Gorilla trekking in Uganda from South Africa
Gorilla trekking in Uganda from South Africa : Uganda, the best gorilla trekking destination, is home to half of the mountain gorillas of the world. Every year thousands of tourists come to Uganda to have the memorable gorilla trek in either of the two parks that harbor the gorillas- Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Most travelers wonder if they can have a mountain gorilla experience in Uganda if they also would like to have a wildlife safari in South Africa. The answer to this dilemma is yes you can. It is possible to travel from South Africa to Uganda and have that once in a life time mountain gorilla trekking experience.
The journey to Uganda
From South Africa, one can use air transport which is the quickest and safest. There are many connecting airlines to Uganda that include Airlink, Kenya airlines, Ethiopian airlines and most recently the Ugandan airlines. You can check out any of those airlines and more for their price offers. Alternatively, if you’re in for a long trip, you can take the road from South Africa to Uganda. The trip will take approximately 3 or 5 days or more depending on where you are from in South Africa.
From Entebbe to Mountain gorilla parks
From Entebbe airport, you can get a charter flight from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airstrip to either Kisoro airstrip if you’re trekking at Mgahinga National Park or Kihihi airstrip if you are going trekking at Bwindi National Park. These charter flights must be booked in advance with either your tour operator or in person at the respective airline offices. Some of these airlines include Eagle Air, Aero Link and Fly Uganda. If you prefer the road, it is approximately 9 to 10 hours from Kampala to Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga National Park.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda
As stated earlier, gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in 2 parks, Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Of the two, Bwindi National Park is the most gorilla concentrated park with over 300 of them in about 12 families. Mgahinga National Park on the other hand, has one family of the gorillas, the Nyakagezi family. A trek in any of the two parks will be memorable as the experience is pretty much the same but if you are a private person, Mgahinga National Park is the best option.
Before the trek, it is important to book your gorilla trekking permit in advance as it is the main requirement for trekking. A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs $700 and can only be booked at the Uganda wildlife Authority either through your tour operator or directly at the Uganda Wildlife Offices in Kampala.
On the day of your gorilla trek, you’re expected to report at the park offices at 7 am with your permit. A briefing will commence about gorilla behavior the rules, regulations and expectations of the trek. The rules include strictly not touching the animals to prevent disease spread and keeping a 10-meter distance from the animals.
The trek begins at 8 am and can take between 6 to 9 hours trying to find the gorillas. When found, the trekkers are allowed one hour around the gorillas taking pictures and trying to learn about their behavior. You will trek in groups of 8 in each group. Only one group treks at Mgahinga National Park at a given time because it is only one family of gorillas; about 12 groups trek at Bwindi National park at a go.
For your comfort, it’s advisable to have a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, insect repellent, water in a bottle and a walking stick. You can also carry along a camera for pictures, binoculars for long views and snacks in case the trek takes longs and you get hungry.
You will need an East African tourist Visa that allows you to tour across East Africa in order to trek gorillas. You can submit the applications forms for an East African Visa manually or online at the Ugandan embassy in South Africa before you travel for your tour. Alternatively, you can acquire a Visa at Entebbe airport upon your arrival into the country.