Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, located in the southwestern part of Uganda, stretches across Kisoro and Kanungu districts and shares its border with DR Congo. It sits on the edge of the Albertine Rift and boasts a vast expanse of 321 square kilometers, characterized by a mix of montane and lowland forests. The park’s vegetation is believed to be more than 25,000 years old, making it one of the oldest forests in Africa.
Designated as a National Park in 1991, Bwindi Impenetrable was recognized as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994. Its rugged terrain comprises a series of steep ridges and valleys, and the park is the source of five major rivers, all of which flow into Lake Edward.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to over 400 plant species, providing shelter to a diverse array of wildlife, including 120 mammal species. Among the park’s famous primates are the gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons, forest elephants, and antelopes. With its enchanting landscape and unique biodiversity, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park promises a truly memorable experience for all who visit.
Additionally, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a bird enthusiast’s paradise, boasting over 348 bird species, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics. The park is also renowned for its population of gorillas, estimated to be more than 400, which accounts for over half of the world’s total gorilla population. Of these, 19 groups have been habituated for human visits, allowing for the popular activity of mountain gorilla tracking. This adventure is only available in three countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo.
The park’s elevation ranges from 1,190 to 2,607 meters (3,904 to 8,553 ft) above sea level, with the highest point at Rwamunyonyi Hill. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is believed to have been the original home of the Batwa community, a group of pygmies who were forest-dwelling hunters and fruit gatherers. The Batwa relied on the forest as a source of medicine and herbs. When the park was established as a national heritage site, they were relocated from the forest to its edges, where they have since resided.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is divided into four regions, commonly referred to as sectors. The park’s northern region is home to the Buhoma sector, while the eastern part is occupied by the Ruhija sector. In the south, the Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors make up the remaining two regions. Each region boasts its unique features and attractions, providing visitors with a diverse range of experiences.
Situated in the northern region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Buhoma sector was the first to be habituated in 1993, shortly after the park was declared a UNESCO Heritage site. Today, it is one of the most popular and frequently visited parts of the park, offering visitors a range of exciting experiences.
One of the main attractions of the Buhoma sector is its gorilla families, including the oldest Mubare family, as well as the Habinyanja, Rushegura, and Katwe families. Trekking through the dense vegetation of the park to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that draws tourists from all over the world.
In addition to gorilla trekking, the Buhoma sector also boasts stunning waterfalls, nature walks, and cultural experiences with the local Batwa community. Visitors can explore the area’s diverse flora and fauna on a nature walk or hike to the top of the hill for a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. With a range of lodges and campsites available, visitors to the Buhoma sector can enjoy a comfortable and unforgettable stay in the heart of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The Mubare Gorilla Family is the oldest group in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and was habituated in 1993, shortly after tourism was introduced to the park. The group was named after the Mubare Hills, where the team of trackers first spotted them. At the time of habituation, the group consisted of 12 members, led by Ruhondeza. However, due to raids and other misfortunes, the group’s size dwindled to just 5 members.
After the death of Ruhondeza, who lived to be over 50 years old, the group was left without a leader. However, Kanyonyi, another silverback, stepped up to the challenge and took over as the new leader. Since then, the Mubare Gorilla Family has grown and now boasts 9 members, making it a popular destination for gorilla trekking.
Visitors to the Buhoma sector can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience trekking through the dense forest to observe these majestic creatures up close and personal. With an expert guide leading the way, visitors can learn about the fascinating history and behaviors of these gentle giants while supporting conservation efforts to protect them for future generations to come.
Habinyanja Gorilla Family is a popular gorilla group found in Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The group was habituated in 1997 and is named after a Rukiga word “Nyanja” meaning water place, due to its location near a swamp pond in Bwindi where it was first sighted. The family was initially led by Mugurusi and later succeeded by two brothers, Mwirima and Rwansigazi, who went on to form the Rushegura group. Currently, the silverback Makara is the leader of the group, which consists of 17 members, including nine adults, three juveniles, and five infants.
Habinyanja Gorilla Family is one of the easiest to track, and it takes about 45 minutes to drive to the starting point, followed by a hike along the Nyamishaba trail to reach the family’s location. Tracking this family is a remarkable experience, and visitors have an opportunity to observe the gorillas as they interact, play, and feed in their natural habitat. The family’s peaceful coexistence and remarkable family dynamics make them a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The Rushegura Gorilla Family emerged as a breakaway group from the Habinyanja gorilla family, and has been open for tracking since 2002. Led by the strong silverback, Mwirima, who had long struggled for power with his brother Rwansigazi, the group initially comprised seven members. Following Mwirima’s death, a black back now leads the group, which has grown to 19 members.
Living on the border between Uganda and DR Congo, the Rushegura Gorilla Family frequently crosses over into both countries. Despite this, it is an easy group for tourists to track, as the park headquarters is just a 15-minute walk from the trail in Mukono. With its increasing membership and accessible location, the Rushegura Gorilla Family is a popular destination for visitors seeking a glimpse of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
The Katwe Gorilla Group is the latest addition to the Buhoma sector, and it took three years to become fully habituated and open for visitor tracking. The group is led by a dominant silverback and comprises four females and two babies. However, the exact number of members in the group is unknown, as some individuals move in and out of the group.
