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Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking In Uganda And Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is the most popular tourist activity done in both countries. It is also referred to as Gorilla trekking and it is where the ranger guides try to find the given habituated gorilla group for the clients on their trekking date. The clients will be divided into a group of 8 people in the morning to be assigned to a specific Gorilla group or Gorilla family and escorted at exactly 8:00am by ranger guides into the forest to search for the rare Mountain Gorillas. It might take you 2-6 hours while in the forest depending on the time and the place where you will find the Mountain Gorillas. Upon finding the Gorillas, clients will spend only one (1) hour of interacting with these lovely primates. You will learn the Gorillas behavior, how they feed, and play, couple and how they associate with each other then you will realize that these are closest creatures to human beings.

Gorilla tracking tours is for everyone in the world apart from children below 15 years old and if you realize that you cannot walk into the forest then there are porters who can carry you to and from the forest using the stretchers. You have to agree the price for being carried on the stretcher with the porters and our safari guide will help you out.

The rare Mountain gorilla’s family or group is led by the Silverback which is the male Gorilla and it weighs over 200kgs.

The Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has over 20 Gorilla families but only 19 Gorilla groups are available for clients to track. The Gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include; Katwe, Habinyanja, Rushegura and Mubare group in Buhoma sector. Bitukura, Oruzogo, Kyaguliro and Mukiza group in Ruhija sector. Nkuringo, Bushaho and Christmas family in Nkuringo sector. Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, Bweza, Nshongi, Mucunguzi, Bikingi and Kutu Gorilla family in Rushaga sector while Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also found in Uganda has only 1 (one) Gorilla family called Nyakagezi Gorilla family. This Park forms the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration as continuation of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DR Congo.

The one and only Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park known also for Gorilla trekking has 10 Gorilla families designated for tourists and they include Susa Gorilla Group (Susa A Family), Karisimbi Gorilla Group (Susa-B), Sabyinyo Gorilla Group, Amahoro Gorilla Group, Umubano Gorilla Group, Agashya Gorilla Group, Kwitonda Gorilla Group, Hirwa Gorilla Group, Bwenge Family Group and Ugenda Gorilla Family

Uganda alone harbors half of the world’s Mountain Gorillas total population currently with over 459 individuals from an estimated 400 individuals in 2011 of the Mountain Gorillas as it was revealed by Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities together with the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration in 16th December 2019. However the current numbers of the Mountain Gorillas have increased by over 10 individuals.

The world’s total population of the Mountain Gorillas has risen to over 1,063 individuals including the parks from the Virunga Massif with the total population of 603 individuals of Mountain Gorillas i.e. Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DRC Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda not forgetting the legendary and stand alone Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with over 459 individuals.

In the other hand, Gorilla habituation experience has a slight difference from Gorilla trekking but just to say, it is more spiced than Gorilla trekking. It takes place only at Rushaga sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where only one gorilla family has been designated for this everlasting activity to ensure sustainability. After briefing at the Uganda Wildlife Authority office, you will be escorted by the ranger guides and researchers very early in the morning unlike the gorilla trekking where you will be only escorted by ranger guides.  It allows clients to spend more time maximum 4 hours with Gorillas upon meeting them. The clients will be escorted with researchers and ranger guides with porters if needed who will show the clients and guide them through the whole process of the experience. So Gorilla habituation experience might take 5 to 10 hours of the day depending on the time and the place you get the Gorillas while on their Nests.

The cost of Gorilla habituation experience in Uganda is US$ 1,500 per person and African Pearl Safaris will buy it for you.

The number of clients is limited to 4 people per day while on the Gorilla Habituation Experience and that is the reason we recommend our clients to secure the permits one year to the trekking date before other clients take them.

Cost of a  Gorilla Trekking Permit

Uganda gorilla trekking permit = Cost US$ 700 per person and you will spend 1 hour with rare Mountain Gorillas upon meeting them.

