Gorilla Trekking Tours
Packaged gorilla trekking tours to Uganda and Rwanda that can be customized or tailored to the traveler's requirements, like budget and travel dates. Package quotes include transfers, transport, accommodation, English-speaking guides, park fees, and permits. Other sustainable holiday add-ons to the gorilla tour include nature walks, cultural encounters, tracking chimpanzees, hiking, and the classic Africa wildlife safari.
Customized Tour Packages
- Stay 2 nights on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and go gorilla trekking on this 4-day Short trip to see mountain gorillas in Uganda.
- Stay 3 nights in a comfy cottage on the edge of a gorilla rainforest, trek gorillas & meet the locals on this short gorilla safari in Uganda.
- The 6-day safari in Uganda features nature hiking, walking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, tracking mountain gorillas and cultural encounters.
- The 8-day primates galore and wildlife safari takes you to Uganda's rainforests to see gorillas, chimps, and the big game savannah animals.
- The 8-day forest adventure takes you trekking the endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in Uganda on the misty Virunga Mountains.
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Frequently Asked Questions.
Trekking in the jungles of Africa to see gorillas is for you if you are looking for a unique wildlife experience in the untouched ancient rainforests that will positively impact your life and the existence of the great apes on earth.
The gorilla trekking experience in Uganda's Bwindi and Rwanda's Volcanoes National Parks is up close and personal, bringing in close contact with giant primates and allowing highly trained conservationists, local guides, rangers, and porters to share with you the most successful wildlife-wildlife sustainable story in the history of man.
And suppose you want to go for a gorilla trekking tour with friends high up the mountains and into the rainforests for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In that case, this is for you, albeit with older children above 15. Younger kids can't handle the gorilla experience, and the government does not issue trekking permits to children under 15.
Refrain from considering gorilla trekking tours in the African wilderness if watching wildlife from the comfort of a vehicle is your thing and your dread forest adventures on foot. Gorilla watching is for trekkers and travellers wanting to get down and dirty with the muddy, slippery land, the cold, misty rainforest, and hacking through impenetrable bushes with no clear path and definite destination.
If you are not in good physical shape, gorilla trekking tours are not for you. Trekking gorillas involves breaking camp at first light and walking for three to six hours in steep, slippery terrain. Sometimes, it could rain on you for an hour during your adventure in the woods.
Also, gorilla trekking is not for you if you are on a very tight travel budget. A gorilla trekking permit price ranges from $700 (Uganda) to $1500 (Rwanda). It doesn't come with transport, accommodation, meals, drinks, and logistical fees, which may cost about $350 daily for a comfortable trip.
Most importantly, you must book your gorilla safari vacation as far in advance as possible. Gorilla trekking tours in Uganda and Rwanda are in high demand. Yet, limited trekking permits give you access to the gorillas. We recommend booking the trip 6-18 months beforehand to guarantee a date that suits you, especially if you plan to vacation during the most popular months.
The good news is that gorilla tracking is open year-round, regardless of season or weather. And if you are okay with rain showers, lodges near the gorilla sanctuary and across the region discount their services during the rainy months of April, May and November, making the gorilla safari vacations more affordable during the low seasons.
Finally, if you hope to travel as a family, the minimum age for acquiring a gorilla permit is 15. The older kids can come along, or you could leave the younger ones at the lodge so that they can join you on the lesser-tasking adventures.
We operate our gorilla safaris only in Uganda and Rwanda, where the conservation program is more prominent and rewarding to both humans surrounding the parks and the mountain gorillas. Seeing gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda's wild is driven by conservation, not capitalism. Researchers and rangers here ensure that gorillas are not exposed to humans for more than one hour daily to minimise distress and limit their exposure to human pathogens like common colds.
Trekking teams are divided into small, tightly controlled tour groups of eight people per gorilla family. There are 21 habituated gorilla families in Uganda and about 12 in Rwanda available for tourism. If one hour isn't enough for an immersive experience, you can buy a second permit for another day of your holiday. We highly recommend this. The first visit is often so overwhelming, and tourists are rushing to take photos that by the second trip, you are more chilled and sit back and take in the awesomeness of it all.
The gorilla trekking excursion starts at 7 am. You must have stayed in a nearby lodge the night before to make it to the visitor centre in time. You can't drive to the gorillas in a safari jeep, nor is it like trekking in Nepal.
Today's gorilla trekking tours in Uganda and Rwanda assure you an almost 98% success rate of seeing the gorillas. Park rangers know where the gorillas will be every morning and keep tabs on them during the day until they build and tuck into their night nests at dusk. The process is quite fascinating, actually.
Every morning, at sunrise, like clockwork, the gorillas leave their nests for a foraging expedition and don't intend to return to the same spot but build a new nest at sundown. The park rangers pin their last nest and leave them for the night. The rangers return to the same spot; if the gorillas are gone, they will track their movements and ping back to base their position.
Your gorilla trekking excursion tracker will follow the bearings of the rangers positioned with the gorillas and lead you there. The time you take to reach the gorilla is relative to their movements and can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours or more; they are wild and will keep moving sometimes. After your guided experience watching the gorilla family, your tracker will lead you out of the forest. Still, the park rangers will stay with the gorilla group till dusk.
Yes, you can hire a local porter to help you carry your backpack and give you a hand up slippery slopes and over huge fallen logs. At the visitor centre, you'll find a group of local men and women in uniform ready to offer service for about $40 per person; pick one. They come from mountain communities; they are built for the lands. They are also great company, furnishing you with local stories and anecdotes.