Founded in 2018, the Katwe Gorilla Group was established to increase the number of gorilla permits available per day, thereby boosting the country’s revenue. As the group continues to grow, it presents a unique opportunity for visitors to witness the development of a gorilla community in its early stages. With its promising future, the Katwe Gorilla Group is sure to become a popular attraction for tourists seeking an unforgettable wildlife experience.
Located in the eastern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Ruhija Sector is home to two gorilla families, Bitukura and Oruzogo, both of which are available for tracking. Additionally, the sector has the Kyaguriro family, which is reserved for research purposes. Standing at an elevation of over 2350 meters above sea level, Ruhija is the coldest area in Bwindi, making it a unique destination for visitors.
Apart from the gorilla families, Ruhija offers excellent hiking opportunities, with charming trails for nature walks, such as the Rwamunyonyi peak. Visitors can also spot other primates, including monkeys, and a variety of mammals, such as elephants and antelopes. With its cool climate and diverse wildlife, Ruhija Sector offers a refreshing and exciting destination for those seeking a unique experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The Bitukura Gorilla Family is located in the Ruhija sector, on the eastern side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The group was named after a nearby river where they were first sighted during habituation in 2007. The group was opened up for tracking in October 2008 after they became accustomed to human presence during habituation.
Compared to other gorilla families, Bitukura is known for its peaceful nature with minimal politics. The group was initially composed of 24 members, but due to deaths and migrations, it currently has 14 members comprising four silverbacks, four adult females, three juveniles, and one infant. Ndahura, the group’s dominant silverback, is known for his peaceful leadership.
Visitors tracking the Bitukura Gorilla Family have a unique opportunity to observe these gentle primates in their natural habitat. With their peaceful nature, the group presents a serene and unforgettable experience for visitors seeking an up-close encounter with gorillas.
The Oruzogo Family is one of the most popular gorilla groups in the Ruhija sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The group was opened up for tracking in 2011 after habituation, and it initially had 25 members, including two silverbacks. Currently, the group has 17 members with one dominant silverback named Tibirikwata, two black backs, seven females, two young adults, and five infants.
The group derives its name from a plant that grows near its home where it was first spotted. The Oruzogo Family is known for its playful nature, and visitors have the opportunity to observe the gorillas engage in various playful activities during tracking. In 2013, the group gained widespread attention when one of its members gave birth to twins, a female named Kankonda.
With its high number of members, the Oruzogo Family provides a unique opportunity for visitors to witness a diverse range of gorilla behavior, from the playful antics of the young to the leadership dynamics of the silverbacks. Visitors tracking this group are sure to have an unforgettable experience with these gentle giants.
The Kyaruguriro Gorilla Family was initially habituated in 1999 and was designated as a research group for those interested in studying gorillas. At the time of habituation, the group was composed of 20 members with Rukina serving as the dominant silverback. Unfortunately, Rukina passed away after being struck by lightning, leaving the group under the leadership of the immature Mukiza in 2016.
However, conflicts soon arose between Mukiza and Rukara, leading to the eventual split of the group into two distinct families, Kyaguriro A and Kyaguriro B, with each family having 10 members. Kyaguriro A retained the original name of the group, while Kyaguriro B became known as the Mukiza Gorilla Family. Despite the changes in leadership and splitting of the family, Kyaruguriro remains an important research group within the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Located in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Rushaga sector is home to the highest number of gorilla families, making it a popular destination for gorilla trekking. The terrain in this region is relatively easy to navigate, making it an excellent spot for tourists. The sector is easily accessible through Kisoro and is a convenient tracking point for visitors travelling from Kigali.
Rushaga boasts of five habituated gorilla families, including Busingye, Bweza, Nshongi, Mishaya, and Kahungye. All these families are available for tracking, and tourists can get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Moreover, Rushaga is the only region in Bwindi that offers the unique Gorilla Habituation experience, with two families, Bushaho and Bikyingi, currently undergoing the process.
Apart from gorilla tracking, Rushaga also offers visitors a chance to experience the Batwa community’s culture. Visitors can interact with the Batwa people and learn about their unique way of life, customs, and traditions.
Nshongi Gorilla Family, previously the largest group in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, used to have over 36 members. However, the group has split twice over the years to form the Bweza and Mishaya Gorilla Families. Presently, the group has 25 members with Nshongi, the dominant silverback, leading the family, along with three sub-silverbacks, four blackbacks, seven adult females, six juveniles, and four infants. This family is a joy to watch as they are playful, particularly the infants, and with so many members, there is always something interesting happening within the group.
The Mishaya Gorilla Family is a splinter group that broke away from the Nshongi Gorilla Family in 2010 due to conflicts and flights. Mishaya, the dominant silverback, managed to take seven members with him to form his own group. Known for their fighting nature, the group has attracted additional female members over the years, increasing its total membership to 12, including 3 infants.
Bweza Gorilla Family is a group that originally split from Nshongi Gorilla Family in 2013. With 8 members initially, it was thought that the group would reunite with Nshongi, but instead, it was opened to tourists for tracking. The group currently has 1 silverback, 2 infants, and several females and juveniles. Visitors find Bweza Gorilla Family the most thrilling to watch as they go about their daily activities in the park.