Uganda Gorilla habituation permit = Costs US$ 1,500 per person and you will spend 4 hours with the rare Mountain Gorillas upon meeting them

Rwanda Gorilla trekking permit = Costs US$ 1,500 per person and you will spend 1 hour with the rare Mountain Gorillas upon meeting them.

DR Congo Gorilla trekking permit = Costs US$ 400 per person and you will spend 1 hour with the rare Mountain Gorillas upon meeting them.

Trekking Mountain Gorillas on a Budget Friendly Plan

Even though gorilla trekking is known to be a life time experience, most trekkers have been left thinking that it’s only for the wealthy class and this is not right. A gorilla trek to see a group of endangered mountain gorillas in the thick tropical rain forests in Uganda and Rwanda is the most thrilling experience that comes once a life time. These are classified as the critically endangered apes by the IUCN and not more than 1,200 individuals still live in the whole world with half of them living in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. To be able to view these species, there are about 20 habituated groups that are assigned to eight trekkers per day all of which belong to different trailhead. Some of these groups include; Katwe, Habinyanja, Rushegura and Mubare group in Buhoma sector. Bitukura, Oruzogo, Kyaguliro and Mukiza group in Ruhija sector. Nkuringo, Bushaho and Christmas family in Nkuringo sector. Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, Bweza, Nshongi, Mucunguzi, Bikingi and Kutu Gorilla family in Rushaga sector.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

For the tourists who like budget safaris in Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are the best options. This is mainly because these two parks have got a low season from March to May and then Mid October to November. These are known to be rainy months but it doesn’t mean that there is no gorilla trekking taking place in Uganda. These large primates are found in thick tropical rain forests where rain is expected to fall any time of the day meaning weather you travel in dry or wet season, you have to expect rain in the course of the day. During the low season months, many lodges or accommodations around the park reduce the price of their rooms to attract clients and this is a chance for the budget travelers to travel for their gorilla trek.

Before planning your budget Gorilla trekking safari, consider the following elements

  1. The Cost of Gorilla Trekking Permits

The cost of Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda is two times cheaper than Rwanda Gorilla trekking permit. It costs US$ 700 per person foreign non residents and US$ 600 per person for foreign residents in Uganda whereas Rwanda charges US$ 1,500 per person for foreign non-residents gorilla permit which is equivalent to a 3 days Gorilla trekking safari in Uganda including accommodation for 2 nights in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, transport, meals, English speaking driver guide, gorilla trekking permit and also a lot of fun in the African sun. The decision is on your hand whether to choose a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or Rwanda but all in all African Pearl Safaris will organize for your best adventures in the world and it gives reward to trekkers with unforgettable experiences.

So the Gorilla habituation experience where one can stay with Mountain Gorillas for 4 hours upon meeting them, it costs US$ 1,500 per person and it can only be done in Rushaga sector, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda

  1. Low Season versus High Season

In low season (March, April, May, October up to Mid-November), the prices are always cheaper especially in the Ugandan National Parks than Rwandan National Park. Most lodges and hotels reduce prices in low season to attract clients in their facilities. When we talk about low season, it does not mean that there is no gorilla trekking activity or other tourism activities in national parks but it is just because there is much rain and actually this is good time for carrying out these adventurous tourism activities without competition. So the lodges reduce their rates, tour companies reduce the transport cost for the vehicles, the tour companies and Park authorities run promotional rates and they are bookable by the budget travelers. So all these elements help to reduce the costs of the Gorilla trekking safari both in Uganda and Rwanda.

  1. Book in advance

For the case of proper planning, we advise you to book your gorilla trekking safari in advance. It gives room and enough time for us to bargain with our providers like hotels or lodges and it mostly applies for the group travelers. It also reduces risks of lacking enough hotel rooms and enough space for the activities. This helps the budget travelers as they may decide to share the cost of vehicle and transport costs as compared to individual travelers. There are many cars to hire that accommodating the big group travelers and their prices are pocket friendly.

