Uganda and Rwanda offer the best organised and most accessible gorilla treks. Both countries offer quality accommodation, exceptional service, and a very similar experience. However, as gorilla trekking permits in Uganda cost $700 per person in contrast to $1,500 per person in Rwanda, Uganda is many travellers’ preferred option for gorilla trekking on a budget.
Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda
Africa offers so many wonderful safari experiences to visitors. One of the most unique and captivating is a trek to see the mountain gorillas.
What can you expect from a gorilla trekking experience?
Why does gorilla trekking feature on so many people’s ‘travel bucket list’? Perhaps it is because each one of us is over 96 per cent gorilla – that’s a DNA-proven fact – and the experience seems to strike a special chord for so many. These Great Apes are one of the rarest animals on the planet. Spending time with them will leave an indelible mark.
There is no avoiding the fact that gorilla trekking is one of the more expensive holidays, so to get the best possible experience it is important to talk to someone who can build a bespoke safari just for you.
How to prepare for gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Gorilla trekking is a physically demanding activity, so to be physically fit is an advantage, but there are ways to make it easier. Planning your gorilla trekking in Uganda with someone who knows the areas and can draw from their own experiences to make suggestions and tailor your safari to fit your requirements is key.
What is the best time of the year to go gorilla trekking in Uganda?
For the best overall experience, during the dry seasons is the best time to trek, so mid-December to early February and June to September. However, the gorillas tend to be slightly high in the mountains when it is dry, so there is a chance your trek might be longer. In the wet seasons, the rain makes the going tougher in the forest. Paths get muddy and slippery, which can make the treks challenging and less enjoyable if you get caught in a heavy shower. However, the gorillas are often seen on the lower slopes of the mountains when it rains, so there is a chance your trek might be slightly shorter.
What to wear when gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Some of the lodges provide a few of the essential items (* below), so it is worth checking with your consultant. The main items to remember are:
- Long trousers
- Long-sleeved shirt or T-shirt
- *Rain jacket or waterproof jacket
- Walking boot or shoes with a good grip (ideally waterproof)
- *Pair of durable gloves
As with any safari clothing, wearing colours that match the surrounding environment is best and comfort should also be a priority.
Why choose Uganda for a gorilla trekking holiday?
Cost of gorilla trekking in Uganda
The first thing everyone mentions is the cost of the trekking permits – at $700 per person, Uganda is more affordable, making this country the much more attractive option. For many clients, a gorilla trekking safari is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so to have the very best experience we recommend two gorilla treks, and two treks in Uganda cost less than one trek in Rwanda. Bwindi National Park offers a more immersive experience for nature lovers. With some of the lodges inside the park, you are not just visiting the gorillas; you are staying in their world with them.
Gorilla trekking costs will vary depending on when you travel, and where you stay. However, costs range from around $3,750 per person in low season up to $6,105 in high season. This is based on two people travelling for one night in Entebbe and three nights at Bwindi. These costs also include two gorilla trekking permits per person.
The ultimate gorilla habituation experience
The gorilla habituation experience is different from the gorilla treks, as it allows you to spend four hours with a family group of gorillas that the rangers are in the process of habituating. Pairing this with a gorilla trek really is the ultimate gorilla safari!
The Ugandan gorilla habituation is a unique experience, perfect for clients wanting to get a deeper understanding of the gorillas and the levels the rangers go to in order to protect and understand these endangered Great Apes. You will trek into the forest to find the nests where the gorillas slept the previous night and then track the gorillas through the forest until you find them. Members of a family group that is being habituated are often more hesitant around people, so the whole idea of this experience is that your presence is helping the rangers introduce the gorillas to people. The general feeling in the Yellow Zebra office is that if you want the best possible photo opportunities then two standard gorilla treks would be best. The habituation experience is generally more of an adventurous trekking. This area of forest is less visited, so there are very few well-defined paths. You need to have the right gear and be prepared for some challenging terrain; this is trekking like it was in the early days, when Dian Fossey first arrived in the area.
Is there an age limit for gorilla trekking in Uganda?
The minimum age for gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda is 15 years old. Guests have to provide a copy of their passport when the permit application is made, and the age limit is strictly enforced.
Extending your trip for a Uganda safari
Uganda is not just about gorilla trekking; there is a lot more to see and do here. Murchison Falls National Park offers classic game viewing and boating safaris, and the neighbouring Budongo Forest Reserve offers chimp trekking. The Queen Elizabeth National Park, on the shores of Lake Edward, offers classic game viewing safari, and the Kibale Forest National Park just to the north has both chimp trekking and a chimp habituation experience.
We have suggested itineraries on the Yellow Zebra Safaris website that will give you an idea what is possible if you would like to extend your safari in Uganda. You will not get a better gorilla and chimp trekking combo trip in any other country. Like the gorillas, the chimps in the Budongo Forest Reserve are a well-habituated community, giving you the best chance of a really good sighting.
There is also the option to extend your safari into Kenya or Tanzania, pairing your gorilla trekking with a safari in the Maasai Mara or the Serengeti. There are direct flights from Entebbe to Nairobi, where you would overnight before heading to the Maasai Mara or directly from Entebbe into the heart of the Serengeti.
The key, though, is to chat to our experts about their favourite trips and all the options available to you. Please get in touch for a chat!