Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the most demanded activities by tourists visiting Africa. It is such an exciting and thrilling activity and it is worth every penny that you will pay. When it comes to gorilla trekking safaris in Africa, one of the top destinations is Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda.
The park is located in the south western part of Uganda in Kanungu district. The national park is home to over 459 mountain gorillas which makes it the only park with the highest number of mountain gorillas in the world.
The national park offers gorilla trekking activities to visitors above the age of 15 years move into the dense tropical rainforests in search of the endangered mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas in the national park are found in four sectors of the park that is Buhoma in the northern part, Rushaga in the southern part, Ruhija in the Eastern part and Nkuringo sector in the Southern part of the park.
Mountain gorillas are endangered primate species and can only be found in three countries in the world including Mgahinga Gorilla national park in Uganda, Virunga national park in Congo and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi impenetrable national park can be reached by either road or air transport means.
Visitors can drive from Kampala or Entebbe airport via the equator in Kayabwe Mpigi, Masaka, Mbarara, kabala and then to one of the four sectors where you will do gorilla trekking activity. The whole journey takes about 9 to 10 hours’ drive on a tarmac road. The park can also be accessed from Queen Elizabeth national park via Ishasha. You will be able to view the tree climbing lions relaxing on the fig tree branches and the journey takes 3 to 4 hours’ drive hence you will be able to combine activities such as gorilla trekking activity in Bwindi impenetrable national park with game drive, boat cruise and lion tracking experience in Queen Elizabeth national park.
Visitors going to Bwindi national park can book scheduled or chartered flights through a trusted tour operator from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kayonza or Kihihi Airstrip which is close to Buhoma sector and Kisoro Airstrip which is close to Rushaga sector. After landing at Kisoro, Kayonza or Kihihi airstrip, you will hire a private vehicle to the lodge and in case you had booked your safari through a tour company you will find a safari vehicle waiting for you and will transfer you to the lodge in one of the sectors of the park.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable national park is mainly conducted in four sectors. Visitors going for gorilla trekking in the national park are advised to sleep near the sectors for easy accessibility to the park headquarters.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park commences early in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters. Visitors are welcomed and grouped into 8 people because a gorilla family in the park can only be visited by a maximum number of 8 people. Grouping at the park headquarters is done depending on the visitor’s interests and physical fitness.
After you have been given a group, you will inter the jungle to start trekking with a park guide who will be showing you the trails to follow and giving you information about the mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking in the park takes about 2 to 6 hours in the forest hence visitors have to carry packed lunch and drinking water when going for trekking so as to give them energy. When the gorilla family is found visitors are given one hour with the gorillas in their natural habitat where they are allowed to take photos with flash disabled cameras, record the moments and see the gorillas feeding, playing among others.
Number of gorilla groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda is a home to 18 habituated gorilla families which are found in four sectors of the park namely Rushaga sector which harbors 8 gorilla families including Nshongi, Kahungye, Busingye, Mishaya, Bweza, Rwigi, Bikyingi and Mucunguzi family, Buhoma sector which harbors 4 gorilla families namely Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura and Katwe family, Nkuringo sector which harbors 3 gorilla families namely Bushaho, Christmas and Nkuringo family and Ruhija sector which harbors 4 gorilla families namely Bitukura, Oruzogo, Kyaguliro and Mukiza family.
However Bwindi impenetrable national park is the only destination in Africa that carries out gorilla habituation experience which is carried out in Rushaga sector. Gorilla habituation is the process where a team of researchers, game rangers and guides train the mountain gorillas so that they get used to the human presence and ready for trekking. Gorilla habituation process takes a period of 2 years and gives you an opportunity to spend four hours with the mountain gorillas when they are being habituated learning about their behaviors, habits, watching them as they feed, breastfeed, juveniles playing to entertain the family among others.
Cost of a gorilla trekking permit in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
A gorilla trekking permit is a legal document which is issued to the visitors above 15 years of age allowing them to trek a gorilla family in any of the sectors in Bwindi impenetrable national park. A single gorilla trekking permit in the park costs $700 for Foreign Non Residents, $600 for Foreign Residents and UGX 250,000 for East African residents.
When to book for a Gorilla Trekking Permit in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla trekking permit should be booked at least 6 months in advance before the trekking date. The national park harbors 18 habituated gorilla families which means that there are 144 gorilla permits available daily hence visitors should book the gorilla trekking permits in advance so as to avoid disappointments because they are competitive and usually get sold out especially during the dry season. A gorilla trekking permit can be booked either directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority or through a trusted tour operator like Explore Rwanda Tours. Booking through a tour operator is the best option because the company will plan for your trip, the activities that you will engage in, accommodation facilities and transportation while on your safari in Uganda.
When to visit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
The best time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable national park between March to May and October to November. However, tourists can always visit the national park at any time of the year. The rainy season in the national park is good for bird watching in that there will be plenty of food for the birds and the migratory birds will also come to the forest to breed.
The national park also experiences the dry season during the months of June to mid-September and December to February. During the dry season Bwindi forest doesn’t receive a lot of rain therefore the trails will be passable and mountain gorillas will be clearly seen because the grass and shrubs will be short. The dry season is the best period for gorilla trekking and most visitors travel to Bwindi during this period. However being a montane and tropical rain forest it can rain anytime in the park even during the dry season hence visitors should pack important gorilla trekking equipment’s so as to make trekking successful.
Accommodation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
There are a variety of up-market, mid-range and budget accommodation facilities in Bwindi Impenetrable national park. The accommodations in the park include Buhoma lodge, Gorilla resort, Gorilla forest camp, silverback lodge, Lake Kitandara tented camp, Engage lodge, Mahogany springs lodge, Chameleon lodge, Ichumbi gorilla lodge, Buhoma community rest camp, Ruhija gorilla safari lodge, Cuckoo land lodge, clouds mountain gorilla lodge, gorilla safari lodge, Nkuringo campsite, Bakiga lodge, Buhoma haven lodge, Nkuringo gorilla lodge among others.
Conclusion: Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda is an experience worth taking on especially if you are so eager to see the rare mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. Trekking gorillas in Bwindi national park is much cheaper than doing gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda where you will have to pay $1500 for a gorilla trekking permit.