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Gorilla Trekking: Ask and answer questions and chat about gorilla trekking here.

Did you go gorilla trekking? If so, did you see the gorillas? How long did it take your guide to find them? Did you have any disappointing treks where you did not find any gorillas? Which country did you go gorilla trekking in? How much did the permit cost? What time of the year was it and what were the weather conditions like? Please share any other advice and tips and links to your blogs about your gorilla trekking experience.
14 years ago, November 27th 2008 No: 1 Msg: #55791  
We have a permit to gorilla trek mid-March in Bwindi. If anyone has tips about weather (I know it's "rainy season"... any predictions about HOW rainy it's likely to be?), what's good to wear on feet (hiking boots or very sturdy sneakers?), any other tips on clothing? If anyone has done this trip in March, we would love to hear from you. Reply to this

14 years ago, November 30th 2008 No: 2 Msg: #56087  

I was lucky enough to see the Gorillas in April this year it was probably my highlight of my past year of travelling. Even though it was 'rainy season' when I was there too, it didn't rain a drop but it doesn't matter - you're in the middle of the jungle watching wild gorillas - you probably wouldn't even notice.

Your feet will definitely get soaked, but my sneakers were fine.

The main reason I responded to your post was because I have some advice no one gave me (and almost resulted in me missing out): Make sure your American currency is in great condition. I had a 50 dollar note that had the tiniest corner missing and they wouldn't accept it. Luckily someone had a spare they could lend me. Also make sure it is recently printed currency too (anything made after 2003 is fine I think).

I'm sure you'll enjoy it, I certainly would recommend it - I wrote an entry about it as well if you want to find out what you're in for.

Oliver Reply to this

14 years ago, December 1st 2008 No: 3 Msg: #56108  
N Posts: 2

I was in Bwindi this past April. I had a fantastic time.
Here is some advice that I have:
-Its a big hike. Be prepared to walk all day.
-bring lots of food. Be prepared to share the food with your guides. There is something that feels terribly wrong in not doing so.
-I stayed in the hotel that was considered the "best". While it was nice, the prices were not compatible with the rooms or service.
-check your bill. The price I was quoted was not the same price that I paid upon check out.
-bring a fantastic camera. My small Sony could not get close-ups of the animals and my pictures were blurry and were just horrible.
-bring two pairs of running shoes. Your shoes will become soiled by the end of the walk and probably become covered with waste.
-The roads from Kampala are very very bad. If you have the option, try and make sure that you are in a car whose tires are ready for pot holes. The roads appear to to be one long pothole.

I hope you have a fantastic time. The park rangers appear to care about the conservation of the animals and the park and you are supporting this vanishing species. Reply to this

14 years ago, December 2nd 2008 No: 4 Msg: #56246  
Thanks to both Oliver and Sarah. Your experience is very helpful to us! I'm doing the Stairmaster and trying to walk lots to get prepared. Linda Reply to this

14 years ago, December 2nd 2008 No: 5 Msg: #56251  
N Posts: 2
of course, with pleasure. Reply to this

14 years ago, December 4th 2008 No: 6 Msg: #56476  
I trekked for gorillas (the Amahoro group) in Rwanda on May 26 this year, and it was one of the highlights of my travels. In answer to your questions, we hiked for approximately three hours (in addition to another one-two hours following their movements) and struck some very tough terrain (in my opinion) but we were told afterwards that this was a normal trek. We managed to see 8-10 gorillas in total - including babies, young ones, greybacks and silverbacks. The cost of the permit was US$500.00 - which I believe is standardised across the three gorilla countries (Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo).

However, there are some cautions:

Stinging Plants - the bane of my existence - I even had gloves and thick socks, but they still had an impact. I wish I had worn thicker pants. Not sure of any way around this, possibly an anti-sting spray will numb the area, but not sure if it is necessary since the pain only lasts a few minutes.

Terrain - there can be some very steep sections, including vertical climbs and descents, and this isn't helped by the moisture that swirls through the air and causes the ground to be squishy and slippery. You may also experience light rain, so bring a light waterproof jacket. You may not strike such challenges, but be mentally prepared just in case.

Altitude - we were over 3,000 metres, and the thinner oxygen has a stark impact on your endurance. I was lucky to have hiked through the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia a couple of weeks before the gorilla trek, and this helped me tremendously. Also, higher altitudes can increase your water consumption - so bring plenty.

Surprise, surprise! - One gorilla unexpectedly emerged from the undergrowth and walked right through the middle of our group - his fur literally brushed my leg as he sauntered past, and he grabbed another party member to shove him out of the way. These are wild animals and anything can happen, so follow the advice of your guides without question.

Overall, was it worth it - absolutely yes!!! My blog of this day, Gorillas: A Very Close Encounter, will give you the full story. Reply to this

14 years ago, December 7th 2008 No: 7 Msg: #56821  
I did a mountain gorilla trek in the DRC in 2004. One of the best (if not the best) travel experiences I have ever had. It was part of a 2 1/2 weeks overland trip starting in Nairobi. The cost of the permit was $275, which obviously has changed. Went during July, no significant weather issues.