The Kahungye Gorilla Family was first habituated for tracking in 2011 with a total of 27 members. However, after only a year, the group experienced fights and misunderstandings, which resulted in the creation of the Busingye Gorilla Family. Currently, the Kahungye group is comprised of 13 members, led by the dominant silverback Rumansi, followed by two black backs named Rwigi and Ruhamuka, as well as females and juveniles. Visitors to the park can track this family and witness their day-to-day activities in their natural habitat.
Busingye Gorilla Family was formed in 2012 after splitting from the Kahungye group. The group is named after its head silverback Busingye, which means “peace” despite his reputation for picking fights with other gorilla groups. Initially, the group started with 7 members, but it has since grown to 8 members, including Busingye and 1 blackback, 2 adult females, and 3 juveniles. Busingye’s dominance has enabled the group to grab females from other males, which is a display of power in the gorilla world.
Gorilla Habituation is a process that involves training mountain gorillas to become comfortable with human presence. This process takes years of training with a team of expert gorilla rangers and doctors who spend several hours a day with the gorillas to acclimate them to seeing people. In the Rushaga sector, there are two families undergoing this process: Bikyingi and Bushaho.
Bikyingi family, which has 21 members, including 1 silverback, 2 sub-adults, 9 females, and 9 infants, is located in Rushaga. Bushaho family, which is situated in the southern part of the sector, near the Nkuringo sector, has 8 individuals, including 1 silverback named Bahati, 1 blackback, 1 sub-adult, 3 adult females, 1 juvenile, and 2 infants. Bahati, the head of Bushaho family, was a former member of Nkuringo Gorilla Family. The Gorilla Habituation Experience with these families is a unique opportunity for visitors to witness and learn about the fascinating process of gorilla habituation.
Nkuringo Sector is situated in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and it offers visitors the opportunity to trek two gorilla families: Nkuringo and Christmas. Additionally, Bushaho gorilla family occasionally crosses over from Rushaga, making it accessible to visitors from either side. However, trekking in this region can be challenging due to the higher altitudes, making it suitable for young and energetic travelers who are interested in hiking and not just seeing gorillas.
Apart from the gorilla trekking experience, visitors to Nkuringo can enjoy stunning views of the Virunga Volcanoes located in Uganda and Rwanda. The breathtaking scenery may inspire visitors to explore the surrounding region further.
The Nkuringo Gorilla Family was the first gorilla family to be habituated in 1997, and it was officially opened for tracking in 2004. The family was named after the local area it was first discovered, which means “Hills” in the local language. The group initially consisted of 19 members, but over the years, the number has reduced to 12. The group was led by Rafiki, which means “Friend” in Swahili until his death in 2008. The Nkuringo Gorilla Family holds the distinction of being the first group to have given birth to twins in 2004, although one of the twins passed away later.
The Bushaho Gorilla Family, currently known to have 9 members, is one of the newest families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. However, like other gorilla families, it may increase in size with the birth of new babies and the possible conquest of other unhabituated mountain gorillas by the dominant Silverback in the area. The family was opened to visitors in 2016, adding to the total number of gorilla families in all four regions of Bwindi to 17. This makes Uganda one of the best countries to see these endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
Located in the southern region of Bwindi, the Christmas Gorilla Family is one of the three habituated gorilla families available for trekking in Nkuringo. With up to nine members, visitors can expect to see six members during a trek. The group is led by a dominant silverback known as Christmas, accompanied by one black back, three females, and one baby.
This group is unique in their tendency to venture into nearby communities in search of food. Despite this, the Christmas Gorilla Family remains a popular choice for trekking due to their rare holiday-themed name and the opportunity to witness these endangered primates up close. With their availability for tracking, visitors to Uganda can add the Christmas Gorilla Family to their list of must-see destinations.
Getting to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park by road is a scenic adventure, whether you’re coming from Entebbe or Kampala. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to stop at several interesting locations, including the Equator crossing in Kayabwe, roadside crafts and fruit markets, and the Igongo cultural centre in Mbarara. The drive to the park will take you through the beautiful rolling hills of Kigezi, where you’ll see changing vegetation, rivers, and mountains. The distance from Entebbe to Bwindi is approximately 550km, and the drive time is 8-9 hours.
If you’re already visiting Lake Mburo National Park, Kibale National Park, or Queen Elizabeth National Park, there are connecting routes to Bwindi. From Lake Mburo, you can travel through Mbarara and Kable. From Queen Elizabeth National Park, take the Kihihi route to Buhoma.
If you’re coming from Rwanda, the drive is approximately 4-5 hours, crossing the border at either Cyanika or Katuna before heading to Bwindi. Note that while coming from Rwanda, you’ll pass by the genocide museum.
Travelers have the option to fly to Bwindi by arranging flights from Entebbe or Kajansi airfield, with a flight duration of approximately one hour. Airstrip pickups are also available at the national parks.
The major operators providing flights to Bwindi are Aerolink and Kampala Executive Aviation, offering both charter and scheduled flights. Scheduled flights allow booking on available flights, while charter flights require a special arrangement for a fee.
When flying to Bwindi, the destination will depend on where the permit for tracking gorillas is booked. Two airstrips are available for those flying into Bwindi: Kihihi Airstrip for tracking in Buhoma and Ruhija sectors, and Kisoro Airstrip for tracking in the south. The airstrips are located 45 minutes away from the respective sectors, and vehicles arranged by travel companies will pick up visitors from the airstrip and transport them to their hotels for their stay.
