UGANDA – Gorilla habituation in Uganda is a true African adventure involving a crafted journey into the thick tropics in search of the endangered apes. The chance to get close to these animals in their natural habitats is a lifetime experience that all travelers desire to have.
Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park are currently the prime homes of the mountain gorillas in Africa, followed by Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in D.R. Congo. Over 450 mountain gorillas live in Uganda’s western tropical forests that are almost half of the total gorilla population in the world.
Before trotters experience an authentic gorilla trek in Uganda, a vital to-do list stands between them and the Uganda safari.
Choosing a gorilla habituation safari in Uganda would be tedious, but the better one is prepared, the higher the chances of a successful trip that meets their expectations. Here is a simple guide on how you can choose a Uganda gorilla habituation and trekking tour.
When you finally make up your mind to come for gorilla habituation and tracking safari in Uganda, the first thing to do is to get in touch with an experienced tour operator whether in the home country or in Uganda. Find out the kind of safaris that the tour company you have chosen specializes in. Let the tour operator know of the expectations and the to-do list such that they advise according to which safari is most appropriate for those needs.
It is very important to know the inclusions of the gorilla tour cost before payment. The best gorilla tours in Uganda are the ones that include everything, from domestic transport, accommodation, meals plus all additional activities, leaving the trekker with only one responsibility of having fun and creating memorable experiences worth telling stories when back home.
Consider the additional activities to the gorilla trek. Uganda being largely blessed with unique wonders, it would be unjust if any trotter came to the country and only did gorilla trekking unless it’s the wish of the visitor. At least a wildlife tour in Queen Elizabeth national park or a cultural encounter with the Batwa pygmies could be a perfect add-on.
It is also wise to consider the accommodation options to use while on the gorilla tracking or habituation tour in Uganda. When it comes to lodging facilities in Uganda, travelers should not worry over that, their only concern should be on whether to stay in a luxury, mid range or budget lodge. Luxury lodges are the high-end hotels with the best quality services and highest prices. Budget, on the other hand, are of low prices offering relatively basic services, yet midrange is the standard lodges, offering moderate services. Before any trip, consider which type of lodges you prefer according to the quality of services you need as well as the budget.
Means of getting to the gorilla destinations. It is true that Uganda has the largest number of gorillas compared to Rwanda and D. R. Congo. But trekking the gorillas in Uganda from Entebbe international airport can take a minimum of three days if getting there is by road. It is a full day journey from Kampala, Uganda’s capital to Bwindi or Mgahinga national parks; the prime gorilla homes. However, if you are not the kind of traveler who wants to sit in a safari vehicle for long, opt for a chartered flight to Kisoro or Kihihi airstrips; note that this could increase the costs.
Packing List: Before choosing any gorilla tracking or habituation tour in Uganda, still consider what to carry for the tour. For this trip requires travelers to carry long sleeved shirts and trousers, jackets, raincoats, hiking boots, insect repellents, caps, and hand gloves for skin protection. Also, don’t forget the camera bag with a camera and spare batteries to take photos of the incredible moments.
Another consideration in choosing a gorilla habituation safari in Uganda is the best time to trek mountain gorillas. Uganda’s location to the equator and climate make it a whole year round travel destination; though the best time to visit Uganda for a gorilla trek is during her dry seasons of December- February and from June to September. Knowing this helps the trekker to know to do Uganda gorilla trekking in friendly weather conditions.
The number of days to spend in Uganda. For trotters with limited time yet still want to encounter the gentle apes of the forest should opt for a short tour to Bwindi or Mgahinga, trips that don’t exceed three days. They can even choose to take a red-eye flight to maximize their time in Uganda.
For any successful gorilla trip to Uganda, it is important for all travelers to consider those factors before choosing any safari in Uganda. This is for better preparations of a lifetime experience in the pearl of Africa.
Advantages of Gorilla tourism to the local people
Uganda is one of the best African safari destinations hence gaining names like the pearl of African and having the safari slogan “Gifted by Nature”. Despite it being a landlocked country in the center of Africa, Uganda is one of Africa’s most bio-diverse destinations for nature and culture.
Uganda is blessed with a variety of natural attractions ranging from superb ecosystem like swampy vegetation, Savannah vegetation, tropical rain forests, and mountain vegetation, wildlife, over 50 diverse cultural communities and up to 1080 species of birds, more than any other country in East Africa.
In addition to all the natural gifts, Uganda is one of the three countries in the world that harbors the largest number of mountain gorillas well known to be one of the critically endangered apes in the world. The other countries that host mountain gorillas are; Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Though the country is endowed with many other wildlife and primates, many safari travelers around the world consider seeing mountain gorillas in the wild a must do activity during safaris in Uganda. This has enabled the country to benefit through selling gorilla trekking permits hence an immense contribution to GDP.
Gorilla tourism in Uganda began way back in 1993 in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park when the first habituated gorilla family, Mubare was tracked by tourists and from that time up to date gorilla tourism has been steadily developing in these two national parks.
Gorilla safaris are in the rise hence the local people benefiting from it in different ways depending on how they venture into it.
The first benefit is that Uganda’s gorilla tourism is promoted under the basis of pro-poor and eco-friendly strategy, making it a relevant aspect of creating development in rural communities. This has motivated most visitors to travel to destinations that are exercising sustainable tourism development to consider paying visit to these endangered species.
Advantages of gorilla tourism include the creation of employment in different forms for the local people especially as game rangers, tour guides, potters, trackers, among other jobs. Even the employees of lodges that are located close to these gorilla habitats, and others have benefited indirectly as food suppliers to the accommodation facilities, among others and this has greatly improved local people’s standards of living.
The local communities of Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga national parks have gained through revenue sharing from Uganda Wildlife Authority and projects such as Schools, hospitals, roads have been constructed within these communities.
The gorilla tourism has led to the development of other tourism products whose contribution is direct on supporting the local people such as the Buniga forest walk and the Batwa trail is specifically for the locals who act as guides and also potters hence earning directly from tourism.
In Bwindi national park, there are fundamentals of volunteering in local communities around the park. One example is Bwindi community hospital which started under a tree but due to the influx of tourists for gorilla safaris, some decide to stay and volunteer, while others contribute funds. Currently, the hospital is one of the best hospitals in the area.
Gorilla tourism supports a lot of community projects which are either international or local, one of the international projects that gorilla tourism supported is the international gorilla conservation and others include the integrated conservation through development, among others which allow the locals to access resources from the forest.
With all the benefits listed above, native communities are encouraged to continue supporting the conservation of mountain gorillas if they still believe that there are many advantages than disadvantages that can come out of conservation.