Quick Mountain Gorilla Info
Only Found in Vurunga Mountains shared by Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. About 1,000 gorillas left in the world
Gorilla Permit Cost – $600 in Uganda
and $1,500 in Rwanda
Visa required at entry – $50
Best time for gorilla Safari: The best wildlife viewing months in Uganda are during the Dry seasons from June to August and December to February. Primate walks in the forest are a big part of any safari in Uganda. The habitat of rainforests is, by default, very wet, and one can’t avoid rain completely.
Mountain Gorillas – Gorilla Trekking Safaris
The endangered Mountain gorillas are only found in three countries: Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and only in two forests—Bwindi, where we were, and the Virunga range of extinct volcanoes.
The population is desperately endangered; only about 880 remain in the world. The eastern gorilla subspecies was first discovered in 1902 and almost immediately became a target for poachers who wanted to sell the fur and sometimes meat.
Due to over-hunting, deforestation and disease, the population declined to about 250 in the late 1950s, when conservationists began an intense tracking program to try to save the remaining gorillas.
Now that number is rising, thanks also in part to these gorilla trekking safaris, which began in the late 90s as a source of sustainable tourism. In 2010, a new census showed the population had increased to 480 gorillas; that number has nearly doubled since.
Mountain Gorilla Safaris, Top Picks
Sitting in silence on the cold ground of a Ugandan forest for 60 minutes might be one of life’s greatest privileges. There are fewer than 900 mountain gorillas in existence, and gorilla trekking safaris provide a rare opportunity to observe the everyday interactions of these gentle, mysterious primates. Here are some of the gorilla trekking safari packages we have prepared for your selection.
You Visit: Murchison Falls, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth N.P, Mgahinga Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Lake Mburo, Bunyonyi and Ngamba Island.
Reasons you need to see gorillas in Uganda
There are two gorilla trekking spots in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Gorillas don’t pay mind to political borders, so populations across the Virungas are relatively fluid. Uganda has an edge, however, since Bwindi alone is home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorillas live only in the dense forests on and around the Virunga mountains in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (also called “The Place of Darkness” due to its dense treetops) is an ancient, montane and lowland forest spanning 128 square miles. The region was named a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its incredible biodiversity and the large number of endangered species that call it home.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park accounts for 13 square miles of the larger Virunga habitat, which stretches across 168 square miles into Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The national park includes three of the eight major Virunga peaks: Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhabura and Mount Sabyinyo.
Habitat destruction is the main threat to mountain gorillas. Communities around the parks are heavily populated, and residents have traditionally used land around national park boundaries for farming or logging.
Since tourism is now Uganda’s most lucrative industry, and the majority of tourists come to see the mountain gorillas, trekkers are encouraged to seek out ways to give back to the communities they visit.
One popular option is to hire a porter, who is always a local resident and occasionally a reformed poacher. The landscape within the parks is unpredictable and difficult; porters help guide trekkers through river crossings and up steep, muddy inclines.
Other options is to participate in community-led cultural initiatives. In Bwindi village, the Bwindi Bar trains disenfranchised young adults in hospitality through rigorous classes and work experience. Around Mgahinga, elders of the Batwa tribe lead visitors on a forest tour along the Batwa Trail, explaining how their self-sufficient, forest-dwelling tribe traditionally used medicinal plants.
There are strict regulations in place to make sure the gorillas stay healthy and wild—starting with the gorilla trekking permit process. Daily viewings of each gorilla group are extremely limited, so visitors should apply well before their desired dates.
In Uganda, permit costs $600. In contrast, permits in Rwanda now cost $1,500 year-round.
Most trekking in Uganda takes place in Bwindi, where there are multiple starting points and several gorilla families to track. Visits are led by park rangers and groups of eight are allowed to observe the gorillas for one hour, in silence and at a safe distance.
One look at southwestern Uganda’s green terraced hills and rolling volcanic slopes and it’s clear this area of the country is not for the faint of heart. Add in the high altitude and the challenging terrain, and gorilla trekking in Uganda promises to be the adventure of a lifetime.
