Activities Guides

Visiting the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the best national parks in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. Located in South Western Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the four conservation areas protecting the endangered mountain gorillas. Gazetted in the 1990s, the park is host to half of the total remaining population of the mountain gorillas. The park provides a thrilling experience of gorilla trekking; a wonderful journey to see the endangered gorillas in the wild. The trek leads you through undulating hills and small-scale farmlands. It provides a memorable experience when you spend time in the jungle viewing varieties of primates, birds and the giant mountain gorillas.

One of the quintessential Uganda experiences is tracking the giant mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and nothing quite prepares you for the first glimpse of black fuzz amidst the dense foliage. The adrenaline kicks in when you’re up close to the imposing figure of a silverback pounding its chest and it’s all very Dian Fossey-like when curious babies peek through leaves and twist, turn and somersault for your entertainment. Gorilla permits will set you back a hefty US$500 but don’t think twice about forking out for this genuine once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Bwindi being a tropical rain forest will also provide an amazing experience to you all nature lovers.

Keep in mind that a portion of the fee goes to the park and gorilla conservation initiatives, helping to ensure these giant mountain gorillas survive. Also experience the beautiful and hospitality of the local community who showcase their culture.

Planning a Visit Bwindi for gorilla trekking? Here are some of themust know things that you should note;

  • In order to track the mountain gorillas, one need to secure gorilla permits. It is advisable to book your gorilla permits at least 3 months before the tour desired tracking date. Remember gorilla permits are available year-round but do sell out fast during the peak season. Many travelers book their permits a year in advance and some even reserve them 2 years before.
  • If you are looking to smooth travel experience, it is advisable to book your trip through a tour operator or travel agency. There are several companies that specialize in organizing gorilla safaris in Uganda and the neighboring countries of Rwanda and Congo (former Zaire). Some of the recommended tour operators include Go Gorilla Trekking, Gorilla Expeditions, Budget Gorilla Safaris and more.
  • When tracking the mountain gorillas, always follow the steps outlined by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, ORTPN or Virunga National Park. These rules are aimed at protecting the mountain gorillas and as well guide the experience of watching the mountain gorillas (Gorilla Tourism) so that it can be a win-win situation.
  • Remember children below 14 years are not allowed to track the mountain gorillas.

Guided Safaris Vs Self Drive Tours in Uganda

Uganda is popular not only for its most stunning mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park but also for its countless wildlife species that range from the rare bird species (10% of world birds all are confined in Uganda), the big game (African lion, African elephants, buffaloes, leopards and the white Rhinos).  Besides, there are several cultural encounters, stunning scenic views, the mighty Nile, the Ssese Islands and the historical Kampala city that all reward visitors with the most fascinating experiences of life time. Whereas Uganda has become the leading safari destination in Africa, most visitors flocking across the world still ca not choose between self drive trips and guided trips.

Below are differences between self drive safaris and guided safaris. We hope this can help while you are choosing the best safari holidays in Uganda’s remotest destination. Visitors also know that taking a self drive tour does not mean that you are absolutely on your own.

A self drive safari is pocket friendly because tourists do not pay the daily costs for guides or even lodge and food.  Your option of the car ca also make a distinction in the whole cost of a self drive safari. For guided safaris, they are more expensive since tourist will be required to pay for guiding services however the total cost per visitor all depends on the number of people.

While on a self drive safari, tourists do not have the freedom to ask a guide to explain other things, wildlife or bird species that come by their way and this leaves out several questions not answered. Whereas guided safaris, tourists feel free to ask questions at any time and this helps to widen visitors understanding about the attraction.

A self drive safari in most cases is done by tourist himself or herself. This is interesting but bear in mind that while driving you have to keep track of any interesting things along the road at the same time and at the end of the day you enjoy half way of the most stunning sceneries of this beautiful country and not forgetting that you can get tired compared to other travelers. Whereas guided safaris visitors have a freedom to chill and enjoy the beautiful sceneries as you will be driven by a tour guide driver.

Although most tourists think that self drive safaris do not have a guide, most tourist activities may need a guide. Whereas guided safaris even if tourists engage in guided activities planned by the lodge and with local tour guide, our guide is also readily available to provide more explanations that in turn enhance your travel experiences in the destination.

On self drive safari, tourists are in a given destination are responsible for themselves while on game viewing. This also denotes that the tourist can be depending on his or her skill and luck which in turn end with either not viewing several wildlife species or an animal but with out understanding what it is or its behavior. In most cases, visitors carry many travel/guide books but this equally adds on the load for tourists. Whereas guided safaris, it is advantageous especially when it comes to game viewing since there are trained guides to take visitors through various wildlife trails while explaining each and every wildlife species that visitors can spot. This also increases the chances of tourists to sight at many species than driving on your own through the national park. We have well trained guides who understand how to find specific wildlife species, what to search for and they are in position to recognize and follow trails, differentiate sounds among others.

Most tourists associate self drive safaris with privacy, however even guided safaris it is possible to plan a lone time for tourists. Whereas it is misunderstanding that guided safaris offer no privacy to visitors, our guide equally requires this. The best we always do is make it balanced, the guide is ever available at a point when he is needed but he will at regular times allow you to have your wonderful evening during your dinner at restaurant.

Locating your way while on self drive safari is not a problem because with tailor made trips, tourists don’t only get detailed itinerary but also satellite navigation system which comes at a cost depending on how long the trip can be. For self drive safaris, tourist enjoy more flexible trips as it allows them to make stop over at any point of their choice and take as many photos of the beautiful sceneries along the way.

In conclusion, whereas there are usual differences between guided safaris and self drive safaris in Uganda, tourists normally expect an enjoyable, well planned safaris which together fit their requirements and budget. Most importantly, both categories include the same destinations and they all include tailor made safaris for visitors.