Gorilla Trekking in Uganda: A Beginner’s Guide

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Last Updated on December 17, 2019 by Audrey Scott

For many travelers to Uganda, gorilla trekking is the anchor activity and highlight of their trip. To encounter mountain gorillas not only carries some expense, but it also takes planning and preparation to make the most of your visit. In this Uganda Gorilla Trekking Beginner's Guide we share all you need to know to prepare for and get the most out of you gorilla trekking experience in Uganda.

I followed just behind our lead mountain gorilla tracker. In the hush of the moment under the canopy, I remembered our guide’s advice earlier that morning: “On your way to the gorillas, don’t forget to enjoy the sound of the jungle. There’s nothing like it.”

My focus had been on climbing through the tendrils, on getting there. I could feel the heat around me, the sound of swarms of bugs above my head.

Then our tracker pivoted and pointed my attention to the right, just past the thickness from which we’d emerged and into the clearing.

Suddenly, it was just me and a mountain gorilla.

Pensive Gorilla - Bwindi National Park, Uganda
Our first encounter with a mountain gorilla.

His name was Kakono, the silverback leader of the Mishaya family we’d managed to find. He sat just a few meters away, only a group of leaves and the floor of the jungle between us. I stared for a few moments, following his every slow, deliberate movement. Then I came to and realized I might want to capture the moment in pixels. A photo may be worth a 1000 words — I don’t know — but this moment seemed to require a few thousand more.

He had massive hands, blocky, like a catcher’s mitt. Inky black and leathery, too, with rough patches and texture. “A manicure,” I thought.

Kakono got up. He was huge — shockingly so. Fluid and graceful. Majestic and peaceful. He knew no hurry. The deliberate nature of his movements seemed almost oddly incongruous with his size.

I tasted a bit of fear – fear I now know was misplaced. Stereotypes of gorillas are so entirely off the mark. All those images we’re fed – King Kong, American Tourister luggage commercials and all the false clichés of violent Hollywood-styled apes — faded into the buzz of the jungle.

Despite what their size might suggest, mountain gorillas are vegetarian. Take that when you imagine they might devour you. Besides, they are peaceful, almost zen-like in a way we humans might never be able to comprehend. Maybe that’s what sitting and eating in contemplation does to you. That, and give you a big belly.

A connection, they look like us in another age, with more hair, more wrinkles.

A look into their eyes. Simple wonder. What do they think? What do they see? If they could, perhaps they might ask, “What do you people with those things around your necks find so interesting about me? Please, get a life.”

This is our world, together. But we were clearly in theirs.

The following experiences are from our Uganda Overland: Gorillas and Chimps tour with G Adventures. If you are considering this and want to know what to expect, here’s an overview of the gorilla trekking part of the tour and how to make the most of the experience. If you prefer a non-overland and more luxurious style tour to see gorillas in Uganda, we can recommend instead the Culture and Wildlife of Uganda and Rwanda or Rwanda and Uganda Gorilla Discovery tours. Disclosure: This tour was sponsored and provided to us in conjunction with our partnership with G Adventures as Wanderers.

Uganda's Mountain Gorillas and Conservation Efforts

Approximately 900 mountain gorillas live in the shared-border forests that extend into Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). After decades of decline due to poachers, civil war and diminishing forests, gorilla populations have begun to pick up in the last couple of years. In some respects, the growth of gorilla tourism may have helped protect these animals as the government receives funding for conservation and sees the economic benefit of protecting the animals and the national parks that serve as their homes.

Today, around 400 gorillas call the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park their home. Of these, nine gorillas families (each family usually consists of 10-15 members) have been habituated, meaning that although they are still wild they have become accustomed to humans and are unlikely to attack.

Gorilla Teenager with Belly - Bwindi National Park, Uganda
Teenage male, ready with a big belly for when he becomes a silverback leader.

