What is it about Uganda Gorilla Trekking?
‘Gorilla trekking‘ is a common phrase among safari lovers and avid naturalists. A travel memoir set in Africa is incomplete without a record of a gorilla trekking in Uganda excursion. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is the holy grail of African adventures!
You could be wondering what it’s about Uganda gorilla trekking that creates it such an enormous deal. It’s the apes of course; the mountain gorillas!
Did you recognize that there are only about 1063 individual mountain gorillas within the entire big, wide world? It’s such a little population, isn’t it? As of 2018, the mountain gorilla still held its place on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s list of endangered species.
Besides the apes, what else about gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Seeing the rare apes isn’t all there is to gorilla trekking while on your Uganda safari. There’s the journey of trekking; hitting the steep and rugged trails in pursuit of any of the gorilla families. Mountain gorillas live in social clusters commonly referred to as families or groups.
The exerting treks through the hardly penetrable forests always end in sating encounters with the prized mountain gorillas; gentle giants, with furry bodies covered in dense masses of thick black hairs. The adult males have a mean weight of 195kg and stand at a height of 150cm, which is generally twice the dimensions and height of the females, respectively.
Is it Gorilla trekking or Gorilla tracking?
A travel comic would say both! Getting the concepts involved isn’t new. Although often used interchangeably, the terms gorilla trekking and gorilla tracking do not mean the same thing.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda has got to do with the excursions visitors to the parks embark on, in search of a mountain gorilla family. The rugged nature of the tracks, trails, routes, and paths that lead to the habituated gorilla family hideouts make visitor excursions exerting yet gratifying treks.
Gorilla tracking is when researchers, expert rangers and park staff embark on walks through the forests or habitats of the mountain gorillas to monitor the apes, primarily for study and research purposes.
Okay, where do the apes live and where do we go for gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Although it comes off as quite astonishing, mountain gorillas are found only in Africa. The apes exist in two populations, with one population being spread across the Virunga volcanic mountains in Central Africa; in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (south-western Uganda), Volcanoes National Park (north-western Rwanda), and Virunga National Park (Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo).
The other population is found in Uganda’s famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park situated in the country’s southwestern region.
In Uganda gorilla trekking is done all year round in any of the parks where the gorillas are found. Each of the parks has at least one or more habituated families ready for trekking.
How many mountain gorilla families can you trek in Uganda?
Tourists can only trek one family at a time. Also, only habituated families are available for trekking in the various parks. Habituation involves taming the gorillas to get them used to the presence of human beings.
The process takes between 1-2 years. The period may be longer or shorter depending on the behavioral patterns of the family under habituation.
What does it take to go gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Booking a mountain gorilla trekking permit is the first thing to think about when planning to go on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. Yes, you need a permit to allow you to meet a mountain gorilla family. The cost of trekking permits varies from one park to another, and from one country to another. Also, foreigners pay more for their permits as compared to nationals.
Once you acquire a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda, you are allocated a family to trek. Also, you get to be assigned a group with other trekkers. Uganda Gorilla trekking is done in teams or groups, with each having a maximum of 8 people.
Is Uganda gorilla trekking for everyone?
No! The minimum age of acquiring a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda and Rwanda is 15 years. Anyone younger is not allowed to engage in gorilla trekking.
Due to the strenuous nature of the hikes that come with gorilla trekking while on your Uganda safari, the very young, elderly, and those with health complications are advised to forego gorilla trekking excursions.
What does one need to prepare or carry for an Uganda gorilla trek safari?
While considering undertaking a Uganda gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Preparation is a definite must if you will have a great time. The essentials to pack for your Uganda gorilla trekking safari include:
- A pair of hiking boots;
Trudging through a dense forest in a pair of pumps or sandals isn’t a wise idea while on your Uganda gorilla trek safari. You would come off with blisters, scratches, and lousy bites all over your feet and legs.
- A raincoat;
Even in the dry spells, occurrences of rainfalls in the dense tropical rain forests are inevitable. So, a raincoat should come in handy while undertaking a Uganda gorilla trekking safari.
- Warm clothing;
For most of the year, the temperatures in Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest, the Virunga mountains, as well as other mountain gorilla habitats are usually very low. It especially gets very cold in the early mornings and late evenings. Packing trousers, long-sleeved shirts, and sweaters for the Uganda gorilla trek safari should be a priority.
- Mosquito repellent;
This will help keep malaria at bay since you can’t be rid of the swam of mosquito residents in the thick forests and mountains where the mountain gorillas live.
- Personal toiletries
Anything you need for your sanitation and basic hygiene should have its place in your Uganda gorilla trek safari backpack.
Is there anything else one needs to know about gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Definitely yes! There is always something else that is worth knowing about gorilla trekking safari in Uganda:
While embarking on your Uganda gorilla trekking excursion, consider following the instructions and advice given by your guides and park authorities, it is for your good.
Some of the guidelines while on your gorilla trekking Uganda safari include;
- Keeping a reasonable distance from the gorillas once you encounter a family.
- Refraining from smoking and eating in the presence of the gorillas.
- Speaking in low tones to avoid making any noises that could aggravate the gigantic yet fragile beasts.
- Remembering to turn off flashlights while taking photographs.
- Though not obligatory, take a camera and a journal with you. Great moments are worth capturing and noting. Memories are priceless treasures!