Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi 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 and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Bwindi alone is home to over half of the world’s remaining 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 financed by gorilla trekking, their numbers have steadily increased. 

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The Gorilla Treks

Two tours run daily from the base camp, usually starting at 09:00 or 14:15 and are limited to groups of eight.

The limit on group size is 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, but the rewards all the more magical. 

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Making Contact

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, the verdant forest providing the perfect backdrop, is a truly breathtaking experience.

Any silence is soon broken by the rustling of leaves as the gorillas wander and play, and the calls, whistles, and whoops of thousands of animal species for miles around provides the perfect sound-track. 

Once contact is made, you have up to one hour to spend with the gorillas. If you wanted to spend longer, you can take part in a gorilla habituation experience, and spend up to 4 hours with these gentle giants. 

Playful baby mountain gorilla on gorilla habituation experience, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

When to go gorilla trekking in Bwindi?

Gorillas can be tracked year-round, although the rainy season makes for more challenging treks. There are two rainy seasons in Uganda, one from March to May and another from October to November. There are benefits to visiting during the rainy seasons, but the rains do make for tougher treks. 

All gorilla trekkers need to obtain a permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. These current rates for permits is $700 per person at time of writing, and while they used to be cheaper in the rainy season, this is no longer the case. 

Gorilla trekking in Uganda remains significantly cheaper than in neighbouring Rwanda, where permits cost an eye-watering $1,500 year-round. 

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

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