When to go gorilla trekking

It is possible to go gorilla trekking all year round, but you may face rain or more crowds during certain times of year. The high season is June-September and December-February when Uganda has its dry(er) season and Europeans have their holidays. Even during this time you may experience rain in the forest. Trekking permits will be a bit pricier and more in demand during these times.

Low season is considered March-May or October-November rainy seasons. When trekking during this time you may experience more rain in the forest, making for a muddier, more slippery climb. However, during this time gorillas may be more likely to hang out in the low lands since food is abundant during the rainy season and they don’t need to search long and wide for meals. This means that your treks into the forest to find them will be shorter, often under two hours.

Our Gorilla Trekking Guide Waits for Information - Bwindi Nationonal Park, Uganda
Our gorilla trekking guide waits for information from trackers on the location of the gorilla family.

We went in May and lucked out with our weather. It rained the day before and the day after, but on the day of our trek it was sunshine the whole time we were in the forest and with the gorillas. For cost and crowds, we’d recommend trekking in either the off-season or shoulder season.

READ MORE: Uganda Beyond the Gorillas: From Boda Boda to Bunyonyi

Obtaining a Gorilla Trekking Permit

Gorilla trekking permits are a hefty expense at $600 per person for most of the year, with April and May at $350 per person (2014 prices). The maximum number of visitors per day is 72, divided into groups of 8 persons maximum. Each group visits a different habituated gorilla family. The permit assigns you to a gorilla family and allows you to spend one hour with the family once your group finds them.

Our gorilla trekking permit and organization was included as part of our G Adventures tour in Uganda. This means that they took care of the paperwork as well as transport to and from our accommodation to the park. Each gorilla family is in a different area of the park, so your accommodation should be coordinated with the park entry point for that particular family. All we needed to do was show up and be prepared. Made for a very stress-free experience.

Even if you travel independently, it makes sense to find a local tour operator to help you secure your trekking permit and arrange transport, accommodation and other logistical support. The reality is that Ugandan tour operators purchase the majority of trekking permits so it’s very difficult for individuals to buy them directly from the National Park. If you want to go during the high season (June-September) you’ll need to organize everything months in advance to be sure you can get a permit.

And while there are no guarantees of mountain gorilla sightings when you set off, the tracking procedures in place at Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park virtually ensure you an unforgettable encounter.

Gear: What to Bring With You Gorilla Trekking

Everyone’s gorilla trekking experience will be different depending upon the weather, the depth of your forest hike, where the gorillas are hanging out, and other factors. It’s important to be prepared for anything so you can focus your time on enjoying your jungle walk and time spent with the gorillas, rather than being worried about your gear.

Gorilla Trekking, Just Before the Forest - Bwindi National Park, Uganda
Our group lines up before heading into the forest.

1. What to wear when gorilla trekking

Note: It’s likely that you’ll be trekking through mud and covered in dirt by the end of your trek so consider bringing clothes that you won't mind ruining.

  • Trekking pants. We like these trekking pants (his and hers) because they have lots of zipped and secure pockets so that you can easily access smartphones, wallets, or anything else without worrying that something might fall out in the jungle. If you have waterproof pants with you, carry these in your backpack in case of rain. You will also be recommended to tuck your pant legs into your socks (love Smart Wool hiking socks) to prevent nasty creatures from crawling up your legs.
  • T-shirt and long-sleeved shirt. We recommend a t-shirt with a light long-sleeved shirt over top to protect you against sun exposure and bugs (of which there are A LOT in the forest and jungle).
  • Waterproof or water-resistant jacket. Keep this handy, especially in the wet season.
  • Fleece or light jacket. The park is above 2,000 meters (6,000 feet). It’s unlikely that you will be cold when trekking in the humid forest, but you may become chilled waiting around for word of the gorillas’ location or when stopping for lunch.
  • Trekking shoes. For climbing hills, good traction on your shoes is essential. Even better if your trekking shoes are somewhat water-resistant.
  • Hat. Sun protection when trekking outside the forest.

