Uganda has vast forested lands that accommodate a wide range of primates with the Mountain Gorilla being one of the biggest highlights. The country boasts of more than half of the world’s remaining Mountain Gorilla population, making it your ideal destination for Gorilla tracking safaris and tours.
These gentle giants are found in southwestern Uganda in the two of the only four national parks in the world reserved for Gorillas and Gorilla tracking. These two are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Of the two parks Bwindi Impenetrable is the favorite for gorilla trekking with more groups of habituated Gorilla groups/families than Mgahinga National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has ten gorilla groups/families (Nshongi, Nkuringo, Mubare, Habinyanja A, Habinyanja B, Mishaya, Rushegura, Ruhija, Kahungye and Oruzongo). On the other hand Mgahinga National Park has only one Gorilla group (Nyakagezi) which is unreliable as it keeps on shifting to Virunga National park in DR Congo or Volcanoes national park in Rwanda.
For more than five years each of these gorilla groups have undergone an extremely delicate process – gorilla habituation – that has been gradually getting them to tolerate the presence of human beings but have allowed only a limited number (8 people) to interact with them briefly in their natural habitats through gorilla tracking. In spite of these Gorillas being habituated, they are far from tame. They will normally tolerate human presence for an hour a day at most. Only experienced guides will accompany you on your Gorilla tracking expedition, many of who have been involved in the gorilla habituation process with them.
When a gorilla permit is purchased a gorilla family is assigned to the tourist in order to evenly distribute all visitors to the gorilla families available. A picture of all the gorilla members and their names is given and this is to help you in tracking the different family members. Gorillas can easily be identified by their facial features that, like in humans, vary from individual to individual.
Our guides will brief you upon your arrival on the various aspects of “Gorilla Tracking Etiquette”. For instance; do not get as close as 5 meters, do not surround them as a group, do not use flashing cameras, do not smoke or eat around them, and do not make loud noises or make sudden movements, among others.
The trek starts as early as 8.30am from the park headquarters. Gorilla trekking is done in groups of eight in the company of a guide and aides who carry your luggage. The gorillas cover large distances overnight and they are never constantly in one area.
The guides will use their knowledge of Gorilla habits and information from the previous day to locate the group’s whereabouts. Because of this the time taken to track the gorillas varies enormously, from as little as half an hour to as much as 9 hours. But fear not, for no matter how much time you take trekking, you are guaranteed to find your assigned gorilla family.
Once the gorillas are located your group will be allowed a maximum of one hour to interact with them but please take note of the “Gorilla Tracking Etiquette” you were given at briefing lest you spoil this memorable once in a lifetime experience. Important to note is that only persons of over the age of 15 years are allowed to track Gorillas.