Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is a highlight of all visits done with the mountain gorillas as the main attraction to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The endangered impressive Mountain Gorillas cannot survive in detention and can only be found and seen in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. There are approximately 1000 Mountain Gorillas remaining in the world with approximately half of them staying in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest plus the Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
When gorillas are habituated and can be accessed by visitors, gorilla families get used human beings as they remain to do their routine activities in the wilderness even when human beings are present. According to the UWA conservation rules, only 8 adult visitors can be allowed to track each of the habituated gorilla groups. Gorilla trekking in Uganda as an activity lasts from 4-8 hours according to where the gorillas spent the night and which sector of gorillas you are trekking as Gorillas families move to new places every day and never stay in one place twice.
The park is home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are an endangered species, with only around 1000 remaining in the wild in the whole world.
Sharing over 98% of their DNA with humans, gorillas display human characteristics, the Gorilla families are headed by a silverback – a mature male who select places for the group to eat and sleep. These great apes are highly intelligent, gentle and peaceful animals, have been observed using tools and communicate using a variety of vocal sounds
Gorilla Habituation Experience
The Gorilla Habituation Experience activity can only be done in Uganda in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where you spend 4 hours with a Mountain Gorilla Family along with researchers as you follow them around as they go about their daily routine. While on this activity you are helping in the habituation of the mountain gorillas so they can keep calm even in human presence.
Below is a list of the 13 mountain gorilla families for travelers in both Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and they include;
Mubare Gorilla Family
Located in Buhoma, Mubare is the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda with 18 family members, led by the dominant silverback “Ruhondeza”. In a few years, the group grew to 18 individuals. Unfortunately, due to fights with other wild gorilla groups, it lost several members including the one Ruhondeza who used to take care of everyone else in the party. The group remained 5 members for several years until March 2013 when 4 other members including a new dominant silverback joined.
Habinyanja Gorilla Family
Located in Buhoma, it is a fascinating family with a lot of drama and commotion with 18 members including 2 silverbacks. Visitors tracking this family need about 3 – 8 hours and it makes sense if they stay at a lodge in the Buhoma area of Bwindi. The adult females are led by the shrewd alpha female called kisho.
Rushegura Gorilla Family
Located in Buhoma, the family consists of 19 members including 1 silverback and they quickly received a new name that derives from “Ebishegura” – a tree species that was abundant in the home area of the new family. In the past, they used to cross the border and venture in the neighboring DRC every now and then but returned and have always been in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Bitukura Gorilla Family
Located in Ruhija area, this family consists of 14 members including 4 silverbacks and it derives its name Bitukura after a river where the family members were first sighted. Bitukura is a peaceful family that share a close bond and often have “group meetings” or get-togethers.
Oruzogo Gorilla Family
Located in the Ruhija Sector, with 23 members including 1 silverback, this group is one of the recent gorilla families opened for visitor access in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and is led by a dominant Silverback “Tibirikwata”.It’s one of the most popular families with tourists not just because of the size but the playful and energetic juveniles and toddlers in the group.
Nkuringo Gorilla Family
Located in Nkuringo area, this family consists of 19 members including 2 silverbacks and it derives its name from the hill where the group was first sighted. One of the reasons for their habituation was their continued venture into the local communities’ gardens feeding on bananas, sweet potatoes and other crops.
Tracking the Nkuringo Group takes a bit more energy and is the toughest trek in Uganda with a scenic area of Nkuringo.
Nshongi Gorilla Family
Located in the Rushaga area and consists of 18 members and it was named after the river Nshongi, where the gorilla family was first found. This group is led by Nshongi with other three silverbacks and seven blackbacks lived in harmony with each other and did not make an attempt for leadership.
Mishaya Gorilla Family
Located in the Rushaga area, it has 7 members including 1 Silverback, Silverback Mishaya decided to leave the Nshongi Gorilla Group with some females and started his own family. He is the only adult in the group and is known for being a fighter who often starts interactions with other gorilla families.
Kahungye Gorilla Family
Located in the Rushaga area, it has 13 members with 3 silverbacks with the dominant Silverback called Rumansi followed by the other two old male gorillas named Rwigi and Ruhamuka. The group was opened for visitors and gorilla tracking in 2011 but in less than a year the group split, creating the new Busingye Gorilla Family.
Bweza Gorilla Family
Located in the Rushaga area, this family is made up of 7 members including 1 Silverback. The Silverback Bweza chose to be independent after the split and he walked away with about 6 other members from the Mishaya Gorilla Group.
Busingye Gorilla Family
Located in Rushaga, this family consists of 9 individuals including 1 silverback, it split from Kahungye Family back with a dominant silverback Busingye who decided to split and create his own family. Busingye is a local language word for ‘peace’ which is quite surprising since this ambitious Silverback is known for his legendary fights with other gorilla groups.
Nyakagezi Gorilla Family
The Nyakagezi Gorilla Family is the only habituated gorilla group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. With 10 members, the family is led by the Silverback Mark with 5 silverbacks, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles, and 1 infant.
Frequently Asked Questions
When and Where To Go To See The Mountain Gorillas?
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda can be conducted all year round in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo but due to the somewhat damp seasons experienced by the national parks in which these gorillas stay, the majority of tourists prefer visiting from June to September as well as from December up to February when there is less rain and the tracking trials are less slippery.
What to pack for a Gorilla trekking tour in Uganda?
Below are the requirements for a successful gorilla trekking including
- Water for refreshment while trekking
- Hiking Boots to keep you comfortable on your hike
- Rain Jacket since rain may pour during the trek
- Snack for nourishment gy during the walk in the forest
- Trouser and long-sleeved shirts since the forest is covered with thick undergrowth,
- A walking stick to maintain your stamina
Rules and regulations to follow while Gorilla Trekking
- A distance of about 8m is very important between you and the gorillas
- People with diseases such as flu or diarrhea should refrain from visiting the park.
- Avoid eating near the chimps.
- Children below the age of 15 are prohibited from entering the park.
- The Ranger Guides are the only ones allowed to help get access to the forest.
- Gorillas need freedom therefore no provoking them once you enter the park.
- Flash photography is not allowed in the park.
Most of the travelers that visit Uganda are here for the Gorilla Trekking activity that is the most sought out activity to view the mountain gorillas in their natural setting, there is nothing as fascinating as this adventure.