2) Food and Water

  • Two liters of water per person. While this may sound like a lot, this amount is recommended in case it’s a long, hot hike. Better to have too much water than too little.
  • Lunch and snacks. Bring snacks that you can munch on along the way to keep your blood sugar and energy high before lunch, which will usually consist of a sandwich and fruit. Depending on how long it takes your group to find the gorilla family, it can sometimes be a while before you eat lunch.

3) Other useful gear for your gorilla trek

  • Small backpack. Be sure this is comfortable, as you’ll need to carry it for hours en route to and inside the jungle.
  • Walking stick. Do not worry about bringing your own. Wooden sticks are available to borrow at the park entrance.
  • Cameras and rain protection. It might be a bit overboard to carry a dry sack for your camera (although we did), but do carry a plastic bag or similar water resisting protection to keep your camera protected in case of rain.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray. Travel staples in this part of the world.

Note: If you’d prefer to enjoy your trek unencumbered, you can hire a porter to carry your small bag and assist you up hills and through the challenging parts of the forest. Just tell your guide that you’re interested in hiring a porter and he’ll find one for you at the National Park entrance. The fee is $15 per day (May 2014 prices).

What to Expect on the Gorilla Trekking Day

Your Team: Guides, Scouts, Trackers

Don’t forget to bring your passport with you as officials at the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park office will need to verify your trekking permit against your identification. After a quick briefing on safety measures and what to expect during the day, you will be assigned to a group of a maximum of 8 people for your gorilla family search and visit.

Each group consists of a main guide and two scouts who carry AK-47 guns and walk before and after the group. We were told that the reason for armed scouts is for protection in the forest against wild elephants or angry, unhabituated gorillas. The scouts are trained to fire shots into the air first in order to scare away the animals. We’ve never heard of anyone coming across these wild animals, but we understand that the policy of the National Park is to be safe rather than sorry.

Gorilla Trekking Guide, Scouts and Trackers - Bwindi, Uganda
Our gorilla trekking team of guides, scouts, trackers and a porter.

Your group will also have a pair of trackers who will have been sent out in the early morning (prior to your arrival in the park) to find the location of your specific gorilla family and to assess where they may be headed. Trackers communicate the gorilla’s movements to the guide so that he can decide on the best approach to meet the gorilla family.

Trekking to Find the Gorillas

The length of your overall experience and the amount of time it will take to actually meet your gorilla family is said to vary widely. It may take as little as 30 minutes to find your family and as long as five to six hours. The day we went, we spent about an hour looking for the gorillas while another group spent three hours searching in thick jungle.

The forest is lush, humid and damp and there are no discernible trekking paths. The terrain is full of hills and steep slopes where you will be required to pull yourself up steep jungle grades by grasping onto branches, plant roots, bushes and more. Follow the lead of the guide as to the best path and form to take.

Gorilla Trekking, Climbing Through Forest - Bwindi National Park
Climbing hills in the lush Ugandan forest.

If you need a break, let your guide know. The worst thing that can happen is if you overexert yourself or don’t hydrate enough and are forced to leave the park before you find the gorillas.

Quality Time with the Gorillas

Once your group finds the gorilla family the clock starts: you have an hour to spend with them.

Now is when you want to stay quiet, move slowly and avoid sudden movements. I found that just sitting, enjoying being in the gorillas’ presence was the best experience.

Up Close with Kakono, the Silverback Male Gorilla of the Mishaya Group - Bwindi National Park, Uganda
Joining the mountain gorillas for their breakfast feast.

It’s not a problem to look a gorilla in the eye, but if he begins charging you, hold your ground but lower your eyes to indicate that you do not want a confrontation. Photos and videos are fine, but no flash.

Ideally, you’ve found several gorillas together in a clearing on the ground. This provides you easy visibility and you can just sit and observe. In other situations the gorillas are up and moving around — in the trees, behind bushes, or walking around through dense brush. Follow the lead of the trackers and guides and stay close as they move around to find other gorillas.

