Searching for the mountain gorillas in Uganda
A gorilla tracking in Uganda is one of the most special things I have ever done in my life. It was always on my bucket list but I never thought that faith would make it happen. Until I fell in love with my boyfriend who is half Ugandan! A trip to the mountain gorilla’s in Uganda went from some day to next holiday. YAY!
My love’s family has a house in Kampala. I visited the country many times already and hope to go back again in 2015! When we’re in Uganda we go on safari all the time.
A visit to the mountain gorilla’s is the most spectacular thing to do in Uganda. And maybe even in Africa!
Planning your trip, buying a permit!
A gorilla safari in Uganda needs some planning. But because my mother in law was at the family house in Uganda a few months before our holiday she had time to visit the office of the Wildlife Authority in Kampala to arrange a permit. You can imagine that availability is limited for the trackings to search for the Silver Back Gorillas in Bwindi forest in Uganda. So planning ahead is a wise thing to do! It also gives you some time to save… a permit costs at least $ 500,- depending on the season. This money is to help protect the gorillas from poaching. You buy the permits online or via specialised travel agencies. Click here for the website of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Where to stay during Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi?
After arranging the permit for the safari I started hunting for lodges. Those of you who went on a safari trip before know that lodging is (yet again!) not cheap. And how much I love the nature and jungle… I will always be a city girl. Comfort at some level is a must. For example: I hate sharing a bathroom. So my search for a tented camp with self contained safari tents went on! I mean, when I have to pie in the middle of the night and find myself a way in the dark screaming at every spider I see I at least want to do that in my own tent ;-).
We stayed at the Buhoma Community Restcamp. A budget camp, but with options for a self contained banda with a private (open air!) bathroom. Perfect! I like to balance things a bit when travelling. And a gorilla tracking by itself is expensive enough. Our stay was only $ 120,- per night for full board for two. If you have more money to spend I would highly recommend the Silver Back Lodge. It is on my bucket-list for if I ever make another trip to the gorillas! Which is not unlikely since we have a house in Uganda :-).
I enjoyed staying at our little green house so much. Drinking a beer on our patio overlooking the mountains and forest. We didn’t even start our gorilla tracking yet, but this already had the WOW factor for me. Don’t we look super happy in this photo? :-)
Lol, and I look like a pro hiker with this outfit and no make-up. Something different for a change than heels and designer bags!
Gorillas in the mist… the tracking!
A few tips before you go: good hiking shoes are a must, a bit of training too and make sure to bring a hat. I forgot the last one and thought that we would be in the jungle without sun… Well, that was a bad call because I ended up with a heatstroke at the end of the day. Luckily that was after we found the gorillas.
Please beware… it’s not a zoo! The jungle is big, the gorillas move all the time. Even the trackers and rangers don’t know where they are exactly. It took us almost 4 hours of walking through the jungle to find them. And this is no flat land, but mountains, hills and walking on a bed of plants and trees all the time. In the jungle there are huge open fields where the sun shines heavily. And it’s over 30 degrees Celsius.
But enough about the practical stuff ;-). Gorilla tracking is so special. Some rangers stay close to the gorillas all day to protect them from poaching. When it gets dark they leave the gorillas in the jungle. At sunrise they go back to the place where they last saw the group and from there they look for traces of movement. And then they track them down to where they again. There are a few gorilla families that are habituated. That basically means that they tolerate people on a safe distance.
The most fun moment to find the gorillas is during lunch. They are super active then looking for food, climbing trees and so on. When we spotted them the group already had lunch and was chilling out in the forest. They definitely had their lazy hours digesting all those delicious leaves! Only the little ones were playing. Very cute!
If you like to take photos, make sure to bring a tripod with you. The forest is very dark and it can be hard to take great photos if the gorillas are not in an open field.
The first encounter with a gorilla is SO SPECIAL! I mean these animals are huge… and super strong. But at the same time have a soul when you look them in the eyes. You can see their emotions. Incredible! And the Silver Back male is so big. What an animal!
This gorilla tracking in Uganda is the most amazing thing I ever did in my life when it comes to wildlife. I hope this blog inspires you to put in on your bucket-list while they’re still there.
PS: in the Uganda Travel Guide you find more blogs about travelling to the Pearl of Africa. From a Kampala City Guide to tips for safari in Uganda.
Planning your trip to Uganda:
* KLM.nl has a direct flight to Uganda. They often have great promo deals too. I flew for little as € 450,- once!
* Start your trip in Kampala and explore the city. Yourlbb’s favourite hotels in Kampala are: Sheraton hotel (with the pool from the movie King of Schotland), Speke Resort (good value for money) and Serena hotel Kampala (beautiful pool and spa).