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Frequently Asked Questions About Gorilla Trekking
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Frequently Asked Questions About Gorilla Trekking

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Mountain gorilla trekking has become a top priority for most travelers visiting Uganda or Rwanda for safari holiday experience. Much many bloggers and websotes have written about the gorilla trekking experience, many travelers still ask a variety of questions on how they can ensure that mountain gorilla trekking turns out to be a thrilling adventure as it is written about. Fortunately, Visit and Tour Rwanda brings you the most accurate answers to the frequently asked questions about gorilla trekking as presented below;

What exactly is Gorilla Trekking?

Many people are asking What is Gorilla Trekking? and the answer is simple:
Gorilla Trekking is the process of walking or hiking looking for Gorillas in their natural habitats. Gorillas live in the forests of the mountainous areas or lowland zones. Gorillas are considered to be a single species, with three categories including the mountain gorilla, the western lowland gorilla and the eastern lowland gorilla.

Gorilla Trekking involves the search for the endangered mountain gorillas that can only be found in the forests of Bwindi, Mgahinga, Volcanoes and Virunga National Park.

How much do gorilla permits cost?

Regarding the cost of a gorilla permit, every country where gorilla trekking is conducted has its own price. In Uganda, a gorilla permit costs USD$600 all year round where as Rwanda sells gorilla permits at USD$1500 and Congo gorilla permits cost USD$450. Despite the difference in the costing for the permits, tere is a unique way to experience gorilla trekking in each country. for comparisons about gorilla trekking in each country, you can find the full guide in our comparisons here

When is the best time to go for Gorilla Trekking?

Since the mountain gorillas live within the tropical rain forest with the slippery and muddy grounds, dry season is also the best time for gorilla trekking. This is also between the months of June to September and then December to February. However the mountain gorillas can also be trekked with in the wet season to make the tour more adventurous and more memorable. There is no guarantee that it won’t rain as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a tropical rain forest and its climate is influenced by micro conditions of the area. Therefore, the season and weather should not really determine when to visit for gorilla trekking. This can be done all year round!

How much do gorilla permits cost and what's included in the permit?

Regarding the cost of a gorilla permit, every country where gorilla trekking is conducted has its own price. In Uganda, a gorilla permit costs USD$600 all year round where as Rwanda sells gorilla permits at USD$1500 and Congo gorilla permits cost USD$450. Despite the difference in the costing for the permits, tere is a unique way to experience gorilla trekking in each country. for comparisons about gorilla trekking in each country, you can find the full guide in our comparisons here

What is included in the permit?

The permit is an inclusion of the park entrance fee, the money for the park rangers who guide during the trekking and other services in the national park except for the accommodation. This means that a permit covers the park entrance and the money for the Rangers.

How can one Book a Gorilla Permit?

You can book gorilla permits through your chosen professional tour operator. At Visit and Tour Rwanda, we make the gorilla permit booking for you and go ahead to arrange the entire gorilla safari. We pay for the permit at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a government body responsible for reservations and managing of national parks and wildlife reserves in Uganda. Booking of gorilla permits in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo is done in similar way.

When to book for a Gorilla permit?

It is worthwhile to book for a gorilla trekking permit at least 3 months in advance before the trip dates. Gorilla permits especially in Uganda are very competitive and are sold on first come, first serve basis, so early booking saves you from missing out on your life time safari dream.

What is the Dressing code for Gorilla Trekking?

Dressing right for trekking is very helpful for every trekker. This involves hiking boots for easy movements in the slippery grounds and bites by ground insects, long-sleeved shirts, panties and hand gloves for protection against thorny bushes and rush leaves, sunglasses, hats to protect from direct sun, rain jackets and warm light jackets to provide warmth in the cold forest weather and unpredictable rain showers. Once a trekker is properly dressed for the jungle, an extraordinary experience is assured.

How does gorilla trekking in Uganda Differ from Rwanda?

The experience of tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda is not so different. Besides, most tour companies like Visit and Tour Rwanda organize Uganda-Rwanda gorilla safaris on a joint itinerary to allow you to have the experience of gorilla tracking in both countries. However, there are very few differences and the main one is the difference in the price of a gorilla permit. A single gorilla permit in Rwanda costs $1500 for all travelers compared to Uganda’s $600 for foreign nonresidents, $500 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East Africa residents. Because of this therefore, trackers who are price conscious usually opt for Uganda. However, both countries have the same policies regarding mountain gorilla trekking including grouping trackers in groups of eight to track a single gorilla family, they both allocate one hour of tracking mountain gorilla and they both have the same rules and regulations while tracking gorillas.

Another noticeable difference is in the geography of the parks whereby Bwindi in Uganda is characterized with thick vegetation and with no clear trails while volcanoes national park in Rwanda is less thick and has got some clear tracking trails. The two parks together with Mgahinga all have a rugged terrain.

How does gorilla trekking in Uganda Differ from Rwanda?

The experience of tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda is not so different. Besides, most tour companies like Visit and Tour Rwanda organize Uganda-Rwanda gorilla safaris on a joint itinerary to allow you to have the experience of gorilla tracking in both countries. However, there are very few differences and the main one is the difference in the price of a gorilla permit. A single gorilla permit in Rwanda costs $1500 for all travelers compared to Uganda’s $600 for foreign nonresidents, $500 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East Africa residents. Because of this therefore, trackers who are price conscious usually opt for Uganda. However, both countries have the same policies regarding mountain gorilla trekking including grouping trackers in groups of eight to track a single gorilla family, they both allocate one hour of tracking mountain gorilla and they both have the same rules and regulations while tracking gorillas.

