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Uganda Gorilla Trek Tour - 3 Days Gorilla Safari

Gorillas and Wildlfe Safaris Hall of Fame Trip Advisor RecommendedAffordable, quality Uganda gorilla trek tour, trekking gorilla families of Bwindi's mountain gorillas. This 3-days Uganda gorilla tour takes you gorillas trekking to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, with another opportunity to see over 10 other primates including chimpanzees, black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, etc. Bwindi Impenetrable NP is a natural world heritage site. Hikers will love it, with the gorilla excursion as a high point of your safari! The gorilla excursion can take from 2 up to 8 hours.

Tour price for this gorilla tour: from USD1066 per person (all-inclusive, based on two sharing room) in lower budget accommodation or USD1247 per person in midrange accommodation. If you are going in July 2020 or after, the gorilla permit price is increasing by $100, and so the gorilla tour prices.
If you are visiting in October, November, April or May, kindly contact us for the Green Season Prices.

Gorilla Tour Summary
Detailed Itinerary
Tour Prices
Accommodation
Gorilla Tour Summary

Uganda Gorilla Trek Tour  - 3 Days Gorilla Safari

Save money, get the best Uganda gorilla trek!

Ours is a uniquely delivered Uganda gorilla trek experience with select award-winning tour guides in Uganda.  On this Uganda 3 day gorilla trek tour, our teams will not only ensure you are allocated the most exciting mountain gorilla families for your indelible lifetime experience, we also ensure that the entire 3 days you are with us are packed with memories all through.

This is a private gorilla safari experience, so your safari guide gets to be more creative, doing many things outside our standard itinerary to enhance your enjoyment. And we shall provide a customized safari vehicle for your comfort and safety on the road.
 
We normally want to start the gorilla trek tour from your hotel of stay in Kampala or Entebbe at 07:00AM on any day you best prefer to start. If you are arriving a day before, we can assist book your hotel in Entebbe but otherwise you only need to let us know where you are staying in Entebbe or Kampala and we pick you up from there.
From there we drive stopping at numerous places for sightseeing before finally arriving in the evening at  Bwindi where you have your lifetime experience with the  rare mountain gorillas (only 884 remain and 50% of these are with us in Bwindi!), spend two nights before going back to Entebbe or Kampala.
On the last day of the gorilla trek tour if you are proceeding to the airport, we can drop you there as well. We usually arrive back at about 17:00hrs.
  • Day 1: Start your gorilla trek tour  by driving from Kampala/ Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
  • Day 2: Gorilla Trekking, experiencing mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Day 3: Departure from the gorillas' home to Kampala/Entebbe.

Uganda Gorilla trek Tour experience videos and photos

Some Photos from our Uganda gorilla trek tour

Uganda gorilla trek tour juvenile bwindi safari

A juvenile mountain gorilla in Bikingi gorilla family Bwindi, Uganda

tracking the mountain gorilla family bwindi uganda gorilla trek tour

Part of a mountain gorilla family in Bwindi. Uganda has over 50% of the world's surviving 884 mountain gorillas. Bwindi has 13 habituated mountain gorilla families for gorilla tracking tours.

Uganda Gorilla Trek tour experience gorilla tracking safari Bwindi

Bwindi Gorilla Trek Experience - Uganda

Detailed 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: Mahogany Springs Lodge | Buhoma Lodge |Chameleon Hill Lodge 

Moderate: Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge| Engagi LodgeSilverback Lodge Bwindi |  Gorilla Mist Camp

Low Budget: Gorilla Haven Lodge RushagaRushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp |  Gorilla Conservation 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: Mahogany Springs Lodge | Buhoma Lodge |Chameleon Hill Lodge 

Moderate: Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge| Engagi LodgeSilverback Lodge Bwindi |  Gorilla Mist Camp

Low Budget: Gorilla Haven Lodge RushagaRushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp |  Gorilla Conservation Camp

Day 3: 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.

