 200 trees, 88 moths and an exceptional 120 types of mammal including 10 primates. The latter includes chimpanzee, L'Hoest's, red-tailed and blue monkey, black and white colobus, baboon, and Bwindi's most famous resident, the mountain gorilla.

Bwindi is a prime destination for birdwatchers. Its 350 species include seven which are IUCN red data listed and 90% of all Albertine rift endemics, species which are difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa.

Uganda Gorilla Trek Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge or Chameleon Hill Lodge 

Moderate: Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge | Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge

Low Budget: Gorilla Haven Lodge Rushaga |  Rushaga Gorilla Camp 

Day 3: Golden Monkey Tracking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

After breakfast transfer to the Mgahinga National Park headquarters for briefing and later begin the hike over the volcanic terrain in search for golden monkeys in the bamboo forests.

The Golden Monkey may not be the most well known primate, but is certainly an enjoyable, little creature that is worth visiting. It is a small curious monkey, golden in colour and loves to scamper around the trees. Golden monkeys are named after their golden-orange fur, and like mountain gorillas, are also considered endangered species. Conservation efforts have been put in place by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to ensure that the monkeys are protected – especially from poachers.

There is a habituated family of monkeys in Mgahinga, where tourists can track and stay with them for a period of four hours depending on where they nested the previous night and how far it is from the starting point.

It is estimated that Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has between 3000-4000 golden monkeys grouped in troupes of 30s led by a principal adult male. Golden monkeys are primarily to be found in the bamboo forest that skirt the lower slopes of the volcanoes. They are quite more  active in the bamboo canopy.  Golden monkeys are opportunistic feeders. What they feed on could be by the availability of fruits, leaves of bamboo trees, shoots of bamboo, shrubs, flowers, invertebrates and these makes it to be restricted to highland forest, mostly the bamboo forest.

Golden monkey tracking starts at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park headquarters at 7:30 am for pre-tracking briefing (on the dos and don’ts of tracking the golden monkeys). The actual trek begins at 8:00 am. Hiking through the forests to sight the golden monkeys is not so strenuous like gorilla trekking because golden monkeys live in lower areas, so tourists do not track for more than 3 hours. When tourists encounter the golden monkey family, they are given one hour  (0r 4 hours in case your are doing the habituation experience) to spend with them (to take photographs and observe their behavior). With this activity, there is no minimum number of tourists who track each group and age limit is 12 years.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Chameleon Hill Lodge

Moderate: Nkuringo Gorilla Camp | Mutanda Lake Resort

Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Camp | Travellers Rest Hotel | Gorilla Valley Lodge

Day 4: Departure to Kampala/Kigali/Entebbe (Daily flights to Entebbe can be booked as well)

Early breakfast before embarking on our return to Kampala, driving down the grassed and terraced escarpments of southwestern Uganda while taking in the breathtaking sights of the hills of the region dubbed ‘the little Switzerland of Africa’.

This area is a highly fertile, mountainous region with steep-sided hills covered from top to bottom in neatly terraced cultivated rows. Not to miss as we traverse Mbarara are the impressing longhorn Ankole cattle. A remarkable highlight of this journey is the Equator line and surely you will cross it as we have a brief stop here.

We will be in Kampala in the evening before for your flight back home.

Inclusions

Included

  • Accommodation for the gorilla trek as indicated on programme (on full board basis)
  • 1 gorilla permit per person
  • Sightseeing as noted in the trip itinerary
  • Park fees
  • Entry fees
  • Airport transfers
  • Ground transportation by a private 4WD vehicles
  • Additional guides/porters where appropriate

Excluded

  • Flight tickets and departure taxes
  • Travel documentation (visas)
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Optional excursions
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Tips and gratuities for your guides and accommodation staff
  • Laundry
  • Beverages other than mineral water in the vehicle and at meal times with meals
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls, postage fees and so on

Talk to Our Uganda Gorilla Tracking Tour Specialist

Enquire about uniquely different gorilla tracking  experience in Uganda.

Talk to our Uganda gorilla trek experience designers to start planning your Uganda safari.

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Golden monkey Tracking in Mgahinga

Golden monkeys trekking golden monkeys Mgahinga. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park tourist activities, TOP 10 TOURIST ACTIVITIES in Mgahinga GORILLA, to do Mgahinga gorilla trek Batwa golden monkeys, hiking

The Golden Monkey may not be the most well known primate, but is certainly an enjoyable, little creature that is worth visiting. It is a small curious monkey, golden in colour and loves to scamper around the trees. Golden monkeys are named after their golden-orange fur, and like mountain gorillas, are also considered endangered species. Conservation efforts have been put in place by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to ensure that the monkeys are protected – especially from poachers.

