Witnessing a group of gorillas in their natural habitat can be one of the most transformative and unforgettable life experiences that nature has to offer. Marveling at these gentle giants in the African rainforest is exhilarating and leaves many travelers feeling more connected to nature than ever before.
If you’ve been thinking about gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, you have come to the right place. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about a Bwindi gorilla tour.
How difficult is gorilla trekking?
Gorilla trekking involves hiking through rugged terrain, over steep hills, down through rocky valleys, thick vegetation, and sometimes through bodies of water, making this a challenging excursion. So whilst it may be one of the most sought-after wilderness experiences, this doesn’t mean it’s for the faint of heart!
Instead of walking on paved pathways, you’ll be exploring off the beaten path, and will likely have to deal with thick plant life and biting insects.
Before embarking on a gorilla trekking journey, make sure to be physically and mentally prepared. Expect unpredictable weather, rough terrain, and a change in plan. In the months before gorilla trekking, consistently practice cardio activities a few times a week, which can make this adventure a little more manageable for your body.
Although gorilla trekking isn’t easy, the effort is well worth it. Hiking in an unknown forest area can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life. Add in these giant and friendly creatures in their natural habitat, and this could be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life.
How long is a gorilla trek?
The time it takes to find a group of gorillas on an organised trek can depend on the area and time of day, making it highly unpredictable. Some groups find the gorillas in as little as 30 minutes, while others search for up to 7 hours.
Some gorillas live near the busier parts of the park, next to the park offices or lodges, while others live deeper in the forest. Gorillas tend to always be on the move due to the location of their food, the weather, and fights that break out amongst the group.
How do you prepare for a gorilla trek?
From packing to getting physically in shape, there are many things you can do to prepare for a gorilla trek.
First, get rid of any expectations you have for the trip, whether good or bad. If things don’t go exactly like you planned or imagined, this will help you avoid disappointment while also enjoying the journey. Next, focus on the things in your power, like your level of fitness and what you bring with you. Jogging every day in the weeks leading up to your trek will prepare your body for this exciting challenge.
You will also want to make a checklist of items that you need for gorilla trekking and make sure that you pack them. These items include waterproof hiking boots, a first aid kit, long-sleeved shirts, a jacket, bug spray, healthy snacks, drinks, sunscreen, and gloves. One of the most important things to bring is your own refillable water bottle. Staying hydrated on the journey is critical to having a safe and comfortable trekking experience.
How much does it cost to trek with gorillas in Uganda?
The cost of a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda is $700, but this does not cover the cost of lodging, food, or transportation.
On our 3-Day Gorilla Trekking Safari, the average price per person is $1,194, covering everything from experiences to lodging, making this excursion a fantastic value!
Is gorilla trekking worth the money?
While gorilla trekking is neither easy nor cheap, the effort, time and money spent on this adventure is 100% worth it. Getting up close with these gentle giants in the African rainforest is a truly unparalleled experience.
Along the way, you may see other monkeys, wildlife, vibrant bird species, waterfalls, and exotic trees, allowing you to connect with nature on an entirely new level.
Here’s a great video to give you a taste of the experience…
Is Uganda or Rwanda better for gorilla trekking?
There are many pros and cons to gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda. In general, Uganda is more affordable, while Rwanda is more accessible.
In Uganda, gorilla trekking is typically done in Bwindi National Park, where you will begin the journey on high ground, following the gorillas downhill. This makes for a more leisurely journey upfront, but you will be ending the day on a rough uphill climb. There are no paved trails, and the weather is unpredictable, so this can be some challenging terrain.
In Rwanda, you can see the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, which is not as slippery or steep as some of the terrain in Bwindi. With several rolling hills, Rwanda’s landscape is more open than Uganda’s. However, Volcanoes is at a higher altitude, making the hike more challenging. While it might be easier to reach the gorillas in Rwanda, there are a limited number of visitors allowed each day, around 56. Bwindi National Park in Uganda allows more visitors, about 80 people per day.
