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Gorilla Trekking Tips for Solo Travelers to Uganda

Gorilla Trekking Tips for Solo Travelers to Uganda

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Planning a gorilla tour in Uganda? Are you a solo traveler? Visiting the great apes in their natural habitats is the most sought-after thing to do for most tourists to the pearl of Africa. Gorilla trekking is a life-changing adventure experience that is offered only in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. To get the best of this unique primate experience, one needs to be well-prepared and that is why the tips provided below are to guide you appropriately while you plan for your next gorilla safari holiday.

Where to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda

With fewer than 1004 mountain gorillas that still exist on earth today, Uganda is home to half of all these massive creatures making it one of the 3 countries in the world where mountain gorilla trekking is only conducted. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is only done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which are set in the extreme southwestern side of the country about 8-10 hours’ drive from Entebbe or Kampala. Over 21 gorilla families have been habituated and already set for tourism purposes, 20 of which are tracked in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and only 1 is found in Mgahinga National Park.

In Bwindi National Park, gorilla trekking starts from any one of its 4 major trekking regions-Ruhija sector in the east which comprises gorilla families such as Mukiza, Oruzogo, Bitukura, Kyaguliro; Buhoma region in the north and consists of gorilla groups like Habinyanja, Katwe, Mubare and Rushegura; Nkuringo area in the southern part has groups such as Christmas, Nkuringo and Bushaho whereas Rushaga region has habituated families such as Kutu, Bikingi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye, Rwigi, Bweza, Nshongi, and Mucunguzi gorilla group. In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the Nyakagezi gorilla group is the only habituated gorilla family set for visitors to trek.

Best time to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda can be at any time of the year. Uganda experiences two significant seasons-dry and wet seasons that any visitors intending to trek mountain gorillas should put in mind. The dry season is the best time to visit Uganda for gorilla trekking. It starts in June, July, August, September, and December, January, February. During the dry season, the habitat is kept drier and makes it easier for trekkers to hike through dense vegetation and steep slopes to search for mountain gorillas unlike during the wet/rainy season when there is plenty of rainfall which makes the ground muddy and slippery. The wet season is also considered as the low season and starts in March, April, May, and October, November. The advantage of trekking mountain gorillas during the wet or rainy season is that there is plenty of forage for these great apes to depend on and visitors can take fewer hours since they do not move to further distances to search for what to feed on in the course of the day.

Make sure you obtain your gorilla permit in advance

Given the high demand for gorilla permits, you are advised to secure your gorilla trekking permit at least 2-4 months before you set off for your actual trek. In Uganda, gorilla permits cost $700 per person for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX 300000 for East African residents. You can secure one through a trustworthy, reliable ground tour operator in Uganda or through a reservationist at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). In case you wish to embark on a gorilla habituation experience, you need $1500 to help you secure a permit that gets you the whole day and 4 hours of magical encounters with mountain gorillas.

Pack appropriately but light

When packing for gorilla trekking in Uganda, consider essential items first. What shouldn’t miss out on your packing list are; waterproof hiking boots, waterproof day pack, insect repellents, rain jacket/poncho, camera with no flashlight and should be good to help you capture clear pictures, binoculars, long-sleeved shirt/t-shirt, trousers, sweaters, sunglasses, hat, bottled water, energy-giving snacks, first aid kit, and many others.

Physical fitness

A trek to see mountain gorillas requires you to be physically well and most importantly, do some exercise before embarking on an actual trek. Gorilla trek in Uganda can last you about 2-6 hours and it involves hiking through the dense vegetation and steep slopes while in search of mountain gorillas. Note, mountain gorillas live in high elevations, and because of this; you need adequate drinking water and some energy-giving snacks as energy boosters, and do not forget a hiking stick to help you while on a hike. Walking sticks can be got at the park headquarters or safari lodge. Besides, hiring a porter is not bad if you do have heavy luggage. They can help carry luggage and let you enjoy your adventure. Porters are around at the park headquarters and can be hired at $10-$20.

Dressing code

When considering what to wear during the gorilla trek, it is better if you have environmentally friendly clothes. Avoid shouting colors and most importantly, have long-sleeved shirts or t-shirts, trousers, rain jacket-to protect you in case it rains.

Be attentive during a briefing

On gorilla trek, you will be briefed on the set rules and regulations and they include among others;

  • Only persons above 15 years are allowed to trek gorillas.
  • Only one hour is given to you to have a magical encounter with gorillas.
  • Do not go trekking mountain gorillas if you are sick-please cover your mouth in case you are coughing and nose when sneezing.
  • Leave the habitat the way you found-in case you wish to help yourself please bury human wastes at 30 centimeters deep.
  • Keep a distance of about 7 meters away from gorillas at all times. Mountain gorillas share about 98 percent of their DNA with humans making them our closest relatives and also to be very susceptible to human infectious diseases.
  • Stand still in case the gorilla charges and avoid direct eye contact with gorillas.
  • Do not use a flashlight camera and in case your camera has, please turn it off before you begin taking photos of these creatures.


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