A Gorilla permit is a document issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, allowing travelers aged 15 years and above to track gorillas in Bwindi on a specific date. The permit specifies the date and the location (a specific gorilla family) that the holder can visit.
Bwindi National Park has four regions: Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Rushaga, which have a total of 19 gorilla families. Each family provides eight gorilla permits per day, making a total of 152 gorilla permits per day. However, gorilla habituation offered in Rushaga has only four permits available per day.
In addition, Mgahinga National Park has one gorilla family, which provides another eight permits for the park. Anyone interested in obtaining gorilla permits through Trek Africa Tours should note that the permits are in high demand and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Bwindi Gorilla Permits provide travelers with the opportunity to track and witness gorillas in their natural habitat. The cost of these permits varies depending on the chosen activity, either gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience.
For gorilla trekking, the Bwindi permit costs USD700 per person for Non-Foreign Residents, USD600 for East African Residents, and Ugx 250,000 for East African Citizens. On the other hand, the gorilla habituation permits cost USD1500 for Non-Foreign Residents, USD1000 for East African Residents, and Ugx 750,000 for East African Citizens, allowing travelers to spend four hours with the gorillas in the south of Bwindi between Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors. The permit price includes entrance fees into the Bwindi forest, guiding fees, and conservation fees.
Compared to the USD1500 Rwanda gorilla permit, which only allows one hour of viewing for all nationals, the cost of the Bwindi gorilla permit is relatively cheaper. The sale of gorilla permits alone raises revenue of USD106,400 per day, and in a year of 365 days, the Uganda Wildlife Authority raises an estimate of USD38,836,000 from sales.
Experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure by visiting and trekking gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park at a reasonable cost.
Securing gorilla permits is crucial when planning a trip to see gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These permits come in two categories: gorilla trekking permits and gorilla habituation permits. Bwindi offers about 180 gorilla permits daily to allow visitors to trek the gorillas in all sectors. However, these permits have different costs and permit durations.
Booking Bwindi gorilla permits is a straightforward process. All you need to do is contact us via email with your preferred trekking date, and we will check for availability. To secure your spot, you will need to purchase the gorilla permit in advance, depending on the availability of permits for that particular day. A maximum of eight people is allowed per gorilla family, meaning only eight permits are available per gorilla family per day. For gorilla habituation, only four permits are available per day. Trek Africa Tours offers an all-inclusive gorilla road trip to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where we will reserve and secure your gorilla permit after receiving your payment.
It is essential to book gorilla permits in advance to ensure that you secure your preferred date and sector to trek gorillas. Bwindi has four sectors where you can trek gorillas: Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija, and Buhoma. You can choose your preferred date based on your birthday, anniversary, Christmas, Easter, or any other special occasion. We will book and purchase the permit for you depending on its availability in the Uganda Wildlife Authority system.
If you’re planning to go gorilla trekking in Bwindi, Uganda, it’s essential to secure your gorilla permit well in advance to avoid disappointment. Gorilla permits tend to sell out quickly during the peak season, which runs from December to February and July to September. To ensure that you can trek with the gorillas during your desired travel time, we recommend booking your permit several months in advance.
By booking early, you can also choose the sector of Bwindi where you want to trek, pick the best accommodation that fits your preferences, and select the gorilla family you want to visit. This way, you can tailor your travel plan according to your interests and make the most of your gorilla safari experience.
If you happen to be in Uganda for a conference or have a sudden change of plans, you can still arrange for last-minute gorilla permits. Our team can help you secure a gorilla permit from either Uganda Wildlife Authority or authorized resellers so that you won’t miss out on this unique adventure.
To book your gorilla permit, you need to make a payment to secure your spot. When you contact us, we’ll send you a quote for the number of days you require, and then you can fix the dates that suit you best. We’ll then proceed to book your permits and accommodation based on your priorities. Once you make your payment, we’ll finalize all the necessary arrangements to ensure that your gorilla safari is seamless and enjoyable.
In summary, it’s crucial to book your Bwindi gorilla permit in advance to avoid missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Contact us today to start planning your gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda.
If you’re planning to go gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, it’s essential to book your gorilla permit at least three months in advance to secure your spot. To make a reservation, you need to pay a minimum deposit of 30% of the total cost of the gorilla permit, and you can pay the remaining 70% deposit within 90 days before the trekking date.
It’s crucial to note that failure to complete the payment before the 90-day deadline may result in losing your permit and deposit money. Therefore, it’s essential to plan your finances and ensure that you can make the full payment before the deadline.
At Trek Africa Tours, we understand the importance of securing your gorilla permits, especially when the dates have limited availability. Therefore, we offer to deposit 30% of the permit cost using our credit as we wait for our account to be credited, in case you made a bank transfer. Online payment is an efficient option as we receive the money in less than five minutes, and we can immediately deposit your permit fees. All deposits are made to Uganda Wildlife Authority’s head offices in Kampala, and a receipt with a booking reference is issued to confirm your gorilla permit.
