Fly in Uganda Gorilla Safaris Bwindi Africa
Fly in Uganda Gorilla Safaris Bwindi Africa
Uganda is a popular East African safari destination famous for gorilla and chimpanzee trekking adventures, the southwestern Uganda is dominated by rolling hills and Mountainous forest covers that have provided a perfect breeding ground for the endangered Mountain gorillas that roam in the tropical rainforest of Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park which forms a transboundary national park bordering Rwanda’s volcanoes national park and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga national park which are the only national parks in the whole world where you can see the endangered Mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
While planning a safari in Uganda some of the key questions travelers should ask include where to go when to go, and how to get there, Uganda’s main capital Kampala has located about 450 km from the gorilla national parks making it a 10-11 hour drive using a 4×4 safari vehicle however a flight is just 1:30 minutes to Bwindi impenetrable national park, Wilderness Explorers Africa is your premier Africa travel specialist specializing in tailoring top safari vacations to see the Mountain gorillas in Uganda.
The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is one of two subspecies of the eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei). It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, as the total population is estimated to comprise 1,004 individuals in two populations as of 2018. One population lives in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and the others live in the Virunga Mountains in three adjacent national parks, namely Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mountain gorillas are classified into three living groups in Uganda; two of 3 groups are available for tourism meanwhile the last one is known by researchers.
Habituated Mountain gorillas
Habituated mountain gorillas are the family of Mountain gorillas that are made used to human presence, this is done so after 3 years of trackers and scientists following this mountain gorilla, the first year is usually difficult as the mountain gorillas do not know human beings and sometimes they will charge but after getting used to humans then they will start to feel free in the presence of humans then tourists will be allowed to visit the Mountain gorillas and this permit cost USD 700$ per person per trek and you will spend 1 hour with the mountain gorillas.
Under habituation Mountain gorillas
After a successful habituation process in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable national park, the park decided to allow tourists and researchers who may wish to participate in the habituation process to join the trackers, this activity is paid for at the cost of USD 15OO$ where you will wake up early and join the trackers as early as 7 am and head into the forest to habituate the Gorilla group, here you will be allowed to spend 4 hours with the mountain gorilla group under habituation.
Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of gentle giants is surely the most exciting and poignant wildlife encounter that Africa has to offer, but we should not let it distract from Bwindi’s broader biodiversity, a result of its immense antiquity and an altitude span of from 1,160 to 2,607m. The National park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white colobus monkey, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent. The forest birding ranks with the best in Uganda, with 23 highly localized Albertine endemics present.
Wild mountain gorillas
Wild mountain gorillas are still wild, these gorilla groups are not used to humans and they will usually occupy deeper parts of the jungle, the statistics in Bwindi impenetrable national park still indicate that there are perhaps more wild gorillas compared to Habituated and under habituation groups, the trackers during anti-poaching patrols have seen some of these Mountain gorilla groups and they say the groups are larger and extremely shy that they will run away as soon as they see the trackers.
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The actual encounter with mountain gorillas of Uganda
Sharing time with the mountain gorillas in the wild in Africa’s dense rainforest is utterly magical; nothing is intense like preparing you for the sheer beauty and Braun, those soulfully brown eyes, their astonishing human-like expressions for their extraordinary gentle demeanor.
The special encounter normally just lasts precious one hour but the Uganda wildlife authority has offered a new gorilla habituation experience where you can actively participate in habituating semi- wild gorilla family during the process you will spend 4 hours.
How long is the mountain gorilla trek in Uganda?
This is pretty unpredictable to tell how long you will take during your gorilla trekking adventure but according to starts the best and the shortest experience is usually two hours (2 hours) meaning you hike for only 30 minutes view the gorillas for one hour and make your way back in 30 minutes and the real trek and harder experience is about nine (9 hours) meaning you will hike for four hours (4 hours) view the gorillas for one hour ( 1 hour) and trek back four hours (4 hours).
Gorilla Permits in Uganda
Besides the Democratic Republic of Congo Uganda has the second cheapest gorilla permit prices at USD 700 per gorilla permit per person that’s including the park entrance fees for that day.