The whole day was exciting and part of this was due to the DRC just recently being opened to tourists. the 1-2 your jeep ride was exhilirating/scary as we were being guarded by men with guns to protect us from guerillas (as opposed to the rangers with guns to protect us and the gorillas on the trek). The waving of the children and the adults on the way in the park was great, and we were told that the re-opening of the country to tourism created their enthusiasm. I highly recommend doing the DRC trip as it probably will be your only time of your life to enter this country, and to see the unfortunate contrast between the other countries you are probably coming from (Uganda, Kenya, etc).

My group was lucky as it was a relatively easy 1 hour trek to find the gorillas. WHile most of us were nervous about Congolese guerillas, the scariest part of the day was when the alpha male silver back made a small charge at us, probably just to show who is boss, but it scared the crap out of most of us. Make sure you listen to the very knowledgable guides as stated in another post. It was a dream come true for me to spend about 1 hour with these majestic giants. Reply to this

14 years ago, February 19th 2009 No: 8 Msg: #63532  

I in Uganda and Rwanda with World Primate Safaris in January and it was awesome. In terms of weather, they said they receive rain most of the time, but generally in the afternoons. Take long trousers, long sleeve shirt and good walking shoes as you have no idea which group you will be tracking. I tracked for 7 hours through very thick and thorny bushes to get to the gorillas, but I heard that other groups walked for about half an hour. The bush is thick and damp and the ground is generally quite muddy - but when you come across the family you forget about everything. It is an amazing experience and somethingI will never forget.

Peter. Reply to this

13 years ago, September 3rd 2009 No: 9 Msg: #85181  
I got this information from then after i contacted

Bwindi impenetrable National Park is located on the edge of the western rift valley (Albertine rift), South Western Uganda. It is shared by Rukungiri, Kabale and Kisoro Districts. It covers around 331 square kilometres on an Altitude Range of 1160 metres (Ishasha gorge) to 2607 metres (Rwamanyonyi Peak). The annual average temperature Range is 7-20 degrees Celcius the coldest period being June and July. Heaviest rains are experienced in March-April and September - November. Other months are generally dry. Annual Precipitation: 1130 mm - 2390 mm Coldest Period: June-July

SPECIES DIVERSITY Bwindi is a habitat to 326 gorillas almost half of the world's population of mountain gorillas. The forest has about 30 elephants and 120 species of mammals including 7 diurnal primates. 360 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies. This Afro -montane forest has dense under storey of fern, vines, and shrubs. About 324 tree species have been recorded here, of which 10 don't occur else in Uganda.

GORILLA SAFARIS TO UGANDA It is a major tourist attraction in Bwindi. Two gorillas groups are currently available to be visited on daily basis. Mubare group (16 gorillas; 1 silverback) was opened for tourism in 1993, while Habinyanja group (23 gorillas, 2 silver backs) was ready in July 1998. A third group of gorillas (17 members, 2 silver back) is due to open for tourism soon. Get updates from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Headquarters or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Maximums of 8 gorilla permits per day are sold for each of these groups at UWA Headquarters in Kampala. Book at least 3 months (but not more than one year) in advance to ensure that requested dates are available.

Gorillas Tracking in Bwindi can be strenuous therefore make sure you are physically fit. Carry jungle boots and rain jackets given the fact that the park is often wet.

Gorilla tracking experience starts at 8:30 am local time and occasionally lasts the whole day! Once tracked, gorillas are supposed to be met for only one hour For Conservation reasons, visits to the gorillas are tightly controlled.
Reply to this

13 years ago, September 4th 2009 No: 10 Msg: #85201  
I have just returned from Africa and after meeting a few people who were fortunate enough to trek with the gorillas and in fact the gorillas are part of my next trip to Africa next year. Just a warning that I had several people tell me that the guides were saying that they are increasing the permit price to $1000US. Also had a few people warn me to be careful with which company you book through because the ugandian permits filled first, then Rwanda and last drc . Had a few people say that they had to do d.r.c. Due to their tour operator not booking the permits in advance. And yes, they had to pay border crossing / visa fee. Watch out for companies that "guarantee" your permit for a certain date (just email me if you want the name of the exact company) ---> it's normal for a tour to operate and then spend 3/4 days there to give everyone a chance to see the gorillas.

Reports though were that there was nothing wrong with trekking in drc (it's exactly the same forest and gorillas) as long as you didn't mind the reputation and make sure your travel insurance covers the Congo.

Will keep my eye on this thread over the next few months until I finally get to go too 😊 Reply to this

13 years ago, September 4th 2009 No: 11 Msg: #85205  

13 years ago, September 16th 2009 No: 12 Msg: #86453  
I too heard in 2008 that the price of the permit was going to rise, but that may be a continuing rumour, though eventually it will come true - it is just a matter of when.

Be cautious with the DR Congo - I was originally going to trek there in 2008, but things became so bad in that region that even the rangers left the area for a while. If the situation settles, it would be a great area to trek, but keep a close ear on developments there as it is a volatile part of the world. Reply to this

13 years ago, March 19th 2010 No: 13 Msg: #106856  
I am writing a story about gorilla safaris in Uganda for my online travel column and am curious to hear about recent visits.