  1. Accommodation

There is a variety of accommodation facilities to choose from. It ranges from budget / basic facilities, mid-range facilities and High end / Luxury accommodation facilities. Before the lodge or hotel facility is presented to you our customers by African Pearl Safaris, you should always know that it has been inspected and tested by our team for the best of your stay in these facilities. What African Pearl Safaris calls budget facilities are not really budget facilities like the way many people think of it. But these are good facilities with nice food, comfortable beds, friendly and experienced staff but just with low room prices / rates and they are affordable to budget customers. So these accommodations are so vital when it comes to any safaris not only gorilla destinations but also across wildlife and savannah national parks in Uganda. Visitors can also mix the facilities by having 1 night in a comfortable budget facility and the other nights in high end or mid-range facilities to reduce on the cost of the safari.

The cost of the lodges is always high during the peak season months and reduced during the low season months and they are forced to offer discounted prices to win over the clients. Each of the sectors of gorillas in Bwindi forest has got many different budget lodging facilities for you to choose from. The common ones include; Buhoma community rest camp, Buhoma view bandas, Wagtail, eco safari camp in Buhoma sector, Broadbill Forest Camp in Ruhija sector, also features many of the lodges around Lake Bunyonyi and these include; Bunyonyi overland camp, Crater Bay cottages, Bushara Island, Bunyonyi back packers hostel and Rushaga has got Nshongi campsite, Kisoro traveler’s rest inn and Gorilla valley Lodge.

Many of the visitors tend to avoid the wet season but the budget travelers take advantage of this since it comes with less congestion since few tourists travel during this season, offering the budget travelers and the back packers an up close encounter with the giant apes in the wild. Mostly the low season comes with heavy rains and the gorilla forests remains wet, muddy and very slippery for the tourists to trek to see the endangered primates in the wild and this means many travelers run away from this season. However, it’s adventurous that it’s a period when there is too much food for the endangered mountain gorillas in the wild and the visitors who travel during this period have a chance of meeting them at the base of the park while they are feeding as compared to the dry or peak season when many of them are forced to wander looking for food.

As you enjoy your budget trekking safari, you will strike your imaginations with the unique forest birds, the golden monkeys, and wild chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park where there are over 1500 individuals that are conserved together with 12 distinct primate species, which makes it a stopover in Queen Elizabeth National Park for taking photos at the equator or sight of the tree climbing lions at Ishasha sector.

  1. Travel in a Group

Budget travelers can travel in groups and for this case you will not save for a long time to travel to your dream destination. The groups can be in 4, 6, 10, 12 people or more and you will not be required to pay a lot of money since costs are share among the members. For example, the cost of the safari vehicle, airport transfers, and accommodations can be shared in a twin and triple rooms compared to the solo / individual travelers. Traveling in a group is fun with excitement and memorable experiences as you get to enjoy these creatures in their natural habitats. The safari vehicle accommodates a maximum of 7 people including the driver guide. You are also advised to book at least 4 month to your travel date to ensure that the group members acquire their gorilla trekking permit in time

The best country for budget gorilla trekking safaris is Uganda; this is because of the cheap gorilla permit of US$700 per person. You will as well find cheap budget accommodation in Bwindi; the visa is cheap (US$50 per person) and is given on arrival. This country is cheap as compared to Rwanda whose gorilla permit is US$1,500 per person per day which is equivalent to a 3 day Uganda gorilla trekking safari. DRC on the other hand is a new gorilla destination, but its visa is $100 and the gorilla permit is US$400 per person. Even though the gorilla permit is cheap, its lodging facilities are expensive.

Please book your tour in advance and get to enjoy and experience the nature.

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda)

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a magnificent verdant swathe of forest across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rift Valley, these 331 km²ancient rains forest, one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age and it is a home to the rare Mountain Gorillas.

