Guide on where to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda with Gorilla Trek Africa. Located in the eastern hemisphere of Africa, Uganda is one of the few natural habitats of mountain gorillas in the world. In the whole universe, the mountain gorillas reside in two isolated localised areas in the east-central tropical rainforest of Africa, namely Virunga massif shared by Uganda, Rwanda and Dr Congo and Bwindi Forest of Uganda. With two restricted habitats and a small population of only about 1000 individuals,the mountain gorillas are considered endangered species under the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
These interesting apes suffer from the loss of habitats due to climate change and the human population explosion. Humans keep extending and settling in areas where gorillas live. In the end, the trees are cut done to build houses, for timber, to set up farms and for firewood hence living the gorillas homeless The other threats endangering the gorillas are poaching, meat for trade, rebel activities and epidemic diseases.
In order to protect the mountain gorillas from getting extinct, the Uganda government took over the abodes of gorillas within its territories through the Uganda Wildlife Authority, a body responsible for managing and protecting all national parks, wildlife reserves and sanctuaries in the country. The mountain gorillas have come to life again although they still face some challenges. The efforts and results of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) are visible, for instance, two gorilla habitats were turned into national parks where visitors(people) can come and interact with the gorillas and appreciate their existence and significance in the ecosystem. The gorilla tourism strategy is making wonders as the population of mountain gorillas is growing at the same time, the visitors are also having great experiences, moments that are precious and so dearly in their lives. The local communities that live around the national parks are benefiting from the scheme, they are being employed both directly and indirectly by the gorilla tourism-related initiatives. Social services like hospitals and schools are been created for the locals out of gorilla tourism.
One would wonder what is gorilla tourism, the experience is widely and famously known as gorilla trekking. Gorilla trekking is a tour activity that involves trekking through the forest in search of the gorillas in their exact spots. While with the gorillas, you watch them enjoy the foliage, interrelate and play among themselves. You also take their pictures and videos. The experience is so captivating because the gorillas are so warming, charming and intelligent.
Due to its rewards to both tourists and Uganda, gorilla trekking is now the most demanded tourism activity in the country. The gorilla permit, a pass that allows you to go gorilla trekking is treated as a precious metal, it is highly demanded and scarce, especially in the peak season of June, July, August, September, December, January and February. Mark you, the gorilla permit does not come cheap, it costs 700$ per person but still, travellers are unfazed about it. All they want is to meet their cousins (gorillas) in the wild at close range.
Uganda is a major player in the gorilla trekking experiences and is regarded by many as the prime destination for the activity since it has the highest gorilla population and number of places for the trekking expedition and was also the first country to make gorillas open for tourism in the early 1990s. Tourists track gorillas in Uganda in the two following places:
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi is the biggest and main home of mountain gorillas in the world located in the south-western region of Uganda on the edges of the Rift valley. The terrain of the area is dominated by highlands and tropical rainforests making it the perfect habitat for the gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is such a huge forest with a total surface area of 331 square kilometres, gorillas reside within its four sectors of Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the east, Nkuringo in the southwest and Rushaga in the south. Buhoma is the most sought after sector by visitors due to its accessibility, availability of tourism amenities such as lodges and also its fame as it was the first place where the gorilla trekking experience was conducted. The gorilla permits in Buhoma are so hard to come by. Rushaga has also become so popular among travellers because of its readily available gorilla permits. This sector has the most number of habituated families hence the presence of permits at most times. Note that all these sectors provide the same gorilla experiences, the terrain is similar and also the appearance and character of the gorillas are the same across all families in the different sectors.
Bwindi forest has over 459 gorillas altogether, 50 families and 13 lone individuals as revealed by the 2019 Bwindi gorilla census. Of the 50 families, only 20 are habituated to gorilla trekking. Some notable habituated families in the different aforementioned sectors include Habinyanja, Rushegura, Nkuringo, Mubare and Nshongi. These gorilla families were tamed to tolerate human presence, making them conducive for gorilla trekking expeditions. It is always exciting and pleasing to meet these gorilla families in the wilderness of Bwindi.
Mgahinga Gorilla National park
Although overshadowed by Bwindi Forest, Mgahinga gorilla national park is such an incredible eco-tourism destination to go gorilla trekking. Mgahinga is nestled in the Virunga ranges, an iconic feature that spans Uganda, Rwanda and Dr Congo. The small-sized park with an area of 33.8 square kilometres was gazetted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority in 1991 with the objective of protecting the mountain gorillas in the area. The scenic forested highland is home to less than eighty mountain gorillas, making it the habitat with the least population of gorillas in the whole world. Furthermore, there is only one habituated gorilla family in this park known as the Nyakagezi family. The Nyakagezi gorilla group used to be trans boundary as it often moved around Uganda, Rwanda and Dr Congo until it settled in Uganda, Mgahinga. This family resides in an area called Nyakagezi and this is where it derives its name.
Ever since it settled, Nyakagezi has become the tracker’s favourite because it is available and offers an easy trekking experience.
Conclusively therefore, Uganda is the best travel destination to trek mountain gorillas. Visit Uganda’s endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park with Gorilla trek Africa.