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Why You Should Consider Uganda for Your Mountain Gorilla Trekking Safari


Uganda is the best place to go on an African Mountain Gorilla tracking (trekking) Safari Tour



Mountain Gorilla Trekking? Here is Why you Should Consider Uganda as your Premier Destination - Trekking Gorillas in Either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park For yor Safari

The question is one asked often - "Why should I go on Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda?" Why not Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo?

The answer to that is very simple and there are many reasons why Uganda is the best choice to go Gorilla trekking and in Uganda you can easily combine Mountain Gorilla Viewing with the fabulous Ugandan Wildlife.


Uganda has half of the population of Mountain Gorillas in the World
Why You Should Consider Uganda for Your Mountain Gorilla Trekking SafariIn Uganda you will find the largest population of Mountain Gorillas. With an estimate of 1063 mountain gorillas (November 2018) that still exist on the planet today. Mountain gorilla population that has been under protection since 1964. Uganda is a home to half of all these massive creatures making it one of the only three countries in the world where mountain gorilla trekking is conducted. Besides, they are thriving and growing in number to the tune of about 7%.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in two national parks. Uganda’s Bwindi Park has over 459 gorilla (November 2018), with over 21 Gorilla Families that have been habituated and already set for tourism purposes, these are all open for visitor tracking here and only 1 is found in Mgahinga National Park. Uganda offers almost twice the availability of Gorilla Permits than Rwanda.

The Nyakagezi Gorilla Family is the only habituated gorilla group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. There are over 80 Mountain Gorillas found in Mgahinga Park. This 10-member group has the migratory spirit within them and they think that they are frequent travelers, taking off for the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Fortunately they have not done so in recent years. The Mgahinga Gorillas returned to Mgahinga Gorilla Park in 2012 and this time they seem to have discovered home – the Mgahinga National Parks as their home once again, which is good news and you now can track mountain gorillas in two areas of Uganda which is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park.

Lower Priced Gorilla Permits in Uganda

Despite mountain gorillas in the Virunga ranges and Bwindi Impenetrable Park being of the same species and only separated by the 42 km between thetwo regions or National Parks, there are significant price differences for In Uganda you can do Gorilla Trekking with a lower permit price - $700 USDvisiting the gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda. Rwanda’s recent bet for high end low impact tourism doubled the cost of gorilla trekking permits which are now more than twice the cost in Uganda and almost five times the cost in the DRC. In 2017 Rwanda increased the price of their gorilla permit from $700 USD to $1500 USD. In Uganda you can do Gorilla Trekking with a lower permit price - $700 USD (and has been $600 for the last couple years until July 1 2020) - helping you save up to $800 on each gorilla ticket. The time you spend with the gorillas in both tracking regions (Bwindi and Mgahinga Parks of Uganda and the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda) is the same – 1hour. The difference should mainly arise from your trek experience and probably the general gorilla tour arrangement. Things such as Rwanda is easier for Gorilla Trekking than Uganda, Rwanda gorilla are different etc - are not real. Just like in Rwanda, some treks are more comfortable than others. Some treks in Uganda can be as short as 2 to 3 hours, another internet myth. Trackers may return as early as 10 am.

Travellers should however note that there are no longer promotional gorilla permits or “discounted gorilla permits” for the months of April, May, and November as it used to be few years ago in Uganda. That ended November 2017. There is a lot of inaccurate information regarding Gorilla Trekking, Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda and Permit prices. Online travel forums and many travel agencies around the world put out and use outdated information.

With such prevailing, you would need two days or even one to complete your gorilla tour in Rwanda but 3 days if you were starting from and returning to Entebbe or Kampala for a Uganda gorilla tour. Besides, you would still incur additional costs in transportation and lodging, etc of about $500-$600. Some visitors choose to arrive in Kigali and arrange to visit Bwindi, trek gorillas the next morning and return to Kigali after the trek of the next day. The drive from Kigali - Bwindi drive is a bit less than 5 hours. Rwanda is ideal gorilla trekking option for short time visitors whose focus is gorillas. If you are looking at price Uganda is the ideal spot for gorilla trekking.

Combine Mountain Gorilla Tracking (Trekking) with a Uganda Wildlife Safari
Combine Mountain Gorilla Tracking (Trekking) with a Uganda Wildlife SafariUganda is more than a Gorilla Safari Destination; it's Big 5 plus Gorillas and Chimpanzees in 10 National Parks. Uganda gives you a diversity of wildlife combined with gorillas that many other African countries cannot match. Uganda is a country of contrasts, with a small slice of everything Africa has to offer. From the snow-capped Mountains of the Moon to the tranquil beauty of the Kazinga Channel – from the mighty force of the Murchison Falls to the stunning stillness of Lake Bunyonyi, high in the 'Little Switzerland of Africa'… rainforest to savannah, mountain to lakeside… Waiting to welcome you… this is the real heart of Africa… bathed in sunshine astride the equator… peaceful, friendly and vibrant. Uganda is not just Mountain Gorillas.