The trackers will often clear the brush with their machete so you can get a clearer and closer look at the gorillas. It is incredible how graceful and peaceful these animals are, especially considering their incredible size. You’ll be amazed when you see the silverbacks (mature males) get up and move around.

Huge Silverback (Male) Gorilla from Behind - Bwindi National Park, Uganda
Gorilla moon. Amazed at the sheer size and bulk of the silverback mountain gorilla.

Sustainability, Respect for the Gorillas

Gorilla trekking permits exist to limit the number of visitors and thereby reduce the stress on the gorillas. Our individual behaviors can also help to reduce the anxiety that our presence may effect, too. Give the gorillas the space they deserve.

Do not aggressively pursue them if it seems as though they are becoming annoyed and constantly moving to higher branches or behind bushes. Some of the most entertaining actions and displays (e.g., peeing or pooing on you from a tree, or chest beating) are usually an indication that a gorilla feels threatened. Good thing is, those displays are also a gorilla’s way of communicating “Keep your distance. I’d like to avoid resolving this with a fight.

Some travelers may ask: Are mountain gorilla encounters sustainable and ultimately beneficial to the mountain gorillas? On one hand, the visits are clearly an invasion. Imagine a bunch of photographers coming into your home at approximately the same time every day. You might tire of it, no?

At the same time, to the extent that gorilla treks provide motivation to protect the gorillas and their habitat from encroaching land development and farms, it’s not only worthwhile — it may be the only thing keeping human beings from driving to extinction what few mountain gorillas remain.

With that in mind, respect the gorillas as the wild yet sentient creatures that they are.

Kakona, the Silverback Gorilla - Bwindi National Park, Uganda
Up close and personal with Kakono.

As you stare into the eyes of a mountain gorilla you’ll likely feel a connection, one unlike you’ve ever experienced before. A connection of peering into the eyes of an exotic creature that looks and acts quite a bit like we humans do.

It’s a difficult feeling to articulate. We hope that this guide helps you experience it for yourself one day.

Disclosure: Our Uganda Overland: Gorillas and Chimps tour was provided to us by G Adventures in cooperation with its Wanderers in Residence program. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

Our experiences above were from the G Adventures Uganda & Gorillas Overland Tour. If you plan to book this or another tour with G Adventures, please consider starting the process by clicking on one of the links above. The price stays the same to you and we earn a small commission. Thank you!

About Daniel Noll
Travel and life evangelist. Writer, speaker, storyteller and consultant. Connecting people to experiences that will change their lives. Originally from the U.S. Daniel has lived abroad since 2001 and most recently has been on the road since 2006. When he's not writing for the blog you can keep up with his adventures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And you can learn more about him on the About Page and on LinkedIn.

42 thoughts on “Gorilla Trekking in Uganda: A Beginner’s Guide”

  1. It really is bitter sweet reading this- I love it but at the same time it was one of the reasons I went to Uganda and I didn’t get to go on a trek. After getting my visa and flights the world cup bombing happened back in 2010 & it was pretty unsafe to be traveling alone with multiple bus bombings while I was there. I was devastated, but then after spending 6 weeks in the village, learning about the corruption of the government, & some NGO workers explaining more details they’d learned about the money paid to the national park & where it goes (not to the right people), I felt like it was a good thing I didn’t go. I was so connected with the families I met in Luganda, the village I stayed at, and they kind of frowned at me and spoke of the gorilla biz in a negative way… sometimes though, I still regret not going when I was so close! I’m not sure what I would do if I had to choose again.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Rachel. These issues are never cut-and-dried, just as your experience indicates. Particularly so when it regards money and resources, as it often does.

      I’m curious: the families you met in Luganda, what specifically were they frowning on regarding the gorilla business? And how did they speak negatively of it? Was it the corruption that you were referring to, or something more?