You may think you don't need a porter to help you lighten your weight off your feet, but the gorilla jungle disagrees with many who turn the porter services down. Besides, the communities around the gorilla parks highly depend on these services. Hiring their services is one direct way of supporting the entire sustainable circle of wildlife and man.
Once you find the gorilla family, your guide and lead tracker will brief you from about 50 meters away to keep silent and submissive. The gorilla family you visit is habituated to human presence; they will behave calmly in your presence and allow you to infiltrate their world.
You can watch them communicate with grunts, touch and grooming. Under the watchful eye of the patriarchal commanding silverback, mothers breastfeed their infants, juveniles play rough and tumble with no boundaries, and teenagers sneak for dubious acts.
In those woods, the gorillas live like a primitive average human family. Whatever they do, nothing can prepare you for 60 seriously stimulating minutes.
Just like any wild animal, wild gorillas freak out when humans approach. Gorilla habituation is the research pioneered by Diane Fossey's work in the 80s, which gradually exposes gorillas to human presence in two to five years in their natural home without compromising their natural lives and environment. The process progressively turns a gorilla family into accepting that humans mean no harm and allow us to stick around them for a limited time of about an hour. Beyond that, the great apes become agitated and want you to leave.
Gorilla habituation is a very carefully managed process and not a training procedure. The researchers ensure they don't feed the gorillas or expose them to human pathogens; thus, they maintain a distance of 32 feet (10 meters between humans and the beasts) and wear facemasks.
Gorilla trekking tours significantly fund this delicate conservation program using tracking permit sales. Gorilla Junction offers you the chance to join the experts on a day of habituation, which gives you a chance to stay with the gorillas longer and even a wilder experience. The habituation experience costs an arm, $1500 and is only offered in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Gorilla trekking can be very exhausting, emotionally and physically. Gorilla Junction recommends that you spare the rest of that day's afternoon to relax and chat with travellers at your forest lodge.
We can organise for your other activities to complement your gorilla trekking experience in Uganda, like, walking through the gorilla jungle; this time not to track the giant beasts but to walk through the impenetrable rainforest and bath its ambience. Birders can have a fabulous time spotting rare bird species like Albertine endemics and thousands of colourful butterflies. And you can meet the locals in community trails like the Batwa Forest people's trail, visit the local blacksmith, village walking trail, or crafts market walk.
Chimpanzee trekking is another day's drive from the gorillas. Because it also happens in the morning hours, you have to book into a lodge outside the park to be there in time. Watching the cheeky primates is common on gorilla trekking tours in Uganda and Rwanda.
Uganda also offers relatively good wildlife safaris in the back of a four-by-four truck in three national parks. After the gorilla trekking experience, you can spend two to four nights in a savannah wildlife park and spot.
The gorilla trekking excursion can be long, active, and relatively arduous. You'll be hiking early morning in misty and thick woods, and it can be cold and rainy sometimes, with hot and humid days. When clambering a muddy mountainside, having the right gear makes all the difference.
- — Take a small waterproof backpack to carry your camera gear, water, a packed lunch and a rain jacket.
- — Carry a pair of lightweight walking boots or hiking shoes with good ankle support for rocky and muddy terrain. Willies or plastic gumboots are an excellent option for keeping your feet dry and insects—particularly ants—at bay.
- — You'll need a pair of long socks or gaiters that will allow you to tuck in your hiking trousers and protect your ankles from scratches and biting insects.
- — Pack a lightweight waterproof jacket; it could rain anytime in the rainforest.
- — You will need a pair of hiking pants or waterproof trousers. Avoid thick jeans or shorts because hiking in heavy, wet pants can be miserable, and shorts will expose you to gruesome insects and thorny branches.
Pack a long-sleeved shirt for much-needed protection from branch scratches and bug bites.
- — A fleece or light-wool sweater for cold mornings must make it to your gorilla tour packing list.
- — Take a pair of hiking gloves to protect your hands when you reach out for a branch to steady yourself.
- — A sunhat, a pair of sunglasses, and maybe sunscreen are good to pack. The African sun could be rough on your skin.
- — Take your camera gear but only a few things. Some people take binoculars to look very closely, but you may not need them.
- — Carry a pair of adjustable walking poles to give your legs extra support. Although we may provide you with a locally made walking stick, it may not be just the right height for your physic.
- — You must carry at least one litre of drinking water and your packed lunch. So bring a refillable container and some energy snack bars.
- — Bring along a basic first aid kit: antiseptic wipes, rehydration sachets, antihistamine cream, plasters, insect repellent, and painkillers; you know the stuff you need!
The first thing you must remember is that you’re visiting a rainforest. It will, by default, be wet all year round!
That said, there is still a considerable difference between gorilla trekking tours in the dry and rainy seasons. The best time for the gorilla tour is when the weather is generally drier and hotter between June and September and from December to February.
The dry seasons promise advantages like less muddy paths, easier hiking and clearer views. Unfortunately, the dry season coincides with the peak travel season in the region, making trekking permits scarce and the availability of safari lodge rooms challenging. You must book your gorilla vacation trip well in advance.
You can expect more frequent and heavier rain showers from March to May and October to November. Muddy access roads and paths on steep inclines can become tricky to navigate.
Aside from the assurance of gorilla permits and accommodation availability, there are some other pros to trekking during the rainy season, including smaller group sizes that allow a more intimate experience, and you can take advantage of the low-season offers.
Temperatures in Uganda and Rwanda are fixed year-round between 21°C (70 F) and 30°C (86 F), dropping to 10°C (50 F) at higher altitudes. Although chilly at night, the exertion of hiking and climbing will keep you warm during the day.
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