You can add many other things to you Gorilla Safari during your visit to the Pearl of Africa. Climb the extinct volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. You can go Chimpanzee tracking (trekking) Kibale Forest National Park, see the wildlife in Lake Mburo along with its Zebras or simply swim and relax at Lake Bunyonyi with its Bilharzia free waters and of course go on a wildlife Safari at Queen Elizabeth Park, all within the same region of Uganda.

Uganda is safe and secure: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park are in a safe areas, since presently there is no conflict and there are no rebel groups are operating within Uganda. The parks are safe and secure and the Uganda Government does everything within its power to ensure your safety both with the Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers and the Ugandan Army. For more information regarding safety in Uganda see the Staying Safe in Uganda page.

World’s Best Chimpanzee Encounter - Best Chimpanzee Trekking and Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest National ParkHave you ever seen chimpanzees??? If no, then look no further.... Uganda has a little bit for everyone depending on the interest. Although chimpanzees can be found in quite a number of parks and reserves in eastern Africa, Uganda's Kibale Forest is Premier destination for Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris with a Sighting Success Rate of nearly 100%. Kibale National Park is the best place to be for chimpanzee tracking with over 1500 chimps found here and of course many other primate species. The Disney film Chimps was been recorded here.

Visitors who have attempted chimp tracking elsewhere attest to Uganda being a better place for either chimpanzee tracking or the habituation experience. By comparison, Uganda deals with habituated troops vs. the unhabituated chimps elsewhere in East Africa. Because this is the top spot for chimp treks in East Africa, the result is they’ve become extremely habituated over time and visitors like this from a quality of sightings and purely photographic point of view. Sightings are virtually guaranteed, the walk is not quite strenuous and normally it takes 3 hours - by 11 am your out of the forest - meaning you can plan for half day visit once you are in the area. Those with the time and budget, a one-hour encounter can be extended into a 4-hour Habituation Experience, in which you will stay with the troop from dawn and take 4 hours observing the chimps and gaining intimate insights into their behaviour along the way.

Over 90% visitors who go gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park also find it well worth it adding Kibale Forest Chimpanzee trekking to their time in Uganda - Kibale Forest also boasts one of the world’s highest primate population densities.

Gorilla Habituation Experience in Bwindi - Uganda

Gorilla Habituation Experience in Bwindi - UgandaThe Gorilla Habituation Experience is 4-hours with the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the Rushaga region of the Park. Add to that the Trek into and out into the Forest. Most often, the Gorilla Habituation Experience is a day-long activity.

In the standard Uganda gorilla trekking safaris, the mountain gorillas have been receiving human visitors for years, and they’re so well habituated to human presence that they literally regard you as just another forest object. This means that they will often look right through you and barge you out of the way if you don’t move fast enough when they approach. At times, the experience can almost feel a little too ‘zoo-like’. A gorilla habituation experience is different. The gorillas, visitors are taken to see, are normally only halfway through the habituation process, and some members of the group will very much keep their distance. So this begs the question. Why sign up for it? Well, two big reasons stand out. Firstly, unlike on a standard gorilla visit, where your time with the apes is limited to one hour, you get four hours with the gorillas. Secondly, up to eight tourists (plus guides and rangers) are permitted to visit each gorilla group in a normal gorilla watching visit, but on a habituation experience, only four tourists are allowed. This provides a more intimate experience.

The Gorilla Habituation Experience is not just a longer version of a Gorilla Trek and the permit price difference. It is your active participation in the Habituation process and a learning experience. When it comes to photography and getting quality photos, the Gorilla Habituation Experience wins. Gorilla Habituation Experience Tours in Bwindi Forest is done in one area - Rushaga and Permits cost US$1500 per person. This is undoubtedly expensive, but when you consider that Rwanda charges the same just for a standard gorilla visit permit, it starts to sound more financially worthwhile.

Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the Best Place to See Golden Monkeys during a Trek or Habituation Experience

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the Best Place to See Golden Monkeys during a Trek or Habituation ExperienceDespite the name, many people would say that Uganda’s alternative destination to Bwindi for mountain gorilla trekking and smallest national park actually offers better golden monkey viewing than it does gorilla viewing. There are two types of monkey viewing on offer here. The standard visit gives you just an hour in the company of the little fellows and is similar to the golden monkey visits on offer in Rwanda. Much more interesting, and unique to Mgahinga, is the far more in-depth “Golden Monkey Habituation Experience”. The monkeys here have been at the center of a long running study into their behavior. By signing up to the habituation experience, you get to spend four hours in the presence of the monkeys and follow the scientists around as they study them. Not just does this give you the chance to learn a huge amount about golden monkey behavior, but it also offers a rare ‘behind the scenes’ insight into primate science.

Mgahinga Gorilla Park is close to especially the South-End of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the Rushaga and Nkuringo areas meaning that Gorilla Trekkers can easily add on Golden Monkey Tracking in the park.

Golden Monkey Trekking here cost USD50 plus $40 park entry fee. The tracking permit comes with services of a UWA Ranger and spending one hour with habituated Golden monkeys. Golden monkey tracking permits can be booked in advance or on ground since there is no set limit on the people trekking them.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park World Recognitions

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park World Recognitions  - Unesco SiteThis magnificent verdant swathe across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rift Valley is not jus home to nearly half of the world’s population of the mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest UNESCO World Heritage Site (May 2017) picked by CNN as one of the Best Parks in Africa. Besides, Uganda makes the UK Lonely Planet Travellers Cool List for 2019. The ancient rainforest is one of the few forests in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age. The national park has 120 mammal species, 11 primates including chimpanzees and rare species of monkeys, forest elephants, leopards, over 200 various butterflies and over 347 species of birds. You can hike through the forest from one end to the other, you can go birding, climb mountains, walk along refreshing streams, visit endless swamps, bamboo forests and have guided interactive cultural walks with the original people of the forest, the Batwa who have been here for thousands of years – the Batwa people.

Uganda is the Friendliest, Most Welcoming and Best English Speaking African Country

Uganda is the Friendliest, most welcoming and Best English Speaking African Country Estrangement is the feeling that you don’t belong, especially when you’re surrounded by other people. Uganda is just the opposite! It’s been said by better people than me (Sir Winston Churchill for one, who famously described Uganda as “The pearl of Africa”), that Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa. In fact, as far as I am concerned, it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world and I don’t just mean it’s physically beautiful. The people themselves, who seem permanently to smile, are as beautiful and welcoming as the landscape. 

Uganda was named the friendliest and most welcoming country following a survey conducted among expatriates globally, according to the BBC (Mar 2017). Uganda is not only Safe, Secure, and Stable, but Friendly and very hospitable. Also in a recent survey of African Nations, Uganda placed in the top 10 countries as being Africa’s friendliest and welcoming nations in Africa. This earns Uganda’s Parks and other Tourist Destination extra levels of security that have been put into place for domestic and international tourists. Your Well-Being is on everyone’s mind.

In Africa, Uganda is recognized for being the best English speaking African country according to research carried out by the World Linguistic Agency. Behind them were countries such as Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, Botswana, and Kenya among others.

Upon Uganda’s independence in 1962, English was maintained as the official language, as it was already rooted deeply in administration, media and education. Also, Uganda’s ethnolinguistic diversity made it difficult to choose another language as the official language of Uganda.

English Speaking Tourists coming on Safari will have no problems ordering food or drink, going on a gorilla or Chimpanzee Trek, or being with a safari driver-guide at their side. In Uganda, the plus for tourists is that you can have some intelligent conversations in English.

More economically priced Lodging, including upmarket - not in towns but in or near Forest or Park

More economically priced Lodging, including upmarketBoth Rwanda and Uganda have some fantastic options when it comes to where to stay, but there is an increasing drive in Rwanda to the highest level of luxury accommodation with the opening of Wilderness Safaris’ Bisate Lodge, the upcoming Singita Kwitonda Lodge and the recent addition of One & Only’s Gorilla’s Nest. These high-end lodges join the established offerings of Sabyinyo Lodge and Volcanoes Virunga Lodge; both of which are still luxurious options.

Ugandan accommodation tends to come at a lower price point, but with more options ranging from high end Up-market lodges i.e Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge and Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, to budget but still fabulous options starting from as low as 80 USD/night to 1600 USD/night. Nearly all the lodges are found within the or just outside the park. For those looking for spectacular views, exclusivity and something a little special, you can’t beat the homely Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge in a remote corner of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. For East Africa, Uganda is cheap. There is excellent value accommodations in all price ranges. Entry to the national parks is generally much lower than that of neighbouring countries and for around $75-110 you can score yourself a bed in a beautiful hotel, guesthouse or lodge.

 


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By Jesse Tom Kitanywa
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