Trekking Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Trekking Gorillas in Uganda

Trekking Gorillas in Trekking Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda, is an experience of a lifetime that any visitor on Uganda safari should not miss out. Though gorilla trekking is a very captivating activity, it is important to plan well your trip. Before you embark on this life-changing adventure, you need to be well-prepared and that is why the tips provided below will guide you appropriately as you plan your visit to the gorillas in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.

With fewer than 1000 mountain gorillas on earth today, Uganda is home to half of all these individuals making it one of the only three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo) in the world where mountain gorilla trekking is conducted.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is undertaken in two national parks – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park.

When is the best time to go Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest?

Like most countries in East Africa, Uganda has two rainy and dry seasons. The rainy seasons are between April to May and October to November while the dry season falls between December to early March. The best time for chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest is during the drier season. However, given the popularity of the forest for chimp tracking, it can get crowded during the dry season. If you have come to see the chimps alongside other activities and wildlife adventures in the other game parks, then the dry season would be ideal. I would recommend that you visit during the low season if you have come to see only the chimps in Uganda to avoid the crowds. Besides, Kibale is a rain forest and the rains should be expected at any time of the year.

In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park there are 4 sectors Ruhija, Rushaga, Buhoma & Nkuringo and each sector offers a different difficulty level for tracking the Gorillas. Out of these, the easiest sector to track the Gorillas is the Buhoma sector.

Buhoma Sector:
This area is situated in the northern part of Bwindi Impenetrable. It is one of the park’s most popular areas when compared to other sections. Buhoma is the most enjoyable section of Bwindi to visit because it is easily accessible from Kabala and Kihihi airstrips. Buhoma was the first sector where tourism was conducted when the Mubare family, the first gorilla family, was habituated in 1992, following the establishment of Bwindi forest in the national park. Buhoma lies close to Queen Elizabeth National Park, which passes through the Ishasha sector, home to the famous tree climbing lions. This is the best opportunity for travellers to see the tree climbing lions in the Far East and South.

Buhoma enjoys community visits to Bakiga and Batwa communities located near hiking trails and forests, such as the waterfall path, Munyaga, River Ivi route, Rushura trail, and Muzabairoloop trail. Buhoma features the ideal place for bird watching, as well as a refuge and habitat for Blue Turacos and other birds.

Rushaga Sector:
Rushaga is located in the southern region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and is home to five gorilla families. Rushaga is one of the gorilla habitats, with several families present, including Bweza, Busingye, Nshongi, Kahungye, and Mishaya. Rushaga provides gorilla habituation; there are two more families undergoing habituation, Bikyingi and Bushaho, who are all being trained.

Nkuringo Sector:
Located in the Southern part of Bwindi, Nkuringo is the home of the Nkuringo family. The Bushaho Gorilla family moves from Rushaga to the Nkuring district. Nkuringo is located at a higher altitude, hence hiking in this area requires physical fitness.This region is therefore ideal for young travellers who are physically active and can handle long hikes.

Ruhija Sector:
Ruhija sector is located in the eastern part of Bwindi Forest National Park. It is home to the Bitukura, Kyaguriro, and Oruzogo families. Ruhija stands 2,350 metres above sea level and is one of Bwindi’s coldest places. Ruhija offers a tough and challenging hiking trek to Rwamunyonyi Peak that should not be missed. Expect to see elephants, monkeys, and other animals when visiting Ruhija Lodge.

How much does Gorilla tracking cost in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest?

Uganda Gorilla permits are US$ 800 per person, per trek. These permits must be pre-booked and fully paid for before arrival.  Permits are non-refundable and non-transferrable. Currently the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) the government body responsible for tourism in Uganda sells 152 gorilla permits per day visiting 19 habituated gorilla families spread over 4 sectors of Bwindi National Park.

As of 2024, there are 5 new gorilla families available for tracking.

10 Things to Know About Mountain Gorillas:

  1. Gorillas and humans share over 98% similarity in their DNA.
  2. Mountain gorillas are only found in three countries – Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  3. Mountain Gorillas are endangered but the only species with an increasing population – currently there are 1,063 individuals in the wild
  4. Mountain gorillas are one of the largest, most power living primates.  An average male Mountain gorilla can weigh 180 kilograms.
  5. A gorilla group is led by a dominant silverback who will defend the group to the death
  6. There can be more than one silverback in a mountain gorilla group
  7. Mountain gorillas have around 16 different types of call
  8. Mountain gorillas spend about a quarter of their day eating mainly leaves and shoots, but have also been known to eat snails, ants and bark 
  9. In the wild Mountain Gorillas can live to over 40 years old.
  10. At night, mountain gorilla groups sleep together in nests on the ground, or in trees, that they make from foliage. Infants will share their mother’s nests, staying safe and warm.