Uganda Gorilla Trekking

Post Updated Jan, 2024

It’s natural that you would like to learn more about gorilla trekking before signing up for a gorilla safari in Africa.

Let’s answer some of the frequently asked questions about gorilla trekking, from our personal experience.

Uganda Gorilla Trekking – 9 Questions about gorillas answered

Uganda Gorilla trekking jungle

1. Where can you go for gorilla trekking, and how much is the permit?

Today, there are approximately 1,000 mountain gorillas in the jungles of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

The permit price depends on which country you want to go gorilla trekking. Price is based on one permit/ per person (in USD). These prices are correct as of December 2019.

  • The Democratic Republic of Congo Gorilla Permit: USD 400 for foreign non-residents. Congolese residents pay USD 200.
  • Uganda Gorilla Permit: USD 700 per person per trek (2023) for foreign non-residents. Foreign residents pay $600, and locals pay UGX 250,000 per person (USD 66).
  • Rwanda Gorilla Permit: USD 1,500 per person per trek (2023) for all international visitors. Locals pay RWF 30,000 (USD 25)

2. Best time of year to go gorilla trekking in Uganda?

Trekking can be done during the dry (June to September and December to February) or rainy seasons (March to May and October to November).

The rainy season does make trekking more challenging, so it’s often recommended to trek during the dry season.

One of the benefits of trekking during the rainy season is that accommodation at lodges and hotels is at discounted rates.

Uganda Gorilla Trekking
Uganda Gorilla Trekking allows you to get close to these amazing creatures

3. Where can you see the gorillas? Uganda, Rwanda and Congo

Mountain gorillas have a limited habitat. They are only found in three countries that span four national parks:

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda)
  • Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda)
  • Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda)
  • Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo)

4. Are the gorillas dangerous?

The gorillas aren’t aggressive. They rarely react to people or behave in a threatening manner. But should the gorillas charge, you must follow the guide’s advice (noted below), which you receive in the briefing before your trek.

Crouch down slowly or stand still and look down. Do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass. Never attempt to run away because that will increase the risk of harm.

We never felt scared during our trek.

Uganda gorilla trekking guard
Uganda gorilla trekking guard watches over the tourists

5. What are the rules to be able to see the gorillas?

You can only visit with a guide and park rangers. A maximum number of 8 visitors may see a group of habituated mountain gorillas for up to one hour only each day. This minimises behavioural disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.

You cannot visit if you are ill; you must keep a distance and a low voice. You must be at least 15 years of age to go gorilla trekking.

Uganda Gorilla Trekking what a day
Uganda Gorilla Trekking was one of our favourite things on our travels

6. What to pack for your Uganda gorilla trekking?

  • A good pair of hiking boots – is required due to the muddy and steep terrain. I travel with Merrell waterproof hiking shoes worldwide, which are perfect for the trek.
  • A good rain jacket is a good idea; some even bring waterproof cover trousers. If it rains, you’ll be happy about being prepared. I wore some gators over my shoes to prevent safari ants from getting into my boots along the trail. You can also get by with a good pair of socks tucked over your hiking pants. At the briefing, a woman wrapped a thick grey tape around the bottom of her trousers and shoes to do the same job. A good DIY option, I thought.
  • Bring plenty of water and, if possible, a packed lunch. Our lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, prepared one for us for the day.
  • Gloves (optional): During the trek, you may grab branches, trees, and vines for balance. Your hands may get scratched up a little. A pair of gardening or hardware gloves will do the trick. We didn’t use any on the day and were fine; however, it was a good option for some more mature trekkers.

7. How much is the Uganda Gorilla trekking tour?

The cost depends on your itinerary, where you stay and the standard of your accommodation. You can start in Kigali (Rwanda), closer to the park or start the tour from Kampala in Uganda. 

On average, a private Uganda Gorilla Trekking tour for 2 people/4 day package starts from USD 1,200 pp. This price includes the gorilla permit to go gorilla trekking in Uganda.

You can contact Richard at K Safaris if you’d like some info on a tour similar to the one we did.

Many other tour operators in Africa offer similar gorilla safaris. Tourradar is a website that compares safaris depending on duration, price and inclusions.

Read more: Gorilla trekking in Uganda and how to book it.

You can extend your trip to spend more time in Uganda after your gorilla safari tour, as there is much more to see.

gorilla trekking in uganda path
Uganda Gorilla Trekking can be challenging. It involves hiking through a thick jungle. The beginning was easy.

8. Is Gorilla trekking tough? Do you have to be fit?

Visiting the gorillas can be physically challenging, so you should have a reasonable amount of fitness or at least be able to walk/hike for 1-2 hours. 

You can hire a porter for about USD 15. These guys will carry your bags and offer assistance to balance the trek’s challenging parts.

9. How long do you trek for?

You will be placed into groups of 8 people before you set out on your trek, and your group will visit different gorilla families on your gorilla trekking tour.

We drove about 10km from the park entrance to reach a separate entry point from the park entrance. Other groups set off on foot directly from here.

gorilla trekking in uganda
After our Gorilla Trekking in Uganda – all smiles.

The gorilla family we visited were in a different part of the jungle. We walked for about 1 hour through the hilly countryside; then once we entered the jungle, it took us around 30 minutes to reach the gorillas.

You should be prepared to trek up to 6 hours if required, as the gorillas move frequently in search of food. This is the suggested time for Uganda gorilla trekking, but would vary if you go on a gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda or Congo.

Read more: How to book a gorilla trek.

Travel Tips for Africa

We’ve got some comprehensive blogs about travelling in Africa – what a massive continent this is! Have you ever wondered how many countries in Africa are there? 54 or 55? We cover them in depth in our Ultimate Africa Bucket List.

Don’t miss our recap of our travels across West Africa in 2019 for even more helpful tips. If you’re unfamiliar with this region’s cuisine, we wrote a post about the 8 most delicious West African foods we tried along the way. 

It’s worth reading these 17 ESSENTIAL Things to know before travelling to West Africa, and our ESSENTIAL Packing List for Africa may be helpful to you.