      As you seem to have responded to, I had conflicting feelings. To me, the upshot is that it’s quite sad that the only way we can only seem to prevent further encroachment on the gorillas’ habitat is to commercialize encounters with them. So I appreciate your disappointment in being so close but not going, and also your ambivalence if you’re faced with the decision again.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experience so that others can make their decisions with the fullest information available.

  2. It’s a difficult decision, I’m not sure how I would feel about invading these creatures own space and habitat, as you said Dan it’s like if a bunch of photographers wouldn’t stop taking photos of me during my daily routine, which I can imagine would annoy me immensely. On the other hand, if this trekking trips are the only way to keep and save the few mountain gorillas remaining, that’s probably not too bad I guess.

    • Thanks, Franca. Glad that you can identify with the article. I would look forward to hearing what decision you make and how you make it — if/when you have the opportunity to visit the gorillas.

  3. Hmmm..I couldn’t resist chiming in to the conversation. We went to see the Mountain Gorillas in both Uganda and Rwanda, which were totally different experiences. Rwanda is significantly more commercialized, among other things….

    I would not hesitate to go back to see the gorillas in Uganda. While some or much of the money obviously does not return to the park (I think we can all argue about how much that is), I do believe that it’s incredibly important to do what we can to ensure these animals can maintain their populations. If my visit helps to stress or call attention to the importance of conservation in a small community interested primarily in tourist dollars (but not really gorillas), then I think it’s worth it.

    From speaking with our guides, I also sensed there is much jealousy in Uganda, as the gorillas have created a lot of haves and have-nots. In communities farther from the gorillas, there is resentment that so much money flows to the communities near the gorillas. Additionally, those lucky enough to be trackers, guides, or score one of the coveted jobs at expensive lodges can make significant changes to their life and the lives of their family members. Certainly the resulting wealth differential is not a problem limited to Uganda & Bwindi.

    An hour out of 24 hours isn’t really very long, and I personally think there are important benefits to habituation beyond just enabling visitors to see them in their natural habitat. I know veterinary care has been provided in certain situations (you can argue against interference, but that’s a difficult choice in such a critically endangered population), and in areas where trackers spend most of the day with the gorillas, I do think it deters poaching. Moreover, an incredible amount has been learned about the gorillas social and family interactions, as well as other things–including diseases and pests.

    In the end, I think we all have to do what each of us feels is appropriate. Clearly not easy answers or simple problems!

    PS: Did you take gloves or gators? We had lots of ticks (though not bugs, thank goodness), and spiky vines that penetrated my thick gloves. I’m impressed if you trekked without those 🙂

    • Thanks Heather for weighing in. This sort of discussion is exactly what I’d hoped for and had in mind when I shared my experience as I did.

      There’s a lot to unpack in your comment. Your observations regarding the benefits of reducing encroachment on the gorillas’ habitat and developing a greater understanding of them arguably weighs very heavily in favor of continuing the practice.

      The issue of haves and have-nots, that one is universal. This is the two sides of any development coin. Development inherently changes communities, at times for the better, at times for the worse. By that I mean, just because there is more money doesn’t always mean that the effects of that money or its flow are always positive. One of those drawbacks is that some will benefit, while others will not. Some tourism advocates would argue that means only more opportunity to develop tourism outside of the what I’ll call the gorilla epicenter. Until then, however, resentment is understandable — particularly when job-trading and corruption is almost guaranteed.

      Having said all that, no matter what tourism development is undertaken by the Ugandan government and international organizations, it’s unlikely to deliver an economic golden egg on the scale of the gorilla business.

      I could go on and write several full length posts to ponder the issues you highlight. I just might, actually.

      In the meantime, it’s good to think about it, write thoughtfully about it, and advocate for increased awareness, better information, informed consumer decisions, and respectful traveler behavior on the ground.

