17 Reasons Why Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is the Real Deal

Uganda is a unique safari destination for gorilla safaris in Africa also referred to as the “Pearl of Africa” as it was called by Winston Churchill a British politician and writer. He named Uganda the pearl of Africa in his book called “My journey to Africa” that he wrote after his trip to Africa.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda takes place in Bwindi Forest National Park and Mgahinga National park located in the southern part of Uganda with several gorilla groups visited by the tourists for trekking.

Bwindi Impenetrable National part is found in Kanungu district covering an area of 331 square kilometers, it is characterized with a thick tropical rain forest, swamps, falls, shrubs kind of vegetation which shelters the endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, birds among others.

There are over 1000 gorillas in the world and Bwindi impenetrable National park is home to 449 gorillas according to the current 2018 census which is almost half of the world’s population.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is also done in Mgahinga National park located in Kisoro district in south western Uganda, bordering Volcanoes Park of Rwanda in the south and Virunga National park of Democratic Republic of Congo in the west. It is the smallest National park in Uganda covering an area of 33 square kilometers, it is characterized with a tropical rain forest, bamboo forest which shelters the mountain gorillas and many other primates like golden monkeys, black and white monkeys, olive baboons among others and bird species.

Mgahinga National park is part of the three Virunga ranges including Mount Gahinga, Mount Sabinyo and Mount Muhabura which are also part of the 8 Virunga conservation areas that cover the 3 National parks of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Uganda is best known for being the major gorilla trekking destination in Africa and the whole world because of the following reasons:

  1. Affordable gorilla trekking permits

Uganda has affordable gorilla trekking permit compared to Rwanda, the gorilla trekking permit in Uganda is 600 US dollars for foreign nonresidents, 500 US dollars for foreign residents and 250,000 Uganda shillings for East African residents. Rwanda gorilla permit is US$1500 for all citizens which more than half of Uganda’s permit. Instead you can go gorilla habituation for US$1500 where you spend four hours in the presence of the mountain gorillas. However Uganda gorilla trekking permit will increase to 700 US dollars for foreign nonresidents starting 1st July this 2020. Though a gorilla trekking permit in Democratic Republic of Congo is the cheapest at 400 US dollars, it is not safe security wise for tourists to visit.

2. Uganda’s population of mountain gorillas.

Uganda shelters the largest number of mountain gorillas more so Bwindi Park with over 449 mountain gorillas which is half of the world’s mountain gorillas and others in Mgahinga National park.

Bwindi impenetrable National park gorillas are found in 4 sectors including Buhoma in the northern part, Ruhija in the east, Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors in the southern part with over 18 gorilla families and 1 gorilla family in Mgahinga National park.

Mountain gorilla trekking in all these sectors offers breath taking experiences from different gorilla families and visitors are allowed to book sectors of their choice depending on availability of the permits. The large population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi brings many tourists to Uganda for gorilla trekking.

3. Support community enrichment and gorilla conservation.

The destruction of the habitats of mountain gorillas is so much dangerous because the mountain gorillas will die or migrate to other countries, so the support of visitors when they come for gorilla trekking is much appreciated since the money is used to development the neighboring communities that encroach on the National parks to relocate them. Tourism is the leading source of income in Uganda, so some of the proceeds from the gorilla trekking safaris go the communities to develop infrastructures like schools, roads, clean water and hospitals to help community members. In so helping the communities, it also helps to conserve mountain gorillas for future generations.

4. Encounter with other primate species during gorilla trekking.

Uganda is a well-known destination for primate watching and trekking, so as you go gorilla trekking besides the gorillas visitors also watch other primates like chimpanzees, golden monkeys located in the Virunga massif of Mgahinga National park in Kisoro district that can also be trekked after gorillas. There are other monkey species like black and white, vervet, olive baboons, L’Hoest, blue, grey cheeked mangabey monkeys among others that are encountered during gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable National park. Come for gorilla trekking in Uganda and also enjoy other benefits of seeing primates in the same National parks.

5. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is very safe

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks is guided by the armed ranger guides from Uganda Wildlife Authority because protecting gorilla tourists and providing a safe and secure environment is key while inside and outside the gorilla parks. Therefore the visitors who are set for gorilla trekking are escorted with one guide in front and another behind each with a gun as they head to the forest. They help to protect the visitors from wild animal attacks.

The rangers in Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga National park have been trained, motivated and equipped to keep gorilla trekking safe and secure for the tourists and that is the reason why Uganda is considered the best tourism destination in Africa.

