Uganda Gorilla Trekking, Uganda Gorillas
The gorilla trekking expedition is one of the most unique & unforgettable wildlife experiences the African safari has got to offer. Gorilla tracking involves trekking through thick forest to track habituated groups of these incredible apes. Observing these wonderful animals go about their business in their natural surrounding is a memorable wildlife experience. Uganda offers this thrilling wildlife experience. It is one of the only three countries in the world that have the endangered Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitats. The other two are Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park). Gorilla tracking in Uganda is done in Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park.
UGANDA GORILLA SAFARIS
We are reputed to organizing memorable gorilla safaris in Uganda. We have a number of tailored safaris that include gorilla trekking.
Uganda accounts for more than 50% of the world's remaining endangered Mountain Gorillas. The overall Mountain Gorilla population is estimated at about 880 individuals. Bwindi alone is estimated to harbor about 400 Mountain Gorillas. Reservation efforts have seen a steady increase in the Mountain Gorilla population.
Mountain Gorillas just like many wild animals are naturally unfriendly to humans. They flee or attack to kill when they come across an unwelcome element (humans inclusive) in their habitat or territory. Over the years groups of gorillas have undergone habituation. Gorilla habituation is a delicate process during which humans make repeated neutral contact with the gorillas that with time they do not take human as potential threats. The habituation process could take more than five years. It is the habituated gorilla groups that are available for tracking. Bwindi National Park has more habituated gorilla groups hence the favorite for gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda. It has 12 habituated gorilla groups with 11 available for gorilla trekking and 1 for research purposes. Mgahinga has one habituated gorilla group.
Each gorilla group/family has varying number of members which could increase when one is born or one joins from another group. Each gorilla family member is given a name during habituation and when one is born. Just like humans, gorillas too have distinct facial features by which they can be identified. A pictorial of all the gorilla members and their respective names is availed at briefing and each gorilla can be identified from the pictorial.
GOING GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA
The number one requirement for gorilla trekking in Uganda is the Gorilla Tracking Permit. All permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). A permit goes for USD600 for foreign non residents, USD500 for East African Residents and UGX250,000 for Ugandan Citizens. A maximum of 8 eight permits are issued for each gorilla group for one day. That implies a maximum of 8 persons can track a particular gorilla group in a day. Due to the limited number of permits (8) for each day, gorilla permits are booked way in advance. It is therefore advisable you book your Uganda gorilla safari at least a month or two in advance to enable us secure your permit. Please note that the authorized age limit to do gorilla tracking in Uganda is 15 years. It is for this reason that among your required personal details at the booking of the Uganda gorilla safari is date of birth. You are also required to present your passport on trekking day to prove your submitted age.
THE GORILLA TREKKING EXPEDITION
Before you start the trip, confirm that you or the tour company driver/guide has your gorilla permit. You shall not be allowed to join in the trekking unless you present the gorilla permit. Also ensure you carry along identification, preferably a passport as it is a requirement to join in the gorilla trekking expedition. On trekking day, you are up by 6.30am, get ready in your trekking attire, and have breakfast by 7.00am. After breakfast you pick your packed lunch and transfer to the park offices for briefing by your ranger/guide at 7.30am. It is here that you converge with other travelers that booked the same gorilla group as you for that day. You shall not be more than eight travelers. In addition to the travelers, the group also consists of the lead ranger that plays the pivotal role in guiding the group and tracking down the gorillas. There is also an armed ranger to protect the group from possible insecurities such as solitary gorillas, forest elephants and buffalos all of which are extremely dangerous game. Then there are porters who carry the luggage and provide that push or pull where need be. After a 30 minutes briefing you transfer to the starting point and advance into forest to track your assigned gorilla group. Locating the gorillas can take from a few minutes to an entire day. The gorillas are constantly on the move hence covering large distances overnight. Chances of not locating the gorillas are very minimal. In fact by the start of the trek your ranger has an idea of where to locate them. He uses the knowledge of gorilla movements and their known location the previous day. When you finally locate the gorillas, you are allowed no more than one hour to observe and take pictures.