      Finally, a big thanks for your opinion regarding Ugandan gorilla trekking vs. Rwanda gorilla trekking. I’m certain that debate rages eternal online.

      Re: gloves and gators. We were pretty well equipped because of warnings from others. Gloves, definitely. A friend recommended thick, rubber padded garden gloves. Though our path didn’t seem to require gloves to that extent, other paths may have. We wore thick, high hiking socks to avoid critters. We did not wear gators, but our socks were tucked in. And we were fine.

      Thanks again for a very thoughtful and thought-provoking comment!

    • Any and every wildlife tourism, brings in it’s wake, pockets of happy and unhappy people. Like gorillas in Uganda, the same problem is omnipresent in every tiger park of India. I know of this national park, where people living in that district objected to the development of the park because that meant uprooting existing railway stations and state highways to give way for the gigantic park. They seem to ignore the possible monetary windfalls and in effect, a better lifestyle for them.

      Hotels in and around town, though, were a celebrating lot because that meant far greater $ than they could have ever laid their hands on.

      It’s the same story everywhere,

      Kudos for the post, though!


      • Glad you enjoyed the piece, Bhavya. It’s true that every bit of wildlife tourism — and even tourism in general as well as life in general — brings pockets of happiness and discontent. As I indicated to others, we aimed to highlight the experience as it was and at the same time try to unpack all the various issues to prospective mountain gorilla visitors regarding the impacts of their visit, positive and negative. I find that life experiences like these (e.g, bucket list items) are so prone to be packed in cliches when they are articulated. In writing what we did, we wished to go beyond that. I think the experience and the issues at hand — and most importantly our readers — deserve better.

        Thanks for your comment and contribution to the conversation!

  4. What a fantastic experience! A friend of ours went on a Gorilla trek and raved about the trip. It would be amazing to experience these creatures up close and in their natural habitat. Trekking with Gorillas has been on my bucket list for a while now. Excellent post.

  5. Its almost as if you guys sat down last year and said “These are the coolest experiences in the world, let’s do them all!”. Another jealous inducing post, full of good info as always.

    • Glad you found the post informative. When you decide to pay the mountain gorillas a visit, give us a shout.

      As for that list, we have a mental list. It changes, often. We have a physical list. It changes every 10 years or so. The world is a big place, lots of spectacular things to do. Decisions, decisions.

    • When you visit the mountain gorillas — and particularly when you enter the jungle — it’s likely that your body will be pretty well covered to protect against bugs, etc. It’s also very likely that your gorilla trackers would encounter the snake first and frighten it away.

      Hope that helps, Jamie.

  6. What a amazing experience! A buddy of ours went on a Gorilla travel and talked about the journey. It would be awesome to encounter these animals up near and in their organic environment.

    • Thanks, Sally. Glad our story and the communication of our mountain gorilla encounter resonates. Definitely a remarkable and humbling experience.

  7. Insanely jealous! This is definitely on my to-do list. I know you went with G Adventures, but were you able to gauge if there were any “better” companies to do the trekking with? Just companies that were more ethical or careful in their approach to the gorilla habitat, or is it the same standard practices across all tour operators?

    • To the extent that, at least in Uganda, the mountain gorilla trekking experience is administered by the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the tour operator does not influence the gorilla encounter itself. So any tour operator that offers tours will essentially carry you to the park, but the encounter will be managed by park-provided trackers and guides.

      Where tour operators make a difference perhaps is in the background and respectful travel suggestions they might provide in the lead-up to your mountain gorilla encounter. I cannot comment on whether or how this applies to Rwanda mountain gorilla trekking or Congo gorilla trekking, but I suspect the situation is similar.

  8. I am absolutely, totally, green at the gills with envy!!! This is right at the top of my bucket list! I know there’s the whole ethical tourism and animal abuse issue that is out there, but I don’t see this as an animal abuse activity because they aren’t being harmed and the tourists can’t touch or ride on them, and are only allowed to be in their presence for an hour, at a distance. If the money is going towards their conservation and anti poaching, and there are vets who are looking out for their wellbeing, then I think the tourism is actually helping them. The fact that their numbers are on the increase speaks volumes.

