5 REASONS YOU NEED TO SEE GORILLAS IN UGANDA
A face-to-face encounter with mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is one of the most exciting and incredible wildlife encounters on earth, mountain gorillas are rare and endangered wildlife species that can only survive in the wild. So, gorilla trekking is the only chance you have to see them and Uganda is the best place to see these amazing creatures.
Staying with mountain gorillas in the misty filled forests of Uganda for 1 hours- 60 minutes is arguably one of life’s greatest privileges, there is approximately 1000 mountain gorilla in existence with the biggest numbers found in Uganda and gorilla trekking provides you a rare opportunity to observe the everyday interactions of they mysterious yet gentle primates.
In the world, mountain gorillas are only found in the dense vegetation of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Virunga Mountain range that stretches across Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The population of mountain gorillas is steadily rising thanks to the conservation and research efforts, environmentalists estimated that there were only 254 mountain gorillas in 1981. Since these gentle and endangered creatures can not survive in captivity, the only way they can survive and you to see them is trekking up to their natural habitat, the misty cloud forests that lies on the altitudes of 14,763.
Here are the 5 reasons to plan your incredible gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda.
- You will be where Half of the World’s Mountain Gorilla Live
Uganda two gorilla trekking spots that is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which gives the country a great advantage compared to other gorilla countries that is Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Read more.
Mountain Gorillas know nothing about the political border which why it is common for them to cross the Virungas.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas with over 400 individuals.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park also known as The Place of Darkness due to its dense forest cover is an ancient, montane and lowland forest spanning 128 square kilometers, the park was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its incredible biodiversity and the large number of endangered species protected in the area.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the second gorilla park in Uganda located in the Southwestern region same as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga forms part of the 13 square miles of the larger Virunga habitat also known as The Virunga Conservation Area which stretches across 168 square miles into Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Contribute to Fighting Habitat Destruction by Supporting Community Enrichment
The main threat to the survival of mountain gorillas is the habitat destruction which is carried out by communities around the gorilla parks, these areas are heavily populated which creates demand for land. The residents of these communities have traditionally used the land around national park boundaries for farming or logging.
Tourism greatly contributes to economy of Uganda with most of the tourists coming to see mountain gorillas, trekkers are encouraged to seek out ways to give back to the communities they visit, this way they can also benefit from the tourism and take protecting of the gorilla habitats in high regard.
One of the popular ways you can contribute to the local community as a tourist is by hiring a porter, these people are always local residents and occasionally a reformed poacher. The landscape within Bwindi and Mgahinga is unpredictable and different, porters will help guide you (trekkers) through river crossing and up steep, muddy inclines.
Other ways to support the local community is by participating in community – led cultural initiatives, in Bwindi village there is Bwindi Bar which trains disenfranchised young adults in hospitality through rigorous classes and work experience.
Around Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the elders of the pygmy Batwa Tribe lead visitors on a forest tour along the Batwa Trail explaining how they lived in the forest harmoniously with the forest creatures including mountain gorillas and house they traditionally used medicinal plants to cure different illnesses.
- Find More Affordable Trekking Permits
To make sure the gorillas stay healthy in the wild, there are strict regulations put in place, starting with the gorilla trekking permits. Daily views of each gorilla group is extremely limited to 8 people per group per day, so trekkers should to apply in advance to get their desired dates.
In Uganda, a gorilla permit costs US$ 700 which is cheaper in contrast to gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda costing $ 1,500. Read more about Gorilla permits.
- Take on a Challenging Terrain
Mountain gorilla trekking provides a challenging terrain which is perfect for travelers seeking for an adventurous experience, Uganda’s gorilla parks are found in the Southwestern region which comprises of green terraced hills and rolling volcanic slopes. Also, the region lies at a high altitude which make hiking a not for faint hearted activity, hiking in Uganda promises a life time adventure.
To reach the gorillas, it is hard work which requires navigating uphill and downhill through thick tangles of vines, thorns and roots. This rhymes with the name “impenetrable” for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is only accessible by foot. There are no permanent paths, no signs, no direction and no clearing, during the trek, the path is made park rangers who always carry machetes. However, the reward is worth the hard work.
- Encounter Other Primates
Uganda is a private lover’s dream destination with over 14 primate species which you encounter on a Uganda gorilla trekking safari, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to the golden monkeys which are endangered species. The beautiful creatures live high up in the bamboo forests and tracking them is similar to mountain gorillas but their trek is no quite as challenging.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to other primates including L’hoest monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys, and blue monkeys which you will encounter on your gorilla safari.
Uganda is also home to huge population of primates found in Kibale National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park.