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Uganda Safari Itinerary

Uganda Safari Itinerary can be conducted all year around in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. The best time to go gorilla trekking in during the months of June, July, August, September and December. This is because there are less rains and the parks are drier, making it simple to hike and see the gorillas .In Bwindi the average temperature throughout the year is 11°C/52°F in the morning and 23°C/73°F in the afternoon. 

January and February

Low season offering less huge crowds. Very little or on rain.

March, April and May

Its rains a lot during these months. Most challenging during the trek, the slopes are slippery.

June, July & August

Peak season, its important to buy your permits early since they run out. Best time for gorilla safari in Uganda and Rwanda.

Both Rwanda and Uganda offer excellent gorilla trekking . So how do you choose? There are some key differences that we discuss here, like location and accessibility, costs and number of gorilla troops

Uganda Safari Itinerary

So you want to go mountain gorilla trekking … awesome idea! We’ve been, and we can tell you that it’s definitely, absolutely, positively worth it. It’s one of our favourite things to do in Uganda. Standing just a few feet from these gentle giants in their forest habitat and seeing them munch on fruit and plants, play with or groom one another, and idly look at the curious bipeds looking at them – these are magical moments that stay with you for a lifetime. But to get to be in that special place, you first must decide where to go to see them. Do you go gorilla trekking in Rwanda? Or do you go gorilla trekking in Uganda?

Where can I go gorilla trekking?

All of the world’s mountain gorillas live in the Virunga Mountains of Central and East Africa. The two main countries for gorilla trekking are Rwanda and Uganda. In Rwanda you can trek to see mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. In Uganda, you can visit mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park. The gorilla population in Mgahinga isn’t as large and steady as that of Bwindi, making the latter the better and more popular option. 

The decision to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda usually rests on factors like cost and accessibility. You also want to consider what else you’ll do on your trip to the country, as the cost and effort of a gorilla trek means you’ll likely only be seeing gorillas on one day.

The mountain gorilla trekking of Rwanda

Rwanda is a small and mountainous East African country with a population of around 13 million people. It’s sometimes called the pays des mille collines, which is French for ‘land of a thousand hills’. The main language in the country is Kinyarwanda, spoken by most citizens. English, French and Swahili are also official languages. 

Rwanda is a phoenix of the twenty-first century, having risen out of the ashes of its tragic 1994 genocide to become one of Africa’s great success stories. It’s capital city of Kigali is well-known for its beauty and cleanliness.

Volcanoes National Park

Tourism has played a major role in helping Rwanda to rebuild itself, and mountain gorillas are at the heart of its tourism trade. As mentioned, Rwanda’s mountain gorillas live in Volcanoes National Park. There are about 56 mountain gorilla troops in the park.  

As Rwanda is a small country, getting to Volcanoes National Park is a relatively easy affair. Visitors simply fly into Kigali International Airport and then it’s a short drive of about two and a half hours northwest to arrive at the doorstep of Volcanoes National Park. Even though the drive is short, it’s always advisable to travel with a reputable tour operator who knows the region and roads well. The proximity of Volcanoes National Park to an international airport is a major draw for Rwanda’s mountain gorilla tourism industry.

The mountain gorilla trekking of Uganda

Uganda is a landlocked country consisting of massive plains, volcanoes, snow-capped mountains, thick forests, savannah, immense lakes, diverse wildlife and more. The population of about 43 million is extremely diverse, and speak more than 40 languages. Ugandans are known for their warmth and friendliness. Many speak English, which is a helpful for tourists.

Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Impenetrable National Park

Most of Uganda’s mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi is an alpine forest that sits between 1,160 m and 2,607 m above sea level. As the name suggests, the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park encompasses a thickly forested area. Given the density of vegetation, it can be pretty dark in the forest. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so. 

This places it decently far from the capital city of Kampala and Entebbe International Airport, both of which are in south central Uganda. Moreover, the roads connecting the two aren’t smooth, open highway. So the drive takes about nine hours. It’s advisable that you travel with someone who knows the region rather than road tripping on your own. 

The cost of gorilla trekking is relatively high compared to other wildlife Safari. 

What is gorilla trekking and why is it so expensive? Gorilla trekking is one of the most thrilling wildlife activities in Africa. The experience is much different from a game drive in the Serengeti, Masai Maraa or Kruger National Park. Gorilla trekking is special because mountain gorillas look and behave like we humans. They live in families with a hierarchy where the dominant silverback dictates everything that is done by the group. Gorilla trekking is expensive because mountain gorillas are endangered and because of that many people want to see them. The high numbers of tourists interested in observing wild mountain gorillas has forced many governments to raise the price of permits. You can say the principle of demand and supply applies here – The higher the demand, the higher the price. But demand is not the only explanation for the high cost of gorilla permits. There is need for funds to protect the primates.

