While South Africa has no shortage of beautiful destinations to explore, going on an authentic safari in the unspoiled African bushveld should undoubtedly be at the top of every traveler’s bucket-list. From the unapologetic natural beauty of the African wilderness, diverse landscapes, nature reserves, National Parks, and protected ecosystems, to thrilling wildlife encounters and spectacular birdlife sightings, South Africa offers an unparalleled African safari and wildlife experience.

Here are the top 10 best private game reserves in South Africa to add to your African safari bucket-list.

The African continent is renowned for its once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings and encounters. However, few are as highly sought-after as Rwanda where avid wildlife enthusiasts from across the world have the opportunity of witnessing Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat. In fact, Rwanda is deemed the best place in Africa to engage in what is arguably the world’s single most powerful wildlife experience and thrilling wildlife encounter – tracking mountain gorillas through the steep bamboo and forest-swathed slopes of the Virunga Mountains.

This Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Guide Includes:

  • What is Gorilla Trekking?
  • Best Time of the Year for Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
  • What Is The Trek Like In Rwanda?
  • How Difficult is Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda?
  • How to Book Gorilla Trekking Permits in Rwanda
  • Rwanda is Best for Traveler Types Who…
  • Best Places To See Gorillas In The Wild

How To Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

The African continent is renowned for its once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings and encounters. However, few are as highly sought-after (or as frequently featured on traveler bucket lists) as coming face-to-face with Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat.

Listed as one of Africa’s critically endangered species, there are approximately 1000 mountain gorillas left in the wild. These mountain gorillas can be found in the area known as the Virunga Mountains, and live in:

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
  • Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
  • Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to nearly half the planet’s remaining mountain gorillas. Carefully protected in the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi, this esteemed national park is one of only three places in the world where travelers can see these remarkable and rare critically endangered mountain gorillas in the wild.

WHAT IS GORILLA TREKKING?

How To Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

Imagine this: You follow a narrow hiking trail through the lushness of a tropical rainforest, wiping sweat from your eyes and feeling grateful for your hiking gaiters. Suddenly, a tracker returns from scouting ahead and excitedly halts your group – it’s time to move forward, slowly, with nothing but your camera and the thrill of anticipation. Grinning, your guide turns and whispers the words you’ve been longing to hear: ‘There they are’.

How To Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking is an extraordinary bucket-list worthy adventure where you hike, bushwhack, and trek deep into Africa’s Virunga conservation region and Bwindi impenetrable forest in search of rare mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Trekking into their native forests is the only way to see these critically endangered gorillas, as they cannot survive in captivity. Trekking for gorillas in Africa’s emerald rainforests and observing the everyday interactions of these vulnerable primates is arguably one of life’s greatest privileges and most powerful wildlife experiences.

Follow gorilla families as they go about their daily lives. Observe how a mother tenderly feeds her young while being cognisant of the cautious stare from a 200kg (440lbs) silverback as he keeps a protective eye over his troop. Locking eyes with a distant relative is a profound experience that makes spending time with gorillas in Africa an unsurpassable wildlife encounter.

Gorilla trekking is best early in the morning. Typically trackers who know the gorillas well will head off into the jungle at first light to look for their gorilla family. Once they find them, they will radio through to the rangers, who will be waiting for you at the start point – This is when the gorilla trekking adventure begins!

There are a number of different gorilla families you can visit, living in various areas around the Virunga Mountains. In Uganda there are 19 habituated (meaning they are used to humans) gorilla families in Bwindi and 1 in Mgahinga. In Rwanda there are approximately 10 habituated gorilla families.

**Important Note: In order for you to go gorilla trekking in Uganda and/or Rwanda you need to apply for a gorilla trekking permit. These permits can be rather costly. The cost of a gorilla trekking permit various from one country to the next.

BEST TIME OF THE YEAR FOR GORILLA TREKKING IN RWANDA

  • Best time: Rwanda’s Dry Months | June – September | December – February

How To Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is deemed one of the top year-round wildlife experiences in Africa. Despite it being an incredible experience year-round, Rwanda’s dry seasons are without a doubt the best time to go gorilla trekking.

Rwanda’s long rainy season lasts from about March to May. The long dry season then kicks off in June and lasts until about mid-September – this is generally the preferred time to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda. October to November sees a shorter rainy season, which is followed by a brief dry season from December to February. This is also a good time to see gorillas in Rwanda.

Rwanda’s dry seasons also offer travelers much easier hiking conditions as well as the lowest risk of malaria.

WHAT IS THE TREK LIKE IN RWANDA?

How To Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

As Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is substantially smaller than Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, the mountain gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda is generally shorter and less difficult; however, Volcanoes National Park is at a higher elevation.

**Extra Tip: Rwanda is a little more open and therefore it is easier to get a good view.

HOW DIFFICULT IS GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA & RWANDA?

How To Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

While extremely exhilarating, gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda can be pretty tough. The trekking journey can become incredibly challenging, especially if the gorillas are constantly on the move. Mountain gorillas are remarkably fast and move through the jungle with great ease and speed, so trying to keep up with them takes quite some effort. For this reason, a moderate to high level of fitness is typically required to take on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

If you’re not exactly in tip-top gorilla trekking shape and your fitness level isn’t quite where it needs to be, you can request at the gate to be put in a group that will be trekking one of the nearer gorilla families. While it’s not always possible, it is certainly worth asking.

Regardless of your fitness level, it is important to keep in mind that you are literally trekking ‘through’ the jungle (which in itself is beyond impressive and an INCREDIBLE feat), with the rangers sometimes having to navigate and cut their way through in order to create a path. You need to remember that these are called ‘mountain’ gorillas for a reason and the terrain is pretty steep and can be slippery, especially in the rainy season. Good hiking shoes/boots are essential.

If you need help or require some assistance, you can hire porters to help you either by carrying your bag / bags, providing you with support, or assist you in navigating the hard and challenging sections of the trek.

If you have limited mobility, you can also hire a ‘gorilla chair’ and the porters can carry you through the jungle on your gorilla trekking journey – There is absolutely no reason why anyone, irrespective of their abilities, should miss out on this truly extraordinary experience.

WHICH IS BETTER FOR GORILLA TREKKING – UGANDA OR RWANDA?

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Both Uganda and Rwanda are renowned for their bucket-list worthy gorilla trekking experiences, offering visitors spectacular sightings of these remarkable and critically endangered mountain gorillas in the wild.

However, in the great Uganda vs. Rwanda Mountain Gorilla battle, Rwanda claims the title of being Africa’s most accessible gorilla trekking destination. Not only is Rwanda smaller than Uganda (which means there is less square footage for the mountain gorillas to roam), the mountain gorillas in Rwanda are deemed easier to trek, spot, and get to than the Ugandan mountain gorillas. Rwanda also has more than twice the number of habituated mountain gorilla groups than Uganda and so permits are generally more easily available.

**Important Note: In order for you to go gorilla trekking in Uganda and/or Rwanda you need to apply for a gorilla trekking permit. These permits can be rather costly. The cost of a gorilla trekking permit various from one country to the next.

HOW TO BOOK GORILLA TREKKING PERMITS IN RWANDA

How To Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

 

In order to apply for and book your gorilla trekking permits independently, you can do so through the following channels.

You can arrange, purchase, and secure your Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Permit independently via the IREMBO website. Alternatively, you can email the Rwandan Development Board on [email protected].

Similar to Uganda, if you are booking your Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permit via a company or on a tour, your chosen tour operator will navigate the entire process for you.

RWANDA IS BEST FOR TRAVELER TYPES WHO…

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

If you have limited time to travel, then Rwanda is exactly where you need to go to see gorillas in Africa. You can simply land in Kigali, be driven to your lodge, go mountain gorilla trekking the next day and leave for the airport the following morning. This way it’s possible for you to wrap up your gorilla trekking trip in five days or less.

Best Places To See Gorillas In The Wild

How To Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

Here is a guide outlining where the best places in Africa are to see gorillas in the wild:

Uganda

Rwanda

Congo

Gorilla Species Mountain gorillas Mountain gorillas Western lowland gorillas
Best gorilla trekking destination Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Volcanoes National Park Odzala-Kokoua National Park
Best time to go All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February
Trekking time Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families
Trekking terrain Hiking at altitude through thick forested slopes Hiking at altitude through thick forested slopes Hiking on ground level through thick rainforest
Time allowed with gorillas (excluding trekking time) 1 Hour 1 Hour 1 Hour

This Uganda Gorilla Trekking Guide Includes:

  • What is Gorilla Trekking?
  • Best Time of the Year for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
  • What Is The Trek Like In Uganda?
  • How Difficult is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda?
  • How to Book Gorilla Trekking Permits in Uganda
  • Uganda is Best for Traveler Types Who…
  • Best Places To See Gorillas In The Wild

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

The African continent is renowned for its once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings and encounters. However, few are as highly sought-after (or as frequently featured on traveler bucket lists) as coming face-to-face with Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat.

Listed as one of Africa’s critically endangered species, there are approximately 1000 mountain gorillas left in the wild. These mountain gorillas can be found in the area known as the Virunga Mountains, and live in:

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
  • Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
  • Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to nearly half the planet’s remaining mountain gorillas. Carefully protected in the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi, this esteemed national park is one of only three places in the world where travelers can see these remarkable and rare critically endangered mountain gorillas in the wild.

What is Gorilla Trekking?

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Imagine this: You follow a narrow hiking trail through the lushness of a tropical rainforest, wiping sweat from your eyes and feeling grateful for your hiking gaiters. Suddenly, a tracker returns from scouting ahead and excitedly halts your group – it’s time to move forward, slowly, with nothing but your camera and the thrill of anticipation. Grinning, your guide turns and whispers the words you’ve been longing to hear: ‘There they are’.

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking is an extraordinary bucket-list worthy adventure where you hike, bushwhack, and trek deep into Africa’s Virunga conservation region and Bwindi impenetrable forest in search of rare mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Trekking into their native forests is the only way to see these critically endangered gorillas, as they cannot survive in captivity. Trekking for gorillas in Africa’s emerald rainforests and observing the everyday interactions of these vulnerable primates is arguably one of life’s greatest privileges and most powerful wildlife experiences.

Follow gorilla families as they go about their daily lives. Observe how a mother tenderly feeds her young while being cognisant of the cautious stare from a 200kg (440lbs) silverback as he keeps a protective eye over his troop. Locking eyes with a distant relative is a profound experience that makes spending time with gorillas in Africa an unsurpassable wildlife encounter.

Gorilla trekking is best early in the morning. Typically trackers who know the gorillas well will head off into the jungle at first light to look for their gorilla family. Once they find them, they will radio through to the rangers, who will be waiting for you at the start point – This is when the gorilla trekking adventure begins!

There are a number of different gorilla families you can visit, living in various areas around the Virunga Mountains. In Uganda there are 19 habituated (meaning they are used to humans) gorilla families in Bwindi and 1 in Mgahinga. In Rwanda there are approximately 10 habituated gorilla families.

**Important Note: In order for you to go gorilla trekking in Uganda and/or Rwanda you need to apply for a gorilla trekking permit. These permits can be rather costly. The cost of a gorilla trekking permit various from one country to the next.

Best Time of the Year for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

  • Best time: Uganda’s Dry Months | June – September | December – February
  • Budget-conscious: Uganda’s Low Season | March – May | October – November

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Uganda experiences two dry and two wet seasons in a year. Although a Uganda gorilla trekking expedition is considered a year-round activity, most visitors and wildlife enthusiasts prefer the drier months of June to September and December to February, when trekking conditions are more favorable.

However, as gorilla trekking in the forests of Uganda are great, and equally thrilling, right throughout the year, many travelers prefer to visit Uganda during its low season – March to May and October to November. Not only will you be able to tick an unforgettable gorilla trekking experience off your bucket-list, but Uganda’s parks are less crowded and accommodation facilities are far more affordable due to the fewer visitors during the low season.

Uganda’s low season is regarded as the best time for budget-conscious visitors interested in a Uganda gorilla trekking trip.

What Is The Trek Like In Uganda?

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

As the mountain gorillas cover large territories in Uganda tracking time can vary greatly from day to day. The time it takes to trek gorillas is completely unpredictable and can take anywhere from one hour to nine hours or in some cases even longer.

**Extra Tip: Be sure to communicate your fitness level to your tour operator so they can recommend the best trek based on endurance.

How Difficult is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda?

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

While extremely exhilarating, gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda can be pretty tough. The trekking journey can become incredibly challenging, especially if the gorillas are constantly on the move. Mountain gorillas are remarkably fast and move through the jungle with great ease and speed, so trying to keep up with them takes quite some effort. For this reason, a moderate to high level of fitness is typically required to take on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

If you’re not exactly in tip-top gorilla trekking shape and your fitness level isn’t quite where it needs to be, you can request at the gate to be put in a group that will be trekking one of the nearer gorilla families. While it’s not always possible, it is certainly worth asking.

Regardless of your fitness level, it is important to keep in mind that you are literally trekking ‘through’ the jungle (which in itself is beyond impressive and an INCREDIBLE feat), with the rangers sometimes having to navigate and cut their way through in order to create a path. You need to remember that these are called ‘mountain’ gorillas for a reason and the terrain is pretty steep and can be slippery, especially in the rainy season. Good hiking shoes/boots are essential.

If you need help or require some assistance, you can hire porters to help you either by carrying your bag / bags, providing you with support, or assist you in navigating the hard and challenging sections of the trek.

If you have limited mobility, you can also hire a ‘gorilla chair’ and the porters can carry you through the jungle on your gorilla trekking journey – There is absolutely no reason why anyone, irrespective of their abilities, should miss out on this truly extraordinary experience.

How to Book Gorilla Trekking Permits in Uganda

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

The only way to book, purchase, and obtain your Uganda Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permit is via the Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA). This can either be done in person at the office in Kampala, via email or telephone. Once your permit is confirmed, you will need to make a bank transfer to the UWA to secure your permit.

In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, there are 4 locations, Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo, so just be aware that it is best to book your permit close to where you will stay (as it’s quite far and expensive to travel between locations, especially as the treks start at 8am).

They only issue permits from the Kampala office, so if you are booking your permit independently / by yourself, you will need to pick up your permits in Kampala. This is fine unless you were planning on flying into Kigali. If that’s the case, it will require you to travel far out of your way in order to collect your permit from Kampala. For this reason, you’re best flying into Entebbe and/or passing through Kampala overland.

If you are booking your Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permit via a company or on a tour, this won’t be an issue as they will pick up your permits for you.

Uganda is Best for Traveler Types Who…

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Where lions stalk their prey through grasslands, hippos soak lazily in the shallows, mountain gorillas move purposefully though tangled forests, and calm waters of Lake Victoria transform into the thundering rapids of the River Nile as it makes its way across Africa – Uganda is a country and wildlife safari destination unlike any other.

It offers wildlife enthusiasts and adventure travelers the opportunity to go on a thrilling Uganda gorilla trekking adventure as well as enjoy an exciting safari experience in one of Africa’s best wildlife and safari destinations – Experience the very best of both worlds and the greatest Uganda has to offer.

**Added bonus: Thanks to Uganda’s low cost of trekking permits, it’s a great choice for travellers looking for budget-friendly options to see gorillas in Africa.

Best Places To See Gorillas In The Wild

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Here is a guide outlining where the best places in Africa are to see gorillas in the wild:

Uganda

Rwanda

Congo

Gorilla Species Mountain gorillas Mountain gorillas Western lowland gorillas
Best gorilla trekking destination Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Volcanoes National Park Odzala-Kokoua National Park
Best time to go All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February
Trekking time Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families
Trekking terrain Hiking at altitude through thick forested slopes Hiking at altitude through thick forested slopes Hiking on ground level through thick rainforest
Time allowed with gorillas (excluding trekking time) 1 Hour 1 Hour 1 Hour

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

The African continent is renowned for its once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings and encounters. However, few are as highly sought-after (or as frequently featured on traveler bucket lists) as coming face-to-face with Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat.

Listed as one of Africa’s critically endangered species, there are approximately 1000 mountain gorillas left in the wild. These mountain gorillas can be found in the area known as the Virunga Mountains, and live in:

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
  • Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
  • Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to nearly half the planet’s remaining mountain gorillas. Carefully protected in the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi, this esteemed national park is one of only three places in the world where travelers can see these remarkable and rare critically endangered mountain gorillas in the wild.

The Virunga Mountains is essentially the point where the boundaries of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) meet. Each country has its own national park in the Virungas, including the Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and Virunga National Park. Of these, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is considered the best option for gorilla trekking.

What is Gorilla Trekking?

 

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

Imagine this: You follow a narrow hiking trail through the lushness of a tropical rainforest, wiping sweat from your eyes and feeling grateful for your hiking gaiters. Suddenly, a tracker returns from scouting ahead and excitedly halts your group – it’s time to move forward, slowly, with nothing but your camera and the thrill of anticipation. Grinning, your guide turns and whispers the words you’ve been longing to hear: ‘There they are’.

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking is an extraordinary bucket-list worthy adventure where you hike, bushwhack, and trek deep into Africa’s Virunga conservation region and Bwindi impenetrable forest in search of rare mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Trekking into their native forests is the only way to see these critically endangered gorillas, as they cannot survive in captivity. Trekking for gorillas in Africa’s emerald rainforests and observing the everyday interactions of these vulnerable primates is arguably one of life’s greatest privileges and most powerful wildlife experiences.

Follow gorilla families as they go about their daily lives. Observe how a mother tenderly feeds her young while being cognisant of the cautious stare from a 200kg (440lbs) silverback as he keeps a protective eye over his troop. Locking eyes with a distant relative is a profound experience that makes spending time with gorillas in Africa an unsurpassable wildlife encounter.

Gorilla trekking is best early in the morning. Typically trackers who know the gorillas well will head off into the jungle at first light to look for their gorilla family. Once they find them, they will radio through to the rangers, who will be waiting for you at the start point – This is when the gorilla trekking adventure begins!

There are a number of different gorilla families you can visit, living in various areas around the Virunga Mountains. In Uganda there are 19 habituated (meaning they are used to humans) gorilla families in Bwindi and 1 in Mgahinga. In Rwanda there are approximately 10 habituated gorilla families.

**Important Note: In order for you to go gorilla trekking in Uganda and/or Rwanda you need to apply for a gorilla trekking permit. These permits can be rather costly. The cost of a gorilla trekking permit various from one country to the next.

Best Places To See Gorillas In The Wild

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

Here is a guide outlining where the best places in Africa are to see gorillas in the wild:

Uganda

Rwanda

Congo

Gorilla Species Mountain gorillas Mountain gorillas Western lowland gorillas
Best gorilla trekking destination Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Volcanoes National Park Odzala-Kokoua National Park
Best time to go All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February
Trekking time Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families
Trekking terrain Hiking at altitude through thick forested slopes Hiking at altitude through thick forested slopes Hiking on ground level through thick rainforest
Time allowed with gorillas (excluding trekking time) 1 Hour 1 Hour 1 Hour

Best Time of the Year for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

  • Best time: Uganda’s Dry Months | June – September | December – February
  • Budget-conscious: Uganda’s Low Season | March – May | October – November

Uganda experiences two dry and two wet seasons in a year. Although a Uganda gorilla trekking expedition is considered a year-round activity, most visitors and wildlife enthusiasts prefer the drier months of June to September and December to February, when trekking conditions are more favorable.

However, as gorilla trekking in the forests of Uganda are great, and equally thrilling, right throughout the year, many travelers prefer to visit Uganda during its low season – March to May and October to November. Not only will you be able to tick an unforgettable gorilla trekking experience off your bucket-list, but Uganda’s parks are less crowded and accommodation facilities are far more affordable due to the fewer visitors during the low season.

Uganda’s low season is regarded as the best time for budget-conscious visitors interested in a Uganda gorilla trekking trip.

Best Time of the Year for Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

  • Best time: Rwanda’s Dry Months | June – September | December – February

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is deemed one of the top year-round wildlife experiences in Africa. Despite it being an incredible experience year-round, Rwanda’s dry seasons are without a doubt the best time to go gorilla trekking.

Rwanda’s long rainy season lasts from about March to May. The long dry season then kicks off in June and lasts until about mid-September – this is generally the preferred time to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda. October to November sees a shorter rainy season, which is followed by a brief dry season from December to February. This is also a good time to see gorillas in Rwanda.

Rwanda’s dry seasons also offer travelers much easier hiking conditions as well as the lowest risk of malaria.

What Is The Trek Like In Uganda?

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

As the mountain gorillas cover large territories in Uganda tracking time can vary greatly from day to day. The time it takes to trek gorillas is completely unpredictable and can take anywhere from one hour to nine hours or in some cases even longer.

**Extra Tip: Be sure to communicate your fitness level to your tour operator so they can recommend the best trek based on endurance.

What Is The Trek Like In Rwanda?

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

As Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is substantially smaller than Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, the mountain gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda is generally shorter and less difficult; however, Volcanoes National Park is at a higher elevation.

**Extra Tip: Rwanda is a little more open and therefore it is easier to get a good view.

How Difficult is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda?

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

 

While extremely exhilarating, gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda can be pretty tough. The trekking journey can become incredibly challenging, especially if the gorillas are constantly on the move. Mountain gorillas are remarkably fast and move through the jungle with great ease and speed, so trying to keep up with them takes quite some effort. For this reason, a moderate to high level of fitness is typically required to take on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

If you’re not exactly in tip-top gorilla trekking shape and your fitness level isn’t quite where it needs to be, you can request at the gate to be put in a group that will be trekking one of the nearer gorilla families. While it’s not always possible, it is certainly worth asking.

Regardless of your fitness level, it is important to keep in mind that you are literally trekking ‘through’ the jungle (which in itself is beyond impressive and an INCREDIBLE feat), with the rangers sometimes having to navigate and cut their way through in order to create a path. You need to remember that these are called ‘mountain’ gorillas for a reason and the terrain is pretty steep and can be slippery, especially in the rainy season. Good hiking shoes/boots are essential.

If you need help or require some assistance, you can hire porters to help you either by carrying your bag / bags, providing you with support, or assist you in navigating the hard and challenging sections of the trek.

If you have limited mobility, you can also hire a ‘gorilla chair’ and the porters can carry you through the jungle on your gorilla trekking journey – There is absolutely no reason why anyone, irrespective of their abilities, should miss out on this truly extraordinary experience.

Which Is Better For Gorilla Trekking – Uganda or Rwanda?

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

Both Uganda and Rwanda are renowned for their bucket-list worthy gorilla trekking experiences, offering visitors spectacular sightings of these remarkable and critically endangered mountain gorillas in the wild.

However, in the great Uganda vs. Rwanda Mountain Gorilla battle, Rwanda claims the title of being Africa’s most accessible gorilla trekking destination. Not only is Rwanda smaller than Uganda (which means there is less square footage for the mountain gorillas to roam), the mountain gorillas in Rwanda are deemed easier to trek, spot, and get to than the Ugandan mountain gorillas. Rwanda also has more than twice the number of habituated mountain gorilla groups than Uganda and so permits are generally more easily available.

**Important Note: In order for you to go gorilla trekking in Uganda and/or Rwanda you need to apply for a gorilla trekking permit. These permits can be rather costly. The cost of a gorilla trekking permit various from one country to the next.

How to Book Gorilla Trekking Permits in Uganda & Rwanda

In order to apply for and book your gorilla trekking permits independently, you can do so through the following channels.

Uganda

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

The only way to book, purchase, and obtain your Uganda Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permit is via the Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA). This can either be done in person at the office in Kampala, via email or telephone. Once your permit is confirmed, you will need to make a bank transfer to the UWA to secure your permit.

In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, there are 4 locations, Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo, so just be aware that it is best to book your permit close to where you will stay (as it’s quite far and expensive to travel between locations, especially as the treks start at 8am).

They only issue permits from the Kampala office, so if you are booking your permit independently / by yourself, you will need to pick up your permits in Kampala. This is fine unless you were planning on flying into Kigali. If that’s the case, it will require you to travel far out of your way in order to collect your permit from Kampala. For this reason, you’re best flying into Entebbe and/or passing through Kampala overland.

If you are booking your Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permit via a company or on a tour, this won’t be an issue as they will pick up your permits for you.

Rwanda

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

You can arrange, purchase, and secure your Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Permit independently via the IREMBO website. Alternatively, you can email the Rwandan Development Board on [email protected].

Similar to Uganda, if you are booking your Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permit via a company or on a tour, your chosen tour operator will navigate the entire process for you.

Uganda is Best for Traveler Types Who…

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

Where lions stalk their prey through grasslands, hippos soak lazily in the shallows, mountain gorillas move purposefully though tangled forests, and calm waters of Lake Victoria transform into the thundering rapids of the River Nile as it makes its way across Africa – Uganda is a country and wildlife safari destination unlike any other.

It offers wildlife enthusiasts and adventure travelers the opportunity to go on a thrilling Uganda gorilla trekking adventure as well as enjoy an exciting safari experience in one of Africa’s best wildlife and safari destinations – Experience the very best of both worlds and the greatest Uganda has to offer.

**Added bonus: Thanks to Uganda’s low cost of trekking permits, it’s a great choice for travelers looking for budget-friendly options to see gorillas in Africa.

Rwanda is Best for Traveler Types Who…

How to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

If you have limited time to travel, then Rwanda is exactly where you need to go to see gorillas in Africa. You can simply land in Kigali, be driven to your lodge, go mountain gorilla trekking the next day and leave for the airport the following morning. This way it’s possible for you to wrap up your gorilla trekking trip in five days or less.

Uganda is home to an incredible variety of national parks, sanctuaries, and reserves, a remarkable diversity of wildlife, and is deemed a strong contender for one of the world’s best bird watching destinations. Undoubtedly making it one of Africa’s top safari and travel destinations amongst avid wildlife and birdlife enthusiasts, ardent adventurers, globe trotters, and eager travelers.

Boasting a vast and diverse array of landscapes, including fertile and thriving wetlands, swamps, sparkling lakes, tropical forests, open grasslands, volcanic craters, woodlands, sprawling savannahs, rolling green hills, misty valleys and craggy mountains, its nothing quite like anything you’ve seen before.

Where lions stalk their prey through grasslands, hippos soak lazily in the shallows, mountain gorillas move purposefully though tangled forests, and calm waters of Lake Victoria transform into the thundering rapids of the River Nile as it makes its way across Africa – Uganda is a country and wildlife safari destination unlike any other.

Less well-known, less-well travelled, but no less enchanting than its East African neighbors, Uganda is a country full of surprises and unbelievable highlights – All just waiting to be explored and discovered!

Here are some of the top things to do in Uganda you should absolutely add to your bucket-list.

#Go Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Top Things To Do In Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to nearly half the planet’s remaining mountain gorillas – the highest population in the world – undeniably making going gorilla trekking in this highly esteemed East African national park a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list experience.

To make this experience even more thrilling, the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi is one of only three places in the world where travelers can see these remarkable and critically endangered primates in the wild.

Despite the fact that witnessing these magnificent mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is incredibly rare, considering their limited numbers, going gorilla trekking in Bwindi is regraded as one of the most sought-atter experiences and top tourist attraction in Uganda.

There is absolutely no exaggeration in gorilla trekking as life-altering as the one you’ll experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In fact, it is regarded as one of Africa’s (although some may go as far as to say the world’s) most powerful wildlife experiences and sought-after safari adventures.

#See Tree-Climbing Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Top Things To Do In Uganda

Declared the best national park in Uganda, largely due to its incredible wildlife diversity, Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to approximately 95 species of mammals, 20 predators, a large population of chimpanzees, and a whopping 611 species of birds.

In addition to being crowned the best national park in Uganda, undoubtedly making it one of Uganda’s top tourist attractions and one of the most visited National Parks in the country, it is also the second largest and most biodiverse national park in Uganda.

Renowned for its abundant and amazing safari and wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park’s standout wildlife highlight is undeniably its extraordinary tree-climbing lions.

The interesting, yet wonderful, thing about this breathtaking wildlife attraction and not-to-be-missed sighting is that Queen Elizabeth National Park’s famous tree-climbing lions are not some sort of unique, magical, and mysterious subspecies of lion – Although, we must admit, it would be pretty cool and remarkable if that was the case. The truth is, all lions are able to climb trees, but what sets the iconic Queen Elizabeth National Park apart from all the rest is that it just so happens to have an abundance of very climbable trees, paired with prides of lions who aren’t slow to take advantage of the glorious opportunity to go wild and climb trees to their heart’s desire.

It is said that besides Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, there is only one other place in Africa where you can witness these pristine tree-climbing lions. This not only makes it a rare and truly remarkable sight, but one of the very top things to do in Uganda.

**Extra Tip: To see the tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park, simply drive to the Ishasha sector of the park. Ask every car you pass if they’ve seen a lion, and keep your eyes peeled!

