KAMPALA – Planning a gorilla safari can be a bit challenging if one is not well acquainted with several factors that ensure an ultimate safari. As many believe, nothing can prepare you for the overflow of emotions that takes over you when you see a mountain gorilla. Nothing compares to experiencing something firsthand. The experience undoubtedly changes you as it leaves you content for the once in a lifetime experience. Here is what you need to consider while planning a gorilla safari of your dreams;
What is the cost of the gorilla permit?
The question of affordability is an important element in regard to having a gorilla safari of your dreams. Different countries charge gorilla safaris differently, therefore, knowing the cost of a gorilla permit is very vital for every guest. In Uganda, a gorilla permit currently costs 600 USD although this price will change to 700 USD effective July 2020. Rwanda, on the other hand, charges 1500 USD for a gorilla trekking permit. Visitors are advised to book gorilla permits 5-6 months before they set off for the gorilla safari. This is to prevent some clients from missing out on the gorilla tracking adventure since the demand for permits is usually high. Booking a gorilla permit can be done individually with Uganda wildlife Authority or Rwanda Development board or seek help from a reputable tour operator.
Which season is appropriate to go gorilla trekking?
The question ‘when to go gorilla tracking’ is equally important thus each visitor needs to find out during which season he or she should to trek gorillas. It is undeniably true that the best time to trek mountain gorillas is during the dry seasons. In Uganda, the best time to trek mountain gorillas would be during the months of June to August and December to February. This is because during the fore mentioned months, the tracking trails are not very slippery and the gorillas are easy to spot, unlike the rainy season where gorillas tend to take shelter in the forests and are quite hard to spot.
How long is the activity?
In Uganda, all guests are allowed a one-hour time span in the midst of the gentle apes. During one hour, visitors are exposed to the up-close adventure with the gorillas allowing one to broaden his or her knowledge about the apes. In case one is interested in spending more time with the gorillas, the gorilla habituation experience is highly recommended where guests spend close to four hours with the gorillas.
Where do you intend to track gorillas?
Selecting a place to track goes beyond choosing a gorilla safari destination of your dreams. Knowing which location is ideal for tracking should be your point of focus although quite challenging if a visitor is not well versed with the places. Therefore, the visitor needs to decide which country he or she would like to visit. The choice between Uganda and Rwanda involves having the willingness to move out of your comfort zone by taking on the journey through long or short trails respectively. In Uganda, a visitor may choose to track at Bwindi impenetrable national park or Mgahinga gorilla national park. Choosing which sector to track gorillas at Bwindi should be done depending on one’s strength. The northern part of Bwindi offers less strenuous treks compared to the southern part which has increased hiking difficulties due to the terrain.
Trekking mountain gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable national park is done at any of the four sectors around the park such as Rushaga sector, Ruhija sector, Nkuringo sector, and Buhoma sector.
How do you get to your gorilla safari destination in Uganda?
Before planning a gorilla safari, you may need to find out which means of transport are appropriate for you. The choice between a road drive and a chartered flight depends on the visitor’s schedule. Like other safaris, a 4×4 safari vehicle is highly recommended for visitors travelling by road to either to Bwindi impenetrable national park or Mgahinga gorilla national park for a gorilla safari of one’s dreams. Although driving from Kampala to southwestern Uganda is quite challenging, there are a number of en route sceneries one gets to see on their eight to ten hours journey to Bwindi impenetrable national park which top up the ultimate gorilla expedition. Similarly, chartered flights can also be arranged from Entebbe or Kajjansi airstrip to Kisoro or Kihihi airstrip from which visitors can connect to either national park in case one wishes to avoid the long strenuous drives.
Do you need to book accommodation facilities?
You may need to book accommodation at the park or outside the park in case you plan to engage in other activities apart from gorilla tracking. Lodging services range from budget, mid-range, and luxury depending on the visitors’ preferences. In most cases, the choice of accommodation is determined by the location of the sector where the visitor will be tracking gorillas. However, in cases where one has challenges with higher elevations, he or she can book lodging in the northern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Since mountain gorillas are endangered species, a number of rules and regulations that guests are expected to abide by have been formulated in order to ensure visitors obtain a great safari experience. These include: a maximum of eight visitors are allowed to visit a gorilla family, visitors are allowed one hour with the great apes, no flashlight photography among others.
Can you add other attractions alongside gorilla trekking?
Combining gorilla trekking with other activities is a highly rewarding venture. Visitors who plan to spend more days in the pearl of Africa are advised to add other areas of interest alongside gorilla safaris. These include birding, white water rafting, Game drive, and boat cruise depending on the destination among others.
What can you pack for gorilla tracking?
Mountain gorillas at Bwindi live in a thick impenetrable forest with steep hills. It is because of this thickness and terrain that visitors need to prepare what to wear on this gorilla safari. The following list contains some of the vital items that you need to carry; hiking boots, long-sleeved shirts and trousers, a hat, sunglasses, insect repellant, camera, and many others. With the fore mentioned packing list, it is inevitable for you not to have a wonderful gorilla safari.
Porters and walking
You will require the best companions on your gorilla trekking adventure to obtain an ultimate safari experience. You will require a walking stick to help you trek through the hills and steep slopes. These are always available at lodges and at the park. Taking a porter helps you trek freely since he or she carries your backpack and other luggage including your lunch pack while in the midst of gorillas.
Finally, having looked at the above tips, I believe you are in a position to plan a gorilla trip of your dreams.