A journey to see the mountain gorilla
Gorilla trekking brings you face to face with the mountain gorillas in the most exciting experience in Africa
Rwanda are dream destination for those in search of the absolute best in a safari tour. Not only do
that have the big 5 but they are also home to the pinnacle of primate safaris. Chimpanzees roam in numbers in Kibale and Queen Elizabeth and you can get to track them.
Our tour also takes you Rhino tracking, witnessing the mighty Murchison falls and see the mountain gorilla. The closest relative to man is the mountain gorilla, 98% genetically human and struggling to fight bight from the brink of extinction. Playful, intelligent and powerful, they are also shy by nature. They live in families headed up by a male silverback, so named for the silvery grey hairs on his back as he reaches maturity.
Gorilla Permit Availability and Cost
In Bwindi NP/Buhoma (Uganda), there are 3 habituated Gorilla groups that can be viewed by tourists.
In Bwindi NP/Rushaga (Uganda), there are 5 habituated Gorilla groups that can be viewed by tourists.
In Bwindi NP/Ruhija (Uganda), there are 4 habituated Gorilla groups that can be viewed by tourists and there is Nkuringo sector with 1 Gorilla group that can be viewed by tourists. Each group can be visited by a maximum of 8 people per day and the visit lasts only 1 hour. Gorilla permits currently cost $600 per permit.
Permits cannot be reserved and as such, have to be bought and paid in full on date of booking. As such, there may be 24 permits available for a specific date when you make an enquiry and the next day, all permits may be sold. As such, once you have decided on your date of tracking, if permits are available we will request full payment for the permit. If by the time the funds are cleared the permits have been sold out, we will give a full refund.
Once the permit is bought and secured, there is a 100% cancellation penalty.
Day One: Arrival
Arrival at Entebbe airport, meet and greet and transfer to Kampala. Briefing. Time allowing we will visit the Kasubi (Royal) Tombs. No meals included. Overnight
Day Two: Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Early breakfast, then we depart to Nakitoma to the recently opened Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary (170 Kms northwest from Kampala and half way to Murchison Falls National Park). Game drive and walk to track the white rhinos that are spending the hot hours mostly in the swampy areas . Then we proceed to Masindi, where we will have lunch. We continue our journey to Murchison Falls National Park. We drive in a beautiful landscape, land gets flat towards the north as you head to the bottom of the Victoria Nile. As we enter the national park, we will do a game drive on the way to our lodge. Check in and relax for the rest of the evening. Dinner and overnight at Paraa Safari Lodge or Red Chilli Camp (bandas or fix tents).
Day Three: Murchison Falls National Park
Morning game drive in the northern bank of river Nile as we look out for the elephant, lion, Cape buffalo, Rhothschild giraffe, hartebeest, Oribi, bushbuck, Bohor reedbuck, spotted hyena and if lucky you could even spot the leopard. In the afternoon we take a boat cruise upstream to the 'bottom of the falls'. The Nile here gets calm at the base of the falls, we stop a few metres from the 'Devil's Cauldron's where it compresses 47 meters to squeeze through a 6-meter canyon dropping 40 metres with a thunderous roar. En-route, marvel at the, hippos, crocodiles and over this 17 km stretch you may see elephants as well as a lot of bird species like Goliath heron, pelican bee - eater, kingfisher, hornbill, cormorant and the rare shoebill stork. At this point we will get off the boat and, hike to the top of the falls to catch a close view of the beauty that forms the Murchison Falls. This is a pleasant guided walk that takes about one hour. Dinner and overnight at Paraa Safari Lodge or Red Chilli Camp (bandas or fix tents).
Day Four: Fort Portal via Hoima
This day we drive to Fort Portal via Hoima, in a breathtaking landscape that forms the Albertine western Rift Valley. It is a quite long drive (8 to 9 hours) but we will have several stop overs to relax, and sightseeing as we pass verdant countryside, traditional homesteads and farms. We will have our packed/picnic lunch on the way. Check in and relax for the rest of the evening. Dinner and overnight at Ndali Lodge or Rwenzori View Guest House.
Day Five: Kibale Forest NP Chimpanzees
We head to Kibale Forest NP, where all morning is dedicated to search for chimpanzees and other primate including: red colobus, blues, red tailed and gray - cheeked mangabey . After we will stop in Fort Portal to have lunch, before proceeding to Queen Elisabeth NP / Peninsula sector where we will do a game drive in the crater lakes (Katwe) area, a stunning landscape where we will look for elephants, buffaloes, antelopes and if lucky even the leopard. Dinner and overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge or Kingfisher Kichwamba Lodge.
