Things to consider when planning a gorilla trip to Bwindi
Things to consider when planning a gorilla trip to Bwindi: Are you planning to have a gorilla trip to Bwindi? Well, a trip to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park to encounter the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitats involves a lot of planning. Gorilla trekking in the Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is a once-in-a-lifetime activity that requires proper planning in order to do it successfully.
There are four sectors in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park where travelers can have gorilla trekking activities from. These are Nkuringo, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Buhoma regions located in different regions of the park. Over 19 mountain gorilla families live in these sectors and the 2 that are opne4 for habituation are found in Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors.
With more than half of the world’s mountain gorilla population living in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, travelers have 99% chances of meeting these mountain gorillas on a trek. The mountain gorilla families do live in groups of 5-20 members and depending on the type of permit you purchased, you will be able to be around them for 1 hour or be with them for 4 hours while making them get used to human beings. Below is a list of things to consider when planning a gorilla trip in Bwindi.
When to have the trip
The best time to trek mountain gorillas should be among the things to consider when planning to have a gorilla trip in Bwindi. Gorilla trekking is a done once in a lifetime activity and therefore you should know which season or months are good for the activity. While gorilla trekking in Bwindi can be done all throughout the year, the dry season is the best time to encounter these apes. The dry season occurs from June to September and December to February, its characterized by little or no rain which keeps the trekking trails dry and passable, the vegetation is short and scattered with clear views of the mountain gorillas, roads to the park are in good conditions and the weather favors flights.
Decide on which sector to trek mountain gorillas
When planning a gorilla trekking trip to Bwindi, you need to decide on which region of the park you will visit. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is done in 4 sectors of the park which are Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the east, Nkuringo, and Rushaga in the south. If you book a gorilla safari earlier that is when you get an advantage to choose which region to trek in case the permits are still available but if you are do book a few months before the trekking day, you might miss out on trekking in the region of your choice. Gorilla trekking in all Bwindi sectors gives out the same experience and being around these apes is just one hour.
What to pack
To have a memorable gorilla safari in Bwindi, you should come with all the necessary essentials for the activity to be successful. Mountain gorillas live in thick forests at high altitudes and therefore the trekking exercise takes you through the steep slopes full of thick vegetation cover for 2-7 hours depending on the location of these apes. What you carry for gorilla trekking include long-sleeved pants, long-sleeved shirts, a rain jacket, sweater, a hat, sunscreen, waterproof hiking shoes, cotton stocks, a pair of gaiters, gardening gloves, insect repellents, sanitizer, facemask, drinking water bottle, and energy-giving snacks among others.
How to get there
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park can be accessed by both air transport and road transport. If you are using a local tour operator don’t worry about how you will get to the park because they have different safari vehicles that can transport you to the park. Travelers that want to get to Bwindi by air transport will have to inform their tour operator or the airline companies to book their seats to the park. Some of the airline companies that do flights to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park include Bar Aviation Uganda, Fly Uganda, and Aerolink Uganda among others.
When intending to have a gorilla trip in Bwindi, you need to think about where you will sleep on the days you will stay at the park. Well, where to stay in the park will base on your price and maybe choice. There are different accommodation facilities that are in different sectors of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and these range from budget to mid-range to luxury options. Travelers that are planning to organize the safari themselves should book accommodations that are in the sectors they are going to stay in.
Accommodation in Rushaga sector: Rushaga Gorilla Lodge, Four Gorillas Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Bwindi Jungle Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge, Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge, Nsongi Camp, Rushaga Gorilla Haven Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Resort, and Wagtail Eco Safari Lodge.
Accommodation in Nkuringo sector: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Heights Lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi Backpackers Lodge, Mutanda Eco Community Centre, Nshongi Camp, Crested Crane Bwindi Hotel, Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge, and Virunga Campsite.
Accommodation in Buhoma sector: Buhoma Lodge, Engagi Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi Forest Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Ride 4 Women Guest House, Silverback Lodge, Buhoma Rest Camp, Haven Lodge, and Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge.
Accommodation in Ruhija sector: Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, Ruhija Community Rest Camp, Bakiga Lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp, Broadbill Forest Camp, Agandi Lodge, Gift of Nature Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Cuckoo Land Tented Lodge, Ecomarvels Gorilla Lodge, and Trekkers Tavern.
Booking a gorilla permit in advance: When you decide to have a gorilla trip in Bwindi, you need to consider booking the permits in advance because the permits sell out quickly most especially if you are planning to visit the park in the dry season of June to September December to February. There are 152 mountain gorilla trekking permits and 8 gorilla habituation permits in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park which are few compared to the number of people that want to trek. A traveler should therefore contact a local tour operator or Uganda Wildlife Authority earlier in advance of 3-4 months to book the gorilla permits that will allow them to encounter mountain gorillas.
Booing a gorilla permit, you will contact a local tour operator or Uganda Wildlife Authority with the dates of the month and year you want to trek gorillas. This information shall be used to check if the permits are available and if they are available, you will be sent an email containing the price of the permit and different banking details which you will use to send the money. After you are done sending the money, you will send a scanned copy of the payment receipt and your permit shall be booked. If the permits are not available on the days you want then you will be asked to change to other dates.
Buy your gorilla permit
A gorilla permit is a document that will enable you to be allowed to encounter mountain gorillas. The gorilla permit is got from the Uganda Wildlife Authority or a tour operator at the same fee. The gorilla permit costs $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX250,000 for citizens of East Africa. A gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 foreign residents, and UGX750,000 citizens of East Africa.