Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda is the highlight of all the rest of Africa’s Safaris, Gorilla Trekking still continuing amidst Covid-19 pandemic.
Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, Call it gorilla tracking or gorilla trekking safaris, the differences in English doesn’t change anything concerning the adventure. During the terror times of the dangerous global pandemic coronavirus, it’s a sounding idea to have a time off the usual environment. Gorilla trekking safaris have availed to ensure that the health and psychological torture caused by Covid-19 is wiped away. And roads connecting to gorillas are widely open for trekkers with term and conditions being applied.
After worries of trekkers possibly contracting Covid-19 to animals as discovered by WHO, then it was very important for UWA to ensure that continuing trekking activities amidst there no gape left that can lead to the species getting infected by trekkers. Then there was a need to strictly observe the MOH set SOPs to ensure that all animals of all protected areas are safe guarded against any possible Covid-19 contraction.
Well, there is still gorilla trekking taking places. As usual tourists still have the same opportunity to encounter the giants. And a simple guide for anyone opting for a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda for a smooth planning.
Why go for Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda?
Still Uganda is the only country in the world with two national parks where one can trek gorillas in their natural setting. Say the only country where one can do double gorilla trekking in two different forests, this sounds so amazing. Trekking mountain gorillas in Uganda is a tremendous suggestion for all kinds of trekkers (classes i.e. Luxury, Mid-range and Budget trekker) the only opportunity is in Uganda in terms of accommodation and transportation.
Trekking in Uganda is safer, as the neighboring DRC is experiencing political disturbances from rebels. Uganda remains safe for travelers and this has been and this has been witnessed for a long time that trekking in Uganda is safe. Traveling to all parts of the country (Uganda) is safety is guaranteed and don’t need to be worried about the security.
Where in Uganda to do Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda?
Uganda is blessed with two volcanic tropic which are endemic homes for the endangered mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are only primate species which can’t survive under captivity (zoo) and only located in their remaining natural homes. There are two mountainous forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park where one can have a change to encounter the species.
Briefly about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable is located in Southwestern Uganda covering parts of Kisoro, Kabale and Kanungu districts covering an area of 331sqkm. This is a unique mountainous tropical forests located at the edge of the great Albertine Rift Valley, the western branch of the East African rift valley, the forest was part of the great Virunga Conservation Areas but due to population pressure this section was poached and separated. The Bwindi forest host over half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas in the wild, as the other, the forest shelters a special sub-specie of Bwindi mountain gorilla which is slightly different from the Virunga mountain gorillas. There are 4 gorilla trekking sectors in the forest of Buhoma in the north, Rushaga in the southeast, Ruhija in the east and Nkuringo in the wester. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is offers the greatest opportunities of trekking gorillas with over 18 habituated gorillas families (over 140 permits) accommodating all trekkers in terms of accommodation.
Briefly about Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
This Uganda’s smallest among all National Parks in the country, however, the tiny volcanic tropic is endowed with great offers. The forest is part of the Virunga conservation area which is shared among Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. There is only one habituated gorillas family at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park but the forest is endemic to various species to Uganda including the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys which nicknames the park a place where ”Gold meets silver”. Trekking gorillas from here needs earlier planning at least 4 month to have a permit to trek from here.
How much is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda?
Gorilla trekking remains the most amazing wildlife adventures, finding yourself in the jungle trekking for miles searching for the apes. The cost to trek gorillas in Uganda is relatively accommodative in relation to the neighbors and having a permit it costs US$700 per person and gorilla Habituation a permit costs US$1,500. Gorilla tours is very limited in accommodating trekkers and for an opportunity to trek the species one must book at least 3 month before the trekking date.
What is all about Gorilla Habituation Experience?
Gorilla habituation simply means to make the gorillas used to human presence and the activity involves a full day following the gorillas monitoring their daily activities. Gorilla habituation is done by specialist (researchers) who make a critical study of various wild species gorillas inclusive. Still it’s only in Uganda where trekkers have a chance to join a team of researchers and do gorilla habituation. In Uganda gorilla habituation is done at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park at Rushaga sector where only a limited number of trekker have a chance to monitor the gorillas daily.
What is about Gorilla Trekking Safaris amidst Covid-19?
Trekking gorillas amidst Covid-19 is no difference with the usual gorilla trekking activities, only MOH SOPs are considered to be followed. The Uganda Wildlife Authority as well made special settings on addition to that of the government before trekking which are aimed at safe guarding the species from contracting the dangerous coronavirus.
The following SOPs have been established by UWA management for all trekkers opting to trek gorillas on addition to having your permit ready.
Before setting to the park make sure to have a negative Covid-19 PCR testing certificate, for all inbound travelers to Uganda have to take a mandatory PCR test at the Airport irrespective of their coronavirus vaccination status. After testing those found positive are quarantine until they test negative, so, reaching your trekking park you will have to present the negative PCR test and as well observe the following.
- When you arrive at the briefing point, you will be required to wash or sanitize your hands. Your temperature will then be taken and recorded. Those with temperatures above 37.5 degrees Celsius will be refused from taking part in the trek.
- Briefing shall be done in small groups of 8 people after the Gorilla groups have been allocated.
- You are required to wear N95, surgical mask or a cloth mask with a filter. Those with N95 and surgical masks are encouraged to carry 2.
- You will have breaks to catch fresh air during the Gorilla trek and social distancing will be strictly observed.
- As you get closer to the Gorillas, you will be required to sanitize your hands again before viewing takes place.
- You are required to stay at least 10 meters away from the Gorillas during this period.
Why is Gorilla Trekking Safaris expensive?
Mountain gorillas are endangered species which even tested the edge of extinction. A lot of effort has been deployed to ensure that the gorillas also witness their next generation. The efforts of gorilla conservation were started and spare headed by Diana Fossey the American primatologist who fell in love with the mountain gorillas at Karismbi in Rwanda where she carried out all her research about the gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are wild species but are characterized by a weaker immune system making them only surviving in these volcanic designated forests. To protect them from the poachers and encroachers as well treating them is something so expensive. When these forests where gazetted for the gorillas the people who lived in them were forcefully evicted without any pay there was always threats to encroaching and one way to harmonize between the forest and surrounding people was making the these surrounding locals benefiting from the tourism activities for sustainable development.
These measures have for sure helped in reviving the number of mountain gorillas in the wild, by 1991 when the forests were gazetted in the wild there was about only 300 gorillas in the wild and today there is about 1,063 according to the recent 2019 gorilla census.
How to access gorilla parks in Uganda
There two ways to access the gorilla destinations and these are air and by road. Using the road it’s a long fully day drive from Kampala capital but using air is a one hour flight from Entebbe airport.
A drive to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park from Kampala takes about 9-10 hour drive, and to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park takes about to 8-9 hour drive. Take the Kampala – Masaka – Mbarara –Kabale – Kisoro Road drive to reach the parks, when driving to Bwindi forest must reach through the sector you’re to trek gorillas from.
For travelers who don’t wish to spend a lot of time driving, there is an alternative of taking a chartered plane from wither Kajjansi Airstrip or Entebbe airport to Kihihi airstrip in Kisoro which is almost 1 ½ hour drive to the parks.
How to book for permit for Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda?
No permit, no, trekking gorillas. Gorilla trekking requires prior preparations which need to have a gorilla trekking permit before reaching the trekking point. As noticed before gorilla trekking is very competitive where they level of demand are beyond the level of supply. Permits to trek in Uganda are given by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) where one can book directly, but it’s advisable to use local Tour Operators to secure your trekking permit. Just remember to do this earlier enough when there is still availability.