Day Six: Queen Elizabeth National Park
In the early morning we do a game drive in the Kasenyi area, within QENP, on a look out for the lions, buffalos, elephants, and large numbers of Uganda Kobs and other antelopes. After lunch at our lodge we will go for a boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel, to look out for the hippos, great herds of buffaloes, and lots of water birds. Dinner and overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge or Kingfisher Kichwamba Lodge.
Day Seven: Queen Elizabeth National Park
In the early morning we do another game drive in the Kasenyi area, within QENP. After we will go back to the lodge for breakfast, and then we drive to Ishasha, which is in the southern sector of Queen Elisabeth National Park. We will arrive in time for lunch at Wilderness Camp, before going for a game drive looking for the tree climbing lions and other game. Dinner and overnight at Ishasha Wilderness Camp
Day Eight: Bwindi NP
Breakfast and take a short transfer to Bwindi NP headquarters where you will meet up with excellent local guides/rangers and trackers, who will give a talk on the etiquette of gorilla trekking. Thereafter, hike into the forest with your packed lunch. Return to the camp/lodge and free afternoon/evening to relax.
Day Nine: Great Mountain Gorillas
After an early morning breakfast, we will drive to the national park headquarters for being briefed by the park rangers before departing for the hike in search for the Great Mountain Gorillas. The excursion in a thick rainforest and the interaction with the mountain ape, gives a wonderful experience in life. In the afternoon we will depart to Kigali.
Day Ten: Bwidi - Entebbe (OPTIONAL FLIGHT) (DEPARTURE)
After a morning breakfast, transfer* to Entebbe airport (10 hour journey approx.) stopping along the way for lunch. Evening departure flight. (B/L/‐)
Breakfast and transfer (approx. 1‐2 hours), by 4x4 van, to Kihihi (only for Buhoma and Ruhija sectors) airstrip or Kisoro (only for Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors) airfield for your scheduled flight with Aerolink to Entebbe airport to connect with your departure flight.
End of services
Gorilla are tracked from the Parc National des Volcans which currently has 7 groups and thus 56 permits available per day. The gorilla families here are those of Group 13, Sabinyo (which also has the largest of al the silver backs, Kahunga), Amahoro, Umubano, Susa, Kwitonda which has crossed from Djomba in the DRC and Hirwa which has recently formed from different habituated families. The Susa group is the largest and thus the best for photographic purposes.
The Gorillas in Uganda, live in the areas of Bwindi which has four habituated families with 32 permits now available per day. Three of the families are in Buhoma, namely Mubare, Habinyanja, and Rushegura and one in Nkuringo, called the Nkuringo group. This particular group, is difficult to track.
The Bwindi forest is a very thick lush tropical forest on steep sides slopes and so tracking the gorilla can be a lot harder going than in Rwanda. It is far more challenging because of the hills and can take anywhere between 3 and 10 hours in total, from start to finish. On the odd occasion, one is lucky enough to find the gorilla quickly, particularly if they are on the lower slopes. Access to the Nkuringo group is on a very steep trail.
There is also a group in Mgahinga, but the family tend to migrate between there and the Congo and as such, one cannot purchase a permit in advance. The only way to arrive to the park on the day with cash, and purchase the permits if the Gorillas are available to be seen.
Light cotton clothing.
A fleece for the evening hours
Waterproof hiking shoes
Rain gear (light)
A day pack to carry water and food for the hike
A bathing suit
Light weight gloves
These depend on the time of year you travel. Evenings are generally quite crisp and so a light weight jacket is important. Days can get very hot and humid. Rain fall comes in two seasons, October to November, and March to May, when conditions can become quite muddy.
Once a habituated gorilla family has been located by your guide, you will have one hour with the family unless circumstances dictate that you leave earlier.
You must be fit enough to be able to hike anything from 1-6 hours in rough terrain and through dense forest in places. You also need to be prepared for all kinds of weather. If you are reasonable fit there should not be a problem.
In theory you need to maintain a 7m or 27 foot distance between you and the gorilla. However, you will find they sometimes will come close to you. You are not allowed to touch the gorillas.