Budget Gorilla trekking in Uganda
A vitalizing effect of being in nature, with the benefits of some exercise, crowned by exciting encounter of coming face to face with one of the world's largest living primates, the mountain gorillas featured with muscular arms, a massive chest, long body hair and broad hands and feet.
Uganda hosts half of the remaining population of mountain gorillas in two national parks – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park both located in southwestern Uganda. The thrilling activity of Gorilla trekking doesn’t fall short of taking a nature walk through a tropical rain forest, treading on muddy trails on a search for endangered mountain gorillas living and interacting in their natural habitat. Local and international tourists get to have a live experience with these primates with guidance from local guides who are conversant with the primates' movements through the jungle, their behavior and ecology.
Looking at the two gorilla trekking destinations; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has 19 gorilla groups which have been habituated for gorilla trekking and where almost half of all the mountain gorillas find refuge and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to only 2 gorilla groups. Trekking of the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park takes about 30 minutes to 7 hours depending on where gorillas are located. These primates move throughout the forest looking for food and so the local guides normally make trips around the forest to spot their location for the next group of tourists lined up for the experience.
Besides gorilla trekking you will have the opportunity to view other primate species like black and white colobus monkeys, different plant and tree species, chimpanzees, l’hoest’s monkeys, view different bird species among others. Viewing the mountain gorillas in their environment is only allotted an hour, for tourists to spend time with them, learn about their lifestyle, habits and record the precious moments. On the other hand, gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park is a similar experience although the visitors can spot both the endangered golden monkeys and mountain gorillas and do some mountain hiking.
Visitors going for gorilla trekking are advised to pack various essentials due to unpredictable weather in the park. For the best gorilla trekking experience, wear good sturdy hiking shoes ideal for climbing muddy and steep slopes. Keeping hydrated is important so pack enough drinking water and energy snacks for the walks. Rain is very common in the gorilla parks and for that reason, you are advised to carry a rain jacket and other gear to be on the safe side.
Gorilla trekking occurs in areas with thick forests and vegetation and so sharp grasses and tree branches could bruise your skin. To guard your skin, wearing long pants and shirts will do the trick. Tropical forests also harbor insects, and so the best way to contain them is having on hand a good insect repellent. Don’t forget to carry a set of binoculars and a flash - less camera to capture pictures of the forest creatures.
To dive into this experience of a lifetime in the wild, one has got to possess a gorilla trekking permit which in Uganda is issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) at a cost of $700 per person for foreign nonresidents, $600 per person for foreign residents and 250,000 UGX per person for East African citizens. This permit includes park entrance fees, gorilla watching for an hour, ranger and advance trackers fees. Alternatively, you can book your permit through a trusted tour operator. The convenience with booking through a tour operator is that they get to plan your preferred package of a gorilla trekking safari which includes obtaining gorilla trekking permit, transportation, meals, accommodation among others for the whole experience which enables you to make the most of your adventure time.
A few gorilla trekking permits are issued daily by the park. This is because tourists are placed in groups of 8 to view the existing number of gorilla groups during the months of June, July, August and December to February. These months happen to be the peak seasons for gorilla trekking tours because it is much drier easing the walk-through forest trails to find gorillas and take beautiful pictures. Therefore, to avoid the inconvenience of limited permits, tourists are advised to book gorilla trekking permits 3 to 4 months before the trekking date.
According to gorilla trekking rules and regulations designed to protect not only the primates but tourists who go to view, you must be 15 year or more to get a gorilla trekking permit. Anyone who presents symptoms of sickness is prohibited from participating in the gorilla trekking activity mainly because primates can easily catch human infectious diseases such as cough, diarrhea and flue. A limit of 8 people is allowed to visit a gorilla group per day. Tourists are encouraged to speak softly when around the gorillas. Guides issue out instructions and give information as you trek through the jungle and so tourists should listen and pay keen attention to them.
Do not eat, drink or leave rubbish such as tissues, snack packs, handkerchiefs or canisters in the park. The primates may become inquisitive and swallow the items which could cause complications. When taking pictures of the gorillas, tourists should only use flash less cameras. You should keep your distance of at least 15 feet, remain in a group and not touch the mountain gorillas at any time in order to avoid arousing aggressiveness. Gorillas should be given space to move about without feeling surrounded or threatened in any way. The experience of Mountain gorilla trekking is an exciting and requires one to be well prepared and in good physical form to make it even more memorable.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park isalways a fascinating wildlife experience that leaves you with an appreciation for diversity of what creation has to offer. Therefore, plan early, pack up and visit these wonderful creatures living and interacting freely in their natural habitats.