Best time to see gorillas

Regardless of the time of the year you come for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda or Congo, you are guaranteed of seeing the gorillas. However if you particularly want a photographic tour, then focus on the dry months June to August and December to February. Then, it is easier to take pictures of the gorillas as the park is less bushy and dry.

Is it possible for disabled persons to track gorillas?

Yes it is possible. Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park improvises stretcher beds—which are custom made for adventure. Persons with disabilities can be ferried to and fro habituated gorilla groups while sitting or lying on them. Porters are always on stand-by at the different starting points of the adventure, ready to come to your rescue.

Why you should book your gorilla permits in advance?

Gorilla tracking is ranked among Africa’s 10 most unique and pleasurable safaris. As such, permits often register a 90% sale out. They are issued to travelers on a first come, first serve basis. As such, you are better off pre-booking yours at least four months ahead of your planned time for visit. This can be done with the help of a fully registered tour company, we are delighted to be among those companies.

How long does gorilla tracking take?

1-4 hours. Why? Scientific research has discovered that human presence stresses gorillas. This explains why they prefer to keep off the beaten path for much of the day. To this effect, human encounters with gorillas in Bwindi National Park is limited to one hour. The good news is that this time is just what you need to get all those National Geographic pictures. Why? During your one hour with them, they don’t shy away thanks to the psychological preparation they got during habituation. This will be preceded by a nature walk lasting 1 hour-4 hours depending on how much flora and fauna you want to see.

What is the maximum number of people who can see a gorilla family per day?

Only a maximum of 8 tourists are allowed to visit each habituated gorilla family. This offers a quality experience, allowing you to get lots of pictures without interference. That aside, limiting the number of tourists to 8 per enables the two ranger-guides leading your group to offer all questions without feeling overwhelmed.

How far can I stay from the gorillas?

Gorillas are vulnerable to transmission of diseases from humans. This is very risky considering their critically endangered status, with a minor world population of less than 1,100 individuals. To this effect, tourists are expected to keep a 7 meter radius from gorillas when tracking them. Besides, gorillas are very territorial animals. They become restless if one intrudes into their inner circle, Uganda has half of the world’s mountain gorilla population.

Where do we purchase Uganda Gorilla permits?

All gorilla permits MJ Safaris Uganda we issue to clients are purchased from Uganda Wildlife Authority as opposed to the black market. It is a Government conservation institution entrusted with managing Uganda’s national parks and game reserves. This includes Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park and these two offer gorilla trekking safaris.

How much do Gorilla permits to Uganda’s parks cost?

While permits for foreign tourists costs $600, foreign residents costs $450 and East Africans 250,000UGX. The permit covers for the cost of park entries, photography in the park and a professional gorilla ranger guide who will accompany you during the gorilla trek.

How much do Gorilla permits to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Parks cost?

Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes is priced at $1500 all tourists regardless of their nationality. However, if you intend to tour other parks of Rwanda, you are eligible for 30% Discount (US$ 1,050) on gorilla permits during the low season of November – May.

Process of booking gorilla permit

Upon confirming with us the day you wish to go for gorilla trekking, we will check availability for you from Uganda Wildlife Authority. It the permits as per that day haven’t sold out yet, we shall proceed on with making a booking for you by paying for a gorilla permit as soon as you make confirmations. Thereafter, we shall send you an invoice from Uganda Wildlife Authority confirming your payment.

What is the minimum age for trekking gorillas?

Any one above 15 years is eligible to trek gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda. If your child is younger, they need clearance from Uganda Wildlife Authority first. We are happy to help you with securing this clearance.

What to pack

Comfortable hiking shoes 

  • Gorillas live at very high altitudes where temperatures drop as low as 10 degrees. For the bodies of mountain gorillas to operate efficiently without shutting down, they eat 15-30kgs of food every day to enable their bodies generate enough heat. They thus spend much of their day wandering from one part of the forest to the other in search for food. You are abound to spend 1-4 hours hiking through the primary forest to get to where they are. For that, you need comfortable hiking boots. Water proof shoes are more recommended as some parts of the forest are muddy.

Warm clothing

  • Bwindi experiences sudden rainfall due to its status as a rain-forest in a tropical region. It is advisable to carry warm clothing and waterproof jackets for your camera and gadgets. Long sleeved shirts, gloves and long parts are a must as Bwindi is impenetrable in the real sense of the word. To get your way through some parts, you might have to slither past some itchy plants.

DOs and DON’Ts

Turn off flashlights when taking pictures of gorillas

  • Gorillas have a limited tolerance for flashlight as it irritates their eyes. To be on a safe side, use camera settings that don’t trigger flashlight. Settings between 400-800 ASA is okay.

Avoid wearing red cloths

  • Gorillas associate red with blood and death. If you wear that colour, they are bound to spend more time looking at you than living their normal routines. By the same token, they don’t like bright clothes as it robs them of peace of mind. Cloths with earth colours like brown, black, dark blue are more recommendable.

Don’t litter the park

  • Throwing non-biodegradable pauses a danger to animals to whom the park is home. They can easily swallow it thinking it is edible, only to suffocate to death.

Speak in low voices

  • Encountering gorillas is such an emotional experience. Lots of travelers get so carried away in the moment and yell. Though there is no penalty for this, it is not advisable as gorillas shy away from noisy environments.

Why are mountain gorillas endangered?

  • Year after year, the population of communities neighboring national parks is increasing, but the size of land around them isn’t. Without much options to pick from, locals encroach on forests to which gorillas are residents. This is partly because they don’t have reliable sources of income and thus depend on the park through vices like poaching. Though their primary targets are edible mammals like forest buffaloes and antelopes, it is common for gorillas to end up trapped in their snares traps. This pauses inter human-wildlife conflicts thereby endangering lives of the gorillas but Uganda wildlife authority has done much now to sensitize  the community nearing the parks about dangers of wildlife poaching.