The only two populations of the Mountain Gorillas that are left in the world live in Africa, the first population lives in the Virunga Volcanic Mountains of Central Africa within separate groups that spread in Rwanda Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The second mountain Gorilla population can be found in the thick dark Forest of Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda, these gentle and shy apes are critically endangered and Uganda is blessed to host half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas’ population. Getting to the mountain gorillas takes a lot of time, a lot of energy and comes with extra expenses but once it’s done, everyone has confessed that it is worthwhile.
Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park will make your African Safari memorable, the park is not easily accessed by road it takes you a while and some good hours but when you reach there, it will all be worthwhile, it is a bio diverse National Park located within a mountainous region of Southwestern Uganda. This is the region where the majority of the world’s remaining Gorillas sleep in their own humble misty cool natural environment.
Presently the thick forest of Bwindi protects 10 familiarized Gorilla families which are ready to be visited by visitors and the 11th family is left aside for research. Among these gorilla families include; Kyaguriro group which is left aside for research, Habinyanja Gorilla Family, Rushegura Gorilla family, Mubare Gorilla Family, Oruzogo family, Bitukura Family, Nshongi family, Bweza family, Mishaya Family, Nkuringo family, Kahungye Gorilla Family and Busingye Gorilla family.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is characterized of four regions/sectors/zones where different families of Gorillas reside. These four regions help travelers in choosing their accommodations while planning a safari to Bwindi, all the sectors are located a bit far from each other and it is wise to choose an accommodation that is within the same sector where the Gorilla family you will trek resides.
Your trusted Tour Operator HOME TO AFRICA TOURS AND TRAVEL is ready to choose for you the sector that is suitable for your accommodation in the park. These sectors of Bwindi include; Buhoma sector in the Northern part of Bwindi and so close to Queen Elizabeth National Park, this was the first sector to be open for visitors in the year 1993, there is Ruhija sector which is in the Eastern region of Bwindi, Rushaga sector found in the southern part of Bwindi and this is where habituation experience takes place, lastly Nkuringo sector it is very close to Kisoro district and keeps only one Gorilla Family the Nkuringo Gorilla Family.
A typical Gorilla safari in Uganda’s Bwindi permits a limited number of 8 people to take part in trekking, this step was taken to ensure that the rare shy apes are well protected from huge numbers of people who may lead the Gorillas to exposure of infections in a long run. The fact that Gorillas are close cousins of humans and their DNA is close to the humans’ they can contract any disease from people.
Bwindi Baby Gorilla naming takes place after the baby Gorilla has been well studied by the ranger guides and then they name them according to the behaviors and ways of life. Their given names are their unique identifiers and its amazing how the rangers know these gorillas individually.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has the supreme Authority to issue Mountain Gorilla Permits to the Tour Operators or the travelers themselves if they must get permits themselves. Your highly trusted Tour Operator should book the permit for you at least 4 months earlier to the actual trekking dates, jus for you to be assured of your activity and not to miss out due to the high demand for the limited Gorilla permits.
During high seasons (January, February, March, June, July, August, September, October and December) a Gorilla Permit is bought at US$ 600- Foreign Non-Residents, US$ 500- Foreign Residents, 250,000 UGX- East African Citizens.
While;During low seasons (April, May and November) UWA offers discounted prices at US$ 450- Foreign Non-Residents, US$ 400- Foreign Residents and 150,000 UGX- East African Citizens. Low seasons favor travelers to save but any amount that you pay for a Gorilla Safari will always be worth it.
We recommend physically fit enough and energetic people to join the Gorilla trekking groups because the activity is a bit strenuous and requires determined people.
Please do not visit the Gorillas if you are sick with any infections like flue, cough etc. These gentle apes are so much close to human DNA and can easily catch the infections.
Keep your voices down and low just to make sure you do not miss out on other animal and bird species during the trekking activity and always follow your guide’s instructions.
Do not litter the jungle, whatever you carry with you and it turns out to be rubbish should be taken back with you as you leave because remember we are conserving for generations.
In case of any need to ease one’s self, human waste should be buried 30 cm deep after requesting the guide to dig a hole for you.
Always keep a distance of 7 meters away from the gorillas as a way of respecting them in their home and avoid them from charging at you because we are avoiding danger on your side as well.
Eating drinking and smoking is not allowed in the jungle, you could eat or drink but very far away from their presence but smoking is strictly out of order.
Stay intact with your group and your guide follow everything the guide tells you, this is for both your safety and the gorillas’ safety and comfort too.
In case you get a sneeze or mild cough, turn away from the gorillas and do it comfortably away from them just to keep them away from getting infected with the same.
It is strictly only one hour that you are allowed to spend with the gorillas the moment you encounter them, in this one hour make sure you study their behavior, watch them play, take their photos (not with a flash light camera).
While you are in their (gorillas) presence you can ask your guide questions in a low tone just to make sure they are not uncomfortable with your presence.
In case the gorillas charge on you, please stay calm and follow the guide’s instructions; stay humble and do not look them in the eyes because they may think you are challenging them to fight. Squat down slowly and behave as If you are bowing for them, avoid running away this will make them angry the more.
Always avoid touching the Gorillas these are wild animals and cannot tolerate that comfort you may think you are giving, they are shy and nervous sometimes which may lead them to charging at you.
