What is the best time to trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi?
What is the best time to trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi? Gorilla trekking in Bwindi happens all throughout the year whether there is rainfall or sunshine. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has 2 seasons and each of the seasons is good depending on the travelers’ choice and preferences. Knowing the best time to trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi is key when planning a gorilla trekking safari.
Gorilla trekking in Dry season
The majority believe the best time to trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi is during the dry season. Uganda has two dry seasons and these happen in June, July, August, and September as well as December, January, and February. During the dry season, there is no rainfall although some days it can happen Bwindi being a tropical rain forest. The little or no rainfall at all leaves the trekking trails dry and this does not affect the speed of trekkers. In the dry season, there is short and thin vegetation cover in the park which give clear views of the apes and good photography. Lastly, during the dry season, the fact that roads leading to Bwindi are in good condition means you will reach the park in time and safely.
Most travelers tend to book gorilla trekking permits 3-4 months before the dry season starts in order to avoid last-minute booking disappointments. The gorilla trekking permits in the dry season sell out quickly because it’s when most travelers want to visit the park. Each of the 19 gorilla families in Bwindi is trekked by 8 people and each of the 2 families undergoing habituation is trekked by 4 people.
Mountain gorillas are closest relatives to human beings which is why most people come from different parts of the world to trek them and know more about their behaviors. The mountain gorillas are found in four national parks which are Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, Mgahinga gorilla park, Virunga national park, and volcanoes national park. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has the highest gorilla population and highest number of gorilla families.
The mountain gorillas of Bwindi can be found in 4 sectors of the park which are Nkuringo, Rushaga, Buhoma, and Ruhija. Bwindi is special from other national parks for having mountain gorilla families that are going through the habituation process. There are 2 mountain gorilla families going through habituation in Bwindi and these are Bikingi and Bushaho gorilla families in Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors.
Gorilla trekking in Rainy season
Apart from the dry season, travelers can trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi during the wet season. The dry season occurs in the months of March, April, May, October, and November. During such months, there is plenty of rainfall in the park and this delays the trekking activity sometimes. The trekking trails are muddy and slippery and this affects the speed of trekkers, the vegetation is wet and this giving unclear views of the park animals, and bad photography, and the roads leading to the park are not well constructed and they turn out to be impassable and these delay travel.
Trekking mountain gorillas in any of the seasons of the year let it be the dry season or rainy season, be assured of seeing mountain gorillas. It is very rare to encounter mountain gorillas during the trekking activity but in case it happens you will be refunded your money or given another day to trek in case you have time on the safari.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is done in 4 sectors of the park namely Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija, and Buhoma. Each of the sectors has its own briefing points where trekkers meet the park wardens for a briefing about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity. Trekkers must present their trekking permits to the wardens in order to be allowed to trek mountain gorillas. During the briefing, the trekkers are taught about the rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking activity before being grouped.
Armed ranger guides lead the trekking where they take trekkers through different trekking trails. In the process of trekking mountain gorillas, there are opportunities of meeting different park mammals, primates, and birds. When the trekkers meet the mountain gorilla family, they are given 1 hour or 4 hours to be around, watch the members do daily activities, take photos, and learn about their habits. Those going for habituation are given a chance to make the mountain gorillas get used to human presence.
What to pack for Bwindi gorilla safari?
The packing list for Bwindi gorilla safari includes waterproof hiking shoes, long-sleeved pants and shirts, a pair of gaiters, gardening gloves, a rain jacket, warm sweaters, a backpack, a camera, and extra batteries, a pair of binoculars, a hat, sunscreen, drinking water bottle, energy-giving snacks, insect repellents, face mask, and sanitizer.
Where to stay on a gorilla safari in Bwindi
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 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 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.