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Uganda has more than half of the world’s mountain gorilla population found on the Virunga Mountain slopes in Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Mountain gorillas live in east-central Africa in just two isolated groups – one in the Virunga Volcanoes, a cross-border region spanning three forest reserves in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The other live in a far-flung, isolated montane forest in Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, extending to Sarambwe Nature Reserve in DRC.
Mountain gorillas are peaceful and gentle not aggressive and fierce like in movies and fiction. The gorilla visit etiquette suggests highlights that the roaring of a gorilla is an attempt to bluff therefore you should be submissive and respond by crouching down and lowering your head. A silver back is estimated to be ten times stronger than an adult human.
Gorilla habituation is a learning experience that has just recently become a stable activity presented by the Uganda Wildlife Authority on a small scale. This experience only restricts the persons to a maximum of 4 each day, thus bookings for this kind of activity are to be done 6 months prior to the actual habituation day specifically during the months of December all through
There are a number of factors that you need to consider as you choose the perfect gorilla trekking destination. Gorilla family groups that include Habinyanja, Rushegura and Mubare are found at Buhoma, North of the park, at Rushaga in the South you will find Mishaya, Bweza, Nshonji, Kahungye, Busingye and the Nkuringo gorilla group. Far off in the East at Ruhija are the Oruzogo, Kyaguriro and Bitukura gorilla groups. However out of all these, only two groups at Nkuringo and Rushaga were set aside as the gorilla families available for habituation. During this process, the people get to understand the gorillas deeper and individually, know their behaviors and even get to the point of naming every single one of them. In the end, if the researchers are certain that the wild gorillas are okay with the presence of people, a mock exercise is done as a way of testing to prove their facts. When the gorillas pass this kind of exercise which now includes journalists and scientists, the gorilla group is then available for trekking.
Trekking Gorillas in Uganda vs Rwanda
To trekk gorilas in any of the mentioned countries one must aquire a permit which goes for $700 in Uganda and $1500 per permit in Rwanda. It is cheaper in uganda yet with more gorilla families.
The main entry point into Uganda is Entebbe international airport. It is a 9-10 hour drive from Entebbe international airport to Bwindi impenetrable forest and to one of the four starting points for gorilla trekking in the thick rainforest. You can charter a flight to Bwindi Impenetrable forest at an added cost of course. You will either have access to Rusahga and Nkuringo in the north of the Bwindi impenetrable forest or Buhoma and Ruhija in the south. If you choose to travel by road, however, you will need three days for gorilla tracking. The good thing about uganda is, it has got a number of tourist activities to add on your trip such as chimpanzee trekking, golden monkey tracking, game viewing, a dug out canoe safari or enjoy some cultural tourism amongst the Batwa the smallest tribe who initially inhabited the forests before they were evicted.
Bwindi impenetrable forest ranges from (3,904 to 8,553 ft) above sea level, and 60 percent of the park has an elevation of over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). The beauty about Bwindi’s terrain is that you start your trek on high ground before descending into the valley to see the gorillas, ending with an arduous climb at the end of the day. Slopes can often be steep and there are no trails, giving Bwindi National Park its impenetrable reputation. Each destination has its difficulties. In Bwindi, tourists have to deal with rivers, streams and thicker forest. Travelers to Mgahinga and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda have to contend with the mist, higher altitude climbing up the side of a volcano. However there are potters to help as you trek. For this activity regardless of where you are trekking, fitness and strong hiking boots are a must.
Other species diversity
The misty hills of Bwindi are a sanctuary to 79 incredible mammal species including forest elephants, L’Hoest’s monkeys, 347 bird species like the Rwenzori night jar and Shelley’s crimsonwing ,160 species of trees and 100 species of ferns. Bwindi is also a home to 220 butterfly species making it one of the best places for butterfly safaris. Chances of spotting giant forest hogs and several small cat varieties whilst gorilla trekking will no doubt make your visit to Uganda worthwhile.
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