For travelers who have been on a gorilla trek in Bwindi -

Did you get up close to the gorillas for the full hour allotted?
Were you satisfied with your tour company?
What were your overall impressions of Uganda?

Feel free to send me a message. You can check out my column at http://bit.ly/NYDestinationsExaminer.

Thanks! Leslie Reply to this

12 years ago, March 3rd 2011 No: 14 Msg: #130340  
N Posts: 1
Hi, my name is Kyle and I'm inquiring about gorilla safaris. I saw this blog and thought I would see if anyone might be able to help me with some questions I have. I'm looking for a fun, rugged, low budget safari. I'm big on being respectful of the culture, not being just another dumb white tourist. Here are a few things I am looking for in my safari. I'm going to be in Kenya working with an orphanage for a few weeks prior, so I will have to stay on a tight budget. I'm thinking 3 days to 7 day safari depending on the price. I've heard great things about Bwindi and Mgahinga. Bwindi I heard is more rainforest which sounds very cool, but Mgahinga from what I've heard is a little less traveled and more wild. Also Queen Elizabeth is supposed to still be very wild. I have been to Africa before and gone on safaris and found that sometimes they can be like driving through a big zoo. I'm looking for the more rugged the better. I'm also looking for smaller groups, I'm very active and love to hike, The more time spent bush wacking the better. I also love to camp. I realize that this is a lot of stuff to throw out there but I figured I would give as much detail to see what ideas anyone might have. I'm just looking for other people that are physically fit, not people that hike 5 times a year. I'm 25 and very active. If anyone has any ideas on safari groups, or people to talk to that would be great. The more grass roots the trip the better. I love meeting the locals, hearing stories and experiencing the culture. Hope to hear from you soon, Kyle Reply to this

12 years ago, March 23rd 2011 No: 15 Msg: #131835  
Hi Kyle,

I am Jacqueline and i can help you plan a fun filled safari on your tight budget as you say. you can reach me on <snip> for details and the dates of your intended stay.

Reply to this

12 years ago, March 28th 2011 No: 16 Msg: #132166  
Hi Kyle,

the best fun rugged safari you can have is a camping safari. As you will be in Kenya for the few weeks. it would be appropriate to travel by road to Kampala and start your journey to Bwindi from there. You will have an overnight in Kampala and then a 2 nights in Bwindi and again Kampala before you travel back to Nairobi. Depending on what you would like to spend it is possible and I think <snip> can be of help to you. Having worked in both countries Kenya and Uganda I might also be of help if you could get in touch.

Reply to this

12 years ago, March 28th 2011 No: 17 Msg: #132181  
When we did our gorilla tracking 2 years ago in March, it was GREAT. We were in Bwindi (Uganda) and it took us about 3 hours of difficult climbing before we encountered "our" gorilla family. We met other trekkers who had a more difficult time, however, but we never met anyone who failed to encounter the gorillas. The weather at that time was dry and not too hot. We were prepared for rain but it didn't happen (climate change). I'd recommend this to anyone who is adventurous and in relatively good condition. My husband and I are in our late 60s. A friend of the same age who went with us had to turn back. The climb was too steep/difficult for him due to his weight. Reply to this

12 years ago, March 29th 2011 No: 18 Msg: #132228  
Hi Kyle,
For a 3 days Gorilla Safaris,The park is located in the South Western Uganda on the edge of the western rift valley. Bwindi is home to over 350 endangered Mountain Gorillas which are quite possibly the most awe-inspiring animals to be found in Africa .There are also 346 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies. Gorilla trekking is the major tourist activity in Bwindi with four groups currently available daily for tourists . Mubare group (10 gorillas; 1 silverback) was opened for tourism in 1993,Habinyanja group (18 gorillas, 2 silver backs) was ready in July 1998. Rusheguru group(10 members, 1silver back) was opened in July 2002 while Nkuringo group (19 gorillas , 2 silver backs ) was opened for tourism in April 2004 . Gorilla racking in Bwindi can be challenging therefore ensure physical fitness.It starts at 8:30a.m. local time and can last from a few hours to day depending on the movement of these giant apes.We can arrange you a budget safari-(info at <snip>😉

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11 years ago, December 2nd 2011 No: 19 Msg: #148198  
hi everyone. i'm taking a month in africa and planning on traveling to the dwindi forest to see mountain gorillas. could anyone suggest a tour company that i could go through that offers the best rates and quality. everything in africa is so pricy, i find myself budgeting for the first time. also is getting rabies shots a must to see the gorillas?
im also planning on traveling to tanzania to mt. climb. any recommendations for tour companies/prices? Reply to this

11 years ago, December 2nd 2011 No: 20 Msg: #148242  
N Posts: 1

Could you please recommend a trstworthy budget priced agent for renting a car+ driver to travel in Uganda & Rwanda? Are you familiar with cycads safaris?
We are a group of 4 nature & culture lovers eager to see the counties, chimps and gorillas inexpensively, obtaining permits and seeking simple clean accommodation.
We would appreciate your assistance Reply to this

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