Gorilla Families in Bwindi Forest

Gorilla safaris in Uganda

Gorillas safaris in Uganda

Gorilla safaris are the most popular tourist activity in Uganda attracting thousands of travellers from across the world who come to see the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda’s two homes for these gentle giants.

Uganda has the highest population of mountain gorillas in the world with both Bwindi and Mgahinga protecting over 500 gorillas out of the global population of about 1,063 individuals. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park protects the majority of these gorillas with about 450 of them living within its boundaries.

Uganda gorilla safaris are regulated by the Uganda Wildlife Authority which has set up gorilla trekking guidelines that aim at protecting these endangered primates while at the same time giving a traveler the best trekking experience. Throughout the gorilla trekking process, gorilla conservation is prioritised considering the fact that mountain gorillas are endangered whose population was at the brink of extinction a few decades back. It was not until 2018 that mountain gorillas were declared as endangered after being upgraded from the critically endangered category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This was a result of the steady increase in the population of mountain gorillas thanks to the intensive conservation efforts undertaken by wildlife authorities in the region and non government conservation organisations to protect these great apes. The population of mountain gorillas was estimated to be around 250 individuals in the early 1980s, and their current population of about 1,063 animals shows such a significant success in their conservation.

Uganda gorilla tours are arranged in a way that 8 trekkers are allocated to visit one group of mountain gorillas per day and they are permitted to spend one hour in their presence. Bwindi has got about 15 groups of habituated mountain gorillas with each group having an average number of about 20-30 gorillas. With such impressive numbers, tourists have almost 100% chance of meeting their allocated gorilla group during their trekking experience. Trekkers usually spend 2-4 hours hiking through the dense montane forest of Bwindi before reaching their allocated gorilla group but the time depends on where exactly the family is hanging out at on that particular day. After finally reaching their assigned gorilla family, tourists are urged to observe a few protocols including avoiding touching gorillas, not littering in their habitat, avoiding direct eye contact with them, observing a distance of about 7 meters between them and the gorillas and not making noise in their presence.

To trek mountain gorillas in Uganda, a traveller is required to purchase a gorilla trekking permit which is sold at $700 per person for foreign tourists. Uganda gorilla permits are always limited on market due to high demand given that they are relatively cheaper than in Rwanda where a permit is sold at $1,500 per person. The strict gorilla conservation regulations also limit the number of permits sold to tourists by restricting the number of visitors per gorilla group to only 8 per day. Due this challenge, tourists are advised to book for their Uganda gorilla trekking permits at least 6 months in advance to enable local tour agents to process and obtain them in time from the tourism authority. Booking your Uganda gorilla safari in time also allows enough time to the agent to arrange all the necessary facilities including transport and accommodation on the traveller’s behalf.

Most travellers combine their Uganda gorilla safaris with other tours to experience a comprehensive Uganda safari. These include game drives for game viewing in large savannah parks like Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here travellers have a chance to see some of the amazing game species like lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, giraffe, antelopes, zebra, among others. Chimpanzee tracking, bird watching, mountain climbing and cultural tours are some of the other popular safari activities travellers can enjoy in Uganda in addition to their gorilla trekking experience.


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