Gorilla trekking in Uganda: What to expect
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a bucket list trip for many, and has recently been made even more appealing by the significant price hike in Rwanda for compulsory gorilla trekking permits from US$750 to US $1,500 per person. Ugandan permits remain considerably more affordable at just US$600 per person.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in southwest Uganda is home to just over half the world’s last surviving mountain gorillas as well as our very own Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp. Comprising of just eight tents, it is one of the most remote and atmospheric camps in Africa. Frequently visited by gorilla families due to its unique location, it is the perfect base for a once in a lifetime encounter with mountain gorillas.
Here’s what to expect during on a Gorilla trekking trip at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp.
6.30 am: Good morning!
Following a morning wakeup call and hearty breakfast, a member of the team will escort you to the starting point for the gorilla trek, conveniently located just a five minute walk from Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp.
It’s here that you will meet your guides for the day and receive a safety briefing ahead of the trek. You’ll be one of just eight trekkers and will be accompanied by a Uganda Wildlife Ranger and two armed rangers (to fend off any rogue forest elephants). There is also a porter for each guest, who will have everything you need during the trek, including water and a packed lunch (courtesy of Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp).
8.30 am: Time to trek
Every trek is different and can last between four and 10 hours, depending on the location of the gorillas. The terrain is varied and may involve climbing up and down the mountains. Along the way, your guide will be looking (and listening!) out for clues from the surrounding forest, including scouring the foliage for droppings, left over food and knuckle finger prints. The aim is to find out where the gorillas spent the night, as they tend to only travel up to 1km per day and are likely to still be nearby the nest.
Once you have located your chosen gorilla family, you will have an hour to observe them in their natural habitat. The rangers are extremely knowledge and will be on hand to answer all your questions and explain the gorillas’ behaviour.
Whilst there are restrictions on how close you can get to the gorillas (10 metres), they can be as curious as you are, so be prepared to say hello!
Stan Cuillmore was a recent guest of Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, check out his article on the Daily Mail here.
Once your magical hour has come to an end, it’s time to head back to camp where your drink of choice and a much-welcomed refreshing towel will be waiting to welcome you home.
The laundry team are on standby to clean boots and clothes for your next adventure. For those with stiff muscles, visit the masseuse in the mini spa for a well-deserved massage.
After dinner it’s time to kick back, relax and share your stories around the camp fire!
Essentials for the trek:
- Poncho or rain jacket - it can rain heavily, even in the dry season
- Walking stick - provided by the camp
- Gloves – these are useful for grabbing bushes, or sliding downhill on the seat of your pants (you never know where your trek might take you!)
- Bug repellent
- A good, solid pair of hiking boots
- Cool, comfortable clothing in muted colours. We suggest long sleeves, trousers, long socks and gaiters to keep bugs out and prevent scratches.
Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is located within Bwindi National Park, offering the best location to stay and experience gorilla tracking and hiking in the area. Contact us to plan your trip.