In Uganda, Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi National Park is debatably a common tourism activity. This activity will allow you to get in contact with Mountain gorillas. Uganda inhabits more than half of the Mountain gorillas that exist worldwide, mountain gorillas can be found in 4 national parks that is; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, and also in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda is also the only country where mountain gorillas can be found in two different national parks.
Bwindi impenetrable forest National Park is strategically located in the Southwestern part of Uganda controversially the best place to encounter mountain gorillas. The park has 4 gorilla trekking sectors with 17 fully habituated gorilla families which is the highest anywhere, the park was called impenetrable referring to the hefty/thick tree canopies that even abstract sunlight from penetrating and reaching the ground.
To the fact that Bwindi is located next to some of the best tourist attractions in Uganda, it’s the most appropriate park to visit. These parks include; Queen Elizabeth national park, Mgahinga National Park, Lake Bunyonyi, Kibale National Park, and other attractive places. Therefore it is very possible to merge a gorilla trekking safari with spotting the big five and game drives in other national parks like Queen Elizabeth National Park. In Bwindi, a gorilla trekking permit costs USD700 which is far less than the USD1500 that is charged in Rwanda. And in DR Congo it’s where the gorilla permits are the cheapest at USD400 but the country is not so stable and all this makes gorilla trekking in Bwindi more opportune. It is vital to know and note that the prices of a gorilla permit exclude other expenses on Visas, flights, transport, accommodation, and food. The other costs of gorilla trekking in Bwindi also depend on the number of days spent and the accommodation class one is interested in, therefore at the apex of it, the processes may cost differently between USD1150 and USD5000.
Apart from gorillas, there are other attractive activities that amaze visitors in Bwindi’s impenetrable forest park. And these include; visiting the Batwa community, bird watching, nature and forest walks, and viewing other primates for example Chimpanzees.
It is also vital to be considered that Bwindi impenetrable national Park is subdivided into four gorilla sectors namely; Ruhija, Buhoma, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. Visitors interested in acquiring gorilla habituation experience, it is best done from Rushaga. The three Days gorilla habituation experience parcel up gives a chance to visitors to study a selected gorilla group/family closely and daily for four hours with the guidance of credited Researchers. Currently, there is only one gorilla group that is still under habituation. Trek with Kisoro Tours Uganda for your lifetime experience.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a year around activity but the best time to visit the park is the dry/peak season. The peak season dives in the dry months of December-February and June-August. The rainy/wet season is in the months of March-May and October-November. Trekking mountain gorillas in the rainy/wet season is more stimulating due to the overgrown greenery, and watery and muddy trails. Regardless, visitors shouldn’t be demoralized from booking a gorilla trekking tour in the rainy season because in the rainy/wet season, there are some reductions on the costs for gorilla permits and also there are fewer throngs in the park therefore visitors are given more valuable and considerable time with the gorillas. It is vital to know that Bwindi is a rainforest therefore one should expect rain at any particular time of the day regardless of the season.
The gorilla trekking activity kicks off at 7:30 am with a briefing at the park headquarters. And after the short briefing, trekkers are divided into groups of maximally eight individuals. Each group treks a particular gorilla group/family that it is allocated to. Some of the gorilla groups/family’s habits are near the park headquarters while others are found far away in the forest. Each group moves with 2 armed park rangers, experienced guides, and porters. While leading tourists to the gorillas, the guides will share information about the gorilla family and other different wildlife species encountered in the forest
The time taken tracking gorillas in Bwindi varies according to the gorilla group/family one is assigned to trek. It can last for only 30 minutes to locate some gorilla groups and yet others can take hours for the same. A team of experienced trekkers always goes in front of the group to easily identify the gorilla family location. They then communicate to the lead guide through a radio call on the real and exact location of the particular gorilla family. The chances and opportunities of spotting the gorillas are always over 98%.
Once the family is spotted, you will be granted an opportunity to stay in their presence for only one hour in order for them not to start getting discomfort. Humans share 98% of their DNA with Mountain Gorillas they nearly behave like humans therefore watching them can be an emotional and exciting moment. Spend your time valuably by studying their social and cognitive behaviors and different personalities as you take some great photographs for the best of your memories. Remember to consider and follow the rules and regulations as discussed in the briefing.
One can access Bwindi impenetrable national Park by air transport, flying from Entebbe international airport or even Kajjansi Airstrip directly to Kihihi Airfield where you will be picked up by Kisoro Tours Uganda driver to take you to your hotel room or it can be even accessed by road from Kampala. By road from Kampala, the journey lasts for approximately eight (8) hours for the flight takes at most two (2) hours. Some tourists/travelers avoid traveling long distances by road from Kampala to Bwindi which takes 8-9 hours and use the alternative of arriving through Kigali via Kisoro or Kabale. And then use road transport because there the distance from Kigali in Rwanda to Bwindi takes 4-5 hours.
In Bwindi Forest National Park, tourists can get involved in other many activities like nature walking in Impenetrable Forest and others including the following:-
Visiting the Batwa pygmies: This enables you to see the natives of the Bwindi forest who lived there for thousands of years. Regrettably, they have now been ejected from the forest and forcefully made to resettle outside the park. Visiting these people is so optimistic to study their culture and even participate in some of their cultural activities like dancing.
Primates watching: Bwindi forest is among the few forests in the whole world where one is able to see both Mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. During the gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi, tourists may be lucky enough to find out chimpanzees while on their trekking trails and baboons along the way. There are other smaller primates that can be sighted in Bwindi and these include; Blue monkeys, Vervet monkeys Bush babies, Red-Tailed Monkeys, L’ Hoests Monkeys, and Colobus Monkeys.
Wildlife viewing: Apart from Gorilla trekking which is the leading tourist attraction in Bwindi’s impenetrable forest National Park and in Uganda at large, there are other wild animals that can be spotted/viewed and these include; Forest elephants, Bats, Jackals, Leopards, Forest Giant Forest Hogs and Duikers.
Birding: This is best done in the Nkuringo sector of the Bwindi forest. Bwindi is among the best birding spots/destinations in Africa and is a birders’ heaven with more than 330 species of bird.
Cultural Activities: There is a variety of interesting cultural activities around the park that are attractive, but most tourists enjoy walking in Buniga Forest, walking in villages interacting with people about their social life, visiting homes of locals, and buying local handcrafts and doing this they help to boost their livelihoods.
There are several luxury, mid-range, and budget accommodation options available. Most luxury accommodation lodges can cost as high as USD1500 for a night and budget lodges can cost as low as USD80. Therefore the last choice depends on one’s financial budget.