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- On June 2, 2017
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In-depth understanding of basic facts concerning gorilla trekking is very essential for a successful trek. Gorilla trekking is a highlight for most if not all trekkers to Uganda drawing thousands of travelers from all parts of the world and the best wildlife encounter in the whole world. Uganda is a home to approximately 75% of the world’s mountain gorillas making it the best destination to trek gorillas. Among the basic facts every travelers should know include the following:
Where to trek gorillas in Uganda
Trekking in Uganda is done in the tropical rain forests of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park both in southwestern Uganda. Bwindi is a home to 12 habituated gorilla families scattered in the sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. On the other hand, Mgahinga gorilla national park has one habituated gorilla family named Nyakagyezi available for trekking. Despite in the past decades where Nyakagyezi family would cross borders to the neighboring Rwanda and the DRC, the family has now stabilized in Mgahinga available for trekking.
Health status and physical fitness
Mountain gorillas share approximately 99.8% of human genes hence the closest relatives to human beings susceptible to human diseases. The close relativity therefore requires all trekkers to be free from every sicknesses especially air borne like flue and cough to avoid the spread of human wildlife diseases. Regarding physical fitness, gorilla trekking is not a walk away venture but rather an adventurous as trekkers hike in the dense forest with thorny bushes and slippery grounds. Physical fitness is therefore important for easy and flexible movements in the dense, muddy and slippery forests grounds while searching for the mountain gorillas.
The best time for trekking
Dry season in the months of June, July August, September, December and February is the best time to trek gorillas. During these months, there is limited or no rain at all which make it easy to hike through the dense forest and photography. However, gorillas can also be trekked in the wet season between the months of March, April and Novembers. During this period, gorilla permits are offered at a discounted rate, which is an added advantage especially to the budget travelers. Additionally, accommodation facilities (lodges and hotels) charge low cost prices in the wet seasons, which help travelers to get high quality services at low rates.
The challenge in the wet season is the heavy rains, which make the grounds muddy and slippery hence difficult to hike through.
This is a pass to see gorillas without which a traveler is not allowed to take part in trekking. A Gorilla permit requires advance booking and payment of the deposit for timely allocation of specific gorilla family. This permit is valid for an hour after which it is claimed expired and trekkers have to return to the starting point. A single gorilla permit in Uganda costs 600usd and 450usd in the peak and low seasons respectively in the two national parks. Gorilla permits are accessed from the Uganda wildlife authority a government body responsible for wildlife conservation and tourism in Uganda. 8 permits are issued out for each gorilla family meaning that eight people are the maximum number of trekkers allowed to trek one gorilla family every day.
How to dress
Trekkers must dress right for comfortable and quick hikes in the jungle. The attire recommended for trekking involve hiking boots for easy movements in slippery ad muddy grounds, hand gloves to protect from thorny bushes, rain jackets and sweaters for the cold weather and un predictable rain shower, hats and sun glasses for protection from direct sun, long sleeved shirts and pants help to protect the travelers from bites by ground insects.
Briefing and trekking time
A simple briefing by the park rangers is the start for every trekking. Its in the briefing that the trekkers are told the rules and regulations while with the gorillas such as keeping a distance of seven meters away from the gorillas and turning their backs in case of sneezing or coughing.
Immediately after briefing at around 8:00am, trekkers hike into the forest in search for the gorillas. The actual time to spend in forest is not specific but varies depending on the location and the movement of the trekked gorilla family. On reaching the gorillas, trekkers spend an hour as they take photographs and observing the human like characters of the gorillas. At the end of an hour, the permit expires and trekkers descend back to the their respective lodges.
Where to stay
There are standard hotels and lodges in and out for the two national parks serving trekkers with quality services at negotiable prices. The services vary from luxury, budget and mod range services at varying prices but quality services. These hotels and lodges among others include Mahogany springs, Bwindi lodge, Buhoma lodge, Chameleon hill lodge, Bakiga lodge, Nkuringo lodge, Clouds gorilla lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp and Gorilla Safari Lodge in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. For the case of Mgahinga, there is travelers rest camp in kisoro and Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp at the entrance of the national park.
Conclusively therefore, trekking mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is an extra ordinary experience that no traveler should miss out.