Some Photos from our Uganda Gorilla Trek Tour

Uganda gorilla trek tour - tracking mountain gorillas 

Uganda Gorilla Trek Tour Safaris bwindi

Views of Bwindi Forest on this Uganda Gorilla Trek Tour

Uganda Gorilla Trek - Briefing for gorilla trackinf

Uganda Gorilla Trek - Briefing before gorilla tracking in Bwindi

Tour Prices

Uganda Gorilla Trek Tour Cost Inclusions

Gorilla tour prices include: Accommodation for the 2 nights of your gorilla trek tour as indicated on programme, All meals (except breakfast on Day 1), 1 Uganda gorilla trek permit per person, sightseeing as noted in the trip itinerary, Bwindi Park fees, Ground transportation from Kampala or Entebbe by a private 4WD vehicle with services of a good English speaking tour guide, Additional guides 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 mealtimes with meals, Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls, postage fees and so on.

Uganda Gorilla Trek Tour Prices

Gorilla tour cost when staying at Buhoma Community Rest-Camp, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Rushaga Gorilla Haven Camp

1 person  = USD1619

2 persons sharing room  = USD1066 per person

3 persons sharing room  = USD987 per person

4 persons sharing 2 rooms  = USD942 per person

5 persons sharing 2 rooms  = USD915  per person

Gorilla tour prices when staying at Engagi Lodge, Buhoma Haven Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge

1 person  = USD1898

2 persons sharing room  = USD1247 per person

3 persons sharing room  = USD1158 per person

4 persons sharing 2 rooms  = USD1114 per person

5 persons sharing 2 rooms  = USD1085 per person

Uganda Gorilla safari prices when staying at Mahogany Springs LodgeBuhoma Lodge, Mt. Gahinga Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Bwindi Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge

1 person  = 2260USD for July, Aug, Sept; USD2064 per person (Mar, June, Oct); USD1966 for Apr, May, Nov.

2 persons sharing room  = 1512USD per person for July, Aug, Sept; USD2056 p/p (Mar, June, Oct); USD1370 p/p for Apr, May, Nov.

3 persons sharing room  = USD1418 per person for July, Aug, Sept; USD1315 (Mar, June, Oct); USD1277 for Apr, May, Nov.

4 persons sharing 2 rooms  = USD1370 per person for July, Aug, Sept; USD1263 (Mar, June, Oct); USD1230 for Apr, May, Nov.

5 persons sharing 2 rooms  = USD1343 per person for July, Aug, Sept; USD1235 (Mar, June, Oct); USD1200 for Apr, May, Nov.

Accommodation

Buhoma Lodge

Buhoma Lodge is situated in Uganda in the idyllic Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, well known for being home to the rare and elusive mountain gorilla. From the private veranda of each cottage guests can enjoy views overlooking the forest whilst relaxing and taking in the stunning natural surrounds. Buhoma is an ideal accommodation for guests interested in gorilla trekking, being closely located to the meeting point for the treks.

There are ten comfortable cottages at Buhoma Lodge, each complete with a private veranda offering superb views of the forest. Cottages are traditionally decorated with wooden furnishings, but each is comfortable and spacious. Each cottage has en-suite facilities, and some provide bathtubs.

Meals are taken in the main, elevated lounge area, and are prepared using local ingredients to create an international cuisine. Located in the lounge, the bar is the perfect place to relax after the day's activities, or enjoy a drink around the fireplace.

Engagi Lodge

Engagi Lodge is a small and exclusive property on the edge of the Impenetrable Forest, close to the park headquarters. The lodge is open-ended at the front allowing a dramatic view of the Bwindi National Park from every corner inside the building.

The accommodation consists of eight en-suite Cottages which are evenly spaced out and hidden in the foliage. Each Cottage has either double or twin beds, a bathroom with flushing toilets and hot and cold running water. All units have private verandahs where guests can enjoy their early morning tea or coffee.

The kitchen, which has been built a distance away from the lodge to ensure privacy for the clients, prepares a variety of three course meals and all requirements such as vegetarians and vegans are catered for by our team of experienced Kampala trained chefs. The main lodge comprises a rock bar, the restaurant and a large wooden verandah with a separate outdoor viewing platform. The lodge building is large enough to cater for sizeable groups needing banqueting tables, but still allows smaller individual groups to spread out in the various different areas for privacy.

Rushaga Gorilla Camp

Rushaga Gorilla Camp is a midrange facility located in the Rushaga Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Its within a walking distance from the Park Headquarters in the Rushaga Area of Bwindi.