Bwindi gorilla trekking tour

Uganda alone harbors half of the world’s total population of the rare Mountain Gorillas and currently with 459 individuals from an estimated 400 individuals in 2011 as it was revealed by Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities together with the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration in 16th December 2019.

The world’s total population of the Mountain Gorillas has risen to over 1,063 individuals including the parks from the Virunga Massif with the total population of 603 individuals of Mountain Gorillas i.e. Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DRC Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is an Afromontane forest with dense under growth of fern, vines, and shrubs. About 324 tree species have been recorded here 10 of which occur nowhere else in Uganda.

It is located in south western Uganda on the edge of western rift valley bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) shared by Rukungiri, Kabale and Kisoro districts in Uganda. The park is next to Virunga National Park of Congo and it is designated as a world heritage site by United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizational (UNESCO) in 1994 because of its national and ecological importance.

The park derives its name from the local phrase called “Mubwindi bwa Nyinamuraki”. The name dates back in the years when a family was migrating from Kisoro to the southern part of the park. So, when they reached at Mubwindi swamp, they were unable to cross the swamp to the other end because it was impenetrable. The family members asked the swamp spirits for guidance and they were told to choose and sacrifice their most beautiful daughter for them to be allowed to cross the impenetrable Mubwindi swamp. So, after two days of waiting, they sacrificed and threw their most beautiful and beloved daughter called Nyinamuraki to the swamp and they were allowed to cross to the other side of the swamp. Bird watching in Bwindi is another tourist activity you can take part in when you visit Bwindi.

After the news spread to the community, they started avoiding the swamp terming it Mubwindi bwa Nyinamuraki meaning that the dark place of Nyinamuraki hence the park obtained the name Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Initially, the park was started and designated as Crown Forest reserve in 1932 which was into two division where the southern part of the park was named Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve and the northern part was being called Kayonza crown Forest Reserves.

In 1964, the Crown Forest reserve was turned into animal sanctuary to protect the rare Mountain Gorillas until 1991 when it was upgraded into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park together with Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Ruwenzori Mountain National Park. It covered 330.8square Kilometers and it was being managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority to date.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is composed of different sectors for Gorilla trekking and they include Buhoma sector, Ruhija Sector, Rushaga sector and Nkuringo sector. They all have a variety of Gorilla groups for trekking but the gorilla permit availability will determine the sector you will be allocated for Gorilla trekking on the time of confirmation.

Gorilla Tracking In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda)

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smallest National Park in Uganda at just 33.7km2. It is located in the corner of south western Uganda in Kisoro District, 12.5km south of Kisoro town council. It makes up the northeastern part of the Virunga Volcano ranges which extends into DR Congo and Rwanda. This comprises of Mount Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo.

The summit of Mount Muhavura is the highest point of the park at 4,127 m and has a small crater lake that tourists may want to visit. The view from the summit is frequently obscured by the cloud. The vegetation in the park includes montane, alpine and sub-alpine flora at each of the different levels up the volcano, varying the altitude. It is possible to climb to the peaks of Gahinga, Sabinyo, and Muhavura, although the pace set by the ranger and armed escort may be exhausting unless you are fit. Climbs can be organised at the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park office in Kisoro.

Mount Sabinyo (3,669 m) offers the opportunity of straddling Uganda, Rwanda and RD Congo simultaneously. There are three peaks to climb: peak one is reached along a ridge on the eastern side. Reaching peak two involves a traverse along the ridge with Rwanda on one side and Uganda on the other. Trekking to peak three involves the use of a series of ladders to help cover the terrain. The mount Gahinga (3,474 m) climb includes a pleasant walk through bamboo forest, known locally as Rugano, before the gradient increases up the summit. There was a small crater lake at the summit but it has turned into a swamp over time. The round trip takes six hours.

Alternatively, shorter walks include a visit to the enormous Garama cave, which is over 340 m in length and 14 m deep. This was where the Batwa (Pygmies) warriors used to live during their long-running conflict with their neighbors, the Bantu almost 1000 years ago.

