Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Uganda is home to the largest and most closely monitored community of mountain gorillas, split across two national parks.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park alone is home to over half of the world’s 700 mountain gorillas. Finding these beasts in the dense forest is no easy task, and gorilla treks here can last 7 hours or more.
However, those who persevere are rewarded with an exceptional experience. Getting up close to these animals in the wild is arguable the most impressive wildlife encounter in the world.
Environmentalists estimate that in the 1980s there were only 254 mountain gorillas left in the world, but thanks to massive conservation efforts, their numbers have steadily increased.
Two tours run daily from the base camp, usually starting at 09:00 or 14:15 and are limited to groups of eight. This limit on group size is mainly to keep to gorillas safe from any airborne pathogens, but also to increase the chances of sightings, as larger groups often scare off these (surprisingly) timid animals.
From the onset, the imposing southwestern sloped hills and terraced volcanoes prove a formidable adversary. This is gorilla territory, and access requires hiking through the thick, triffid-like tangles of vegetation, up muddy hills and down into craggy valleys. The high altitude and testing terrain make the journey tiresome, and the rewards all the more magical.
Once contact is made, there is usually a silent wait, deep within the dense foliage, as the gorilla’s edge closer.
When they do emerge, seeing the gorillas in their natural habitat to the backdrop of enchanted emerald green forest, soundtracked by a cacophony of fluttering birds circling above, is a wholly breathtaking experience. Despite the menacing march through difficult terrain, thick vegetation, water bodies, hills and valleys, gorilla trekking provides a rare opportunity to observe the daily lives of these gentle, mysterious primates.
Beyond the gorillas, Bwindi is home to a huge range of other fascinating primates and animals including L’hoest monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, and blue monkeys.
When to go gorilla trekking in Bwindi?
Gorillas can be tracked year-round, although the rainy season renders many of the routes around the park inaccessible, so it is advised to avoid this time of year.
You'll need a gorilla trekking permit, and these cost around $700. There is no longer and change in price in the off-season.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda remains significantly cheaper than in neighbouring Rwanda, where permits cost an eye-watering $1,500 year-round.
Accommodation for gorilla trekking in Bwindi
There are plenty of accommodation options in the area, ranging from high-end château-esque lodges and resorts to tented accommodations closer to the gorillas.
Accommodation options can be pre-booked when booking the rest of your trip.
What to wear on a gorilla trek?
It is advisable to bring a range of lighter layers, so you can remove or add layers as you need.
We recommend wearing long-sleeved tops and long trousers, to protect from any branches, nettles or any other sharp shrubbery in the forests.
The various hiking routes can become very perilous, especially during the rainy season, therefore a pair of waterproof hiking boots are required. It is important to always tuck trousers into socks, as this prevents fire ants from getting into your clothing.
Some tour guides also recommend bringing a pair of gardening gloves to minimise the risk of injury when gripping the shrubs for support.
Read our complete guide to gorilla trekking in Uganda for more information.
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