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda boasts rolling hills, open grasslands, small lakes, and lush rainforests. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is better known for the variety of other wildlife that calls the land their home, including 79 mammal species. While Volcanoes National Park is beautiful, Bwindi is better for spotting other wildlife, from elephants to wild cat varieties.
Gorilla trekking permits have different prices depending on the country you are visiting. Uganda’s gorilla trekking permit is around $700, while Rwanda’s is much higher at $1500. Both of these permits are for a period of one hour with the gorillas, but you can buy a four-hour time limit in Uganda for $1500, the same price as a one-hour permit in Rwanda.
Our Top 5 Bwindi Gorilla Tours
Whether you want a quick adventure or a journey through the Ugandan wilderness, there are plenty of gorilla tours to choose from. Home to Africa offers several Bwindi gorilla tours, which range from a few days to multiple weeks. Keep reading to discover the best safaris for gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Spend three days searching for gorillas in this dense and lush rainforest. Once you have found a group of gorillas, you can spend one hour with them. Afterward, recover from your adventure at Lake Bunyoni, a serene freshwater lake showcasing unique islands on the water, surrounded by rolling green hills.
Begin this four-day journey in Make Mburo National Park, where you will have the opportunity to go on a nighttime game drive. After enjoying another game drive in the morning, the tour will proceed to Bwindi National Park. The next day is solely dedicated to gorilla trekking, and along the way, take in the area’s incredible scenery, including lush rainforests and vibrant plant life. End your gorilla trekking adventure with some time at Lake Bunyoni, which boasts unique islands in the water and towering hills in the surrounding area.
This 15-day safari was created for those who love adventure! The tour starts in Jinja, where you can visit the source of the Nile and have the opportunity to go kayaking or white water rafting. The next day is dedicated to experiencing the beauty of Africa’s waterfalls. You will go on a three-hour hike that showcases the dazzling Sipi Falls, boasting three different waterfalls and incredible views.
Drive to the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, where you will have the opportunity to visit the Ngapedet Cave, or go for a game-viewing adventure, where you will see ostriches, zebras, and lizards. Enjoy more game viewing the next day at Kidepo Valley National Park. In the afternoon, you can experience a taste of authentic culture by meeting the Karamojong community.
You will spend the following days game viewing, hiking, and exploring Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park. After a boat ride on the Kazinga Channel, the final stretch of this journey will be spent at Bwindi, where gorilla trekking adventures await.
For those who want to get a taste of everything that Uganda offers, this 16-day excursion will not disappoint! The adventure begins in Murchison Falls National Park, where you will experience gorgeous surroundings and abundant wildlife. On the way, you’ll stop at a rhino sanctuary where you can enjoy an hour of rhino trekking.
The next day, experience the highlights of Murchison, including a game drive and a boat ride at the base of the falls, where you might see a crocodile or hippo. The Kibale National Forest is the next stop of the excursion. Because this park is known for its variety of primates, you can experience chimp trekking while you’re here. Next, head to the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary for a swamp walk, where you are likely to see several kinds of monkeys and birds.
The following five days will be spent trekking up and down the Rwenzori Mountains, and the tour will eventually end up at Queen Elizabeth National Park for a boat ride and more game viewing. You will finally spend some time on a gorilla trekking journey in Bwindi National Park during the last few days.
Perfect for animal enthusiasts, this 16-day wildlife and nature sighting safari will leave you feeling more connected to nature than ever before! Start this adventure by visiting the source of the Nile in Jinja, and if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can go white-water rafting on the river.
The tour will hike Sipi Falls the following day, followed by a coffee tour educating guests on how the beans are farmed and harvested in the region. During the next few days, you will witness incredible wildlife in the Pian Upe Game Reserve, Kara-Tunga Safari Camp, Murchison National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and the Kibale Forest. The last part of the adventure will be spent in Bwindi National Park, gorilla trekking through this densely forested area.