Initially in 1930, the current Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was made a game reserve by the British administration until 1950. Most parts were turned into crop fields in the lower altitude areas and biological surveys were initiated in 1989. In the process wire traps were destroyed, rangers trained and trees planted. Settlers (Batwa people) were relocated to areas outside the national park’s borders in the early 1990s. Lastly, in 1991, it was upgraded to a national park status hence Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and this was made at the same time with Bwindi Impenetrable National park and Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a continuation of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DR Congo forming up Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration. All the three national parks have a total population of over 603 Mountain Gorillas individual as per the count carried out on 16th December 2019.

The park harbors 76 species of mammals and 115 bird species excluding the 250 bird species recorded in the entire Virunga conservation area (VCA). Most common spotted mammals include the rare Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys during gorilla tracking and Golden Monkey tracking respectively but the rest is difficult to spot on your visit to this park especially the giant forest hogs, bush pigs, forest buffaloes, elephants, bushbucks, golden cats, side striped jackals, black fronted duikers and South African porcupines.

Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda)

Volcanoes National Park is the most visited national park in Rwanda and it harbours some of the worlds rare Mountain Gorillas and the rare Golden Monkeys only found in East Africa. It forms part of the Virunga Conservation Area covering more than 125km2, including five extinct volcanoes: Muhabura, Sabyinyo, Gahinga, Karisimbi and Bisoke. The Virunga conservation area is formed of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in DRC Congo and the Virunga Massif contains over 603 rare Mountain Gorillas to add on the ones in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

Volcanoes National Park has the fantastic scenic forest that is covered with mountains and diverse vegetation as well as the six volcanoes; this is why Rwanda is also known as the land of a thousand hills.

The park was made the research base of the late American primatologist Dian Fossey and it was featured as the setting for the film Gorillas in the Mist. The Park still remembers the hard work of Dian Fossey towards the conservation of these worlds rare Mountain Gorillas up to date. While at this park remember to visit Fossey’s tomb which is located on slopes of Mt. Sabyinyo as she was buried among the gorillas she grew to love with her heart.

The Mountains Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park are habituated and grouped into 10 families including the Susa Gorilla Group (Susa A Family), Karisimbi Gorilla Group (Susa-B), Sabyinyo Gorilla Group, Amahoro Gorilla Group, Umubano Gorilla Group, Agashya Gorilla Group, Kwitonda Gorilla Group, Hirwa Gorilla Group, Bwenge Family Group and Ugenda Gorilla Family

Volcanoes National park is located in northern Rwanda and its only 114km away from the Kigali city. Access to this national park is so easy and so quick than getting to Bwindi which is located in Uganda. This national park is 2 hours and 30 minutes drive from Kigali and in case you are traveling on a tight budget, you can also opt to take a 1 days Gorilla trekking setting off at 5:00am in the morning to Volcanoes National Park or you can take a mini bus to Ruhengeri town which is situated at the park entrance or you can also take a taxi.

While at the park, you will not have to listen too hard before you hear one of the 178 recorded bird species in the park. Also look through the gaps in the dense forest canopy and you will also see the breathtaking peaks of the volcanoes standing tall at over 4,500m.

Gorilla tracking in this national park is so active than in Bwindi Forest; this is because these mountain gorillas move around less some times. This park’s open terrain amid the bamboo forests that allows the light in the environment, which makes an opportunity for taking the photos than in Bwindi forest which is so thick.  Tracking of mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda are completely different. After having the briefing about gorilla trekking, the visitors are divided into groups according to fitness level, age and the location of the gorilla family at the same time.

