When is the best time of year to trek the mountain gorillas?

You are advised to book your gorilla permit at least three months in advance this is due to the high demand most especially during high season. Please contact your local tour operator to advise you about the gorilla permit availability when you intend to trek. Then weather forecast decides when the best time is to see the gorillas since it rains most days in the rainforest. The rain may not be heavy, but there will certainly be low-lying mist and wet vegetation. Of course, some treks and trails are muddier than others!

Predicting the rainy seasons is not an exact science these days but broadly speaking, the rainy seasons are March and April and October and November. The timing of your visit to East Africa may be important to you if you are planning a safari as part of your travels to Uganda or Rwanda.

Uganda and Rwanda enjoy round temperatures of between 21°C and 30°C throughout the year. In the higher altitudes of the mountain gorillas’ habitat, it can be as cold as 10°C. However, you can do gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo all the year around.

The merits of tracking the gorillas in Rwanda

Rwanda‘s claim is that you can fly in and do the gorilla trek in just one day and then fly back the same night . Also recommend this though for those who don’t have enough time. The drive from Kigali airport to volcanoes national park is only 2 hours but the drive is not as scenic as Uganda and also Rwanda has less to offer. Though the roads are better and gorilla trekking in Rwanda includes a more relaxed drive. Even though gorilla trekking permits cost much more in Rwanda, you can save some money by having a shorter trip. So in Uganda, you need a minimum of two nights, thus increasing the price.

What should be packed on mountain gorilla trekking safari?

Clothing & Shoes

Long-Sleeved Shirt or Jacket – Treks begin early in the morning, and you may be chilly at the start of your trek. Depending on the time of year, you may want long sleeves during the entirety of your trek. In addition to warmth, long sleeves are helpful for protecting your arms against stinging nettles or branches.

Short-Sleeved Shirt – Dressing in layers is a good idea. The day involves strenuous activity in the humid jungle, and you may want to shed your outer layers. (I know that I did!)

Long Pants – You will be encountering thick vines, fallen trees, and scratchy brush, and you will want to have protection on your legs. I found thick leggings to be ideal pants for the trek because they allowed me to move freely while still covering my legs.

Long Socks – Keeping the biting “safari ants” out of your pants is important! Your guide will instruct you to tuck your pants into your socks, and tall socks are best for this task.

Hiking Shoes – Shoes with a good grip are a must. The terrain can be difficult to navigate, including thick vines, slippery rocks, patches of mud, and more. If your shoes are waterproof, the entire better

Rain Jacket – The national parks where the mountain gorillas live are largely rain forest, and it can rain unexpectedly.

Gloves – I didn’t hike with gloves, but other members of my group did. After I scraped my hands and accidentally grabbed a stinging plant, I wished that I had gloves as well.

Toiletries & Medicine

Malaria Pills – This is the exception to my earlier note: you don’t actually need to bring your malaria pills with you on the hike, but I wanted to include them as a reminder. All of the four national parks where you can track the mountain gorillas are located in malarial zones, and you should discuss options to safeguard yourself from malaria with your doctor.

Insect Repellant – Malaria aside, being bitten by mosquito is no fun and can ruin your experience.

Toilet Paper – It goes without saying that there are no toilets in the jungle. Remember that you must leave the forest with everything that you brought into it, so you may want to bring a plastic bag for this purpose.

Equipments

Camera – For capturing the moment

Binoculars – To watch and spot them from afar

Documents & Money

Documentation – You should come prepared with any documentation or numbers related to your gorillas tracking permit.

Passport – Don’t forget to bring your passport, as you will need to show it when you check in for the trek.

Local Currency – Remember to tip your guide! Local currency is also useful if you decide you want to hire a porter or want to purchase souvenirs.

Additional

Water – Bring as much water as you can carry. Staying hydrated is important.

– Pair of sports sandals like Tevas

– Hat-wide brim or with a visor for sun protection

– Underwear

– Swimsuit (and a plastic bag)

– Sunglasses with neck strap

– Flashlight

– Extra batteries

– Camera and extra lenses

– Small notebook

First Aid Kit including re hydration sachets, anti-diarrhea medicine, aspirin, cold medication, antiseptic cream, band-aids, motion sickness pills, lip balm, eye drops and personal medication.

What is the age limit for gorilla trek?

