are mountain gorillas dangerous

New habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi ready for tracking

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has unveiled new five habituated gorilla groups for trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park. The park is divided into four gorilla tracking sectors which include Buhoma, Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija, and Ruhija. The names of the new gorilla groups include Binyindo and Muyambi in Buhoma, Rwigi and Tindatine in Rushaga, and Posho in Nkuringo sectors.

In addition to the already habituated groups, Bwindi now has a total of 24 habituated gorilla groups available for trekking. Given that each gorilla family is visited by a maximum of 8 tourists, the number of gorilla permits has also increased to 194 permits available per day for booking through a tour operator. Besides those that are fully habituated, there are 4 gorilla groups that are still undergoing the habituation process in Rushaga and Nkuringo.
With a high number of permits, UWA has strengthened gorilla permit booking terms. Among them is that travelers must book permits through a tour operator. Extra permits for tour operators will no longer be issued based on the fact that one must first confirm the availability of a permit for particular trekking dates before settling an itinerary with the visitor. As such, operators should make provisional bookings until the permits are secured. Once the permit is available in the reservation system, you are randomly allocated one of the four sectors. There’s flexibility with the dates for already issued permits, perhaps with cancellations.

The habituated gorillas

habituated gorilla groups

A habituated gorilla family is the one that has been accustomed to the presence of humans. The habituated gorillas are naturally relaxed, feeding, playing and grooming each. However, playful infants can approach people without being scared. This offers an interactive experience. The process of habituation may take 3-5 years after which the gorillas are open for tourists to visit as in the case of the new five groups.
Searching for the habituated families is relatively easier when compared to the semi-habituated ones. The regular trek involves trackers going into the forest very early in the morning between 6:00 am – 6:30 am. They will start directly from the trails where the gorillas were left at dusk the previous day and follow them to their nests. Gorillas make new nests each day thus the trackers may find them there or when they have just left the nests. There are always fresh droppings  As such, they are able to count the nests to ascertain the presence of individuals. Oftentimes, other wild animals such as forest elephants may interact with gorillas which can make it difficult to follow the trails.

Once the trackers confirm that it’s the gorillas, they will call to inform the park warden or head ranger at the briefing center about the location. Visitors will then be accompanied by armed rangers taking the closest path possible to reach the gorillas. Sometimes, the distance from the center to the trailhead can involve a short drive. Depending on your luck, the gorilla family might even be nearer than expected. Trekking can be difficult due to the nature of terrain with altitude ranging from 1,190 – 2,607 meters above sea level. It’s hard to determine how long it takes to find the gorillas which necessitates you to hire a porter to assist and carry your backpack. Those who might find walking difficult can be carried on the sedan chair to and from the gorillas and the cost is $200 to $300 depending on the weight of an individual.

Gorilla tracking sectors in Bwindi

Bwindi impenetrable forest is situated at the end of the Albertine rift valley in southwestern Uganda. The protected area covers 331 of primary lowland and montane tropical rainforest harboring rich biodiversity 120 mammal species, over 350 bird species of which 24 are Albertine rift endemics; 163 tree species, and 7 primate species of which the main attractions are the mountain gorillas. The park is famous for harboring 459 gorillas which is almost half of the world’s 1063 mountain gorilla population. The four gorilla sectors of Bwindi are all characterized by steep hills and narrow valleys with a general incline from the north and west to the south-western corner. Each sector is unique in regard to scenery, flora and fauna, things to do.
Buhoma lies in the north at Bwindi’ lowest altitude, making hiking relatively easier due to the nature of terrain. The sector is the largest of the four and the headquarters where Uganda gorilla safaris started in 1993. Overtime Buhoma has attracted a wide range of luxury and high-end accommodations than any other sector. There’s also a variety of activities to do including Batwa community walk, waterfall hike, mountain biking, and gorilla conservation coffee safaris. Buhoma also offers great birding with most of the Albertine rift endemics.


Situated in the north east of Bwindi, Ruhija is 44 km away from Buhoma and lies at the highest altitude range. There are 3 gorilla groups and fewer accommodations, making it quiet off-the beaten path. Ruhija offers best of birding in Bwindi forest along the Rwamunyonyi peak and Mubwindi swamp, where the strange weaver and African green broadbill are commonly sighted.


Rushaga has a wide range of accommodations and nine gorilla families of which two are available for habituation experience. Being in the south of Bwindi, it is easier to add other places like Lake Mutanda, lake Mulehe, and Lake Bunyonyi to enjoy the tranquil waters.


Nkuringo lies along the Ndego ridge and offers spectacular views of Bwindi as well as the Virunga volcanoes. There are three gorilla families of which 1 are for habituation experience. There’s also the Batwa experience in Nkuringo plus the walking safari connecting to and from Buhoma.

Posted in Safari News.