Talk to an Expert: (+256) 782 143797
Blog

7 Reasons You Need to See Gorillas in Uganda

Trekking the mountain gorilla is a tourist activity that has only been done by a few lucky ones, the nature of the activity, the unique destinations where it is found and the cost involved places the mountain gorilla trekking as one of the most unique activities in the world and believe me even the most traveled individuals in the world are left with tears of joy and amazement the day, they realize the trekking and come face to face with the mountain gorillas.

There are two types of gorillas in the world the Low land gorillas and the Mountain gorillas. These two unique primates can be confused because they look alike but the mountain gorillas are unique in nature because they can only survive in the wild, so trekking into their native forests is your only chance to have a glimpse of them and of course they are only found in the Virunga conservation area that consists of three countries which are Dr. Congo, Rwanda and Uganda the last country being the most favorable place to visit and see them.

A Brief History

In 1902 a German hunter and natural historian Robert Von Beringe recorded the first official mountain gorillas in the Virunga conservation area. For centuries gorillas have had a bad image indeed. And part of this is because of the famous unfortunate encounter with the then west African Hunters who tried to capture gorillas only to end up with scratches and huge bites. From this encounter the opportunists in Hollywood have gone on for years depicting the gorillas an image of ferocity and violence yet in the people who have always lived in their vicinity and tell a beautiful story of the gentle giants.

Some of the people like Dain Fossey who have studied, learnt and understood them have fallen in love them to a point that they have given their lives for the survival of the great apes.

Dian Fossey with Mountain Gorillas

Wars in the 1900s and other non-conservationist collectors hunted the mountain gorillas for museums and exhibitions to take back in the western world. This led to a point that the world almost lost them and by the time the world realized that we were about to lose our cousins they were only about 370 in the late 1980s. It is then that more effort was put up to conserve the big great apes and indeed the work over years has led to the growth in their population.

The numbers are growing and are believed to be 2000s from the recent census and awareness to conserve these gentle giants is high thanks to the collective efforts of countries like Congo Rwanda and Uganda having the more than the world population of these individuals, organization and associations not forgetting the tourist who have always gone for both gorilla trekking experiences and habitations paying good sums of money as trekking permits which money has created a fund to cater for the conservation efforts.

REASONS WHY YOU NEED TO VISIT THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN UGANDA

1- Unique Opportunity

Male Gorilla In Ruhija Sector Bwindi

Gorilla trekking is considered a unique and a one in a life time experience and indeed it is. Not many people have seen the gorillas apart from the one that live near these misty mountains of the Virunga conservation areas but to be with them in front of you for 60 minutes free and roaming in their natural habitat is a great privilege.

In silence on the cold ground of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Uganda watching these gentle giants the clock somehow stops and there you realize how fortunate you are to even have laid your eyes of these great treasures of nature. Gorilla trekking provides a rare opportunity to observe the everyday interactions of these gentle, mysterious primates.

Remember Mountain gorillas only live in the dense vegetation of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and along the dormant volcanic Virunga mountain range that stretches across Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

. Since these critically endangered creatures can’t survive in captivity, the only way to see them is by trekking up to their natural habitat: misty cloud forests that can reach altitudes of 14,763 feet.

2- Half the World’s Mountain Gorillas Population Lives In Uganda

There are two gorilla trekking spots in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Gorillas don’t pay mind to political borders, so populations across the Virungas are relatively fluid. Uganda has an edge, however, since Bwindi alone is home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (also called “The Place of Darkness” due to its dense treetops) is an ancient, montane and lowland forest spanning 128 square miles. The region was named is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its incredible biodiversity and the large number of endangered species that call it home.

The second is the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park accounts for 13 square miles of the larger Virunga habitat, which stretches across 168 square miles into Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mt. Muhabura & Gahinga corvered in clouds

The national park includes three of the eight major Virunga peaks: Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhabura and Mount Sabyinyo.

3- Gorilla Trekking Permits In Uganda are More Affordable The Best You Can Have.

As we have mentioned before that gorilla trekking is not cheap, it is also true that it’s an activity that is open for a few. There are strict regulations in place to make sure the gorillas stay healthy and wild—starting with the gorilla trekking permit process. Daily viewings of each gorilla group are extremely limited, so visitors should apply well before their desired dates.