Uganda Gorilla Trekking Prices
Usually, gorilla trekking prices are determined by the means of transport and the accommodation level if you are flying and staying in luxury lodges you may pay from USD 2000-4000 per person and if you’re driving and staying in medium-range accommodation you may pay anything from USD 1500-2500 per person over a period of 3-4 days safari.
Refunds/ Cancellations of Gorilla Permits in Uganda
Due to avoidable circumstances, the following incidences may be considered for a refund, withdrawal for a gorilla trekking experience from between 46 and 90 days to the scheduled tracking Date, you will be refunded 50% of the total tracking fee and UWA shall hold the remaining 50%. Cancellation from 91 days and above calls for a 75% refund and UWA holds 25% of the gorilla permit fee paid. However al this is subject to changes over time please contact Wilderness Explorers Africa for up-to-date information before making a decision to cancel a gorilla safari.
Age Restrictions for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Uganda’s gorilla trekking age limit is currently at 15 years and any child below the age of 15 may be prohibited from visiting gorillas in their natural habitat as it is for Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park.
What to pack for a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda
Packing the right equipment is one of the great achievements that one will need to complete before traveling to Uganda for your gorilla trekking experience.
Photographing Mountain gorillas in Uganda
Photographing mountain gorillas in Uganda was definitely not an easy task. The foliage in the jungle was extremely dense and made moving in the area quite difficult. Trying to get a solid foothold was impossible at times and I was constantly being attacked by fire-ants and other insects. As the Gorillas moved around quite often, we always had to follow them, and at times this became quite dangerous and at the end of the day, I came away with many cuts, bruises, and insect bites.
The lighting conditions went from bright sunlight to dark shadows depending on where they were at the moment. I chose to shoot this entire experience with a 50mm prime, at or as close to an aperture of f/1.8 (on an APS-C size sensor). This allowed me to get a fast shutter speed to capture their expressions in high, sharp detail, and create a shallow depth of field to make them the focal point, and make them really stand out against their surroundings. While I only had access to 50mm at the time, I would recommend going into such an environment with a lens range from 50mm to 200mm for best opportunities.
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Domestic flights to Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla national park
Uganda’s tourism has grown over years and this has seen a significant increase in the number of tourists that visit Uganda for a vacation, Aerolink Uganda which is a partner in Uganda operates daily scheduled and charter flights to Kihihi airstrip and Kisoro airstrip respectively saving time for those that may not fancy the Road trip.
Bwindi has four areas around the 321 sq km area where you can trek the Mountain gorillas, the gorilla trekking regions included Buhoma gorilla sector, Ruhija gorilla sector, Rushaga gorilla sector, and Nkuringo gorilla sector however there is no airstrip close to the forest, Kihihi, and Kisoro airstrips are just over an hour drive to Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Flights to Buhoma gorilla sector
Buhoma is the Northern sector of the Bwindi forest and it doubles as the first area in Uganda where gorilla trekking started way back in 1993 making it atop area for gorilla trekking in the Bwindi forest, the region has 6 gorilla families and some of the top Luxury Lodges Like Sanctuary gorilla forest camp, Buhoma Lodge and Bwindi Lodge where you can stay while gorilla trekking in Uganda.
Clients trekking in the Buhoma gorilla sector have to fly into Kihihi which is located 45 km from the forest and using a 4×4 safari vehicle the drive can take up to 1 hour.
Flights to Rushaga gorilla sector
Rushaga is located in the Lower south about 2 hours’ drive from Kisoro airstrip, the region has about 8 gorilla families making it an area in Bwindi with the biggest number of gorilla families in the whole of Bwindi forest some of the Lodges stay include Chameleon Hill Lodge located on Lake Mutanda, Ichumbi gorilla Lodge and the four gorillas Lodge which are some of the best places to stay while gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest.
Flights to Mgahinga gorilla national park
Ntebeko is located in Mgahinga gorilla national park and its one of the best places to trek mountain gorillas when you are on a flying safari, Ntebeko park headquarters are located 45 minutes from the Kisoro airstrip making it an easier drive and clients can stay at the Luxury Mt Gahinga Lodge located 5 minutes walk to the park for gorilla and golden monkey trekking safaris.
Best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is an all year safari adventure but the best time is usually during the dry season which runs from May to October and from December to February, this is the time forest receives less rainfall or no rainfall making the trails drier and easier for hiking during your gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi or Mgahinga gorilla national park.