Uganda has two gorilla trekking safari destinations namely Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi impenetrable is by far the most popular choice since Bwindi impenetrable forest national park offers greater population of mountain gorillas, is better positioned for fly-in trips, and has a wider range of accommodation facilities.
The park you choose to visit will depend on your overall travel itinerary and the amount of time you have. Permit costs and sighting probabilities are identical between Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Mgahinga and Bwindi impenetrable forest national parks are located in deep southwest Uganda, close to the borders with Rwanda in the south and the DRC to the west, as you can see from the map on the left.
The southwestern part of Uganda is home to many safari destinations. This makes it simple to blend gorilla trekking tour with a savannah safari to create a single itinerary packed with unforgettable experiences. Uganda is a tiny nation, but it has a lot to offer travelers. The primary location for mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park offers four trailheads that provide access to the habituated families: Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector, Rushaga sector, and Nkuringo sector. There are distinct qualities, families, and levels of difficulty at each trailhead.
Travelers join a group of trekkers (maximum group size of 8 travelers) for a guided hike into the tropical rain forest, searching for one of the 11 habituated gorilla families, setting out from one of the four trailheads on the forest’s edges.
Gorilla trekking is led by an experienced Uganda Wildlife Authority guide, who will introduce you to the ecology of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the changing landscape as you trek mountain gorillas. The group of trackers who have been following the gorillas since dawn are in contact with your guides. Your guides are instructed by the trackers to take you to the gorillas. There are two daily tours that leave from the base camp; they can only accommodate groups of eight and typically depart at 9:00 am.
The Gorilla trekking maximum group size is set to protect mountain gorillas from airborne pathogens and to increase the likelihood of sightings because these (surprisingly) timid animals are frequently scared away by larger groups. The towering, southwest-sloped hills and terraced volcanoes present an intimidating opponent right away. It takes hiking through the dense tropical rain forest, triffid-like vegetation, up muddy hills, and down into rocky valleys to get to the mountain gorilla territory.
Gorilla trekking takes travelers to the difficult terrain and high altitude that make the journey exhausting, but so rewarding in nature. As the gorillas’ approach after making contact, there is typically a silent wait in the middle of the thick vegetation.
Gorilla trekking is a truly breathtaking experience to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat when they do emerge, with the lush forest serving as the ideal backdrop. The rustling of leaves as the gorillas play and roam quickly breaks any silence, and the calls, whistles, and whoops of thousands of animal species for miles around create the ideal soundtrack. You have up to an hour with the gorillas after making contact. If you wanted to spend more time with the gentle giants, you could sign up for a gorilla habituation experience and stay with them for up to four hours.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park offers four different trailheads where habituated mountain gorilla families can be reached: Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector, Rushaga sector, and Nkuringo sector. There are distinct qualities, families, and levels of difficulty at each trailhead. Treks to 11 fully habituated mountain gorilla families can be started from the trailheads. The gorilla treks start early in the morning and last up to six hours depending on the location of these giant apes, during which time you can observe gorillas from a distance of about seven meters. Although most sightings happen within 2-3 hours, the treks can be quite difficult, and you should be prepared to trek for up to 6 hours.