Uganda Gorilla Safari Tour
Uganda Gorilla Safari Tours conducted in the two gorilla habitats of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Uganda is endowed with the largest count of Mountain Gorillas on earth with Bwindi alone featuring a minimum of 400 gorilla populations almost a half of the 880 that are known to be left in the world. The remaining 480 mountain gorillas are found in the Virunga highlands of which Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is part of.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This Uganda gorilla Safari Tour site is located to the south west of Uganda covering 321km2 rising to an altitude of 1160 – 2607m above sea level. It is blessed with one of the largest Afro-montane forests in East Africa and noted to have survived the last ice age. With a minimum of 400 mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park stands as the single protected are with the highest count of Mountain gorillas that are critically endangered world over. Besides the Mountain Gorillas, the Bwindi forest is endowed with rich biodiversity including 350 bird species, 120 mammal species, 220 butterfly species, 27 frog species, geckos and chameleon, 1000 species of flowering plants, 104 fern species and 163 species of trees.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is another Uganda gorilla safari tour park located at the extreme south west of Uganda covering 33.7km2. It features one habituated group named Nyakagyezi but it is part of the greater Virunga Massif that straddles across Uganda, Rwanda and Congo featuring a Mountain Gorilla population of 480 more than a half of their global populations. Mgahinga National also feature troops of Golden monkeys another rare species of primates thriving on the slopes of Mount Gahinga. The three of the eight volcanic peaks that form the Virunga landscape are within the park boundaries namely; Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabyinyo.
The Gorilla Trekking in Uganda can be conducted all year round as a result its good climate majorly influenced by its position along the equator. However, the rainy season tend to make the gorilla forest muddy and slippery and heavy rains generally make the trackers uncomfortable. This period range from April to May and in Mid October to November.
The Months of December through January to February and from June through July and August to September feature less rains thus presenting less hiking challenge on the steep slopes of gorilla highlands making this period the best time to visit gorillas in Uganda.
Being a tropical country, it rains and it shines. Thus, even in the rainy season, the sun eventually comes up meaning that the activities can always go on as planned. In addition, the rainy season means low season as few people tend to travel in this period. The Uganda Wildlife Authority extends discounted gorilla permits to induce travel numbers. The $600 for the permit reduces to $450. Some lodges as well reduce their prices in the low season which in the end assist to reduce the Uganda gorilla safari cost
Getting a Gorilla Trekking Permit in Uganda
The Uganda gorilla permits are solely issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) at its headquarters in Kampala but booking can be direct or through a travel agent / tour operator. The normal price for a Uganda Gorilla Permit is $600 for the foreign non residents, the $500 for the foreign residents and 250,000/= for the East African Citizens. In the months of April, May and November, the UWA offers discounted gorilla permits at $450 for foreign non residents, $400 for foreign residents and 150,000/= for Citizens of the East African Community.
The process of booking a gorilla permit begins with inquiring about availability and an advance booking of at least three (3) months is very important if travelling in the high season months. The payment and availing of passport details for gorilla permit printing follow.
Travellers in Gorilla Safaris in Uganda have a range of Safari Lodges, Permanent Camps/ Tents and basic Camping properties where they can choose to sleep. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park features four gorilla trekking regions and thus the lodge to sleep in should be in line with the region where you hold your gorilla permit.
In Buhoma Sector to the north of the Park, the affluent Uganda Gorilla Safari tour undertakers can sleep at Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi Lodge and Mantana Camp while Midrange travellers can sleep at Silverback Lodge and The Haven. The Buhoma Community Rest Camp takes up budget travellers.
In Ruhija Sector to the east of Bwindi, the luxury units are not available but Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge can attempt to serve this market while Gorilla Mist camp takes the midrange position and Broadbill Forest Camp serves Budget Uganda gorilla safari tour travellers.
In Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors to the south of Bwindi, the upmarket lodges include; Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge and Chameleon Hill Lodge while Midrange lodges include; Nkuringo Gorilla Camp and Gorilla Valley Lodge. The budget travellers can stay at Nshongi Camp and Wagtail Eco safari Camp.
In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the Uganda gorilla safari undertakers can stay at Mount Gahinga Lodge for Luxury, Travellers Rest for Midrange and Amajambere iwacu Community Camp for those interested in basic camping adventure.
There are thirteen fully habituated gorilla groups in Uganda and the more two (2) are under habituation. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park features twelve (12) of these families distributed in four (4) gorilla trekking regions namely; Buhoma with three groups of Mubare, Habinyanja and Rushegura; Ruhija with three groups of Oruzogo, Bitukura and Kyaguliro; Rushaga with five groups of Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, Bweza and Nshongi and eventually Nkuringo with one group named Nkuringo. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park features one gorilla group named Nyakagyezi. Bikingi and Bushaho groups are under habituation in Rushaga.
One can get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park by Road and by Air.
The Kihihi Airstrip to the north of Bwindi can be used to fly in to Buhoma and Ruhija while the southern parts of Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are served by Nyakabande Airstrip in Kisoro. Aero link Uganda offers both scheduled and charter flights from Entebbe to these Airstrips. Other domestic carriers like Kampala Aero club and Eagle Air among others can as well arrange charter flights to the mentioned Airstrips close to Bwindi and Mgahinga.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is 527km from Kampala about 8 – 10 hours drive and different routes are followed to reach its four gorilla trekking regions of Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the east, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the south. For Buhoma, the diversion from the main Kampala – Kabale road is in Ntungamo while for other areas, you proceed to Kabale.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is 519km from Kampala about 10 hours drive from Kampala driving through the scenic Kigezi Highlands fronted by the Virungas.
Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla Parks can as well be connected to from Queen Elizabeth National Park and from Rwanda.