Offering free WiFi and a sun terrace, Rushaga Gorilla Camp is located in Bugambira. Rushaga Gorilla Tracking (Nshongi Group) is 6 km away.

It offers 6 Luxury tents,  6 self-contained  Rooms (twin/double), and and ample Camping  site. All units feature a seating area. Some units have a terrace and/or balcony with garden views.

Guests can enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant or a drink at the bar. The property also offers packed lunches.

Bike hire is available at the property and the area is popular for cycling.

Gorilla Valley Lodge

Located on the border of the Bwindi impenetrable forest and set on a steep slope the lodge has a truly unique setting. Imagine waking up with the sounds of the forest, having your cup of coffee or tea on you private terrace, experiencing the forest coming alive and the mist mysteriously giving way for a lush jungle.

Gorilla Valley Lodge consists of 12 en-suite rooms, built on a steep slope, ensuring the best views on Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

All rooms have a private terrace from where to experience the splender of the forest. Tastefully decorated and equipped with solar water heaters and comfortable beds our rooms ensure a peaceful sleep.

Mahogany Springs

Mahogany Springs offers privacy and serenity blended with optimal comfort in a spectacular setting.

At Mahogany Springs it is the little touches that make the big difference, from the tiny details in the design of the lodge through to the unrivalled service levels provided by the highly trained staff.

Spend the day tracking for Gorillas through the forest, sitting on the terrace of your room or even down by the Munyanga River listening to the flowing waters as time slowly passes by.

The Rooms

All the rooms at Mahogany Springs are suites. The Superior Suites can be Twin, Double or Triple. These suites are spacious with large double doors and

beautiful windows. Each suite has its own private exquisitely designed terrace with panoramic views of the surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable Forest area.

All suites have large en-suite bathrooms with a gorgeously designed open terracotta shower. For added comfort and peace of mind all the suites have an advanced mosquito net system that wraps around the entire area of the beds.

There are power points in the living room and bedrooms as well as 2 desks/dressing tables.

Silverback Gorilla Lodge Bwindi

The lodge is located just minutes from the gate to the National Park where the gorilla tracking starts, and has stunning views over the forest. 

The food was good and plentiful. Buffet breakfast of cereal, fruit, eggs, bacon, grilled tomato etc.

The rooms are clean with functional mosquito nets and all have views over the forest with fantastic hot showers. There is also small gift shop in the lodge.

Gorilla Mist Camp Ruhija, Bwindi Impenetrable N.Park

This is a small camp with 4 thatched roof cottages with balconies overlooking the valley, forest and volcanoes. Located about 5 minutes from Bwindi/ Ruhija park offices from where gorilla tracking for either of the three families Oruzogo, Bitukula, and Kyaguliro starts.

Accommodation at the Gorilla Mist Camp is provided in clean well maintained rooms. All the accommodation has electric lighting installed. There are several leveled terraces for those with their own equipment to camp. Cold beers and sodas are available with local produce used to provide visitors meals.

Chameleon Hill Lodge

Chameleon Hill Lodge Bwindi

Chameleon Hill Lodge Bwindi

Chameleon Hill Lodge Bwindi

Chameleon Hill Lodge Bwindi

Chameleon Hill’s biggest leverage are the best views imaginable – from up the lush highlands, to the magical Lake Mutanda & its lush islands below and the sprawling highlands all around it, and to crown it off with a perfect backdrop of the Virunga Volcanic Mountains. The most visible of the volcanoes are Muhabura, Gahinga & Sabinyo whose peaks are cloudy most of the time. On clearer days, other Virunga volcanoes from Rwanda & D.R Congo can be sighted. At night, there is a good chance of spotting magma spilling in the air from the active volcano Nyiragongo, its epic!

The lodge has a unique style of multiple colors; each building painted a different color of the rainbow, which makes it so colorful and stand out beautifully.