The minimum years for gorilla tracking in Uganda, Rwanda and Dr Congo is 15 (Fifteen years) and above for anyone willing to see endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Maghinga National Park and Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park. Below the age of 15 years, one is regarded as a child by all standards and will not be allowed to go on any gorilla trek in Uganda or Rwanda. This is seriously compulsory in both Uganda and Rwanda. There however, some instances where a child below 15 years may trek gorillas. That said and done, all park authorities are very serious when it comes to age limit to the extent that passport details will be requested before a gorilla permit is issued. On the day of trekking gorillas, each tourist will also be requested to produce an original passport so as to make sure that all those that will trek gorillas are of the right age.

What is included in a gorilla permit?

A gorilla permit entitles you one hour with mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga or Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park. Included in the cost are park entry fees for the particular parks, services of National Park guides/rangers who will usher you to the forest. Gorilla Tracking Uganda will ensure that you secure permits in advance

Under what instances a child below 15 years may be allowed to do gorilla trekking?

There two instances where Uganda Wildlife Authority may allow a child below 15 years to trek gorillas. When the child is about to celebrate his or her 15th birth day, both Uganda and Rwanda gorilla authorities may extend sympathy to such a child and allow him or her to trek gorillas. The second instance where a child below 15 years may trek gorillas is when much as he/she is below the required age expresses maturity and is physically strong. If the above are assessed and the child qualifies, authorities may decide to give that child a chance to trek gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda. If you have a child in such categories, please contact Africa Adventure Vacations who will in turn contact Uganda Wildlife Authority if it will be possible for your child to trek gorillas and if it is approved, they will let you know and advise you on what to do. Uganda Wildlife Authority reserves all rights to allow or not to allow children below the age of 15 to trek gorillas.

The merits of tracking the mountain gorillas in Uganda

The drive from Kampala to Bwindi is so lovely and this takes a full day of travel. Though you are tracking the mountain gorillas in Bwindi buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga or Mgahinga National park, you will also enjoy a scenery view en-route. The gorilla permits in Uganda are cheaper and UWA offers off peak season discounts. Uganda has got lots of things to offer before or after your gorilla trekking safari. Rwanda and Uganda are so near to each other , however , you could also track the gorillas in Rwanda and also drive to Uganda for the rest of holiday in East Africa and vice versa

The merits of tracking the gorillas in Rwanda

Rwanda‘s claim is that you can fly in and do the gorilla trek in just one day and then fly back the same night . Also recommend this though for those who don’t have enough time. The drive from Kigali airport to volcanoes national park is only 2 hours but the drive is not as scenic as Uganda and also Rwanda has less to offer. Though the roads are better and gorilla trekking in Rwanda includes a more relaxed drive. Even though gorilla trekking permits cost much more in Rwanda, you can save some money by having a shorter trip. So in Uganda, you need a minimum of two nights, thus increasing the price.

How many days should I book for my gorilla trekking tour?

You will need to set aside at least three days to see the gorillas in Uganda. Allow one day for travel from Kampala to your trekking center, one day for the gorilla trekking itself and a third day for travel back or on wards, anywhere you choose for. However, it is possible to reduce a gorilla trekking tour to two days in Rwanda, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Some crazy people even fly in and out in one day, but don’t do it!)

You will need to be up very early on the day of the gorilla trekking and the day will be physically demanding, so you will need to arrive at your lodge by 6 or 7 PM on the day before you trek. Note that it gets dark early on the Equator, and we only advise travelling in daylight hours, due to the long distance and distance to the destination. Have an early night in preparedness for the next day.

In the evening after your trek, kick back, relax and relive your adventure in one of the lodges near the gorilla trekking areas before travelling the next day, or you can travel to Lake Bunyonyi.

Combining gorilla trekking with some hiking, bird watching or a safari it is a very popular options and recommendable. The areas around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Virunga National Park offer fantastic forest walks, volcano hiking, bird watching, and canoeing and community tours. If you love primates, why not trek to see the golden monkeys? Further afield, in Mgahinga gorilla National Park or Kyambura Gorge or Kibale Forest (both in Uganda) you might also venture chimpanzee trekking. For game viewing you can visit Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and Lake Mburo National Park.

How does UWA and RDB notice individuals under the minimum age to do gorilla trekking?

As requesting for a permit to trek gorillas in either Uganda or Rwanda, respective authorities will advise you to present your passport copy. Even though at this stage it may not be obligatory but if you provide it, they will then identify if you qualify to trek gorillas by seeing how old you are. If you are below the minimum age, then you will be automatically denied a chance to encounter the mountain gorillas.

If by chance you manage to get a permit on booking, you may not run away being spotted on the real day of gorilla trekking. Before gorilla trekking briefing takes place, all clients are required to provide original copies of their passports and it is at this time you will be cut off if you are below 15 years of age a chance to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda.