Wildlife Encounters

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda : Gorilla Trekking is an outdoor activity and an exhilarating experience that involves hiking through dense forests in search of wild gorillas. It involves walking through steep hills, dense forests, crossing rivers and water streams before you finally encounter a gorilla family. Gorillas are social primates that live in families of usually 5-10 gorillas led by a dominant adult male—or silverback—who holds this position for years. The bond between the silverback and his females and young ones forms the basis of gorilla social life.

Where can Gorilla Trekking be conducted in Uganda? There are two Gorilla Trekking destinations in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi is by far the most popular choice as the park contains a greater population of Gorilla families. These habituated families can be accessed from the main four trail heads: Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.

The journey: Visitors are led by experienced UWA guides in groups of 8 and are introduced to the ecology of the forest and the changing landscape as you trek to the gorillas. The limit on group size is to keep Gorillas safe from any airborne pathogens as these have in the past endangered gorillas. The limited sizes also increase the chances of sightings as larger groups often scare off the Gorillas. The trek involves hiking to high altitudes and changing terrain, crossing muddy hills and steep valleys thus visitors are encouraged to wear comfortable hiking shoes. The trek before we interface with the Gorillas usually takes 3-6 hours but sometimes contact can be made after 45 minutes! Gorillas prefer high altitudes so visitors must come ready for the trekking experience.

Making contact: Once contact is made with these Gorillas, there’s a sudden silence as the gorillas are trying to assess the environment and visitors in awe of the breathtaking view. Once silence is broken, usually by a sound of a leaf cracking, birds singing or gorilla sounds like  grunts, hoots, barks, and roars (which is given by aggressive males). You’ll encounter these Gorillas starting to take form and dwell in their natural habitat. You’ll likely see stubborn juveniles climbing short trees, female gorillas breastfeeding their young and the silverbacks exercising dominance. You may witness chest beating, often part of a ritual that may also include running sideways, tearing at vegetation, and slapping the ground. These displays also act as communication between gorilla families and are often used to maintain the dominance hierarchy within the group. Visitors are allowed a maximum of 1 hour to be with the gorillas and the park rangers are always there to guide you as you observe these fascinating primates. If you have a camera, you can capture these moments to create memories that can last forever.

However, a certain behavior is expected while interacting with these creatures for example, visitors are advised against using flashlight while taking photos, touching these creatures, making sudden movements or being very close to these creatures as they may run or they charge towards you! Gorilla charging is very rare since they are generally peaceful primates unless provoked but may do mock-charging just to reassert their dominance.

Gorillas have a close resemblance to humans and this is probably what makes an encounter with these amazing creatures a rewarding experience.

Currently, gorilla permits are fixed at USD 800 per person so speaking to your Tour Operator for early planning is advisable as gorilla permits sell out in the peak travel months. Talk to us to plan your gorilla trekking experience www.wildlife-encounters.com 

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