In summary, booking your gorilla permit in advance is essential, and you can secure your spot with a minimum deposit of 30% of the total permit cost. At Trek Africa Tours, we can help you deposit the fees efficiently and ensure that your gorilla trekking adventure is successful. Contact us today to start planning your unforgettable experience in Uganda.
Gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation are two primary activities for tourists to see the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. While both activities involve gorilla sightings, there are notable differences between the two.
Gorilla trekking is an activity where visitors search for gorillas in their natural environment in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It involves visiting gorillas that are used to visitors, i.e., gorilla habituated groups. This activity is currently done in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. To participate in gorilla trekking, you need to obtain a gorilla pass or permit that allows you to view the gorillas for one hour once you find them in the forest. Gorilla trekking involves walking in the forest, on rough and slippery terrain as it’s a tropical forest. Typically, the activity starts with an early morning briefing at the respective park headquarters of every sector at 8:00 am daily. Park guides provide the dos and don’ts while on the trek. A hike or walk into the forest follows the trail used by mountain gorillas, and once found, visitors spend only one hour with the mountain gorillas. It’s fascinating to watch the gorillas feed, rest, and move in their families, given that they have 99% human DNA.
Gorilla habituation is a unique activity in Uganda that involves visitors spending up to four hours with a mountain gorilla family that is undergoing the habituation process. Unlike gorilla trekking, which involves visiting gorilla habituated groups, gorilla habituation allows tourists to witness the process of habituating a gorilla family. This activity starts early in the morning, and visitors spend time with the gorilla family as they undergo the habituation process. The habituation process can take up to two years, and visitors get a chance to observe the process of the gorillas getting used to the presence of humans.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers two distinct experiences for visitors to see the endangered mountain gorillas: gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation. Gorilla trekking involves visiting one of the 17 habituated gorilla families in Bwindi, with a maximum of eight people per family. During the trek, you’ll see adult and juvenile gorillas, male and female gorillas, each with individual names, identified by your guide. You can book a gorilla permit per day to do multiple treks on dates of your choice.
Gorilla habituation, on the other hand, involves visiting a group of gorillas that are still getting used to humans, and is conducted with researchers who are studying their behavior. The habituation process can take more than two years. Gorilla habituation permits are limited to four people per day at a cost of USD1500 for Non-foreign residents, and offer four hours with the gorillas as they move, feed, rest and live in the wild. This activity is conducted in the south of Bwindi between Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors. Gorilla habituation experiences start early in the morning at 6:00 am with a briefing, and last half or even a full day. It is recommended to book in advance due to high demand.
In summary, while gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation both involve gorilla sightings, they have significant differences. Gorilla trekking involves visiting gorilla habituated groups, while gorilla habituation involves observing the process of habituating a gorilla family. Regardless of which activity you choose, both offer an unforgettable experience with the endangered mountain gorillas.
Trek Africa Tours can organize affordable gorilla habituation experience safaris to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Both gorilla trekking and habituation are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that should not be missed, offering a chance to see these fascinating creatures up close in their natural habitat.
According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority policy, the minimum age for Gorilla trekking is currently set at 15 years. This means that anyone below the age of 15 is considered a minor or child and is not permitted to trek the once-endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The reason behind this policy is to avoid situations where children may become uncontrollable and disturb the gorillas, causing them to become aggressive towards visitors.
Children are known to have communicable diseases that can easily be transmitted to mountain gorillas since humans and gorillas share almost the same genes. For instance, conditions such as cough and flu can easily be spread, which could pose a significant threat to the gorillas. Additionally, trekking through Bwindi’s hilly terrain, rough surfaces, and slippery paths can be challenging for children, which is another reason why they are not allowed to participate in Gorilla trekking.
Children aged 15 years and above are required to pay the same price as adults to participate in gorilla trekking. In most cases, children are grouped with their families to ensure easy management and care during the trek in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Before the trek, passports are reviewed to ensure that no minors are allowed to participate, and if found, they are not permitted to trek even if a permit has been secured. If children are minors, they can still travel with their parents on safari and participate in other activities such as nature walks and community walks, while their parents are on the gorilla trek.
It’s essential to note that the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s policy aims to ensure the safety of both visitors and the endangered mountain gorillas. Therefore, anyone planning to trek gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park should be aware of the age limit policy to avoid any inconveniences during their trip.
Tipping on gorilla trekking tours is a customary practice in Uganda, but it is not obligatory. Gratuity is discretionary and should be based on the quality of service received. Tipping is seen as a gesture of appreciation that encourages those who have received the gratuity. When traveling on a gorilla safari to Bwindi, tipping is an important aspect of the experience, and we have provided some tipping guidelines for each passenger:
Tipping can be done in any currency, but it is advisable to have hard cash in small bills of dollar notes that are easy to distribute and do not require change. Alternatively, you can use Uganda’s local currency, the Uganda shilling. You can exchange your currency at the airport or stop at a forex bureau at the beginning of your trip with the assistance of your driver guide.
When you book a gorilla safari, a driver-guide is assigned to you from Trek Africa Tours to pick you up from the airport/hotel on the first day of your trip and accompany you throughout the safari until the last day. They are responsible for deciding which routes to follow, where to stop for meals and photographs, and ensuring that your safari is enjoyable. Driver-guides are knowledgeable about wildlife, birds, people, culture, and can answer any questions you may have about your safari. To appreciate their services, it is customary to tip them USD 10-15 per day per guest, with an average of 4-6 guests in a vehicle. If you are traveling privately with just two of you, the tip amount is at your discretion. You can choose to tip daily or at the end of the trip when you return to the airport or hotel.