The Cost of Bwindi Gorilla Trekking in Uganda Safari Itinerary, Rwanda and Congo

The cost of gorilla trekking differs from country to country. It is important to note that the price of gorilla permits is just a fraction of the overall cost of gorilla trekking. You still have to consider transportation, accommodation, food, Visas, air tickets, packing lists, porters and tips for the Guides.

  1. How expensive is gorilla trekking?
  2. What is the cost of gorilla trekking?
  3. How much does a gorilla safari cost?

The cost of a gorilla permit: 

If you are planning to do gorilla trekking in any of the three countries, you will need to acquire a gorilla permit. A gorilla permit is a document that allows you access to the gorillas. In Uganda, gorilla permits cost $700, in Rwanda $1500 and Congo $450. If you are an East African national, you can obtain a gorilla permit in Uganda for 300,000 shillings. During the low seasons of the year, Gorilla permits are sold on a discount in Virunga National Park of Congo for as little as $250 dollars (This could change soon). Rwanda may also have discounted permits for African Union Citizens, foreign residents, large groups, families and those taking part in other activities in the country. Uganda has discounted gorilla permits for foreigners who are residents in East Africa.

For those who are interested in the gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi, you will have to pay $1500 for a permit. The Gorilla habituation experience is quite different from gorilla trekking. It takes the whole day and involves having four hours with mountain gorillas instead of the one hour allocated to tourists during normal gorilla trekking.

A gorilla permit is a requirement for tracking gorillas. You cannot be allowed to take part in the activity without showing your permit to the park authorities. What is included in the price of a Gorilla Permit? A gorilla permit includes interacting with the gorillas for one hour, park entrance and Ranger fees.

To book a gorilla permit, you need to go through your tour operator or one of the government authorities in the respective countries. In Uganda, the Uganda Wildlife Authority issues out gorilla permits while the Rwanda Development board does the same in Rwanda. If you are planning on a safari in Congo, you can book a permit with the Virunga National Park website or through your tour operator. It is important to book your gorilla permit or gorilla tour at least 2 months in advance. If you are planning to travel in the peak season (June, July and August), we recommend that you do the booking at least 5 to 6 months before the trip so that you don’t go through the stress of asking different tour companies if they have availability. 

The cost of accommodation: 

One of the things you will have to consider while planning your gorilla tour is where to sleep. All the gorilla national parks have high quality lodges from where you can spend the night. Your choice of accommodation will depend on your budget. The good budget hotels cost anywhere between $50 to $130 dollars a night. Good mid-range hotels go for between $150 to $200. The luxury hotels start from $300 to $2500 per night. You can book these hotels on your own if you are planning to do a self-drive but most travelers book the hotels through a reliable tour company. If you book a hotel yourself, ensure that it is located close to the starting point of the gorilla family or sector you have been assigned. If you book too far away, you may not show up for briefing on time hence missing the trek – This is all the more reason why it is better to book your gorilla tour through a reputable tour operator.

The cost of food: 

While traveling to these countries, you need to take into consideration the expenses on food, drinks and particularly water. The hotels provide this but you are going to need water and food when out of the hotel or traveling. Food and drinks should cost you about $40 each day if you are traveling on your own. If you are planning to buy expensive booze or cigars, you might have to plan for a higher amount per day. If you are booking your vacation with a tour company, you should not worry about food. They should take care of the food and water while at the hotel and when traveling between activities.

The cost of transport (Plane tickets and hiring a vehicle)

After securing the gorilla permits and identifying a lodge, the next thing that will come to your mind is how to get to the gorilla parks. Air tickets to and from your country of origin can cost between $600 to $2500 depending on your choice of airline. If you are planning to book chattered flights from within the gorilla trekking country, you might need to part with another $600. Should you find internal flights way beyond your budget or should you decide that you want to experience more of the African countryside, then traveling by road from the airport is highly recommended. Hiring a car in Rwanda and Uganda will cost you about $70 a day excluding fuel and a driver. Expect to travel on the road for long hours especially if you are tracking in Uganda and Congo. It takes between 8 and 10 hours of driving to reach Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable park from Entebbe international airport. The driving distance from Kigali International Airport to the Volcanoes National Park is 3 hours. Those who choose to do gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park  have to first land in Kigali and then proceed to the Congo border in a journey that can take about 4 hours.

Arranging your own vacation in an unfamiliar and developing country can be complicated. It is why most travelers leave the issue of transport, permits and accommodation to their chosen tour operators so that they are only left with the task of showing up at the airport.

Cost of items on the gorilla trekking packing list: For the best experience while tracking and watching the gorillas, you will need to travel with a good camera, insect repellents, sunscreen, hiking boots, hand gloves, a pair of binoculars and a rain jacket. These are all hidden costs that need to be taken into consideration apart from the gorilla permit itself.