    Back to the areas, I’ve always heard Rwanda is the best place to go gorilla tracking, so I’d love your opinion on Uganda.

    Thanks for the post. I’m definitely doing this next year!

    • Hi Sandra, I’m glad the post resonated for you. That’s why we chose to write it the way the way that we did and ultimately decided to opt for the experience for ourselves. I don’t think there’s an issue of outright abuse. (I hope our words didn’t indicate that.) The point I was attempting to make is that the issue is not black and white. The best way for visitors to serve themselves and the animals at the same time is to be sensitive and to imagine themselves in the position of the gorillas being visited each and every day. For visitors, it’s so tempting to want to get closer and closer. I understand the temptation, I witnessed it. It takes a little restraint and awareness to say at some point, “Maybe I’ve gone far enough.”

      As for comparison between a mountain gorilla experience in Rwanda and one in Uganda, I’m not in a firsthand position to say, but I can direct you to Heather’s comment above. As for my experience with the gorillas in Uganda, it’s worthwhile and thought-provoking — as I hope my opening words at the top of this post articulate.

  9. Gorilla tourism has brought quite a number of benefits to the area as opposed to the negatives. A hospital was build in Buhoma ( one of the locations of gorilla tracking) which would have otherwise not been possible and recently a nursing school. People are employed as guides, potters, lodges and many sell their crafts. From my experience of interacting with the people as i take tourists there, the gorillas would most likely be extinct especially with the population pressure on the land as clearly seen on the edges of the forest. Not all the gorillas have been habituated. In many

    • Thanks for your perspective and for sharing your experience, Miriam. As I indicated, sometimes that’s what it takes — tourism of various types — to build awareness and to start a movement that focuses on preservation for the sake of saving the environment and its inhabitants…from us. I hope that viewpoint was reflected in the piece that we wrote.

      To your point, if the park and the visits didn’t exist, there might be little to no motivation to protect the space and the animals and they might well be extinct by now. Furthermore, your point regarding the impact on the socioeconomy of these areas is really important. This is often overlooked in sustainable tourism discussions. In other words, if we want to alter local people’s behaviors in accordance with preservation, we must actually consider their livelihoods at the same time.

  10. Really great Pictures, Audrey and Daniel. We oganize Uganda and Ruanda Gorilla Trekking since many years for our German customers. It is really not that easy to get the permits. You have to do it a long time before and the hiker earns the risk, that he have to pay the permits in advance. Your hints, what to take with you on such a trip, are really helpful. I will share it in future with others.
    I wish you a lot of other nice adventures.

    • Thank you. Glad that you enjoyed the photos and especially that you found our practical gorilla trekking tips worthy of sharing. Thanks also for the perspective on gorilla trekking permits. If there’s anything else we should add to the list, please let us know.

    • I think this is a case where, if you faced your fears, you would be very surprised by how un-terrifying the mountain gorillas are.

  11. Nice read! Great tips and beautiful photos. I would really love to see them on person, I saw a documentary show on national geographic about the gorillas and I thought they are really amazing creatures. Maybe some day I can visit the place. God bless the people who keeps this wonderful creatures safe. Thanks for the share!

  12. AMAZING POST! I did my Gorilla trek in Bwindi last year (July 2013) and it is definitely an unforgettable experience. Great tips!! Out of curiosity, do you remember the name of your lead guide? Was it Harold? Because he looks familiar and if it is Harold – we totally had the same guide.

    • Thanks, Melissa. Glad you enjoyed the post and the gorilla trekking experience. It’s quite possible we had the same gorilla trekking guide, however I don’t remember his name as Harold.

  13. Very through guide … I certainly hope their numbers are able to recover after all the damage that we have done to them and their habitat over the years!