Gorilla Trekking in Virunga National Park (DRC)

Gorilla tracking in DRC is carried out in Virunga National park which is also UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s located in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and borders both Rwanda and Uganda. Virunga National park also covers an area of about 7800km and is also home to 200 of the mountain gorillas living mostly in the southern part of the park. This national park is also managed by Congolese national park authorities with the institute Congolais Pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), These are also partner with Africa Conservation Fund. After, the reduction in these mountain gorilla numbers are due to the ruthless attacks which killed 10 gorillas, their population has also increased and more stable now. The efforts have been put in by the rangers who live within Virunga National park.

The park is also 32km west of Goma which is also the capital city of North Kivu province. Transport from Goma to Virunga National park that can be also be arranged with Virunga National park. The roads to the national park are so poor and it’s also the best to travel with someone who knows the place. The other option can be a guided tour since tourism infrastructure is not well developed as in Uganda and Rwanda. It’s also well advisable that the best way to arrive at Goma is by passing via Rwanda on a well maintained road from Kigali.it also takes three hours to drive to arrive the border of DRC which is near Goma. This border crossing is also easy and from there, it’s also a short walk of 10 minutes to Goma. The other option would be by crossing the border of Bunagana in south western Uganda, where you can access an affordable local visa which can be bought.

Gorilla Trekking Rules and Guidelines

  • Please note that anyone with flu or a cold is not permitted to trek Gorillas and it is advisable that you talk to your guide if you are likely to have any symptoms.
  • Bring your passport for Gorilla permit check.
  • Your group will be led by a head ranger and an assistant allocated to your group at the headquarters.
  • The warden generally knows how far the gorilla groups are from the park. They will be spread over different mountains so you will have to drive to the base to start the trek.
  • You will also receive a wooden walking stick for which you do not need to pay but you may buy it at the end of the trek as a memento or return it to the ranger.
  • We want you to enjoy this trek so do not rush and do take a rest while climbing as the slopes are steep and the altitude will make you tired. When you do find the gorillas you will have an hour to observe them. The head guide will instruct you on what to do and where to go while you observe the gorillas. Please listen to him/her as he/she is very experienced.
  • Your trek should be over by lunch time if the gorillas are not too far. At the finish, you will receive a certificate and will perhaps want to tip the guides and porters (tipping guidelines are provided).
  • To minimize possible transmission of human diseases, visitors are asked to maintain a distance of 7m (about 22 feet) from the gorillas. If you are sick with a cold, flu or other contagious illness, please do not visit the gorillas.
  • Viewing time is limited to one hour.
  • Maximum 8 visitors per group.
  • Spitting in the park is strictly prohibited.
  • Should you need to cough, cover your mouth and turn away from the gorillas.
  • When with the gorillas, keep your voice low.
  • Try not to make rapid movements that may frighten the gorillas.
  • If a gorilla should charge or vocalize at you, do not be alarmed, stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s directions.
  • Do not litter.
  • Do not use flash photography.

Important Information:

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your return date.
  • You need a visa to enter Uganda.
  • Passports must also have two blank pages side by side for immigration.
  • Contact your local health clinic or doctor to determine if any inoculations are required.
  • Anti-malaria protection is required. Contact your doctor or health clinic.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance is essential.
  • Timing mentioned in itinerary.
  • Please note in Uganda credit card use is usually restricted to major banks and hotels and most shops will not accept other methods of payment other than cash.
  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your return date.
  • You need a visa to enter Uganda.
  • Passports must also have two blank pages side by side for immigration.
  • Contact your local health clinic or doctor to determine if any inoculations are required.
  • Anti-malaria protection is required. Contact your doctor or health clinic.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance is essential.
  • Timing mentioned in itinerary.
  • Please note in Uganda credit card use is usually restricted to major banks and hotels and most shops will not accept other methods of payment other than cash.

Tipping / Gratuities

Tipping is not compulsory. If, however, you want to tip because you have received good service, we have enclosed a brief guideline to assist you:

While on The Gorilla Trek

Porters do not earn any salary. If you do choose to take a porter the minimum tip we recommended for a porter is US$10.