Foot wear – carry yourself a good quality pair of hiking jungle boots accompany them with a quality pair of light weight merino socks to fit your trekking activity well. Invest in quality items for your African safari, they are expensive items and so is your life and experience.
Long pants and the shirts – Mountain gorilla trekking is strenuous and likely to expose too much of your skin if you are not well dressed up and covered; get your long pants and shirts to cover you up and always tuck the trousers in your socks to avoid jungle ants from climbing you up your body. Stay safe and enjoy the safari.
Rain coat or Rain jacket– Mountain Gorillas live in tropical rain forests of Africa and so the rain is unpredictable; a light-weight Rain jacket is recommended for everyone trekking, you can as well put it in your bag and get to use it if the rain unpredictably comes.
Hand Gloves – Gorilla trekking automatically subjects you to moving through the dense and thick jungle where you are inescapably grabbing on vines, tree branches, logs and ropes and your hands may be scratched or cut if not so careful, so protect yourself by carrying your own gloves for a simple, harmless and memorable gorilla experience.
Drinking water and some snacks – you will need to drink some water while trekking so in case you will be experiencing a long trek it means you will need to carry enough water to drink, make sure you have a reusable water bottle for you to carry back with you and avoid littering the jungle. Snacks are good as well especially those that will give you some more energy to trek for the gorillas, dried fruits and nuts are good in this case. Only remember to carry back your snacks wrappers back with you.
Habitat – Mountain Gorillas are shy gentle animals and live most of their life in the thick and dense rain forests. No wonder they chose to live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.
Size – Male Mountain Gorillas stand on 5-6 feet having 5 inches and females stand up to 4 ½ to 5 feet when standing upright .
Weight– Male Mountain Gorillas can weigh 300 to 450 pounds and the females can weigh up to 200 pounds.
Reproduction– Mountain Gorilla mating happens throughout the year having gestation periods of 8.5 months and capable of giving birth to only one baby Gorilla or twins just like Human beings. A Gorilla baby is born with the weight of nearly 3-4 ibs, it learns to crawl when it makes 2 months of age and learn walking when they make 9 months. Just like human beings, baby gorillas are nurtured by the mother gorillas for almost 3 years then later they get independent enough to endure the ways of the jungle.
Life span– Mountain Gorilla are approximated to live up to 35 years in the wilderness and 50 years in the captivity.
Conduct/Demeanor– Mountain Gorillas are gentle and shy until they are harassed or invaded by other Gorilla family groups, when they face any trouble Gorilla family members protect each other from any harm and it is each member’s responsibility to take care of the other of the same family. The dominant male Gorilla called the Silverback protects the whole family and conducts the whole day’s activities.
Diet – Mountain Gorillas are 100% vegetarians and feed on the wild shoots, plants, tree branches, small flowers, leaves, thistles and some wild fruits. The wild veggies are so nutritious to the Gorillas because after a good day’s feeding on them, the Gorillas do not even need to drink water after the veggies’ satisfactory that moisturizes them well.
To make sure that everything you intend to do is lawful and of good intentions application of Visa is the first thing to look at while you plan to enter into Uganda. There is a need to follow the national immigration laws and guidelines to simplify your visa access to Uganda for as long as you are under the visa prone nationalities. Visa application was even more simplified when application was put online no more hustle.
The process starts with you applying for the visa and then submit it, the submitted application is then cross checked via email by the immigration Officer and under the approval process they will require more necessary information about which you have to submit under the ‘manage your application’ links: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/#/check. http://immigration.go.ug/content/visas-and-passes.
Results will come to you through the email from immigration officers, if the application approved you will receive an approval letter in form of an attachment via your email that you gave in. You will then download the attachment. At this point do not jubilate yet because it is not the guarantee to entry into Uganda; all the applicants will be expected to have a secondary verification, you will have to present the valid travel documents that have the validity of not less than 6 months to any immigration office at any entry point to Uganda. The traveler MUST in the same way have a valid Yellow Fever Immunization Card.
Travelers are reminded that visas do not at any point permit profitable or voluntary employment in the Republic of Uganda. The entry and the exit of a traveler should be made via the publically known ports of both entry and exit.There are some of the Visa Exempt Nationalities; this list mentions those ones that do not need to make any application to any Uganda High Commission for a Visa. Among these countries that are exempted include members of COMESA, EAST AFRICANS and some others as below;
Angola, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Burundi, Botswana, Comoros, Cyprus, Eritrea, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Ghana, Italy (Diplomatic Passport holders only) Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands and Grenadines, St. Vincent-Tonga, Swaziland, Tanzania, Vanuatu, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Any other exemption maybe done on the moment you arrive in the Country.
Single entry visa US$ 50 (per individual)
Multiple entry visa (6 to 12 months) US$ 100
Multiple entry visa (24 months) US$ 150
Multiple entry Visa (36 months) US$ 200
Students (Non Nationals of East African Cooperation) US$ 100.
The East African Tourist Visa (3 months multiple entry into Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda) US$ 100.
The residents of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya that travel to these three countries are allowed free entry of the either state, they do not have to pay any fees.
We recommend that all travelers’ Visa applications MUST be submitted online, anything like a paper application will not be processed and in the way it will lead to delays for one’s visa processing.