12 Common Errors when Planning for gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park

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While planning your gorilla safari in Bwindi National park, it’s very important to be aware of important gorilla trekking logistics, landmarks, locations and geographical features which will help you save time, money and have a relaxed and memorable gorilla tour in Uganda since for many tourists seeing the mountain gorillas is a once in a life time journey.

In this article we discuss vital information for tourists planning a self-driven safari to Bwindi forest, tourists planning an independent gorilla trek as most local tour operators are aware of these vital mistakes and for international tour operators who haven’t been on ground.

Discussed below are important mistakes you can avoid to save time, money and enhance your adventure.

The location of your gorilla permits Vs Accommodation in Bwindi forest

Bwindi national park is divided into 4 sectors including Buhoma sector which is nearest from Kampala, the Ruhija sector is nearest from Kigali and 1hour drive apart from Buhoma.

The Rushaga sector is situated in the southern part of Bwindi National park is nearest from Musanze – Rwanda, and the Nkuringo sector which is the furthest in Bwindi forest. Each of these sectors is right about 2 – 4 hours apart from one another and so is the accommodations of each sector.

When planning for Uganda gorilla trekking especially for tourists looking to do their gorilla tour independently, it’s important to book your accommodation near the sector you will be trekking mountain gorillas. This will save you the hustle of driving a long distance in the morning to find briefing for gorilla trekking so you enjoy your gorilla adventure relaxed and fresh.

Discounts on Uganda Gorilla Permits and who is Eligible.

As of 1st July 2020, the gorilla permits in Bwindi forest and Mgahinga national park cost $700 from $600 for all international or foreign tourists.

Foreign residents of East Africa with supporting work permits, visas (Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi Democratic Republic of Congo) are entitled to a discount on Uganda gorilla permits. The permit for foreign residents is $100 less costing $600 as of 1st July 2020 and $500 before July.

East African citizen have a discount to buy the gorilla permit at $70 for all nationals of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Congo and Burundi all year round with supporting Identity cards or passport copies.

Book Gorilla Permit Early

No matter which month you plan for gorilla trekking, it’s always better to plan early enough so that you are set for it mentally and physically.  The annual peak season is the most competitive time for Uganda gorilla permits, because many tourists prefer to travel in the peak season which is the dry season. In the months of December – March and June – October have competition on gorilla permit sales. When planning to come for gorilla trekking within the months above, its always advisable to save your gorilla permit early to avoid disappointment.

Best time to go

The peak season for Uganda gorilla permits is June, July, August, September, December, January and February. The above months are the peak seasons which are best to book and secure gorilla permits at least 6 months prior to the trekking date.

Many tourists choose to travel within the above months because it’s a hot season best for gorilla trekking when its less slippery and hiking is much easier.

The rain season is normally less competitive with gorilla permits still available at least a month to the trekking dates is safe to secure your gorilla permit

Please note that even the known dry months aren’t an actual guarantee that it won’t rain the entire season. Tourists are advised to pack right and be ready for rain or sunshine so as to have a successful gorilla trekking adventure

Let a local tour operator buy your gorilla permit

With very many inquiries and emails received at the main office of the Uganda wildlife Authority, it’s not very easy to book your gorilla permits directly with the government office unless you are already I Uganda and travel to the office in person.

The sure way to book your gorilla permit is via a local tour operator in Uganda who will buy your gorilla permit and offer you a receipt for the payment of the gorilla permit.

Gorilla Trekking Vs Gorilla Habituation Experience

Bwindi forest national park offer 2 gorilla experiences with mountain gorillas to tourists: gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience.  Gorilla trekking costs $700 and gorilla habituation costs $1500 and confusion between the two can cost you a lot of money.

Gorilla habituation experience offers 4 hours trekking mountain gorillas and only has a maximum of 4 people and researchers, allowing tourists a more personal encounter with the mountain gorillas with less people. Habitation is only carried out at the southern part of Bwindi national park in Rushaga sector and offers only 8 permits each day available all year round.

When a tourist books gorilla habituation permit, it’s a must to sleep at accommodations located within the southern part of Bwindi near the southern offices to avoid long drive to the park offices where tracking starts.

Determine the best airport to fly into – Entebbe Int. Airport Vs Kigali airport

Bwindi national park is located south west of Uganda and the nearest airport is Rwanda’s Kigali international airport. Uganda’s largest airport the Entebbe International airport is located 8 – 9 hours away from the nearest sector of Bwindi national park which is Buhoma region.

If you plan for arrive via Entebbe airport, the shortest time you require for your tour is 3 Days Uganda gorilla trek with 2 nights overnight in Bwindi national park.

If the tourists is looking to have a 1 or 2 day gorilla trek the best airport to arrive is the Kigali international airport as it’s just 3 hours drive from the airport and back.

A longer safari in Uganda is appropriate to start from Entebbe int. airport with a plan to start off from nearer parks and ending with Bwindi forest with a closer drive distance.

Take a porter and walking stick

At the start of every gorilla trek in Bwindi, porters are available for tourists to choose and assist you through the hike. Porters are locals both men and women staying around the park who come daily to help carry tourists’ packs for the day. A porter will hold your backpack and hold your hand through tough terrain.

The work they do sounds like nothing a tall but trust me you will need a porter because they are familiar with the terrain and will encourage you as you hike.

A walking stick comes in handy and is very helpful to give you stability as you hike the impenetrable forest.

Pack right

Make sure to have all the essentials packed for your gorilla trip, this includes

a rain jackethiking shoeswater and snacksFlashless camerawater proof backpackmosquito repellentPack light

Whether you will be using a porter or not to carry your back pack, its essential to pack light as it will be too heavy for your porter and for you too. You don’t know how long you will be hiking the jungle forest in search for mountain gorillas, it can be hours and a heavy park will break you and your porter.

If you have several cameras its best to hire more porters so that its manageable and doesn’t get you tired

Have some level of fitness

Mountain gorillas live in remote mountainous locations with some groups on lower land while others on high lands and high altitudes.

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi national park doesn’t necessarily call to be very strong but require you to have some fitness to you can manage to walk to and from the gorillas in the jungle. You need to be active for at least 6 – 4 months to the trip so that you are ready for the hike.

Follow the guides instructions

The ranger guide gives tourists a briefing right before the gorilla trekking on how to conduct and what to expect for the like and when with the gorillas. Following the rules and guidelines of your Ranger guide is a must to keep you and the gorillas safe. Gorilla trekking is a delicate business whose most important