6. The difficult terrain turns to be adventurous

The challenges that you go through while trekking mountain gorillas is not really a bed of roses and is not done by the faint hearted, it takes physical fitness to move in the hilly areas of Mgahinga National park and penetrating through the thick tropical forest of Bwindi National park, the word impenetrable is derived due to its nature which is accessed through footpaths. However despite the challenges, the reward of finding the endangered mountain gorillas is so breath taking and worth it.

7. Rare activity

Gorilla trekking is a rare activity that can be done in only 3 countries in Africa that is Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda gorilla trekking attracts tourist because they cannot see the mountain gorillas elsewhere in their countries.

8. Gorilla trekking certificate

After the gorilla trekking experience in Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks, the trekkers return to the headquarters where they are rewarded with gorilla trekking certificates to everyone who participates in the activity.

9. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is the most popular tourism activity. Mountain gorillas are the major tourist attractions in Uganda hence making gorilla trekking as the most popular tourism activity that makes Uganda the real deal for gorilla trekking.

10. Other opportunities for sightseeing. You only pay for gorilla trekking but the chances of seeing other tourists attractions are 100% for example the thickness of Bwindi impenetrable National park which is not found anywhere and also considered to be best for nature walks as ranked by CNN, the Virunga Massif seen from Mgahinga National park like mount Gahinga, mount Sabinyo and mount Muhabura with beautiful scenic views, Lake Bunyonyi the second deepest lake in Africa known for birding can be seen after gorilla trekking.

11. Highest number of habituated mountain gorillas. Bwindi impenetrable National park the most popular destination for gorilla trekking in Uganda has 18 gorilla families habituated for trekking, so there is availability of 144 permits on a daily basis since each group is visited by 8 members. However Mgahinga National park has only Nyakagezi group making it 19 groups in Uganda and availability of 152 permits on a daily compared to Rwanda with only 80 permits every day.

12. Cultural and community tours. Gorilla trekking in Uganda offers a visit to the Batwa people also are referred to the pygmies and ancient inhabitants of the forest (people of the forest) who stay in Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga National parks in southwestern Uganda. The encounter with these people is so adventurous because they are not found anywhere in the word, learn about their history in the forest and their cultural norms including cultural dances, handcraft making, traditional medicine and so on. The Batwa experience can be done after gorilla trekking or a whole day activity. You can also visit the bakiga and bafumbira people and learn about their cultures and life style.

13. Variety of wild life to watch. Besides gorilla trekking, there are rare wild animals that can be seen in tropical rainforest while trekking gorillas like forest buffaloes, forest elephants, chimpanzees and other primate species all on the expense of gorilla trekking. Visitors can also decide to watch wild animals like elephants, leopards, tree climbing lions and many others from Queen Elizabeth National park  only 3-4 hours drive from Bwindi Impenetrable National park.

14. Employment opportunity

The tourism sectors has created employment opportunities in Uganda and others countries, so gorilla trekking in Uganda is helps to provide jobs to people like the Uganda Wildlife Authority which employs thousands and thousands of people.

15. The hiking experience

While trekking gorillas, enjoy the hiking experience especially Ruhija sector is the place to look at for those clients that would need hiking experiences like climbing the hills, going through the impassable trails which is better to experience it once than hear of it a thousand times.

16. Affordable and variety accommodation options

Uganda’s accommodations in gorilla National parks are quite affordable compared to Rwanda’s Bisate lodge, Singita Kwitonda lodge among others. Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga National parks accommodations caters for luxury, deluxe and budget travelers with variety where visitors are able to make choices. The lodges include Buhoma lodge, Chameleon Hill lodge, Clouds mount Gorilla lodge, Gorilla forest camp, Gorilla safari lodge, Mahogany springs camp, Ruhija gorilla safari lodge, Volcanoes safari Bwindi lodge, Bwindi view bandas lodge, Buhoma community lodge, mount Gahinga lodge among others.

17. Domestic flights

There are domestic flights from Entebbe airport to the gorilla National parks for example from Entebbe to Kihihi airstrip then drive to Bwindi impenetrable National park, then from Entebbe to Kisoro airstrip and drive to Mgahinga National park.

Gorilla trekking is the main famous tourist activity in Uganda which is conducted in Bwindi impenetrable National park and Mgahinga National park in south western Uganda which are observed to be with high number of mountain gorillas, attracting tourists in Uganda compared to other gorilla trekking destinations in Africa thus making it the real deal.

What do you think?

Written by Mike Bisho

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