Facilities and Services

  • The Lobby – housed by the main castle, is comfy with colorful cushions. On arrival, it is here the lodge manager warmly welcomes you, served a glass of juice to refresh, & briefed before proceeding to check in to your room.
  • The Restaurant – serves 3 meals a day, that is, breakfast, lunch & dinner, of both local & international delicacies. Lunch and dinner are served 3 courses (starter, main course & dessert). A daily menu for the main meal course is displayed. Visitors that require special consideration for meals or an alternative from the day’s menu make prior communication with the manager.
  • Tea/Coffee is available in the Restaurant throughout the day.
  • A Bar – located right next to the restaurant, has a good collection of renowned international wines & spirits in addition to the local beer brands.
  • The Lounge, offers comfort on quality seats, sofas with cushions, and magnificent vistas of Lake Mutanda & the impressive landscape. Even better it has a fireplace to make your evenings cozy.
  • A Library – placed in the lounge, has a good collection of travel information & books including field guides of birds, Trees & Shrubs, etc.
  • A large deck, extending from the main house (that houses the Restaurant, Bar, & Lounge) overlooks the magnificent scenery – Lake Mutanda, the lush highlands, & cloudy Volcanoes.
  • Evenings are kept entertained with traditional folklore by the local dancing group
  • Electricity is provided by a generator, switched on from 7.00pm to 10.30pm.
  • Laundry services are available at small cost.

Accommodation at Chameleon Hill Lodge

The lodge has a total of 10 chalets that include 5 doubles and 5 twins. Odd numbers are doubles while even numbers are twins.

Each chalet comprises of 1 large bed for the doubles, 2 beds (not as large as those in the doubles) for the twins. In the twins, beds can be pushed together to form a double. An extra bed can be added in the double room on request, for instance to accommodate a child. Mosquito nets over the bed, in spite of this being a mosquito-free area/zone.

Other extras in the room include extra thick blanket for the colder nights; bottle of drinking water per day; wardrobe;  a Safe; Umbrella, a patio with excellent views over Lake Mutanda, highlands & Volcanoes

In the en-suite bathroom you will find, Linen and bath towels, a toilet, shower, and a wash bowl. Hot shower are available 24/7.

In between chalets is a fencing to ensure maximum privacy.

Trackers Lodge Buhoma

Trekker's tavern Cottages is located at the hilltop in Ruhija overlooking the Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park Ruhija side, one of the most famous parks and home to more than half of the world population of mountain gorillas.

The lodge is very eco-friendly and has a lovely cozy atmosphere with 5 spacious cottages all with ensuite bathrooms with hot showers and flush toilets.

A place of infinite calm surrounded by untamed majesty and commanding panoramic views of the Virungas on a clear day, the beautiful sunrise, Lake Edward and Bwindi forest in the south. It is around 15 minutes walk  from the Ruhija park headquarters.

The lodge is a perfect place for bird watchers as a variety of albertine rift endemics and other special birds can be viewed from the verandas of the cottages. A day walk to the mines offers a bird watcher a chance to see the Spotted Eagle Owl in a day roost, Doherty's Bushshrike, Mackinnon's Bushshrike, Red throated Wryneck, Dusky Twinspot, a variety of Waxbills and many others.

Buhoma Community Rest Camp

Buhoma Community Rest Camp (BCRC) is attractive complex set in wooded grounds on the slope facing a forest gallery immediately inside Bwindi National park entrance gate and has been in existence since 1993. They have self contained Bandas which are cabins in African Style, Self Contained Tents and Dormitories  for your accommodation needs while doing a  Gorilla Tracking tour in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Buhoma Community Rest Camp is setup at the Edge of Bwindi impenetrable National Park with the main aim of providing quality Lodging service to tourists and visitors.
They have got six (6) well finished safari tents, which are self-contained facing the forest with a spectacular view.

Wake up and go to sleep with the relaxing music of nature. Two cottages that are self-contained facing the forest. Nothing beats the scenes that unfold right in front of you. Gorillas do drop by to say hullo occasionally.

We also have got five (5) twin cottage bandas which are non-self-contained and are built with local materials with African architectural design.

Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort Camp, Bwindi Impenetrable N.Park

It is located about 600m from the Ruhija Gorilla tracking trail-head. An ideal budget lodging in Ruhija accommodation during your trip for you to track Kyanguriro, Bitukura and Oruzongo Gorilla Groups.   

 Spectacular views overlooking valley towards the forest. Also 3 twin rooms available and camping possible.

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.

