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Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

February 2021
Great Lakes Safaris

Time spent in the company of an awesome male silverback, accompanied by his harem of females and youngsters is understandably the highlight of most trips to Uganda. It remains a top most desirable wildlife moment for many travellers.

Following successful conservation efforts, aided by tourism permit fees, endangered Mountain Gorilla populations are rising and there are now over 1000 individuals across Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. Just over half of this population are resident in Uganda and 16 families have been habituated for tourism purposes.

Booking permits as early as possible is key, as only eight people can trek to see each family, per day. Permits are US$700 per person year-round.The specific family to be trekked by your client is allocated prior to commencement, dependent upon the client’s fitness level and preferences. Treks start early in the morning, from 4 different locations across Bwindi (Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija and Buhoma) as well as in Mgahinga National Park.

Your client’s accommodation should ideally match that location, as there can be time/travel implications. Treks can take anything from one to six hours or even longer dependent upon the family’s location, but the chances of encountering the gorillas is very high and the thrill of seeing them soon cancels out the effort taken to get there! There is also the opportunity to participate in gorilla habituation where the client can spend up to 4 hours in the vicinity of a family. Due to the nature of the programme sightings may not always be to the level of standard treks but the time spent with the gorillas is often far longer.

WHAT YOU NEED

·      Walking boots, firm trainers or wellies are ideal.

·      Gators and gardening gloves can prove useful.

·      Walking sticks are available at the start point.

·      Small backpack with water and snacks - visitors should carry light equipment to minimise the need for porters while they undertake the tracking.

 

NEED TO KNOW

·      If clients are sick, they will not be allowed to track. These include anyone with signs of flu, and those who report to have diarrhoea, stomach upsets and malaria among others.

·      All the visitors, staff and trackers must wear masks. Visitors must wash hands or sanitise and have their body temperature taken. Social distancing must be observed throughout.

·      Visitors must always keep a distance of not less than 10 metres away from the gorillas.

·      Due to the reported side effects of wearing masks for long periods and in high altitudes, visitors shall take frequent breaks during the tracking to give themselves time to breathe fresh air.

COVID Operating Procedures

Before engaging in any tourism activities, visitors shall be briefed regarding the activities they are about to engage in. The briefing will be done at the designated briefing areas at the start of tracking. COVID-19prevention measures shall be an integral part of briefing messages in addition to having Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials displayed inappropriate access locations.

 

Courtesy of Great Lakes Safaris