Mountain Gorilla Trekking
GORILLAS IN THE MIST
The Gorilla Tracking Experience
Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge provides a prime access point to the world-renowned Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to the iconic mountain giants, the elusive Mountain Gorillas. The lodge basically sits on the southwest buffer zone of the park, and the UWA visitor center is within a 5-minute walk. This section of the forest is home to 3 habituated families (24 permits issued per day) that can be tracked from Nkuringo Sector and the Rushaga Sector, with 7 habituated gorilla groups and 1 under habituation (48 permits and 4 habituation permits issued per day); the drive from the lodge to Rushaga trail head is approx 45/60 minutes.
With 8 habituated gorilla families available for tourism, spending those unforgettable moments with the mountain gorilla family is 98% sure deal when you stay with us at the lodge.
All visitors hopping to see gorillas must have booked a gorilla permit earlier from the government body, UWA. Getting a gorilla permit is highly competitive; we highly recommend using a licensed operator. Our licensed travel company, Nkuringo Safaris, will process and purchase the gorilla permit (US 700 per person) for you, and you'll find it at the lodge ready for your experience. We will charge you a $30 processing fee for the gorilla permit. Payment must be upfront.
WHAT TO CONSIDER
For each gorilla group, 8 guests are escorted into the jungle to spend 60 minutes with the gorilla family. 4 are allowed to track and spend more than 4 hours with a semi-habituated family on an intense gorilla habituation experience. If you travel with a child less than 15 years of age, they'll not be allowed into the jungle and if you are ill, you'll have to forfeit this amazing jungle experience.
The Gorilla Safari
Uganda’s forests (Bwindi Impenetrable and Mhaginga Forests) are home to over half the world’s 1065 mountain gorillas (2020) – the rest live in the neighboring Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because they do not survive in captivity, preservation of these fragile habitats is essential for the Mountain gorillas' survival.
Your gorilla safari may begin from Entebbe International Airport and drive or fly (1 hr) 500 kilometers to Kisoro Airport. Nkuringo Bwindi Lodge transfer services will drive you from the airport to the lodge, which is about 1.5 hrs away. You will stay for 2 nights at the lodge, with a day dedicated entirely to the gorilla safari experience. From here, you can extend your gorilla tracking safari to the main Uganda Safaris circuit in the west.
The nearest connection is Lake Mburo National Park, 4-5 hours away, for safari on foot, leopards, antelopes, zebras, and more. Queen Elizabeth is about 5-6 hours away for a boat safari, elephants, hippos, lions, buffalo, antelopes, and more. Another popular connection is Kibale Forest, for chimpanzee tracking, about 9-10 hours away.
The Gorilla Habituation Experience
This unique experience allows a few lucky visitors to participate in habituating gorillas, allowing them to stay with the rangers and trackers and observe these magnificent creatures up close.
This type of experience is currently limited to one gorilla family in the southern part of the Bwindi Forest. But for those fortunate enough to participate, the experience is truly priceless.
The mountain gorilla habituation experience permit is US$1,500 per person, including the park entrance fee. The experience is limited to four people daily, ensuring it remains intimate and exclusive. Visitors can spend up to four hours with the mountain gorillas, excluding the time spent to reach them. And if the gorillas are on the move, the visitors will move along with them.
It's important to note that the minimum age and behavior guidelines for gorilla tracking remain the same for the gorilla habituation experience. But for those who meet these requirements, the experience is unlike anything else.
Your gorilla trekking safari packing list should include the following items.
- Light waterproof hiking shoes that comfortably hold your feet. The terrain is uneven, muddy, steep, and it can rain anytime while you are out tracking gorillas.
- A light, waterproof jacket, like a poncho or something you can put away when you get sweaty.
- A small backpack to carry your phone, camera, jacket, lunch pack, and anything you hope to have. You want to make your load really light for the tasking hike.
- You will need gloves, a facemask, and walking rods, only if you don't want a free walking stick at the visitor center.
- Insect repellent will be good to keep the forest bugs off your skin.
- A long-sleeved shirt and a pair of hiking trousers help keep your skin safe from thorny scratches and bug bites. Please make sure they are light to keep your weight at a minimum.
- The park warden will need to see your passport, so ensure you come with a ziplock to keep your documents dry.
- Pack layers because it can get really cold in the evenings and morning yet so hot and humid in the mid-day hours.
- Pack your first aid kit. Gorilla tracking happens at high mountain altitudes, so getting light-headed is common among travelers. That is why we recommend spending at least a day around the lodge to acclimatize.