In Uganda, gorilla permits are $700 per person valid for that same session and only that day in the same sector that is chosen for you. In contrast, permits in Rwanda, the same permits cost $1,500 year-round an

Most trekking in Uganda takes place in Bwindi, where there are multiple starting points and several gorilla families to track. Visits are led by park rangers and groups of eight are allowed to observe the gorillas for one hour, in silence and at a safe distance.

4- You Can Take on Challenging Terrain.

From Kihihi the lowest part close to the head quarters of Buhoma Sector, one looks at southwestern Uganda’s green terraced hills and rolling volcanic slopes and it’s clear this area of the country is not for the faint of heart. Add in the high altitude and the challenging terrain, and gorilla trekking in Uganda promises to be the adventure of a lifetime.

It’s hard work to reach the gorillas. It requires navigating uphill and downhill through thick tangles of vines, thorns, and roots. The appropriately named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is only accessible by foot. There are no paths, no signs, no directions—and more often than not, no clearings (which is why the park rangers carry machetes). The good news? The reward seems that much better after all of the hard work.

5-Your Visit Helps Fight Habitat Destruction, Communities and Conservation efforts

Part of deforested area now being protected

Habitat destruction is the main threat to mountain gorillas. Communities around the parks are heavily populated, and residents have traditionally used land around national park boundaries for farming or logging. By visiting the mountain gorillas, you would have contributed funds to the associations that sensitize communities about the need to preserve the natural forests. Some of these funds are used to purchase land for the community members to do the farming and abandon the idea of the forest encroachment.

Since tourism is now Uganda’s most lucrative industry, and the majority of tourists come to see the mountain gorillas, trekkers are encouraged to seek out ways to give back to the communities they visit. One popular option is to hire a porter, who is always a local resident and occasionally a reformed poacher. The landscape within the parks is unpredictable and difficult; porters help guide trekkers through river crossings and up steep, muddy inclines.

In Bwindi if you choose to participate in community-led cultural initiatives you would have contributed directly to these communities most of which walk are don around settlement areas of the pygmies who used to live in the Bwindi Impenetrable till recently. These through their elders of the Batwa tribe always lead visitors on a forest tour along the Batwa Trail, explaining how their self-sufficient, forest-dwelling tribe traditionally used medicinal plants.

6-The Habituation Experience

The process of making gorillas get used to visitors and be able to accept them around yet not domesticating them is what is termed as “Gorilla Habituation” this is done with the doctors who spend day and night in the Impenetrable Forest around specifically chosen families. In Uganda you can take further your curiosity and experience by not only buying normal gorilla trekking permits but also buying habituation permits. These go for a fee of $1500 and the activity is scheduled for a full day. So, imagine a full day with doctors and gorillas in the one of the oldest forests on planet earth lying on the escarpments of the great rift valley.

7-Diversity of Primates to See While Tracking.

Uganda is a primate-lover’s dream. In addition to mountain gorillas, Mgahinga is home to another endangered species: the golden monkey. These furry, comical monkeys live high up in bamboo forests. Tracking golden monkeys is very similar to tracking gorillas, but the trek itself is not quite as challenging.

A Patas Monkey In Murchison Falls National Park

Further afield, Bwindi has L’hoest monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys, and blue monkeys. In Kibale Forest National Park also known as the “primate capital” chimpanzees steal the show. Patas monkeys roam around all the savanna of Murchison Falls National Park. Queen Elizabeth National Park has blue monkeys and red-tailed monkeys (not to mention non-primates, like lions and elephants) so a gorilla retreat will sure be rewarding.

CONCLUSION

In the Virunga conservation where the gentle giants have lived for thousands of years dreams are made to come true. The amazing mother nature presents to you its most secret creations; the Mountain gorillas. And although the mountains and wide impenetrable forest is shared by three countries Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Uganda stands out as the best option for every traveler who wants to do mountain gorilla tracking at an affordable price. If would like to be part of this breathtaking activity then we welcome you to join us here and choose a program that’s most suits you. We will be ready to answer any questions please just reach us.

You might be interested in …