Gorilla Trekking Uganda: Ultimate Bucket List Experience

written by local expert Jaci Lewis

Besides writing, I also love to run, hike, and travel with my amazing husband, Trent, who is my biggest supporter and currently pursuing his own dream of becoming an Army pilot. Being an army wife has forced me to roll with a lot of punches, but that's okay! After all, what is life but one big adventure?

Are you planning a trip to Uganda? If so, there is one experience that you don’t want to miss out on during your visit. Truly, no journey to Uganda is complete without gorilla trekking. Uganda Gorilla Trekking is something that has been on my bucket list for a while, and if it isn’t on yours, it definitely should be. 

Gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking is far different than watching gorillas in a zoo. It allows you to actually enter their territory and become immersed in their natural habitat. It is truly a magical experience. 

Ready to plan your gorilla trekking adventure? We’d be happy to tell you how to do it!

Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

The best and most popular location for a gorilla trekking expedition is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda, which is one of Uganda’s most popular tourist destinations. There are two ways that you can make gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest a part of your trip to Uganda. One way is to pick from one of the many gorilla tours offered in the park. Another way is to book a Uganda safari that includes gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable forest in their package. 

Personally, we prefer the second option, as it allows you to kill several birds with one stone. It also will save you a lot of time and headaches in planning your trip as a whole. A visit to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a must in every Uganda Itinerary.

Uganda gorilla trekking
Photo of a baby gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda

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Best Time to Go Gorilla Trekking

When planning a gorilla trekking expedition, you will want to make sure that you plan your trip during one of the country’s dry seasons. After all, the last thing that you want is for your exciting plans to be put on hold or cut short due to inclement weather. If you are trying to avoid Uganda’s rainy season, you will want to plan your trip for sometime between December and February or between June and August. 

While rain is definitely something to consider when planning your trip, the good news is, the temperature isn’t. The temperatures in Uganda stay fairly consistent throughout the year due to the country’s proximity to the equator. 

Gorilla Trekking Safari Tour

As we discussed previously, the best way to go gorilla trekking in Uganda is to book a Uganda safari that has gorilla trekking already built into the itinerary. If you want to find a great tour to book and you need a place to start, Home to Africa is a great place to start. They offer a 4-day Uganda safari that is affordable and includes gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest as the main event. 

In addition to gorilla trekking, this safari also includes a trip to Lake Mburo, which offers another opportunity to see the majestic creatures that inhabit Africa, such as zebras, buffalos, giraffes, Warthogs, Leopards, Impalas, and much more! Lake Mburo is also a well-known site of pre-Cambrian rocks, which are 500 million years old, according to geologists. 

The Home to Africa Safari includes the cost of everything except for transportation to the country and any extra activities. This safari is also very inexpensive compared to other safaris. The cost of this safari is $1364, $700 of which covers the cost of the gorilla trekking permit. This means that the safari itself, which includes lodging for three nights and in-country transportation, is only a little over $600. This is a huge bargain in my opinion.

This is one of the best Uganda wildlife safaris and is a popular activity in the area.

Large silverback gorilla in Uganda
Large silverback gorilla in Uganda

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What to Expect

Experiences with gorilla trekking can vary depending on the tour, the guides, and even on the day. There are some general expectations, however, that you should have going into the trek. 

First of all, expect to get up early and be gone for most of the day. Gorilla trekking isn’t a laid-back tourist trap. It is long, tiring, and sometimes difficult. Don’t let that discourage you, however, because it is one hundred percent worth it! Still, it is important not to go in expecting nothing more than a little nature trail, as wrong expectations can certainly ruin the experience. 

Your gorilla trekking day will start with a briefing from your guide and, depending on your tour, possibly a group breakfast. After that, you will be placed in a group of around six to eight people, including a guide, who will help you to find some gorillas and also make sure that everyone stays safe. 

Take note that whenever you’re dealing with wild animals, it is best to observe animals from a safe distance. Check out our article on the best cameras for wildlife photography.

You should also expect to need a gorilla trekking permit in order to go gorilla trekking. One benefit of booking a safari with a reputable provider is that this permit is included when you book your safari with them, so you need not worry about it.

If you aren’t booking your safari a safari that covers this, you will need to make sure that you take care of this well ahead of time. Due to the high demand for gorilla trekking permits, it is recommended that you book yours as much as six months in advance.

Sustainability of Gorilla Trekking

One big concern that many people have when it comes to gorilla trekking is its sustainability. After all, anyone who really loves nature will want to enjoy it without destroying the natural habitat of the creatures who live in it. Luckily, the country of Uganda has put several measures in place to help visitors to do just that!

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is heavily regulated. Anyone who goes gorilla trekking is required to get a permit and abide by several rules that help keep the gorillas and the environment they live in safe. For one thing, gorilla trekkers are required to stay at least seven meters away from gorillas at all times, unless the gorilla approaches them. This is both for the safety of the visitor and to keep from disturbing the gorillas. 

Visitors are also required to keep low voices while on trails and are forbidden from taking any flash photography. Additionally, no one under the age of fifteen is considered eligible for a gorilla trekking permit. All of these measures have significantly increased the gorilla population in Uganda. 

Not only is it safe to say that you won’t be disturbing the gorillas while on your gorilla trek, but the money that you spend on your permit will actually benefit the gorillas by paying gorilla doctors, who look after the health of gorillas within the national parks, and park rangers, who protect the gorillas from poachers.

If you still aren’t convinced that gorilla trekking is a sustainable practice, consider this: gorilla tourism is a huge industry that employs many Ugandans. The profitability of this industry has disincentivized the Ugandan government from allowing poaching of these animals and it has discouraged the Ugandan people from supporting it. 

Thanks to gorilla tourism, gorillas now have an entire army of park rangers to support the growth of their species by guarding them against poachers and starting education programs in the country to teach the public about conservation. This has allowed the gorilla population, as well as the other wild animal populations in Uganda, to survive and thrive. 

gorilla trekking

FAQs About Gorilla Trekking in Uganda:

How much does it cost to see gorillas in Uganda?

This can vary depending on the tour that you go with, but the average one-day tour costs $970, but you can get a much better deal if you go as part of a safari. The home to Africa safari costs $1,364 for the entire 4-day trip, including the gorilla trekking tour. 

How difficult is the gorilla trek in Uganda?

Gorilla trekking can be a very strenuous activity, but is not something that requires you to be some kind of super athlete in prime condition. For the average fifteen to forty year old, or even for a fifty to sixty-year-old who is in excellent physical condition, it should be doable. 

Is gorilla trekking worth the money?

Absolutely! Obviously, you don’t want to spend your life savings on it, but if you can afford it, you should definitely go for it. We can pretty much guarantee that you won’t regret it. Gorilla trekking and seeing them in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience which we highly recommend.

Is it better to see gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda?

Rwanda is another country that is well-known for gorilla trekking, but we personally recommend Uganda over Rwanda due to the fact that Uganda is safer and has much more gorillas.

Also, while limited permits are a problem in both countries, Uganda’s larger gorilla population also allows them to hand out more gorilla permits than Rwanda, meaning that if you request a permit in Uganda rather than Rwanda, you are much less likely to have your dreams crushed by having your request denied due to all of their permits being booked up. 

How long is the gorilla trek?

Gorilla trekking is an all-day adventure that usually begins at sunrise and ends a little before sunset. If you are planning a gorilla trek, go ahead and plan on blocking out an entire day for it. 

How excited are you to plan your very own gorilla trekking adventure? Whether this is something that has always been on your bucket list or something that you just realized should be on your bucket list, we hope that we have given you a good starting point for planning your very own adventure. 

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