When going on a gorilla trek in Bwindi National Park, allocated gorilla families come with assigned forest guides and park armed rangers to ensure everyone’s safety. These guides will help slash the path with pangas and lend a hand when necessary. Tipping the guides is an essential part of the trekking experience. Tips should be placed in the central tip box if provided or delivered to the main guide, who will distribute the money among all the trackers, guides, and rangers. The recommended tip for the main guide is USD15 per guest.
When embarking on a gorilla trek in Bwindi, you have the option to hire a porter to assist you during the hike. These porters are members of the local community and provide valuable assistance by carrying your backpack, packed lunch, cameras, and helping you navigate rough terrain. Hiring a porter costs around USD15 per porter per day, and the fee may vary depending on the workload. Generally, it is recommended to tip between USD15-20 per guest for each porter hired. By hiring a porter, you are not only helping yourself but also supporting the local community.
When staying at lodges or camps during your safari, you will encounter a team of staff members who work hard to ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable stay. These individuals include waiters, waitresses, housekeepers, and bar attendants who provide you with food, drinks, and clean your cottages. As a token of appreciation, it is customary to tip them. We recommend tipping USD3-5 per guest per stay. At many smaller lodges, there are central tip boxes where you can leave a general tip. At larger establishments and hotels, you can give individual tips at your discretion to those who have provided excellent service.
Embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure can be an unforgettable experience. However, for first-timers, the prospect of not knowing what to expect can be daunting. Luckily, with the help of our driver-guides, we’ve compiled a guide to give you an idea of what to expect on the day of your gorilla trekking.
On the day of your gorilla trekking, you will begin your day early with breakfast at 6:30 am. Your driver-guide will then take you to the park headquarters, which can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour depending on your lodge’s location. Upon arrival, your driver-guide will present your permits to the park wardens for verification, and you will join other visitors for a briefing at 7:30 am. During this time, you will learn about the dos and don’ts, rules and regulations, and what to expect during the gorilla trekking activity.
Once the briefing is over, you will be allocated a gorilla family group to trek and be grouped with seven other visitors. Each visitor will be issued a walking stick to aid with the hike. You will follow the trail used by the mountain gorillas and once you find them, you will spend one hour observing and taking photographs. During this time, you will witness how the gorillas feed, move, rest, and interact with their surroundings. The trek itself may take up to 30 minutes or three-quarters of the day, depending on the location of the gorillas. However, the experience of being up close with these majestic creatures is truly one-of-a-kind.
After completing your one-hour visit with the mountain gorillas, you will enjoy a packed lunch before embarking on your return journey back to the starting point. Here, you will be issued a certificate as a token of your successful trek of the gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These certificates are freely offered and contain important details such as the date of your trek, the name of the gorilla family group you visited, your name as the visitor, and the name of the national park. After obtaining your certificate, you will head back to your hotel for some refreshment and to spend the night. At Trek Africa Tours, we strive to meet and exceed your expectations, ensuring that your gorilla trekking experience is unforgettable.
If you’re planning on going gorilla trekking in Uganda, it’s essential to understand and follow the rules and regulations set out by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. These guidelines are outlined in the ‘Gorilla Rules’ leaflet, which you will receive upon arrival. Here are some of the gorilla trekking rules and regulations that you should be aware of:
Before embarking on a gorilla trek, there are several important things that you need to keep in mind. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:
During the gorilla trek, there are certain etiquettes that you need to observe. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:
When interacting with the mountain gorillas, there are specific etiquette rules that you must follow to ensure their safety and a memorable experience. Here are some of the essential tips:
When planning your gorilla safari to Bwindi Forest National Park, it is important to carefully consider what to pack for your gorilla trek. Essential items for your trek include hiking boots, a rain jacket, garden gloves, long-sleeved shirts, khaki trousers, a backpack, drinking water, and energy-giving foods. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has a slightly different landscape compared to other national parks where mountain gorillas live. It is a tropical rainforest that tends to be wet, muddy, and thick. Therefore, it is important to pack appropriate gear. Below are the recommended items for trekking in Bwindi Forest National Park.
When going for a gorilla trek, it’s crucial to wear appropriate clothing that protects you from any potential harm in the forest. Long-sleeved shirts and trousers (such as Khaki zip-up trousers or jeans) are highly recommended as they shield you from branches, nettles, thorns, or anything else that could prick or scratch your skin. These clothes also help to minimize any exposure to insects or other pests that may be present in the forest. Additionally, waterproof trousers are also recommended, especially for treks in the tropical rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which can be muddy and wet. By wearing long trousers and long-sleeved shirts, you will have a more comfortable and safer gorilla trekking experience.
Trekking to find mountain gorillas in Bwindi Forest National Park involves traversing a variety of landscapes, including lowland areas covered in swamps that can become muddy during rain, as well as slightly steep terrain that requires hiking to locate the gorillas. It is therefore crucial to wear hiking boots for the trek to allow for easy movement through the forest.