Another noticeable difference is in the geography of the parks whereby Bwindi in Uganda is characterized with thick vegetation and with no clear trails while volcanoes national park in Rwanda is less thick and has got some clear tracking trails. The two parks together with Mgahinga all have a rugged terrain.

Where do Mountain Gorillas live in Africa?

There are 900 mountain gorillas that are surviving in the world, these live in Uganda in bwindi impenetrable national park, in Volcanoes National park found in Rwanda, and in Mgahinga National park found in Uganda. The other mountain gorillas are found in Virunga National park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This also means that in order for one to enjoy the gorillas, must visit one of these destinations.

What is the age limit for gorilla trekking?

Only travelers aged 15 years and above are allowed to trek mountain gorillas. It’s a mandate that everyone below the age limit (15yrs) cannot be allowed to trek even when he/she has paid or has traveled with a group of other trekkers.

All travelers are advised to read carefully and understand all the above frequently asked questions about gorilla trekking and get appropriate answers before confirming any gorilla trip to Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. All travelers coming to see mountain gorillas should be aware of all the above for an enjoyable and memorable experience with no question unanswered and no interest unfulfilled.

How many days can I book for gorilla trekking?

For a perfect and memorable gorilla trekking experience? You will need at least three days to see the gorillas in Uganda. You may spare one day for travel to your accommodation, one day for the gorilla tracking itself and a third day for travel back or on wards, wherever you opt for.

While on your trekking adventure, you will need to be up very early on the day of the gorilla tracking and the day will be physically demanding, so you will need to arrive at your lodge by 6 or 7 PM on the day before you track. Note that it gets dark early on the Equator, and we only advise travelling in daylight hours, owing to the long distance and remoteness of your destination. Have an early night in preparedness for the next day.

In the evening after your tracking, kick back, relax and relive your adventure in one of the lodges near the gorilla tracking areas before travelling the next day, or even the day after. Combining gorilla tracking with some hiking, birdwatching or a safari are very popular options. The areas around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Virunga National Park offer fantastic forest walks, volcano hiking, birdwatching, canoeing and community tours.

How difficult is gorilla trekking?

Your curiosity and enthusiasm to track the mountain gorillas is the first engine that will keep you moving on. You must be willing to take on a hike in rough terrain and in any weather to see the gorillas in the wild. Even those who consider themselves very old and don’t think they are hikers or adventurous can also successfully visit the gorillas. This can be done through hiring personal assistants to carry your daypack also to assist you in difficult areas.

Besides, the parks’ management also works tirelessly to help you trek the gorillas successfully regardless of all your setbacks. This is done in many ways including assigning you to park guides and rangers to make it as easy as possible to track and photograph the gorillas and also ensure your security while in the wild.

Your contribution as a tracker to ensure a perfect and fantastic gorilla tracking experience is called up in what you need to carry for this trip including a pair of gloves and clothing that protects your arms and legs from thorns and nettles. You may also need to do a few workouts to ensure you have a good balance which is very helpful in gorilla tracking as trails may tend to e slippery at times.

How Safe is Gorilla Trekking?

The recommended distance between trackers and the gorillas is 7 meters although in most cases gorillas tend to abuse this rule by coming closer to you as you stand quietly observing or photographing them. However, you are always encouraged to maintain this distance by staying away from the gorillas and you are not allowed to touch them though it would be easy to do especially as they come closer to you.

Are the mountain gorillas dangerous?

Although mountain gorillas are wild animals just like the rest in the jungle, they are not potentially dangerous. They are not aggressive or prone to be angered by tourists and they always seem to ignore them completely even when they are in their midst. However, you should not try to get in-between a mother and a baby or tease them, don’t use a flashlight, make distracting noises or move quickly as all these actions are deemed provocative to these endangered species.

Can I trek gorillas from Kigali?

It is now possible to trek Uganda or Bwindi gorillas through Rwanda by flying through Kigali International airport. By flying through Kigali International Airport, one is able to reduce the drive time to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park  to 5-6 hours compared to if one uses Entebbe International Airport where the drive time is 8-9 and sometimes 10 hours from Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. With the introduction of the East African tourist visa, one can now visit both Uganda and Rwanda without hassle. The good news also is that one can now apply for Rwanda Visa upon arrival something that is making the process of obtaining Rwanda visa easy. East African tourist visa costs USD100.00 and allows you to visit three east African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Uganda. Contact Visit and Tour Rwanda for details about Bwindi gorilla safaris through Kigali Airport.

Where to stay on a gorilla safari?

There is a variety of accommodation facilities around all the parks where the gorillas are found in Uganda and Rwanda. Accommodation ranges from luxury, mid-range and budget hotels/lodges/camps to cater for all classes of travelers on gorilla safaris. Fortunately, we also offer additional services like vehicles, airport transfers, and other safari services to help you reach your lodging area quicker and safely while on your safari excursion.

What else to do after trekking the gorillas?

Uganda has got a lot to offer to her visitors including wonderful cultural tours, game viewing and game drives in her large wildlife parks and spectacular birding experience. When it comes to birds, Uganda may be the best safari country in Africa for a large variety of bird species and great birding safari habitats. Uganda’s determined birders usually see more than 400 species on a 2 weeks Uganda birding safari. While on your Uganda mountain gorilla safari or birding safari trip, you are likely to see many other primate species including golden monkeys and chimpanzees.

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