**Extra Bonus: Besides the already extraordinary opportunity to see the tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park in their natural habitat, one of the best things / additional perks about lions in trees is that they are much easier to spot and photograph. Hidden in tall, dry grasses at ground level, a lion is virtually invisible (we’re all familiar with the endless search of a lion pride, or even a single lion, lounging or hiding in what seems to be a never-ending stretch of tall dry grass, only to be left disappointed), but up in a tree, these powerful roaring mammals of the African Big 5 are on full display for all to see.

#Go on a Kazinga Channel Boat Trip

Top Things To Do In Uganda

While you’re in Queen Elizabeth National Park it would be a major mistake and missed opportunity not to do a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel. The Kazinga Channel is a 20-mile-long shallow river that flows between Lake George and Lake Edward, and is known to attract various incredible wildlife and birdlife species. Animals of all shapes and sizes come down to the water’s edge to drink and bathe. On any given day you’re guaranteed to see everything from chimpanzees, hippos (*Queen Elizabeth National Park is recognized for having the largest concentration of hippos in the world), and buffalos, to large prides of lions, and massive herds of elephants.

One of the greatest pleasures of wildlife spotting by boat is that the animals seem entirely unbothered by its presence, meaning that you are able to get much closer than you might be able to by car. This guarantees some of the most spectacular up-close wildlife sightings and encounters.

On a sunny day a lazy boat journey down any river is a wonderful thing, but when you add Queen Elizabeth National Park’s remarkable, and vastly diverse wildlife to the mix going on a Kazinga Channel boat trip is without a doubt one of the top things to do in Uganda – Not to mention absolutely thrilling and bucket-list worthy.

#Track & See Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

Top Things To Do In Uganda

Kibale Forest National Park, in southern Uganda, forms a massive wildlife corridor with Queen Elizabeth National Park. Boasting a mixture of tropical rainforest, swamp, and grasslands, Kibale Forest National Park, together with Queen Elizabeth National Park, supports Africa’s largest population of chimpanzees along with at least a dozen other primate species, including colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, and de Brazza monkeys. This makes it a top destination for those wanting to trek primates, including gorillas.

In addition to Kibale Forest National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park, several of Uganda’s parks and forests have habituated chimpanzee families over the years.

Embarking on a chimpanzee tracking experience can either be a half or full day adventure. This thrilling experience involves hiking through the forest to find a group / family of chimpanzees, before spending time observing them in the wild. If you’re lucky enough to get close to them, it will undoubtedly be an experience you’ll never forget. Trekking chimpanzees in Uganda’s wild forests is definitely one of the top things to do in Uganda.

#Explore Murchison Falls National Park

Top Things To Do In Uganda

Covering a massive 4000 square kilometres / approximately 1,500 square miles, the famed Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest national park. Located in the northwestern part of the country (sitting on the shores of Lake Albert), Murchison Falls National Park includes the famed Rabonga Forest, as well as the Nile River.

By far one of Murchison Falls National Park’s top and highly sought-after attractions (other than its exceptionally diverse and abundant wildlife and birdlife), is what is regarded as the most powerful waterfall in the world – The Murchison Falls.

The acclaimed Murchison Falls is where the River Nile (the world’s longest river), squeezes its entire force through a tiny 6-metre crack and plunges over a 43-metre drop at 300 cubic metres per second. Irrespective of the thundering noise / sound, it is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most impressive, commanding, and awe-inspiring sights to behold.

As a surprise to absolutely nobody, it goes without saying that seeing this breathtaking natural wonder unfold before your eyes puts it right up there with the top things to do in Uganda of all time.

**Extra Tip: There are essentially two ways to see Murchison Falls – and we highly recommend you do both of course:

  • Firstly, take an exciting boat trip along the Nile in order to see the bottom of the Murchison Falls. This gives you the opportunity to see the Falls front on and from an entirely different perspective / point of view.
  • Secondly, depending on your fitness level and/or preference, you can choose to either hike up to the top, or alternatively take the boat back and drive to the top of the Murchison Falls to see the churning, tumbling water up close | **There is NO denying that the most magnificent and dramatic view of the Murchison Falls in full force is at the very top of the falls, where the sight and sounds of the Nile crashing through a tiny 6-metre-wide chasm makes for an unforgettable assault on your neural senses – It is an unforgettable experience unlike any other.

Bisected by the Victoria Nile, Murchison Falls National Park offers travelers and avid adventurers both land and water safaris. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy a boat cruise / water safari along the Nile and get up close to bathing elephants, water buffalo and massive hippos. As well as embark on a thrilling game drive through the vast savannah showcasing the very best of this country’s wildlife.

You will spot several hippos, ample chimpanzees, and plenty of crocodiles on your visit to this stunning natural wonderland. It is especially known for its large herds of elephant, giraffe, and buffalo, as well as for lucky sightings of the rare ground-dwelling patas monkey.