Visas and border crossing: Gorilla trekking often involves crossing borders between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. If you are planning to do gorilla trekking in Congo, expect to cross the Goma border post at a cost ($100 for the VISA). Those who find the price of gorilla permits in Rwanda beyond their budget can choose to track the gorillas in Uganda instead but arrive through Kigali to avoid traveling for 8 hours from Entebbe or Uganda’s capital Kampala. Gorilla trekking from Uganda through Kigali involves paying a VISA fee of $50 at either the Katuna or Cyanika border crossings. The East African tourist visa can also be acquired at a cost of $100 for those who are combing safaris in different countries of East Africa.

Yellow Fever vaccination card: This may not seem important but it is a requirement for entering Uganda and Congo. If you read reviews about gorilla trekking, you will learn that yellow fever vaccination cards are one of the key documents asked at the airport and while crossing borders. If you are planning to travel to most African countries, you need to consider the cost of taking the shot.

Cost of porters – especially for the elderly: If you are traveling with heavy equipment, bags or video cameras, you will need to hire a porter to help you carry them while tracking the gorillas. The porters can also help you carry packed lunch and lend a hand during the difficult sections of the trek. Gorilla trekking for the elderly is more complicated because they would need to use Sedan chairs and hire about eight porters to lift them up to the tracking point. It can cost about $400 to hire a Sedan chair and the porters to carry it. Porters live close to the gorilla parks and some were once poachers. A few of the porters are students who are looking for money to top up their school fees or men interested making some money to feed their families. By hiring these porters, you contribute to their general well-being and indirectly help them support their families. Hiring a porter costs about $15 and they can be found at the park offices or during the briefing. You may want to know how gorilla groups are allocated to travelers.

Tips for the Guide/Driver, Park Rangers and Hotel staff: Sometimes hotel staff, Guides, Rangers, waiters and waitresses go out of their way to make sure that your time with them was perfect and memorable. Out of courtesy, you might decide to show your appreciation for the work done by giving them tip. The amount depends entirely on you. Tipping during gorilla trekking is not compulsory and should only be paid after a service is rendered and you are happy with it.

Uganda Gorilla Trekking

We are one of the most experienced budget Uganda gorilla trekking safari in the region. This way, we are able to offer you very comfortable facilities at low discounted rates irrespective of your class of travel.

Our Gorilla tours can be Budget, Mid-range, or luxury basing on the accommodation you prefer during your Gorilla trekking safari. Send us an inquiry and we shall send you the best offer for your desired tour package. Browse our Available: Uganda Gorilla tours.

Uganda is the best place to see gorillas.

Packing List For Gorilla trekking In Africa

  • Waterproof hiking boots.
  • Day pack.
  • Insect repellents.
  • Light weight rain jacket.
  • Poncho
  • Camera.
  • Binoculars,
  • Bottled water
  • Boots: hiking boots,
  • Gloves, old pair of gardening gloves
  • Long pants or trousers
  • Energy snacks.

Our favourites are…:

This 12 -day Uganda Gorilla Tour  takes you to some of the popular National Parks in Uganda, including Lake Mburo National Park for game drives and boat cruises, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park for gorillas, Queen Elizabeth National park for game drives and a boat cruise on the Kazinga channel, Kibale National park for chimpanzee trekking and Bigodi wetland walk before you drive to Murchison Falls National park for game drives and a boat cruise to the bottom of the magnificent Murchison Falls.

12 Days Uganda Safari Itinerary- Gorilla Tour

Low Option US$4335 per person sharing

12 Days Uganda Safari Itinerary - Gorilla Tour

Standard Option US$4995 per person sharing

12 Days Uganda Safari Itinerary - Gorilla Tour

Deluxe & luxury Option : US$10,995 * per person sharing

Prices Includes: Activities and park entry fees as indicated, Gorilla permit, Chimpanzee permit (all subject to availability), unlimited game drives, drinking water, accommodation and meals as indicated, Transport 4×4 Land-cruiser & Airport transfers and all relevant government tax

Prices Exclude: Departure covid-19 test US$65, Domestics where not indicated, tipping, any changes done by you, excludes International flights from your home, Visas, drinks, and Laundry Service

Uganda Safari Itinerary - Gorilla Trekking Tour budget Optional US$ 1875

Prices Includes: Activities and park entry fees as indicated, Gorilla permit, Chimpanzee permit (all subject to availability), unlimited game drives, drinking water, accommodation and meals as indicated, Transport 4×4 Land-cruiser & Airport transfers and all relevant government tax

Prices Exclude: Departure covid-19 test US$65, Domestics where not indicated, tipping, any changes done by you, excludes International flights from your home, Visas, drinks, and Laundry Service