The top tourist attraction in Uganda is none other than Mountain Gorillas. Uganda tourism sector is the chief foreign exchange earner to Uganda and its on record that Mountain Gorilla trekking raises the flag higher per annum. Mountain gorilla trekking is done in two Gorilla parks namely:
- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Uganda is one of the most popular destinations where travelers can see the mountain gorillas in Uganda. Currently, the cost of Uganda gorilla permit goes up to US$700 making it the most expensive tourist activity in Uganda. More so, the most liked basing on the number of trekkers received per year.
Uganda is the ultimate destination for gorilla safaris since it offers gorilla permits at an incredibly lower fee if compared with Rwanda which sells its permit at US$1500 per person.
Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The popular Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the chief home of mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Often visited by tourists going on Uganda gorilla safaris, Bwindi Forest is situated in western Uganda and dominated with tropical rain forest and some bamboo skits in which Mountain Gorillas survive. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is divided into four Gorilla trekking sections namely:
- Nkuringo sector
- Rushaga sector
- Ruhija sector
- Buhoma sector
It should be noted that each gorilla trekking sector listed above receives at least a guest every day however, Buhoma sector receives more visitors per annum. It should also be noted that Buhoma is the oldest gorilla trekking sector and situated in northern part of Bwindi. It can be easily accessed from the side of Queen Elizabeth National Park so; you can combine the two parks on one trip.
Rushaga is famous for having majority habituated gorilla families and its not easy for fail to get a gorilla permit from this sector. With More than five habituated gorilla families, Rushaga sector can be easily accessed from Kampala to Kisoro and then to Rushaga.
Nkuringo sector is the second to be established in 2004, ten years after the opening of the Buhoma sector north of the park. Nkuringo is famous for hosting one of the most popular dominant silverbacks in Bwindi, Rafiki, who died at the hands of poachers during the June 2020 pandemic lockdown. Good news is that the killer was jailed for 11years.
Nkuringo sector is popular for the most challenging to reach and entertaining gorilla groups in Uganda. The land terrain is mountainous so trekkers are requested to gain some level of fitness to be able to reach gorilla families in their natural habitat.
Ruhija sector – Situated in Eastern region of Bwindi Forest – Ruhija sector is the most topographically diverse sector and is mainly used for scientific research. While at Ruhija gorilla sector for trekking, you can easily connect to Queen Elizabeth National Park where you can see the tree climbing lions en route.
As far as gorilla trekking is concerned, Bwindi has more than 10 habituated gorilla families and more semi-habituated making it the major home of majority of the world’s mountain Gorillas. Others are in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Virunga National Park and Volcanoes National Park.
Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is part of Virunga crescent and another home for Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is famous for protecting Nyakagezi gorilla family and many other semi-habituated gorillas.
Mgahinga is situated in far south western Uganda and was created in 1991 and covers an area of 33.9 km2 (13.1 sq mi). In other words, the smallest Gorilla Park in Uganda- followed by Lake Mburo National Park. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is mountainous in nature and conduct gorilla trekking every day.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the second option in case you miss to get gorilla permit in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Gorilla trekking permit remain the same in both parks and the experience is the same.
Nyakagezi Gorilla family used to be mobile however for the past three year, the gorilla family has been stable in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also offers a plat form for Golden Monkey trekking.
Best time to Trek Gorillas in Uganda
Though gorilla trekking is regarded as all year round, the best time to visit Uganda for gorilla trekking is during the country’s two dry seasons: January and February and from June to September.