Gorilla trekking is the number one tourist activity in Uganda. Gorilla trekking is a life time event which every one should do before death, below are the reasons why you should trek Gorillas in Uganda. Uganda hosts the majority Gorilla members in East Africa with fourteen Gorilla groups. That means that, the chances of meeting Gorillas in Uganda are 99%. It is entertaining to meet a gorilla group with many group members.
The ease to meet Gorillas in their natural habitat, the experienced ranger guides can predict where to find a gorilla group basing on its previous position.
In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, there are four gorilla trekking centres namely, Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija and Nkuringo. The four trekking centers widen the chances of meeting Gorillas from any of the trekking center.
Uganda ranger guides are well equipped, professional, self motivated and willing to serve. They handle Gorilla trekkers with much care and ensure that the experience is enjoyable and informative.
There are improved infrastructures like roads, health centres, Hotels/ Lodges among others. To promote Uganda tourism, the government has constructed better roads connecting to national park, inviting investors to set up better accommodation and so on.
Stability of the country, Uganda is politically stable with no threats of terrorism. The prevailing peace allows tourists to trek Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Mgahinga Forest national park.
Hospitality of people around Gorilla parks, they are willing to welcome, stay with tourists and support them.
Uganda is home to almost half of the world’s population of the endangered mountain gorillas.
Gorilla Conservation in Uganda
In Uganda, continuing socio-ecological studies facilitate comparisons between mountain gorillas and other species/subspecies. While fruit-eating clearly influences gorilla society, it is now clear that group structure is quite similar across Africa, with one consistent exception that is; the number of silverbacks per group. In mountain gorillas of both the Virungas and Bwindi, multi-male groups are relatively common (30-50% of groups), whereas in Grauer’s and western gorillas, they are rare with no clear answer.
The Belgians established a preservations program for the Mountain Gorillas and so did the British in Uganda. For a long period of time, no one was even allowed to take visitors to view the Mountain Gorillas. In Kisoro, Walter Baumgartel was given permission to set up visits for travelers to his Travellers Rest Inn, a place where you can still stay today in Uganda. Baumgartel wrote the Book “Up among the Mountain Gorillas” which is about his time in Uganda and encounters with the giant apes of southern Uganda. It is a lovely book about man, an inn, the beauty of the Ugandan country side, and mostly about the Mountain Gorillas. Dian Fossey used to stay there on a regular basis and so did George Schaller to name just two.
Most Gorillas that you might have encountered in a zoo are from the lowlands of western Africa, the mountain gorillas are a subspecies called Gorilla beringei beringei. The only place you can find them is in the wild in the Virunga areas in the Volcano Park of Rwanda, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Uganda at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The parks are within 48 kilometers of each other. In Uganda and Rwanda the parks are easily accessed, in the Democratic Republic of Congo there is the problem of rebel activities and potential life-threatening danger to visitor due to the rebel activity.
In Uganda today, the Gorillas are actually increasing in numbers due to the protection they are receiving from the Ugandan government which involved the communities surrounding the parks and gives them a portion of the 500 dollar Gorilla tracking (trekking) fees collected from foreign visitors to Bwindi and Mgahinga.
No primate exceeds in size and magnificence to these animals. They are bigger than chimpanzees, orangutans, and gibbons; therefore, they have the title of “the largest primates in the world”. They also are very close relatives to humans, as millions of years ago they shared, along with chimpanzees, a common ancestor, and that is why they have some similar characteristics to humans, such as a relatively large brain compared to its body and opposable thumbs.
- Where to See Gorillas in Uganda
- Plan a Gorilla Trek in Uganda
- How to Book Uganda Gorilla Permits
Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Within Uganda, Gorilla tracking is mostly conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and in Mgahinga National Park. Both parks are located in the Southwestern part of Uganda along the rim of the Rift Valley and at the corner of the country respectively. They offer the greatest experience of gorilla tracking with the hillsides sheltered by one of the ancient rain forests and they are habitat to more than half of the world’s population of the Mountain Gorillas and approximately 320 mountain Gorilla groups that can be tracked by visitors.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is the highlight of all visits in Uganda and certainly the major reason for visiting Uganda. Tracking mountain Gorillas is preferably done between June and September and also from December to February and the low season calls for cheaper Gorilla permit price. You can get Gorilla permits at US$600. On a single day nearly 72 people travel to Bwindi and Mgahinga to track Gorillas but 8 people are allowed to see a Gorilla family. Before you go for tracking you, you are advised to wear good quality walking boots, warm layers of clothes that are the long sleeved shirts, carry a rain jacket, enough water and food, walking sticks and insect repellants.
Gorillas are divided into the Mountain Gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and the lowland Gorillas along with other sub-species and they are mainly found in the Democratic Republic of Congo these parks can easily be accessed, they are growing in number because of the protection they are offered from the Government of Uganda. The difference between the lowland and the Mountain Gorillas is that the lowland are generally smaller and have brownish-grey far coats and a distinct brow ridge while the mountain Gorillas are larger with darker black coats and they are the most uncommon in the entire world. Usually the males are two times the size of the females and grow 6ft, weigh 350-500 pounds, with long arms and muscular and these are referred to as the Silverback and the head of the family. Mountain Gorillas mainly live on the ground although they will climb a tree occasionally if they can support them especially the young ones.
Mountain Gorillas move up on the high altitudes of Mgahinga Gorilla Park and feed on some of the afro-montane vegetation. Mountain Gorillas generally eat large quantities of flowers, leaves, fruits, roots, bamboo and shoots in season. A typical day for a mountain Gorilla starts at 6:00am to 6:00Pm, they move every day to different locations where they make comfortable nests with leaves and spend the night.
Although the Mountain Gorillas ate dominant and very strong, they are gentle as well as shy therefore they are friendly to people but if threatened they can attack so as to protect themselves. When different mountain Gorilla groups meet, they fight between the leaders silverbacks to death. Mountain gorillas exist in groups which differ in size from 2 – 30 or 40, however commonly in groups of 10. There is no specific mating season while babies are born through the year. The Males begin breeding at around 15 years while the females start giving birth between 10 and 12 years. Females can give birth after every 2 to 3 years giving birth to 4 – 6 offspring through their lifetime. Males leave their group at about 11 years of age, while a little over half of the females will leave their group. Mountain gorillas communicate through sounds like roars, grunts and shouts, and 25 sounds currently have been documented by researchers
No person ever complains after spending some time with these very fascinating Mountain Gorillas in Uganda within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National park, which is among the most stunning rain forest anyone will ever come across. You can never go wrong tracking gorillas because they leave you with a fascinating and unforgettable experience of meeting and interacting with them.