Gorilla permits in Uganda

August 29, 2023 | Bujo Safaris

Uganda the pearl of Africa has naturally been blessed with diverse natural features ranging from great lakes and rivers, beautiful and rare animals and birds to beautiful landscapes. There are a variety of activities to enjoy once you visit the country and gorilla trekking is among the most popular ones. Uganda is home to the largest numbers of mountain gorillas in East Africa and the world at large, and it’s one of the two countries where gorillas can be trekked in East Africa. Over half of the world’s total population of mountain gorillas which is over 1000 stay in Bwindi Impenetrable forests and Mgahinga National parks.

Gorilla trekking is a unique experience that has become popular among tourists, this activity involves one hiking to the natural habitat of these primates. This is a once in a lifetime adventure that can only be enjoyed in the best and most affordable area in the world which is Uganda. 

Up to 1060 mountain gorillas are known to only exist in the Virunga mountain region and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In Uganda the gorillas are located in Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park which is part of the Virunga Conservation Area and they are almost half of the total mountain gorilla population. Gorillas love high altitude areas and it is one of the reasons as to why they are found in these regions and nowhere else in the world.  21 habituated gorilla families are ready to be visited in Bwindi while Mgahinga only has one great family.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is more than just meeting the primates in the wild, the people who make this activity a possibility have been able to earn from it and hence it has reduced on cases such as poaching, deforestation that destroys their habitat and human settlement in the park that causes the animals to stay in the colder regions of the park that have less vegetation and are so cold hence causing death to the animals. However, whenever you purchase a gorilla trekking permit, you have supported the veterinary doctors, game rangers, anti-poaching patrols and the communities such as the Batwa who stay close to the park as a portion of the payment is distributed to all the different involved sectors. Therefore the more tourists visit the gorillas, the more the endangered species are conserved, and therefore gorilla trekking is more of a conservation effort.

Besides gorilla trekking, there are other activities you can combine with it or even do after the treks such as hiking the Gahinga mountain, nature walks in Bwindi in which you are able to learn and discover the hidden medicinal plants in the forest, you can also enjoy bird watching at both destinations. 

Gorilla trekking is a challenging yet rewarding activity, it involves walking for 30 minutes - 8 hours on steep, rugged terrains that lead you to where the gorillas are currently staying. The difficulty of the treks is mostly determined by the physical ability and fitness of the trekkers, location of designated gorilla group since some are so close to the starting point while others love the very high altitude areas, this will determine the distance and time spent during your gorilla trek. Once you find the gorillas, you are expected to spend an hour observing and capturing unforgettable moments with the largest primates on earth.

The trek has rules to follow which you will get to know during the briefing done before the trek starts and you are always accompanied by a game ranger and only 8 people are allowed to visit a particular group per day. You also need to wear appropriate clothing and carry enough water and snacks to keep you energetic during the trek.

How to get gorilla trekking permits

Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda can be booked from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices, you can also acquire them through a trusted tour operator who can purchase them on your behalf. Ugandan permits cost $700 per head for foreigners, $600 for foreign residents and Ugx 250,000 for East African citizens.

Uganda is affordable compared to Rwanda where permits cost $1500 per head, DR Congo is the cheapest offering permits at $400 per person. The difference in the prices was determined by several factors like infrastructure, security and quality of service each country provides.

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