Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi is the most popular national park when it comes to mountain gorilla trekking in the world. Located in the hilly areas of Kanungu, Kabale, and Kisoro, the national park that comprises tropical rainforest harbors the highest number of mountain gorillas in the whole world. Bwindi was gazetted in 1991 by the government of Uganda to protect the endangered mountain gorillas, as well as the forest. 

Mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park can be found in four park regions – Nkuringo in the south, Ruhija in the east, Buhoma in the north, and Rushaga in the east. Bwindi hosts over 800 mountain gorillas and so far 19 mountain gorilla families have been habituated for tourism purposes while 2 gorilla families in Nkuringo and Ruhija sectors are open for habituation purposes which bring the total number to 21 mountain gorilla families, however everyday gorillas produce having a chance that these figures can change anytime.

Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is arguably the best place to encounter mountain gorillas in the whole world because the chances of seeing these endangered primates in their natural habitats.  Mountain gorillas together with other 10 primates, 120 mammals, and 350 birds have found their home and food within the jungles of Bwindi. These animals and birds are always seen during gorilla trekking, birding and maybe nature walks inside the park.

Mountain gorillas have attracted thousands of travelers from different parts of the world to Bwindi and to encounter these apes, a certain amount of money is paid and a tourist is given a gorilla permit which they present to the park wardens to be allowed in the gorilla activities. A gorilla permit is a ticket only sold to the person above the age of 15 years to allow them to be part of gorilla trekking

Uganda wildlife authority is responsible for issuing these gorilla permits and a gorilla trekking permit that comes with 1 hour around mountain gorillas costs $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for east African citizens. A gorilla habituation permit that comes with 4 hours with mountain gorillas and being part of the activities that make them get used to human presence around them is $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents, and UGX 750,000 east African citizens.

When to do gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is done every day in all the park sectors. Trekkers must leave their lodges and gather here as early as 7 am to listen to what the park wardens have to say. The park wardens do check if travelers have valid gorilla trekking permits, teach the rules and regulations of gorilla trekking, group trekkers’ not exceeding people according to age and physical ability, and get armed rangers to lead trekkers in the jungle.

It’s at this point that the trekkers that are having excess luggage can hire porters at a fee to help them to and from gorilla trekking. The trekkers are led by an armed ranger guide and at the starting point of trekking; they are given walking sticks to help them balance through the rugged terrain. The armed ranger guides would have communicated to trackers who visit these gorillas very early in the morning to see where they lasted so they will help you on taking the quickest route to the gorilla family and this can take 2-7 hours depending on the location of the gorilla group as well as the speed of trekkers.

Once you spot the mountain gorillas, you will be given 1 hour to be around them and you must be able to keep the rules and regulations as taught by the park wardens to have a good time with these apes. In the one hour given, you can take photos using cameras that have no flashlight, you will be able to learn some of their behaviors and you will encounter them doing daily activities like hunting, nesting, breastfeeding, and coupling among others.

Where to stay?

Travelers visiting Bwindi impenetrable forest national park for gorilla trekking need to book where to stay before or after gorilla trekking. Well, they don’t have to worry because the park has accommodation that is enough for all travelers and it's located in different regions of the park. A traveler must book accommodation that is located near or within the region where they are to trek mountain gorillas.

Accommodation in Bwindi ranges from budget to mid-range to luxury and a traveler chooses which suits their budget. Some of the lodges of Bwindi include Four Gorillas Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Gift of Nature Lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Engagi Lodge, Gorilla Heights Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Haven Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, and Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge among others. 

NOTE: Mountain gorillas can also be found in volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Mgahinga national park, travelers can easily combine this experience with golden monkey tracking and chimpanzee trekking in areas of Nyungwe and kibale national parks