Guides (1 per group), Trackers (2-3 per group) and Security personnel (2-4 per group) do earn salaries. We recommended US$15 for the trackers/security personnel and US$25 for the head guide/assistant per guest per day of tracking.

Rest of The Safari

  • Camp or Game Lodge Guides, Specialist Guides and Butlers

We recommend US$10.00 per guest per day.

  • Paddlers and Trackers

We recommend that each paddler receive US$5.00 per guest per day and that camp/lodge trackers receive US$5.00 per guest per day.

  • The General Safari Camp / Lodge Staff

We recommend about US$10.00 per guest per day for safari camps. This should be placed in the communal tipping box to be distributed equally amongst all the staff.

  • Porterage

We recommend about US$2.00 to US$3.00 per guest per movement.

Some lodges have slightly different gratuity schedules, but these are usually stipulated clearly in the camp’s collateral.

We would like to emphasize that tipping is definitely not a requirement but should be undertaken only by choice and dependent on service received. Whatever you believe to be appropriate will be appreciated by the staff you have met.

Packing Suggestions

Please find herewith a list of suggested items which should be used as a guideline whilst planning your trip. Please bear in mind that as mentioned above, there are luggage restrictions of between 15kg (33lbs) and 20kg (44lbs) (in a soft bag with no wheels, frames or rigid structures) on some light aircraft transfers and 20kg (44lbs) on most scheduled airline flights.

Clothing:

  • Sun hat/bush hat.
  • Headscarf/bandana – particularly for dusty dry regions.
  • Golf-shirts and/or T-shirts – preferably with a sleeve to protect your shoulders from the sun.
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts.
  • Shorts and/or skirts – really short skirts are not practical for getting in and out of game drive vehicles.
  • Long trousers/slacks.
  • Track suit.
  • Pyjamas – lightweight for summer and warm/thermal for winter.
  • Underwear – on game drives the roads can be bumpy and uneven so a suitable bra may be required.
  • Socks – thermal options are recommended for the winter months.
  • Good closed walking shoes (running/tennis shoes are fine).
  • Sandals – preferably low heeled or flat if you are going on safari.
  • Swimming costume.
  • Lightweight jersey or fleece in summer.
  • Light rain gear or jacket for summer months.
  • Warm jersey or fleece plus anorak or parka in winter.
  • Additionally, a scarf, gloves and beanies/woolen hats for the cold winter months.
  • More formal attire for your stay at prestigious city hotels or on one of the luxury trains.

Equipment / Other:

  • Good quality sunglasses, UV protected, preferably polarized. Tinted fashion glasses are not good in Strong light.
  • If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust.
  • Personal toiletries (basic amenities supplied by most establishments).
  • Malaria tablets (if applicable).
  • Antihistamine tablets if you suffer from any allergies.
  • Anti-nausea tablets if you suffer from motion sickness.
  • Moisturizing cream and suntan lotion – SPF 30 or higher recommended.
  • Insect repellent for body application, e.g. Tabard, Rid, Jungle Juice, etc.
  • Basic medical kit (aspirins, plasters, Imodium, antiseptic cream and antihistamine cream, etc.)
  • Tissues/Wet Wipes.
  • Visas, tickets, passports, money, credit card, insurance details, etc.
  • Camera equipment including spare batteries, chargers, film, flash cards, memory sticks, etc.
  • Waterproof/dustproof bag or cover for your camera.
  • BINOCULARS – we highly recommended that you bring your own pair for viewing both wildlife and birds. 8×40 and 10×42 are the recommended general purpose binocular specifications.

NOTE 1: Bright colors and white are not advised whilst on safari. Camouflage clothing is not recommended for travel.

Luggage: Due to limited space available for storage in safari vehicles, we strongly recommend the use of soft duffle bags per the examples below and weighing 15kgs per person.

You contact African Pearl Safaris for more tips of planning for a gorilla trekking safari.

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