Gorilla trekking has to be your next thing to do on the Africa bucket list
It is on the most sought-after menu items which it comes to Africa wildlife adventure. Oh yes, those who have attended this non-negligible African experience know what I am talking about. A must-see for sure and do for sure! Some even go a mile further by calling it a life-changing experience. At least I know what it means to look into the eyes of the giant gorilla. For well-informed travelers, the gorilla trekking safaris– whether in Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo- will absolutely meet your longed expectations.
Taking a hike in the Bwindi National Park rainforest might give a feeling you need to be an accomplished athlete, but it just is not the case. Yet, the hike is a bit physically demanding but the whole relatively hard work turns into an incredible experience when you come across one of the great creatures and you start staring at one another face to face. Yes, that is where the whole experience begins.
My take on Gorilla Trekking Experience
No wonder that seeing gorillas in the wild is one of the dreams for many considering an adventure trip to East Africa. When you hear Uganda and Rwanda, the question that pops up in your head is where should I book a gorilla trekking tour?
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to mountain gorillas found also in Rwanda, can be done either from Kampala (six-eight hours’ drive) or Kigali (three hours’ drive). The gorilla trekking takes a full day, and you are advised to arrive a day before the trekking. The accommodation options (three or four-star) offers a night sleep to refuel energy for the next day adventure. Of course, the long-waited one gorilla in the wild.
This is the day! Early morning! You are off to a day in the wild. You head to the park where you will be split into trekking groups of six to eight members and assigned a gorilla family. Each group is assigned a guide and park rangers escorting you to the nice spots for gorilla viewing.
Let’s get started now!
The hike may be relatively hard if your gorilla family is located far from your meeting point. That means the hike will take longer than others and this is beyond the guide and park rangers’ control.
Compared to Rwanda, Uganda is a little higher elevation and more uphill climbing but for well-prepared adventurers, that just is a piece of cake. Your walk may go up to six miles in and out.
You have your camera with you that day you trek and while six miles can be tricky, many people have no problem with it. You’ve got so many moments to capture and immortalize to make the whole experience even more amazing. The trek through Bwindi Rainforest usually takes four hours.
The armed park rangers escorting each group ensure the trek is safely run, and their job is to protect you against any threat from other animals, lions or buffalos to name – you name them!
Gorilla Experience in Sixty Minutes
Once you reach the gorilla family, it is time to follow the instructions you received during the gorilla trekking briefing. Your sixty-minute experience with these beautiful creatures will be a life-time thing to remember. Hey, sixty minutes often look like six minutes. Time really flies! A gorilla baby usually is more active, playing in trees, moving from around both sides while an adult giant silverback watches them from a short distance. The adult moves everyone around them and all youngsters follow. A true commander!
As you’re beholding those wonderful wild creatures, you will discover how “close to us” they are. Some even move a step further by calling them our” cousins” after observing many of the human characteristics they share with us. As the experience becomes mesmerizing you are tempted to record every single move they do. A magical moment one would wish to have at least in their lifetime. As a sign of great accomplishment, all trekkers get a certificate. You got it right, a certification that you attended this life-changing journey.
Where to Trek Gorillas in Uganda
The gorilla trekking experience in Uganda is offered in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest situated in southern Uganda, three-hour drive from Kigali or six-hour from Kampala. It is for a good reason, a must-visit place in Uganda. Next time, you look for top things to do in Uganda, make sure Gorilla Trekking Tours come in your search results.
Viewing gorillas in their natural habitat isn’t possible everywhere in Africa. Besides Uganda, this life-changing experience can only happen in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and DR Congo’s Virunga National Park and Kahuzi-Biega National Park.
I won’t go into comparing the locations because all of them are great and the service is well delivered. The hikes are well organized and coordinated by guides and park rangers playing an important role in this activity.
If you happen to decide to take this trip, discuss with your travel company organizing your gorilla trekking for advice. They will be able to provide more details.
Expectations from a Gorilla Trekking Tour
So, as I usually tell my clients, participating in gorilla trekking tours doesn’t require you to be a CrossFit athlete. Only a relatively reasonable level of fitness is needed to tick “done” this bucket list item. Uganda is a little higher elevation and more uphill climbing but for many adventure travelers, this is for sure a piece of cake.
For mountain-climbing and nature lovers, it is such a great experience for them. I cannot wait to see you this year putting gorilla trekking on your bucket list- those who haven’t done so- and sharing your experience.
For the hiking is unpredictable, it is recommended to prepare your backpack with necessary items that will help you stay comfortable during the gorilla trekking journey that can last up to six hours.
Things to pack during this wildlife trip will be provided in detail in the following section. Among the packing list items are lunch and drinks, and appropriate footwear as the hike can be slippery depending on the season of the trekking.
What to Pack for Gorilla Trekking Tour
Mountain gorilla trekking requires prior planning to make sure you enjoy your long-waited experience in the wild. With that said, you don’t have to fill your backpack with unnecessary items. A light backpack with a few items will suffice.
Below is a list of a few things I like to recommend to my clients to put together as we discuss planning gorilla trekking tours either in Uganda or Rwanda. This one of the worthwhile African trips one would need to enjoy.
-Waterproof hiking boots.
-Wear your shoes well so that you don’t have any nasty blisters.
-Waterproof jackets and trousers.
-Carrier for food and water
-A camera along with extra batteries and lenses
-Reusable water bottle
Gorilla Permits in Uganda
Gorilla trekking is certainly not cheap whether you do it in Rwanda, Uganda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo but one thing is for sure to mention. It is worth your money and time.
Trekking Gorillas in Uganda is relatively cheaper compared to its neighbors. Most clients booking our gorilla tours in Uganda usually tell us they want to save money on the permits $600 US (expected to increase to $700 US from 1st July 2020) versus $1500 US for Rwanda.
Despite being the cheap place to see gorillas, tours aren’t to be confused with budget travel activities. As a lifetime chance only available in these Great Lakes’ region of Africa, it is worth indulging yourself in the luxury in the wild.
All gorilla permits are booked in advance and the demand is high even if you travel during the low season. Although you may be lucky to get available permits on the spot, the trip can turn into disappointment if no prior booking hasn’t been made.
Places to Stay when Trekking Gorillas in Uganda
Wondering where to stay when planning your gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi National Park? You have different options for staying near the park, so you report on time to the gorilla trekking briefing. Accommodation options range from budget to luxury lodges, and the choice is all yours in coordination with the travel company planning your trip.
There are other things to do outside gorilla trekking, and this gives one a reason to add a few an extra day or two to discover the small town attracting thousand visitors all year round. Beyond wildlife activities in this region that include chimpanzee tracking, golden monkey, and gorilla trekking, there is always a wide range of activities to do around the parks. Hiking, community visits, tea and coffee tours are among the choices.
It is not easy, to sum up in a just two-page article all that an ultimate guide to gorilla trekking in Uganda is about. Are you dreaming of a gorilla trekking tour in this Great Lakes region of Africa? I am looking forward to relaying more information as you pursue it. You may also be interested in Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Trekking Experience – Detailed Travel Guide.