During gorilla trekking, it’s important to have gardening gloves to protect yourself from insects and tree branches. The forest terrain can be slippery, so holding onto tree branches for support is necessary at times. Gardening gloves provide a barrier against stingy insects and thorny branches, ensuring your hands are safe and protected during the trek.
Capturing the moment is an essential part of your gorilla trekking experience. Therefore, ensure that your camera is readily available and that your batteries are charged. It is also recommended to carry extra batteries as you may need to take multiple photos during the one hour you will spend with the gorillas. However, it’s important to note that the use of flash photography is prohibited while taking gorilla photographs. So, make sure to switch off the flash on your camera to avoid disturbing the gorillas.
A rain jacket or poncho is a must-have item on your gorilla trekking packing list. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a tropical rainforest, meaning rain is a constant possibility year-round. Even during drier months like June through September, it can still rain unexpectedly. To stay protected from the rain and avoid getting soaked, make sure to pack a reliable rain jacket or poncho. Don’t let rain ruin your gorilla trekking experience – come prepared with the right gear.
Gorilla trekking can last from 30 minutes to eight or more hours, requiring a certain level of fitness. In addition to that, it is recommended that you bring energy giving snacks as supplements. It’s important to pack a lunch and plenty of drinking water before departing from your lodge as you never know how long the trek will last. Energy giving foods can be purchased in Uganda, so be sure to contact your guide or ask them to take you to a nearby supermarket.
Bwindi Forest National Park is a tropical rainforest that experiences unpredictable rainfall throughout the year. The park is also located at a high elevation of approximately 1,190 to 2,607 meters, which means that the park and surrounding areas can get chilly at night. It is therefore essential to pack a warm sweater for your gorilla trek to keep you warm in the evenings after the trek. Don’t underestimate the temperatures at night, even in the drier months of June to September. A warm sweater can make the difference between an enjoyable evening and a miserable one. So, make sure to add a warm sweater to your packing list for your gorilla trek in Bwindi Forest National Park.
During your gorilla trek, you will come across various insects, making insect repellent a crucial item to pack. It will protect you from biting insects that can be dangerous to your health.
When packing for a gorilla trek, don’t forget to include a hat and sunglasses. The sun can be strong in some areas of the forest, so a hat will provide protection. Additionally, sunglasses can be useful for protecting your eyes from the sun’s glare. Make sure to pack them in your backpack before setting off on your trek.
The gorilla trekking experience can be physically demanding as it requires hiking through the forest for several hours to locate the mountain gorillas. The duration of the trek can vary, ranging from half a day to a few hours. If you have any physical limitations or are elderly and not fit enough for the walk, it is recommended that you use a sedan chair or stretcher for your trek. This will ensure that you can still enjoy the experience without putting yourself at risk.
Gorilla trekking sedan chairs are available for hire in all regions of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, including Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Rushaga. However, they must be booked in advance through Trek Africa Tours. The cost of the sedan chairs varies depending on the distance covered to find the gorillas and the weight of the client, typically ranging between USD 350-500. This fee covers the cost of the porters who carry visitors to and from the gorilla sightings, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to encounter these rare and endangered mountain gorillas.
Trek Africa Tours can advise clients on the availability and cost of hiring a gorilla trekking sedan chair and porters for their chosen trekking dates. If a sedan chair is unavailable, visitors may opt for a locally made alternative at a lower cost. Despite the challenging terrain, Uganda has successfully provided an accessible and inclusive environment for aged and disabled visitors to trek and see the gorillas. Tourists aged 90 and above have even successfully trekked to see these magnificent animals.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, located in Uganda, is divided into four sections: Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. When booking your gorilla trek, you must first confirm your gorilla permits, which will determine where you will stay in Bwindi. Depending on your budget, you can choose from a range of accommodation options, including Budget, Mid-range, and Luxury lodges, in the northern and southern sectors of Bwindi.
If you’re planning a visit to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, why not go all out and stay in one of its luxurious lodges? In the Buhoma sector, there are several top-rated lodges to choose from, including Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi Lodge, Trackers Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, and Silverback Lodge.
The Ruhija sector also offers an array of luxurious accommodations at reasonable prices, such as Bakiga Lodge, Gorilla Mist Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Resort, and Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge.
In the Rushaga sector, you can experience ultimate comfort and luxury at Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge, and Four Gorillas Lodge.
Lastly, in the Nkuringo sector, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge and Lake Mutanda Resort are the top choices for those looking for an indulgent and pampering stay. Book your stay at any of these luxury lodges and immerse yourself in the beauty of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in style.
If you’re looking for comfortable and affordable accommodation options for your trip to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, mid-range lodges are a great option. In the Buhoma sector, you can choose from Buhoma Community Haven Lodge, Bwindi Jungle Lodge, Eco-marvels Gorilla Resort, and Engagi Lodge.
The Ruhija sector also has a variety of mid-range lodges to choose from, including Bakiga Lodge, Gorilla Mist Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Resort, and Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge.
In the Rushaga sector, you can stay at Rushaga Gorilla Camp or Icumbi Gorilla Lodge, both of which offer comfortable accommodations at an affordable price.
Lastly, in the Nkuringo sector, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge is the perfect option for those looking for a comfortable and affordable stay.
