Gorilla Trekking is the major tourist activity that brings most tourists to Uganda. This rare wildlife experience involves hikes within the impenetrable forest of Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park in search for the endangered mountain gorillas.
Uganda is blessed to host nearly half of the remaining population of the mountain gorillas. According to the Gorilla Census, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest recorded over 400 mountain gorilla individuals living in various families within this world heritage site. Today the park has 10 habituated gorilla groups that can be visited by tourists and 1 gorilla group habituated for research.
The other national park where travelers can see the endangered gorillas in Uganda is the Mgahinga National Park, located at the south western corner of the country. Mgahinga is part of the Virunga Region that stretches over 3 countries; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is one gorilla group habituated for gorilla trekking, though this group at times migrate to the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
Gorilla trekking is an exciting but challenging experience and this needs prior preparation before embarking on this kind of trip. Therefore, one has to be physically fit for this exercise. The gorilla trekking experience starts at 8:30am local time. And time of tracking depends on where you are to find the groups of gorillas that you are allocated.
What to Carry for a Gorilla Trek
On taking gorilla safaris in Uganda, don’t forget to bring with you the following in the packing list.
- Earplugs for those who feel uncomfortable with jungle sounds.
- Jungle shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
- Carry a rain jacket because the park is often wet.
- Insect repellant.
- Rain gear.
- Sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is fickle)
Gorilla Trekking Rules
There are several rules and regulations that guide gorilla trekking in all the countries where this adventure is carried out. These rules are aimed at protecting the endangered mountain gorillas as well as streamlining gorilla tourism so that this activity can be sustainable.
- Don’t drop litter in the park.
- Keep distance of minimum 5 metres or 15 feet from the gorillas.
- No eating or drinking near the gorillas.
- Flash photography is not permitted.
- In case of an emergency toilet, dig a hole of 30cm and fill it up after use.
- You ought to stay as a tight group when near the gorillas.
- No smoking near the gorillas.
- If you must sneeze or cough, cover your face and turn away from the gorillas.
- Do not touch the gorillas.
- Your group must be no more than 6 people and all at least 15 years old.
- If you have a cold or an infectious disease, do not visit the gorillas.
- Do not look at the gorillas directly into the eyes.
- After or before the visit, keep your voices down until 200 metres away from the gorillas.
Other Locations where to go Gorilla trekking
Besides Uganda, there are two other locations where one can go gorilla trekking in Africa; Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are several tour operators who offer gorilla safaris in these various locations.