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Bwindi Impenetrable Safari Tours & Holidays

Bwindi is Uganda’s number one tourist hotspot. Most people come to Uganda to see mountain gorillas and Bwindi is the most accessible place to do so. There are many Bwindi gorilla-tracking tours available. The park has 11 habituated, and several semi-habituated gorilla groups. The extensive and pristine rainforest has four different trailheads, acting as different tourist centers from which gorillas can be tracked. Other activities include nature walks and birdwatching. There are also opportunities to visit a Batwa community. The Batwa people were the original inhabitants of the forest and were evicted from their environment when the national park was gazetted.

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8 Questions About Bwindi Gorilla Tracking Tours

 
 

8 Questions About Bwindi Gorilla Tracking Tours

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

When is the best time to visit Bwindi?

“Bwindi can be visited at any time. People mostly come to Uganda for Bwindi gorilla tracking tours, and sightings are pretty much guaranteed throughout the year. However, the Dry-season months of June to August and December to February offer the best trekking conditions. During the Wet season months, trails tend to be more slippery and harder to navigate. As gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it could be disappointing if it rained on the day. That said, the guides go out of their way to make the experience special, whatever the weather. If it rains hard, they might decide to wait somewhere for the weather to improve before approaching the gorillas.”

More about Bwindi's best time to visit 1

How long is the drive to Bwindi?

“The quickest and easiest way to get to Bwindi is by scheduled flight from Entebbe, but many people opt for tours of Uganda by road. You can approach Bwindi from Queen Elizabeth National Park with the drive taking two to three hours. Alternatively, you can approach from Lake Mburo National Park; the drive takes about four to six hours. Coming straight from Entebbe, the driving time is six to eight hours.”

2

How much does it cost for a Bwindi gorilla tracking tour?

“The Bwindi gorilla tracking price is currently US$600. Although this might seem expensive, it is a bargain compared to what the same activity costs in Rwanda, which is currently the only other country where these gentle giants can be observed in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking is offered in two national parks in Bwindi: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Both offer a similar experience where you can spend one hour with a gorilla troop after you have reached their location. The group size is limited to eight people. A new activity offered in Bwindi only is the gorilla habituation experience. Two semi-habituated troops can be tracked by a limited group of four tourists daily, who can stay for four hours. Viewing is less easy as these gorillas prefer to keep their distance since they aren’t fully habituated yet. The price for this special activity is US$1500.”

3

How much time do I get with the gorillas on a Bwindi safari?

“Visitors get to spend one hour with the gorillas. Bwindi gorilla tracking is a morning activity and it can take any time from 30 minutes to five hours to find the gorillas. Once your group gets near to the gorillas, you will regroup and leave some of your belongings with the trackers who will stay behind. You then get in close for the actual viewing of the gorillas. The guide will facilitate viewing during that time by getting you in good positions for photographs and by moving you around the group of gorillas to try to see different members of the group, including the silverback.”

4

Are mountain gorillas aggressive?

“Mountain gorillas are not at all aggressive. In fact, they are often referred to as gentle giants. Their massive size would make them too dangerous to be close to if they were aggressive. The only reason they can be approached closely on foot is because they lack aggression. Males might sometimes show aggression to other male gorillas, however, and they can at times fight. These fights for dominance mostly result in a male leaving the group or a group splitting up, but occasionally a fight can result in death. A gorilla might sometimes mock charge tourists, but this has never led to actual injury. Before heading off gorilla trekking, you’ll get a full briefing including what to do in case a gorilla approaches you or shows any sign of aggression. You’ll be totally safe if you follow your guide’s instructions.”

5

Are the hiking trails in good condition?