No matter which sector you choose, mid-range lodges provide a comfortable and affordable way to experience the beauty and adventure of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Book your stay today and enjoy a memorable and affordable trip to this magnificent destination.
If you’re planning a trip to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and looking for budget-friendly accommodation, you’ll be pleased to know that there are several options available across the park’s various sectors.
In the Buhoma sector, you can consider staying at Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Bwindi Crested Crane Hotel, Ride 4 a Woman, CHTP Gorilla Conservation Camp, Bwindi Guest House, or Bwindi View Bandas.
For those visiting the Ruhija sector, Gift of Nature Lodge, Trekkers Cottages Lodge, Broadbill Forest Camp, and Gorilla Mist Lodge are budget-friendly options worth checking out.
In the Rushaga sector, there’s Rushaga Gorilla Havens Lodge, Karungi Camp, and Nshongi Camp, all of which offer affordable accommodation.
Finally, the Nkuringo sector has two budget lodges – Bwindi Backpackers Lodge and Wagtail Eco Lodge – which are ideal for travelers looking for affordable accommodation in a beautiful natural setting.
No matter which sector you choose to stay in, you can rest assured that you’ll find comfortable and affordable accommodation options in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
If you’re planning a visit to Bwindi, it’s important to understand the cost of accommodation. The cost of lodging depends on the type of accommodation you choose, with budget lodges ranging from USD 50 to USD 100 per person per night, mid-range accommodations costing between USD 100 to USD 200 per person per night, and luxury accommodations ranging from USD 250 to USD 500 per person per night.
Keep in mind that prices can vary depending on the number of nights you plan to stay and the type of package you choose, such as Bed & Breakfast, Half-Board, or Full-Board. Overall, by understanding the accommodation costs in Bwindi, you can budget accordingly and make informed decisions on where to stay during your visit.
While gorilla trekking is undoubtedly the highlight of any visit to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. Here are some options to consider:
Bwindi Forest National Park in Uganda offers the unique opportunity of gorilla habituation experience. This activity allows visitors to spend up to four hours with mountain gorillas that are still being habituated to human presence. However, due to conservation efforts, only a maximum of four people are allowed to participate in the gorilla habituation activity. To secure a spot, it is necessary to book a gorilla habituation permit in advance. The duration of the experience varies from half a day to a full day, depending on the time it takes to locate the gorillas.
Bwindi Forest National Park is renowned for its diverse bird species, including several rare Albertine Rift Endemic birds. Visitors to the park can opt to add bird watching to their itinerary after gorilla trekking, or dedicate a half or full-day to this activity alone. Bird watchers can expect to spot a range of species, including the Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Nightjar, Dwarf Honeyguide, African Green Broadbill, and many more. We offer various birding tour packages that include visits to Bwindi Forest National Park, and we can also customize a tour to fit your budget, time, and interests. Contact us for a quote and discover the magic of bird watching in Bwindi Forest National Park.
For many years, the Batwa people, also known as pygmies, lived in the Bwindi Forest National Park. However, to aid in mountain gorilla conservation and tourism, they were relocated to surrounding communities. Visitors to Bwindi Forest National Park can now take a cultural trail to learn about the Batwa people’s traditional way of life in the forest, including their hunting techniques, wild honey harvesting, and daily activities. The Batwa will also share their dances and explain how they have adapted to life outside the forest. This community experience can be done either on the day of arrival or after gorilla trekking. To participate in this unique cultural trail, visitors can book in advance or make arrangements through their lodge.
Bwindi Forest National Park boasts a tropical forest that has existed for over 250,000 years, making it one of the world’s oldest forests. The forest is home to ancient tree species, some of which are endemic to this area, and its thick canopy gives it the nickname “impenetrable.” On a nature walking safari in Bwindi Forest, visitors can enjoy learning about the different tree species, spotting various bird species, and even have the chance to encounter rare forest elephants, monkeys, baboons, and chimpanzees. These walks also offer the opportunity to immerse oneself in nature, including a visit to the park’s beautiful waterfalls and rivers. Experience the magic of the ancient forest on a nature walking safari in Bwindi Forest National Park.
Bwindi Forest National Park, situated in a high altitude area, offers an exciting opportunity for visitors to embark on a bicycle adventure tour during their visit from Kigali. This thrilling activity will take you through the local communities surrounding Bwindi, providing a chance to exercise while experiencing the park’s environs and encountering the local community. You can even use a bicycle to reach the starting point of gorilla trekking if you are staying in a nearby lodge. If you’re interested in visiting Bwindi Forest National Park from Kigali and want to include cycling in your itinerary, let us know, and we’ll customize your trip to include this activity alongside gorilla trekking. Contact us today for more information.
Trek Africa Tours is a top tour operator in East Africa with over 15 years of experience in providing exceptional safari experiences in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Our team of skilled safari designers and guides are dedicated to ensuring that every penny spent on your safari is well worth it. As a Ugandan-owned and operated company, we are committed to supporting community development and environmental conservation with a portion of our proceeds.
When you book with Trek Africa Tours, you can trust that your safari planning and execution will be effortless. Our excellent customer service has earned us high praise and ratings on platforms such as TripAdvisor and Safari Bookings.
Choose Trek Africa Tours for your Bwindi Impenetrable National Park adventure and rest assured that you will have an unforgettable experience while supporting sustainable tourism.