Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safaris and Tours
Uganda the pearl of Africa is the famous mountain gorilla destination in the world, Uganda is situated in the East Africa region neighboring Kenya in the East, Democratic Republic of Congo in the west, Tanzania in the south, and Rwanda in the southwest.
Uganda is a renowned habitat for the world’s biggest population of endangered mountain gorillas boosting over 600 individuals according to the recent statistics which keeps increasing due to births.
Uganda as an incredible tourist destination offers a range of safari activities including mountain gorilla trekking, mountain gorilla trekking is an incredible and adventurous safari activity offering an encounter with mountain gorillas in their natural habitats in the thick forests in the higher altitudes
Mountain gorillas are critically endangered animal species found and protected in only 4 national parks in the world with Uganda protecting them in 2 national parks of Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park.
Mountain gorillas also referred to as Gorilla beringei beringei listed as endangered species by the IUCN in 2018, mountain gorillas are thicker and longer when compared to other gorilla species and are found of living in cooler temperatures at higher altitudes.
Mountain gorillas are very fur-covered large creatures with males weighing at a mean weight of 195 kilograms and standing at a height of 150 centimeters.
Female mountain gorillas weigh at a mean weight of 100 kilograms and stand at a height of 130 centimeters.
Mountain gorillas are very social animals living in groups that are led by a dominant silverback, mountain gorilla groups/families comprise of silverbacks, adult females, infants, and juveniles.
Mountain gorilla trekking is a famous safari activity and a highlight safari activity in Uganda, mountain gorilla trekking safari activity takes travelers on a hike through thick forests in search of mountain gorillas.
The activity starts as early as 8:00 am with a briefing at the park’s headquarters, the briefing involves taking travelers through rules and regulations to follow while in presence of mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorilla trekking requires hiring a porter to assist you in the experience and a walking stick which are hired at the park’s headquarters at a reasonable few.
Tracking for mountain gorillas takes about 3-5 hours depending sorely on the movement of mountain gorillas and the terrain, according to mountain gorilla trekking rules and regulations.
Mountain gorilla trekking experience offers only 1 hour of being in presence of mountain gorillas, the reason for one hour is that the mountain gorillas easily get irritated when people overstay in their presence.
Travelers are allowed to take pictures while in the presence of mountain gorillas but you are advised to have your camera’s flashlight switched off.
Mountain gorilla trekking is done in two national parks, these national parks are well-known habitats of the critically endangered mountain gorillas and they are Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The Bwindi impenetrable national park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the largest population of endangered mountain gorillas in the world and Uganda as well as over 600 mountain gorilla individuals, Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in the southwestern region of Uganda in the Kanungu district.
The park was established in 1991 stretching over an area of 331 square kilometers and is part of the Bwindi impenetrable forest.
Mountain gorillas trekked in Bwindi impenetrable national park underwent through habituation process which helped to make them less hostile to human presence, habituated mountain gorilla families in Bwindi impenetrable national park are 14 families and they are found in the four mountain gorilla trekking sectors of the park.
The 4 sectors of Bwindi impenetrable national park are the Buhoma sector, Rushaga sector, Nkuringo sector, and Ruhija sector. Each of these sectors is situated in different regions of the park and habits its own habituated mountain gorilla families which are trekked during mountain gorilla trekking safari
Buhoma sector is located in the northern region of Bwindi impenetrable national park and is accessed from Kabala and Kihihi airstrip and is close to Queen Elizabeth national park. Buhoma sector habits 4 mountain gorilla families which are trekked and they include Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, and Katwe gorilla family.
Rushaga sector is located in the southern sector off Bwindi impenetrable national park in Kisoro district, this sector lies between Kabale and Nkuringo boosting the highest number of mountain gorillas. Mountain gorilla trekking in Rushaga sector is done in Nshongi gorilla family, Mishaya, Kahungye, Bikyingi, Mucunguzi, Rwigi, Busingye, and Bweza gorilla family.
Nkuringo sector is also located in the southern region of Bwindi impenetrable national park, Nkuringo sector lies at a higher altitude which makes mountain gorilla trekking in this sector very challenging and ideal for physically fit travelers. Nkuringo sector boosts only 1 gorilla family in the name of Nkuringo gorilla family.
Ruhija sector is located in the eastern region of Bwindi impenetrable national park and it is one of the coldest areas of Bwindi impenetrable national park lying at an elevation of 2,350 above the sea level. Ruhija sector is home to the Bitukura gorilla family, Kyaguriro gorilla family, and Oruzogo gorilla family
Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park offers an encounter to one of the mountain gorilla families mention above, each mountain gorilla trekking sector and mountain gorilla family is visited per day.
Mgahinga national park
Mgahinga National Park is another mountain gorilla habitat in Uganda located southwestern region of Kisoro district, Mgahinga national park lies on the borders of Congo and Rwanda and it is part of the Virunga Conservation area consisting of Virunga national park of Democratic Republic of Congo and Volcanoes national park of Rwanda. This park was created in 1991 covering an area of 33.9 square kilometers encompassing 3 inactive volcanoes of the Virunga volcanoes chain, these volcanoes are Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabyinyo.
Mgahinga national park boasts a total of about 8 mountain gorillas but only one mountain gorilla group is habituated, Mountain gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park offers an encounter with the Nyakagezi gorilla family. Nyakagezi gorilla family is composed of 9 family members with 4 silverbacks, 2 infants, 2 adult females, and 1 juvenile.
This family is under the leadership of dominant silverback Mark who took over power from his father Bugingo, the family members are easily identified by their names
- Silverbacks are Mark (the leader), Bugingo (the oldest silverback), Mathew, and Mafia
- Adult females are Nyiramwiza and Nshuti
- Infants are Mutagamba and Rukundo
- Juvenile is Nkanda
Best time to do mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda
The best time to do mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda sorely depends on the weather conditions, the best time for the experience is in the dry season in the months of June, July, August, September, and December.
Because of the thick forest cover dominating both Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park, rain is unavoidable but in the above-mentioned months’ rain is less and the trails used are dry and less slippery.
In conclusion, Bwindi impenetrable national park is the most preferred mountain gorilla trekking destination in Uganda because of the many mountain gorilla families found there but as a mountain gorilla trekking expert.
Mountain gorilla trekking experience is always mind-blowing regardless of the destination you choose to do the mountain gorilla trekking safari.