Uganda's mountain gorillas
In southwestern Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are the home for small populations of endangered mountain gorillas. There are only 1000 or so mountain gorillas left in the wild today, and over half of them are found in these two forests of Uganda.
Tracking the mountains gorillas in Uganda is a once in a lifetime experience - and all reasonable precautions are taken to ensure visitor safety. You will track the gorillas with expert field guides. These guides have been tracking gorillas for decades, and know forests like the back of their hand. As your hike through the thick forest, you'll be searching for clues left behind from the gorillas - it can sometimes take many hours before you find a group, but it's rare that people leave the forest without seeing the gorillas and they are well worth the hours hiking.
How safe is gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Gentle giants (mostly)
Provided that you maintain a distance of at least seven metres from the gorillas and follow particular rules in terms of body language (all explained to you by your trekking guide beforehand), tracking gorillas is safe.
While these apes are extremely strong - in fact they are the strongest species of gorilla and can pick up about twice as much weight from the floor as champion strongmen - mountain gorillas are relatively calm and non-aggressive animals.
If you've ever seen two two silverbacks fight, you'll be well aware of the power these apes have, but these gorillas are habituated to human presence and you won't see any of that aggression in your encounter. Body language and keeping your distance is important to make sure the gorillas don't feel at all threatened, but your tracking guides will explain all of this to you before you begin the trek.
Expert field guides
The expert guides that guide you through the forest know know exactly how to put them at ease, and will coach you in non-threatening body language. This includes not staring into the eyes of the gorillas (they will interpret this as a sign of hostility), behaving submissively in their presence by speaking quietly, laying low and not surrounding them, and not using flash photography.
In the very unlikely event that a gorilla starts behaving aggressively, the park guides are trained to fire their guns to scare away the animals (without harming them).
What about threats from humans?
In the past, there have been some security issues in the national parks, with rebel groups making incursions into the territory. However, there have been no such incidences for over 20 years now.
Government forces and tourist police guard the park, secret patrols are carried out by the army, and local communities are vigilant in reporting any suspicious occurrences to the relevant authorities.
Ready to meet the gorillas?
The trips below showcase just some of what is possible in Uganda, but get in touch with and we can help plan a tailor-made holiday.
Combine chimp trekking in Kibale Forest with mountain gorilla treks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. A well-paced highlights tour unlocking some of Uganda's most impressive experiences. Consider breaking up the journey from Kibale to Bwindi with a classic safari at…