Get up close and personal with Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat on an unmissable Gorilla trekking safari.
The Gorilla Trekking Experience
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.
Marvelling at these gentle giants in the African rainforest is exhilarating and leaves many travellers feeling more connected to nature than ever before.
We’ll take you on an adventure into the tropical rainforest jungles of Uganda and Rwanda to track the elusive Mountain Gorilla.
The unique opportunity to see gorillas in their natural habitat is unforgettable, some even say life changing. Expert trackers and tour guides will lead your small group up bamboo-covered slopes for an encounter just a few feet away from these gentle giants.
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Where to Go on Gorilla Safari
The volcanic range which spans Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to the endangered Mountain Gorilla.
The gorillas live in thick jungle areas of these countries at high altitudes, along the line of lakes which forms the Great Rift Valley.
Because of security concerns, most travellers opt to go gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda. They are considered much safer destinations than the third option, the eastern extremes of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Treks in these areas are safe and relatively accessible for tourists.
We’ve been helping make people’s dream of seeing these creatures a reality for many years.
When to go on Gorilla Safari
Mountain Gorilla safaris run year-round, and our carefully planned guided tours are available whenever suits you.
Many believe the best time to go gorilla trekking is in the dry season, which falls between January and February and from June to September. Peak season is July and August. However, if you don’t want to pay so much for a permit you can visit in the rainy (low) season in March, April, May, and October.
The period from June through to September is by far the busier when it comes to travelers looking for the best time to go gorilla trekking. September also sees Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony for young born that year. A host of celebrities are often involved.
The dry season is also an excellent time to consider going on safari in the region, since the animals of Queen Elizabeth, Kidepo Valley and Murchison Falls national parks (among others) congregate around the remaining water sources and are easier to spot. Birdwatching is also at its prime now, as food is easy to find.
If you’re dead set on traveling at a certain time of year, we’d recommend getting in contact with us as early as possible. For one thing, permits are sold on a first come first served basis. You might be lucky, but generally last minute vacations aren’t an option. Permits can sell out a year in advance during the most popular months!
So booking at least six months ahead of time, an ideally a whole year ahead will help you to avoid disappoint. When it comes to making last minute bookings, you’ll always have to check carefully with a local tour company such as ours to confirm the continued availability of permits.
99% Sightings on all our Gorilla Treks
To date, we have never failed to find the Mountain Gorillas on any of our tours.
So, you can rest assured that you’re in for a treat when you join us on a safari experience in the rainforest.
If you would like to know more, please get in touch or call +256 (0) 393 254 368.
Dry Season vs. Wet Season Gorilla Treks
There’s no month of the year when gorilla trekking should be ruled out entirely, and those who head to Uganda or Rwanda during the low season can have a much more exclusive experience because of the lower number of visitors.
The difference in the actual hiking between the best time to go gorilla trekking and other times of year are minimal.
One unexpected potential benefit of visiting Uganda and Rwanda’s mountain gorillas outside of the peak months of June, July and August is that gorilla families can often be found at lower altitudes in the hills.
This means travellers can hope for shorter ranger-led walks to find where the gorillas are situated on any given day – although your stay with them will remain no longer than the one hour allowed by your permit. On the flip side, tracks do get muddy and sometimes challenging because of the rains. Those particularly worried about slipping in the mud may want to choose another time of year.
The rains are at their heaviest between March to May and in October and November. However, Uganda no longer lowers the prices of its gorilla trekking permits during some portions of the rainy seasons. This is no longer an added incentive to visiting during the wet seasons.
Rain even during these times of year isn’t a constant threat however, and you won’t face days of endless rain if you visit either country during these months. Instead, it tends to fall as showers lasting one or two hours before clearing again. You won’t ever have a gorilla trekking trip cancelled because it’s raining. What’s more, temperatures are all but identical to those experienced during the drier months of the year.
Groups of tourists visiting the gorillas also tend to be smaller during the wetter months. So while groups usually consist of eight travellers plus rangers during the dry season months, rangers usually only lead groups averaging three people at quieter times of year.
However, the rainforests are so called “rainforests” for a reason. It can rain a lot. Whatever time of year you choose to visit the mountain gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda, you should be prepared to see at least some rain. It’s always recommended to pack high-quality waterproofs to protect you from head to foot!
How Difficult is Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trekking it is not like a visit to the local zoo or safari park. The animals are wild and so could be located anywhere in the forest. It involves hiking for several hours through difficult terrain and thick vegetation. So it pays to have at least an average level of fitness to deal with the strenuous activity.
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.
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.
GORILLA TREKKING REVIEWS
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.
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.
Before embarking on a gorilla trekking journey, make sure to be physically and mentally prepared. Expect unpredictable weather and rough terrain. 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.
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.
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.
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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.
A limited number of tracking permits are issued per day, which ensures the encounter is as intimate and as unobtrusive as possible. But don’t worry, our team will take care of all the hassle in processing gorilla permits, park entry fees, transfers and putting together an itinerary that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. However, it is highly recommended to book in advance.