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Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

We do this 3 days Uganda gorilla trek tour in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda, covering parts of Rukungiri, Kisoro, and Kabale Districts. It is situated in a hilly country-side that, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary constitutes an important water catchments area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a true equatorial jungle, inhabited by four gorilla groups. Amongst the dense vegetation, the colobus monkey jumps from branch to branch, chattering its warning to its fellows hidden by the foliage. Chimpanzees, in families of 20 or 30, make the rounds, searching for fruit and edible plants.

It is situated in a hilly country-side that, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary constitutes an important water catchments area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region.

The best time to visit Uganda is late December to late February, and from June to September, as the weather at this time of year is generally dry, and warm. Temperatures average at around 25 degrees Celsius.

Accessing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi forest can be accessed from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the northern just 2 to 3 hours drive, from Kampala through Mbarara about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabale town to the southern just 1 to 2 hours. These roads then converge at Butogota, just 17 kilometers from the Buhoma entrance-gate.

Top 5 Tourist Things to Do In Bwindi

1. Gorilla Trekking

The Uganda gorilla trek tour can only be done in Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi alone has at least 480 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked. In Bwindi, gorilla trekking is done at either Buhoma or Ruhija or Nkuringo or Rushaga area (also known as sectors). These sectors currently have 18 mountain gorillas families that have been habituated for gorilla trekking in Uganda. You will need a gorilla trekking permit to track the mountain gorillas in Bwindi. A gorilla permit costs UD600 (and in 2020 the gorilla permit will cost $700). On any single day, about 130 tourists can visit the mountain gorillas in Bwindi.

You need to plan your gorilla tracking tour well in advance, at least 90 days in advance because the gorilla trek permits usually sell out faster. Also, be sure to have dull color clothes for your gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi.

Bwindi is probably the best place to trek the mountain gorillas because the gorilla permit is cheaper at $600 and also the park is very safe for tourist activity.

2. Mountain Gorilla Habituation Experience (with 4 hours with the gorillas)

Gorilla habituation experience is only done in Uganda's Bwindi impenetrable National Park. It is conducted with the Bikingi mountain gorilla family in Rushaga area of Bwindi. the gorilla habituation experience permit costs USD1500 per person and you have the chance to trek the gorillas and be in their presence for 4 hours. It gives you the chance to be with the gorillas longer and also learn about the gorilla habituation exercise in Bwindi. The maximum number of participants for this activity is 4 persons per day. The gorilla family has at least 25 gorilla members and you have lots of time to enjoy the gorillas and take photographs as you wish.

3. Viewing other 11 Primates, monkeys in Bwindi

Although Bwindi forest is largely known for gorilla trekking tours, it also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes,  L’Hoest’s Monkeys, De Brazza Monkeys, Red-tailed Monkeys, Blue Monkeys as you trek through the forest.

While in Bwindi, you can visit the park office and arrange a guided forest walk in to the park to spot any of these primates. You will need to pay a park fee of USD40 per person as well as a nature walk fee of $30. A ranger guide/escort is a must for all those intend to do a natural walk in the forest.

For security reasons, guided night walks in Bwindi haven't yet been implemented but there are nocturnal species like the Potto and the various Galago Species that are resident in Bwindi.

4. Local Community experiences, Batwa Pygmies experience

Batwa experience Bwindi gorilla trekking

The Batwa are a pygmies tribe of Uganda who were originally living in Bwindi before it was gazetted as a park. The Batwa have lived their lives to current generations by hunting and gathering in the forest. The visit to the Batwa invariably involves songs and a dance demonstration, and once the music begins you can’t help but notice that they project a genuine pride in themselves.

The Batwa experience fee is USD80 for the full day or $30 for a 3 hours experience.  In the Batwa experience, members of the Batwa Community lead tourists through the forest in the shadows and teach the visitors about their ancient ways of hunting and gathering and the Batwa Guides get to return to the Rainforest and keep their traditions alive, at least in spirit.  The Batwa communities also receive half of the Batwa Trail Fees.

5. Birdwatching in Bwindi

The varied habitats of Uganda’s oldest forest mean it is the ideal habitat for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species.

The varied habitats of Uganda’s oldest forest mean it is the ideal habitat for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species. Easy to see are the African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill.

Birding takes place along the main trail, the Buhoma Waterfall Trail and along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija.

 

“ The gorilla trek was the highlight of our visit to Uganda. The countryside, the people and our driver and tour guide James made it just more special. ”

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