A complete guide into a Uganda gorilla trekking tour

Gorilla trekking is Uganda’s best tourism highlight and the endangered mountain gorillas are the reason behind this which keep attracting thousands to hike through the montane forests to meet them.

Best time to visit mountain gorillas

Gorilla trekking is carried out all year round however the dry season of June to September is the most favorable for trekking since less rains and dry conditions in the park make hiking much simple.

How much does it cost to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda?

In terms of cost, Uganda is the most ideal gorilla trekking destination of the 3 countries with mountain gorillas including Rwanda and D.R Congo. Uganda’s gorilla permit is sold at $700 per person for foreign non-residents while Rwanda, Uganda’s biggest gorilla trekking competitor sells its gorilla permit at $1,500 per person. D.R Congo would be the most ideal in terms of cost but the insecurity around the gorilla habitat and the difficulty in accessibility make it less attractive to many potential trekkers. Secondly, Uganda’s cheaper gorilla trekking permit is also complimented by the huge number of gorillas that live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which protects almost half of the global population of mountain gorillas (about 450 individuals). This means that all visitors have an almost 100% chance of seeing their allocated gorilla group in all the park’s 4 gorilla trekking sectors of Nkuringo, Ruhija, Rushaga and Buhoma. Bwindi has about 15 habituated gorilla families/groups that are ready for trekkers to visit on a daily basis with an average population of about 20 gorilla per group.

Others costs involved in a gorilla trekking trip

In addition to purchasing a gorilla permit, trekkers also incur accommodation and transport costs although these largely depend on the nature of lodge a traveler chooses. Lodges and hotels near the gorilla trekking habitat in Uganda charge an average of $100 for budget, $200 for midrange and between $300 and $2,500 for a double room per night.

What to pack for gorilla trekking

Gorilla trekking is an adventurous and tenacious encounter and therefore it demands a few essential gears which include waterproof hiking boots, insect repellents, rain jacket, gloves, and hard trousers. Other items you may need to pack include a camera and binoculars for a better experience while items like bottled water and packed food or snacks are always provided by the lodge.

Some of the gorilla trekking rules and guidelines post Covid-19 lockdown

Gorillas share 98% of the human DNA and this makes them highly susceptible to human viruses including Covid-19. With that evidence, a few measures were put in place in addition to those that were already existing in order to safeguard these endangered species;

Observe a distance of at least 7 meters away from the gorillas
Wearing face masks all the time while in the presence of gorillas
Avoid sneezing or spitting around the gorilla habitat
Avoid making unnecessary noise while in the presence of gorillas
Avoid direct eye contact with the gorillas
The minimum age for trekking gorillas is 15 years
Trekkers spend a maximum of one hour in the presence of gorillas
Each group of gorillas is visited by a group of not more than 8 trekkers once per day

Gorilla habituation experience

Gorilla habituation is the process through which wild gorillas are trained by rangers and researchers to get used to the presence of humans in their surroundings. Usually the process takes about 3 years and it’s during these training secessions that trekkers are invited to take part in the exercise. Only 4 visitors are permitted to take part in the habituation process at a time and the cost is $1,500 per person per day. Taking part in the gorilla habituation process offers so much experience and knowledge about gorillas to visitors far more than trekking since the exercise lasts for 4 hours per day compared to a single hour under trekking.