There is a habituated family of monkeys in Mgahinga, where tourists can track and stay with them for a period of four hours depending on where they nested the previous night and how far it is from the starting point.

It is estimated that Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has between 3000-4000 golden monkeys grouped in troupes of 30s led by a principal adult male. Golden monkeys are primarily to be found in the bamboo forest that skirt the lower slopes of the volcanoes. They are quite more active in the bamboo canopy.  Golden monkeys are opportunistic feeders. What they feed on could be by the availability of fruits, leaves of bamboo trees, shoots of bamboo, shrubs, flowers, invertebrates and these makes it to be restricted to highland forest, mostly the bamboo forest.

Golden monkey tracking starts at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park headquarters at 7:30 am for pre-tracking briefing (on the dos and don’ts of tracking the golden monkeys). The actual trek begins at 8:00am. Hiking through the forests to sight the golden monkeys is not so strenuous like gorilla trekking because golden monkeys live in lower areas, so tourists do not track for more than 3 hours. When tourists encounter the golden monkey family, they are given one hour  (0r 4 hours in case your are doing the habituation experience) to spend with them (to take photographs and observe their behavior). With this activity, there is no minimum number of tourists who track each group and age limit is 12 years.

THE MOUNTAIN GORILLA TREKKING EXPERIENCE

Mountain gorillas are wild animals and, as such, sightings cannot be guaranteed. However, for the last 14 years, no one has trekked the gorillas and failed to see them in Uganda. Certainly, you won't be the one with bad luck! On the trek, once you find the gorillas, you will be allowed an hour with the gorillas and you can only go not more than 6 meters from them.  As the gorilla tracking can sometimes take a full day, you will need to go with your packed lunch and lots of drinking water when trekking to the gorillas.

Gorilla trekking timings and conditions vary tremendously as the gorillas move continuously through the rain forest. It is good to be prepared and remember the weather can change with very little warning. The terrain is often steep and through areas where there are no marked paths.

TIPS FOR THE BEST GORILLA TREKKING EXPERIENCE IN UGANDA

 Secure Gorilla Trekking permits early

Gorilla Trekking is the most popular foreign tourist activity for Uganda. On every single day, only 128 tourists can trek the gorillas in Bwindi. Uganda has the cheapest gorilla permits prices at USD600 (or USD700 beginning July 2020) for safe gorilla tracking as Rwanda's gorilla permits cost USD1500. This means the competition is quite high for the few gorilla permits in Uganda and it becomes hard to secure gorilla trekking permits a few days to your Uganda gorilla tour (although it is often possible with luck more so in the green season months of October, November, April and May).  It is best to have your gorilla trek permit fully confirmed at least 4 months in advance.

Assess your fitness levels 

There is a likelihood you could walk for 3-6 hours on a gorilla trek. Gorillas are located deep in Bwindi forest with thick undergrowth over several steep volcanic slopes. Gorilla groups keep roaming this forest looking for their favorite food. They are never stationed in the same place over days. Your gorilla trek will follow this same trend and it is quite unpredictable knowing how long or tough your gorilla trekking shall be. The longer trek is not necessarily a problem, just something to be prepared for.  A bit of moderate physical fitness is needed for gorilla trekking in Uganda.

Guides & Porters for the gorilla trek

You will be guided through the forest on your gorilla tracking by a Uganda Wildlife Authority guide whom you will meet at the departure point in the morning of your trek. Your guide can help you book a porter (or two!) so that you can track without having to carry the few essential items listed below in a day pack which you should bring with you. The porters are from the local community and very used to the local conditions and can assist in pushing, pulling and supporting you during your trek to the gorillas. They are usually an additional fee, over and above your safari cost, and you should budget on approximately USD15-20 per porter per day as a fee with additional tipping being optional.

As the porters do not have tracking permits they will be stopped a short distance from the point you will be viewing the mountain Gorillas. Please remember to take whatever you may need from your bag to view the gorillas and rather leave valuables at the lodge/camp.

You will be allowed up to one hour for viewing of the gorillas from when they are sighted by your group. This is to ensure that the wild animals are not overexposed to human presence. Whilst in their presence you will also be required to keep minimum distances from them – generally between 5-7 metres and your guides will ensure this is enforced.