“The gorillas move around freely and they don’t stick to any trails. So, your guide will take you on a trail in the forest to get you in the general vicinity of a gorilla group first. When you get closer, you’ll probably have to leave the trail and follow the guide and trackers while they make their way through forest undergrowth. They try to find the easiest way through for you and they will use machetes to clear branches along the way. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is aptly named and vegetation tends to be very thick. Even the actual trails can be quite overgrown. On top of that, the trails can be slippery after rain. It is recommended you hire a porter who will not only carry your bag but also help you with a steady hand along the trail.”

6

Are gorilla sightings guaranteed?

“Gorillas move freely through their territory and it can sometimes be tricky to find them. In the briefing given to you by the head ranger before you start any Bwindi gorilla tracking tour, you are rightly warned that sightings are not guaranteed. However, in recent years, the success rate has been 100%, so you can assume you will get to see the gorillas. The only reason some people don’t succeed is if they are not physically up to it and decide to turn back. However, most people who are reasonably fit will make it. The guides and porters will make every effort to get you there and some people are literally pulled and pushed up the mountain slopes. To increase your chances, come well prepared with a walking stick, drinking water, a rain jacket and some snacks. It is also important to wear good hiking shoes.”

7

What lodges or camps would you recommend for a Bwindi trip?

“There are many lodges and camps in or near Bwindi. When you’re choosing where to stay, it is important to understand there are four different trail heads in Bwindi: Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. These four trailheads act as centers from which the tracking to different gorilla groups start. When booking a gorilla permit, you book for a specific gorilla group. Availability permitting, you can choose which group to book. It makes sense to select a lodge at the trail head you’ll be departing from. This may seem to be obvious advice, but I’ve often been struck by how many people end up having to drive one-and-a-half hours to a different trail head on the morning of their trek and then back after the activity. Keeping location in mind, there are many good lodges to choose from. Some of the lodges are out in the villages and some border the national park. I always prefer to stay in the forest as you might be able to see monkeys and other wildlife. In fact, I saw gorillas on the lodge property of Bwindi Lodge on my last visit.”

8

Bwindi Impenetrable Safari Reviews

4.7/5 91 Reviews
Expert
Stephen Cunliffe  –  
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

An Experience you will Never Forget
5/5

Trekking to see the fabled mountain gorillas is something everyone should get to experience at least once in their lifetime. Gorilla permits are certainly not cheap ($500) and the hour you get to spend with these gentle giants whizzes by in...

Full Review

Expert
Lizzie Williams  –  
South Africa ZA

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

A special place to be granted an audience with the greatest of apes
5/5

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve heard it, staring a gorilla in the eye is undoubtedly a magical wildlife encounter. Every one of my visits to Bwindi has been unique and every meeting with these gentle apes an honour. Bwindi is...

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Victoria  –  
Germany DE
Reviewed: Sep 8, 2017
A Challenging Yet Rewarding Adventure
5/5

When I decided to visit Bwindi to track to the mountain gorillas, I expected it to be fairly challenging, but as luck would have it, it was much tougher than anticipated. We stayed at Lake Mutanda Resort, a small camp about a 90 minute...

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Jeroen  –  
Netherlands NL
Reviewed: Jun 8, 2017
5/5

We hiked for several hours in Bwindi to find and spend time with the gorillas, which we did, it was amazing! Its great to walk through a jungle. You can't get much more bush vibe than this. We did not see much other wildlife though. Maybe...

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Humphrey Smith  –  
United States US
Reviewed: May 30, 2017
6 day Safari in Uganda/Rwanda.
5/5

Amazing Buhoma cottages in Bwindi, & le Bambou Gorilla lodge in Volcanoe were all fantastic with thrilling reception worth value for our Mid-Range expectation. The experience of tracking a Gorilla family in Bwindi rainforest park & in...

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Timothy Hetcher  –  
Denmark DK
Reviewed: Oct 12, 2016
My close encounter with a silverback
5/5

we started with a briefing from park warden and we then started our tracking and i was the 4 person in the line of 8 and i was so curious to see these giant apes, so this kept my eyes so open and focused. we moved like for 1 and half hours...

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