It’s hard work to reach the gorillas. It requires navigating uphill and downhill through thick tangles of vines, thorns, and roots. The appropriately named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is only accessible by foot. There are no paths, no signs, no directions—and more often than not, no clearings (which is why the park rangers carry machetes). The good news? The reward seems that much better after all of the hard work.
Uganda is a primate-lover’s dream. In addition to mountain gorillas, Mgahinga is home to another endangered species: the golden monkey.
These furry, comical monkeys live high up in bamboo forests. Tracking golden monkeys is very similar to tracking gorillas, but the trek itself is not quite as challenging.
Further afield, Bwindi has L’hoest monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys, and blue monkeys. In Kibale Forest National Park, chimpanzees steal the show. Patas monkeys roam around Murchison Falls National Park.
Queen Elizabeth National Park has blue monkeys and red-tailed monkeys (not to mention non-primates, like lions and elephants).
Visit mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park with Gorilla Safaris Uganda – Request a quote now.
Highlights of Uganda
- One of the very few places to see endangered mountain gorillas
- Combine primate trekking with a classic savannah safari
- Good balance between vehicle, boat and walking activities
- Excellent birding
- Scenic beauty
- Relatively young tourist industry
Weather & Climate
Uganda’s tropical climate is a little different in the north and south of the country. From March to November, the north experiences a rainy and warm Wet season, followed by an almost equally warm Dry season from December to February. The south, on the other hand has a pair of Dry seasons (December to February, and June to July) broken up by a pair of Wet seasons. The country’s higher altitudes get predictably cold, with the temperature dropping 6°C/3.5°F for every 1000m/1000ft you climb.
Top Safari Parks
- Bwindi Impenetrable NP – Gorilla trekking
- Kibale NP – Chimpanzee tracking
- Murchison Falls NP – Boat and classic safari
- Queen Elizabeth NP – Boat and classic safari
- All 10 Uganda Parks & Reserves
UWA Gorilla Permits
Gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park are costing $600 USD per permit per trekking per person. Uganda Wildlife Authority 2018 to 2019 has not offered discounted rates on gorilla and chimpanzee permits, the prices will be maintained at $600 and $150 gorillas and chimpanzee permits, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)has always been reviewing its prices and tariffs every year to $450 during low seasons, April and November.
Foreign Non-residents = $600
Foreign Residents to $500
Ugandans/East Africans – 250,000 UGX.
Rwanda the price for gorilla permit is $1500 USD per person, please do not hesitate to contact our offices for more details on prices and costs of gorilla permits.
Uganda Tourist Visa
The most easier way of getting a visa to Uganda is by purchasing it at the entry point, Entebbe Airport or any border station. This is very possible for tourists. All you need to do is pay USD 50, fill in the application form with passport dates and information. The visa fee of USD 50 usually runs for 90 days.
You can also get a visa by applying online if you a citizen of the following countries, USA, UK, South Africa, Russia, Japan, Italy, India, Germany, France, Denmark, China, Canada, and Belgium. All you need to do is to download the application from the embassy website of your country of origin or follow this Uganda Imigaration link https://visas.immigration.go.ug/ to start the visa process. You will need to attach 2 passport photos.
- Every traveler must have a valid passport of nationality or origin issued by their Government.
- Its safer to have the International Inoculation Certificate against yellow fever.
- You may also be asked to show your return ticket. This is usually not asked.
Best Safari Time
Uganda’s raised topography means a cooler climate than its equatorial setting suggests but if you’re planning a gorilla trek, it’s important to know when to go to Uganda for the easiest trekking conditions. Although it’s regarded as a year-round activity, the best time to visit Uganda for gorilla trekking is during the country’s two dry seasons: January and February and from June to September.
Game viewing in Uganda’s savannah parks is best at the end of the dry seasons – February and March and September/early October – when wildlife is concentrated around water sources. Bird watching is fantastic all year round but is at its peak between November and April when migrant species are present.