  14. An informative post! In terms of gear, may I also suggest gardening gloves (which my tour operator recommended)? When I recently did the gorilla trek in Rwanda, they protected my hands from getting scratched or pierced by the bushes and nettle.

    • Great advice, Helen! Gardening gloves are tough and inexpensive, so the perfect gear as you’ll likely ruin them with mud and dirt by the end of the day.

  15. Beautiful, very informative. Thank you for sharing a fantastic review and pictures of the trek

    An update
    Gorilla permit price for Uganda gorilla park, Bwindi forest and Mgahinga park will stay at the current one which 600USD for high season months ( January, February, March, June, July, August, September, October and December) , 350USD for low months (April, May and November) in 2016 & 2017

    Gorilla permit price for Rwanda, Volcano park remain at 750USD for high season. There is a rumor Rwanda will discount its Gorilla permit fees for low season next year.
    I will keep you updated on this.

    Katona Tours

  16. Fantastic post! We just got back from a 2 week trip around Uganda and LOVED it. It is an incredible country that is doing its best to recover from some horrific times. The people are kind and generous and I do feel they understand the bonus that tourism gives their communities. I am a physician and we were in Buhoma for one of our treks and saw the benefits of the hospital and the schools in the area. The Gorillas were definitely the highlight and a once in a lifetime experience. I really felt that all the Park employees from the trekkers to the Guides to the Porters had nothing but the best intentions. I was impressed at the care they took to make sure our experience was incredible and at the same time did not annoy or harass the Gorillas in any way. I encourage anyone who wants to do this to try it! It is the most magical experience of my life. And by the way, your guide in the picture was our guide as well! His name is Herbert and he is wonderful!

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment, Wendy. The experience you shared is a wonderful and full endorsement of the Uganda gorilla experience. Not only is it about the gorillas and their habitat, but all of the connections between local people, their community, visitors, the surrounding environment, and everyone’s shared future.

      And thank you for the tip on the name of our guide, Herbert.

  17. The recent increase in prices for gorilla tracking permits in Rwanda from 750USD to 1500USD should make Uganda even more attractive at only 600USD. Uganda has half of the total population of mountain gorillas and has so much to offer beyond gorilla trekking. Rwanda with less to offer seems has benefited from greater marketing to an extent that they can afford to charge double – Very interesting

  18. Thanks so much for this wonderful post, i greatly appreciate the effort rendered. To bring on some notice on board, i am tour operator based in Rwanda, but operating across East Africa, for the gorilla permit in Rwanda, it no longer $750, it is now $1500 per person. For Uganda it is still $600 per person the promotion of $350 is no longer in existance. If you would wish to only do gorillas, i advise for both Rwanda and Uganda, because the security is okay, Congo recently is not secure as to some tourists were Kidnapped, some few month ago. In case price is your worry, then Uganda is the best option for you, but if your interested only in gorilla, you can do even a two day trekking or one day as well, You can even fly through Rwanda using a direct flight and trek the following day in Uganda, after getting an East African Visa on arrival, which is $100. For more, am available

    The issues of who benefits from the gorillas as i was reading, this is a big issue to resolve.

    Both Uganda and Rwanda, has just open up to tourism, there is a lot needed to be done, the government has just started to realize the importance of tourism, before all these were not thought of, these development we are talking about needs hug sum of money. I see others asking where does the money go, they have staff, projects, resource which need to be looked after, and it is not that the money for tourism should go back to the entire tourism, the country as whole needs this money, it is shared in the countries budget. Also other parks which are not having a good number of tourists still benefit from the entire money from tourism.

    As i conclude, we shall have more protection, go news is, the gorilla status has moved from critically endangered to endangered.
    The number is increasing here and then. Lets keep supporting the local communities as they have started to realize the importance of the gorillas and tourism.

    Those interested in the experience, for any inquiry, am available


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