Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking is Uganda’s leading tourist attraction with thousands of travellers visiting the country every year for gorilla safaris in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to see the endangered mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking safaris contribute the highest revenue among all other tourist activities which has subsequently made tourism the leading foreign exchange earner for Uganda in recent years.

Uganda is one of the only 3 countries in the world with mountain gorillas with the other two including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda. The three countries share the inter-border conservation region of the Virunga Massif/Virunga Mountains which has 3 national parks that protect mountain gorillas. Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the 3 Virunga Massif parks together with Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DR Congo. However, majority of Uganda’s mountain gorillas live further north in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which has over 450 mountain gorillas accounting to roughly half of the global population of these large apes estimated at about 1,063 individuals. There are about 15 habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi which have been made available to be visited by tourists while Mgahinga has one recognized habituated gorilla group. Each habituated gorilla group in Bwindi has an average population of about 20-30 mountain gorillas which include both males and females with their young ones and they are all led by one dominant silverback.

Gorilla tours in Bwindi and Mgahinga are arranged according to the gorilla conservation regulations which permit a group of 8 trekkers to visit one gorilla group per day and spending one hour in their presence. The restricted accessibility of humans to mountain gorillas is aimed preserving their conservation status as endangered animals and therefore less interference allows them to thrive in their natural habitat.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda requires travellers to purchase gorilla trekking permits which gives them access to the country’s mountain gorillas. Uganda’s gorilla trekking permit is sold at $700 per person for foreign tourists, a price which was recently upgraded from $600 at which it sold for a long time. Like in other mountain gorilla trekking destinations, Uganda’s gorilla permits are always limited in availability due the high demand and the strict gorilla conservation measures. This is why travellers who want to visit mountain gorillas are encouraged to book for their gorilla permits at least six months in advance. This allows enough time to local tour agents to process these permits with the tourism authority and also arrange other necessary services for the visitor including transport and accommodation.

Along with their gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, travellers can as well enjoy other amazing wildlife experiences including game viewing, chimpanzee tracking, bird watching, adventure and cultural tours. Many gorilla trekking trips in Uganda are combined with visits to other national parks and communities for these additional experiences to give a traveller a comprehensive Uganda tour experience. The major game viewing reserves in Uganda include Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park among others. Some of the most popular game species to be seen in these parks include lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, giraffe, zebra, antelopes, hippo, rhino, warthog, among others. Chimpanzees and numerous bird species including Rift Valley endemics are also great tourist attractions in Uganda.