What to pack on gorilla trekking

• Plenty of water – 1-2 litres per person
• High energy snacks in addition to your packed lunch provided by the lodge/camp
• Spare film and batteries for videos and cameras
• Gloves (gardening type are good)
• Waterproof bag to protect photographic equipment
• A hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and band-aids might be useful
• A lightweight waterproof jacket/poncho
• Walking sticks are made available at the start of the trek for some of the steeper and more slippery tracks and may prove to be very handy.

Gorilla Trekking Age Limits

The age limit for gorilla trekking is 15 years and the authorities are very strict on this! With special written permission however, a 14yr old might pass.

Videos & Photography for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

In Uganda, it can be difficult to capture good photos under the dark canopy of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, as the name suggests! If you are very lucky, you may encounter your gorilla family in a clearing.

Here are a few tips for photographing the gorillas in Uganda:

  • If you’re taking photos using a standard point-and-shoot camera, then make sure your camera is fully charged.
  • Always take extra memory cards.
  • Remember that flash photography is not allowed when you are with the gorillas. Make sure you have your camera manual with you so you know how to disable the automatic flash and automatic focus light functions.
  • We recommend a good SLR camera. The best lenses are those with a wide aperture such as f2,8 which allow in max light and are best in gloomy conditions.  A 24 – 70 mm and a 70 – 200 m is a good combination. If you have space then consider a 300mm and a wide angle but it’s a steep walk so consider hiring a porter. A 50 mm 1.4 lens is also ideal for low light shooting and something to consider as a standard lens.
  • Professional filmmakers require permission and need to purchase filming permits in advance from UWA (Uganda) or RDB (Rwanda).
  • Keep your camera and/or phone in a waterproof bag (such as a large Ziploc bag). Cue: you’re in the rainforest.

Professional photographers, film makers or media should advise us at the time of booking as special procedures are required as well as costs to be incurred for photographing and filming.

CAMERA SETTINGS FOR GORILLA PHOTOGRAPHY

File format

Shooting in RAW format is the way to go. A jpeg is smaller in size because it discards a lot of information and so information cannot be retrieved if your exposure is slightly out. If you are shooting in jpeg, make sure your camera is set to the largest file size and also set your white balance according to the light conditions.

ISO and shutter speed

It can get dark in the forest – very dark. And gorillas are very dark subjects. If you have a Nikon D3x or D800 you can shoot at ISO 3200 and get away with it very well. My recommendation however is to try to keep in the range of IS0 800 to 2000 for maximum quality of image. High ISO gives a faster shutter speed but can affect quality and cause noise. Keep ISO as low as possible without getting blurred images. A rule of thumb is don’t shoot below 1/200th of a second with a 200mm lens. If you are using an 80 mm lens then you can shoot at slower speeds of say 1/80th and so on. If the gorillas are on the move you should up your shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second or more.

Metering and priority settings

A good default setting is to use centre weighted metering, aperture priority and an aperture of f5.6 or so. If there is a lot of dark gorilla in the viewfinder you will need to underexpose by up to two stops of light – 2 using your AE +/- button or you will overexpose your image. It is also a good idea to consider manual shooting if you are in fairly consistent lighting conditions. Your camera likes shooting subjects where the differences in exposure are not too extreme and its for this reason that cloudy or shady conditions are often best for shooting dark subjects like gorillas.

Focus

Single point focus is usually always best – you don’t want the camera focusing on the tree instead of the gorilla and usually you will want to lock your focus on the eyes. If you have a group of gorillas that you want to keep as much in focus as possible then focus about 1/3 into the picture. You may want to change focus to multi -point if you have lots of moving subjects but suggest single focus points will give you more control.  You will probably shoot on single shot, but may want to change your focus settings to continuous focus and rapid fire if they are on the move and playful.

SHOOTING TIPS

When you are with the gorillas there is a 7 meter buffer rule between you and animals. The reason is that their DNA is so close to ours that it is very easy for them to pick up flu and colds. Gorillas don’t know this rule and so don’t be surprised if they do approach closer (and be ready for it with a wide lens available), but if the guides ask you to move away then always do so smartly.

Your time with the gorillas is precious. Don’t shoot away wildly. Plan your shots. Close ups, wide shots, angles and framing. Think about your options. Also don’t forget the wide shots of Make sure that you don’t spend the whole time looking through the lens. Sit and watch and consider the fact that you are watching one of the gentlest and most fascinating creatures on the planet.

As with all wildlife photography it’s about the moment. Try to catch the little moments such as when the gorillas are interacting or when the sun catches their eyes. Also why not video your friends as soon as its over and let them tell you about their experiences of this fantastic experience.

Top Trip Report Photos from Uganda Gorillas Trek Golden monkeys Tours