If you deem yourself to be an avid birder, Murchison Falls National Park is the best place to try and track down the rare shoebill stork. The shoebill stork is not only the crowning glory of Uganda’s birding scene, but an extremely rare and highly sought-after sight for the true birder.

Uganda is home to an incredible variety of national parks, sanctuaries, and reserves, a remarkable diversity of wildlife, and is deemed a strong contender for one of the world’s best bird watching destinations. Undoubtedly making it one of Africa’s top safari and travel destinations. Less well-known, less-well travelled, but no less enchanting than its East African neighbours, Uganda is a country full of surprises and unbelievable highlights.
As lions stalk their prey through grasslands, hippos soak lazily in the shallows, mountain gorillas move purposefully though tangled forests, and calm waters of Lake Victoria transform into the thundering rapids of the River Nile as it makes its way across Africa – It is a country and safari destination unlike any other.

If sitting with mountain gorillas in their natural rainforest habitat is on your bucket-list, a Uganda safari will deliver on all your expectations. Gorilla trekking in Uganda has become one of Africa’s most powerful wildlife experiences and sought-after safari adventures.
While renowned for its remarkable mountain gorillas, a Uganda safari is not only about gorilla trekking in rainforests. This landlocked East African country is home to a vast array of diverse national parks, sanctuaries, and reserves, and is a strong contender for one of the world’s best bird watching destinations.

Declared one of the best safari destinations in the world, an authentic African safari should be at the top of every traveler, avid adventurer, and nature and wildlife enthusiast’s travel bucket list. Some of the top safari destinations in Africa include Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

Mountain Gorillas are one of the most delightfully friendly and loving animals in the world. While many find them to be extremely ferocious creatures, they are actually the total opposite in nature and can warm up to humans easily compared to other wild animals. They are quite shy, but they are also very smart.

Unfortunately, the species is drastically decreasing in numbers because of the human encroachment and conflicts near their African homes. They are considered an endangered species. Many tourists from all over the world fly to Africa just to get a glimpse of these magnificent creatures. Sadly, they are also sought after by poachers, which make them hard to spot in the wild.

Perhaps the interesting things about them will help spread awareness and make it easier to fall in love with them more. Here are a few interesting facts about mountain gorillas.

Gorillas Share Human DNA

Gorillas are special primates that share 98% of their DNA with humans.

If you have ever seen one up close at a zoo, their intelligence is just extraordinary. This is what makes them interesting too, because they can be taught and can adapt to human activities quite well.

Gorillas Breed Slowly

Female gorillas do not give birth until they reach the age of 10. When they do give birth, their babies have to be watched over and guarded very carefully until they are old enough to fend for themselves.Interesting Facts About Mountain Gorillas

Just like human children, gorillas also take care of their young very proactively and make sure they are protected at all times.

Gorillas have Emotions

One of the most fascinating things about gorillas is the fact that they also have emotions. Believe it or not, gorillas cry when they are sad and can even laugh when they are tickled. Because they are so similar to humans it is easy to spot how they feel.

Gorillas can last without Water

Unlike many other animals gorillas don’t need access to a constant rich source of water like a lake or a stream. They get most of their water from the moisture in the plants they eat or from morning dew.

Facts About Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas actually dislike water in general and try to avoid crossing streams of water. They only become interested in regular water sources during the dry season and when there are only little pools of water. They prefer this to avoid the danger of their infants getting washed away by flowing sources of water.

Gorillas are very Shy and Docile

Gorillas are very shy and docile creatures, and will only react when they are provoked by danger. This counters the popular belief that gorillas are very aggressive and violent creatures.

Gorillas Stay in Families

Gorillas are very social animals that form harems. Just like humans, they are very close with members of their families. Gorilla families can have up to 20 members. One silverback gorilla (dominant male) can live together with several other female gorillas and their offspring. However, 40% of mountain gorilla groups can contain several other adult males that are closely related to each other.

The majority of all gorilla groups contain more females than males, which is why a lot of males are left roaming the forest alone. Mountain gorilla males that are loners will occasionally form an all male group, which varies in size. On average, each group of gorillas can contain up to 10 members.

Want to see Gorillas in the wild? Why not stay in a luxury lodge in Uganda for the ultimate Gorilla trekking experience.

Gorillas get sick like Humans

Gorillas can get sick easily just like humans. They are prone to human sicknesses as well, like pneumonia and other bacterial and viral diseases, when they are exposed to cold and wet climates for long periods of time.

Interesting Facts About Mountain Gorillass

Humans can make gorillas sick by sneezing close them. Gorillas are prone to human respiratory infections and even other sicknesses that can lead to sudden death among mountain gorillas. This is why tourists are advised to stay as far away from them as possible.

Gorillas are “Occasional” Carnivores

Gorillas are very curious animals and enjoy exploring. Although most of them predominantly feed on roots, fruits, and plants, occasionally when they are feeling a bit adventurous, they will engage in hunting small animals. But this happens very seldom.