Gorillas mark the top tourist attraction and most visited in Uganda. The two Gorilla parks hosting the famous mountain gorillas in Uganda are:
- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – It’s found in western Uganda and is famous for hosting half of the world’s remaining mountain Gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers four gorilla trekking centres where you can choose to trek gorillas from. The gorilla trekking centres in BINP include Buhoma which is located in the northern part, Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors in the southern and the Ruhija sector in the Eastern. All the four sectors receive visitors but the Rushaga sector receives more due to the fact that the sector hosts many habituated gorilla families and offers a unique Gorilla habituation experience.
- Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – It’s another home of Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. If Bwindi is fully booked then book gorilla trekking in Mgahinga. The Park is part of the Virunga crescent and mountainous thus requires some level of fitness. Mgahinga national park is situated far southwestern Uganda and can easily be reached from Kigali – Rwanda (3-4hrs drive) and 7-9hrs from Kampala. Nyakagezi Gorilla family is the only habituated gorilla group in MGNP however, it’s easy to detect its location by the game rangers to simplify the trek.
During Gorilla trekking in Bwindi or Mgahinga, there are more chances of encountering other attractions like birds, forest animals like elephants, leopards, lions, unique tree species, waterfalls, insects, hills and valley among others. Yes, Gorilla trekking is expensive but there are other things you see to supplement it hence maximum satisfaction and great memories.
Its also important to note that, gorilla permits are booked in advance since the demand for mountain gorilla trekking is high throughout the year. Book a permit of US$700 at least 3 months in advance to secure your spot. You can organize your gorilla safari through Gorilla expeditions Limited or African Jungle Adventures by contacting them via email or phone call. Work hand in hand with local tour operators to guide you in making your dream come true.
On the other hand, chimpanzee trekking is the second sought-after Gorilla trekking. If you visit Uganda, miss not Gorilla or chimpanzee trekking. Uganda is gifted by nature- the fact that there are five destinations where you can meet chimpanzees is amazing! Chimpanzee trekking destinations include:
- Kibale National Park- the most famous chimpanzee trekking site in Uganda. KNP is situated in western Uganda and can be reached within a 5-6hrs drive from Kampala city or Entebbe Airport. The Park offers chimpanzee trekking at US$200 and you can choose either morning or afternoon sessions. Other activities done in Kibale National Park include forest walks, hikes, birding, chimpanzee habituation, and nocturnal walk among others. While in Kibale National Park, expect to meet Vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, Olive baboons, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Uganda Red Colobus among others.
- Budongo forest- This is part of Murchison Falls National Park (the largest park in Uganda). Budongo forest is dominated by tall mahogany trees and is unique of its kind. The rain forest hosts about 600-700 chimpanzees ready for trekking. Like KNP, Budongo forest offers chimpanzee habituation. In Budongo, Chimpanzee trekking starts with a briefing from the information Centre at the Budongo Eco Lodge at 8 am after 30 minutes briefing. Other attractions you are likely to encounter in the Budongo forest include black-and-white colobus, red-tailed monkey, blue monkey, and olive baboon. Nocturnal primates include potto and various forest galago species. The rarely seen tree pangolin is also resident.
- Kyambura Gorge – It’s situated in Queen Elizabeth National Park (the second-largest park in Uganda). It’s a reserve in QENP however, the cost of a chimpanzee permit here is US$50. Kyambura gorge is known as “the Valley of apes” because of hosting a variety of primates like chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys and olive baboons among others.
- Kalinzu Forest – You can reach Kalinzu forest through the Mweya sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The drive only takes about 40 minutes. Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest is not very demanding as gorilla tracking but one needs to be fit enough to walk for 3 to 4 hours through sometimes difficult terrain. While in Kalinu forest, expect to reach waterfalls, do birding, forest walks, nature walks among others.
- Toro- Semuliki Game reserve – Another home of chimpanzees is Toro- Semuliki game reserve. It’s situated in western Uganda and among the first protected area to be gazette and was ranked a game reserve in 1926. Toro Game reserve covers an area of 542 spare kilometers. Key primate species on this walk include chimpanzees, Red-tailed, vervet, Black and white colobus monkeys, Baboons. Angulates encountered are Waterbucks, Warthogs, Bushbucks, Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, and Elephants among others. Toro- Semuliki offers the cheapest gorilla trekking at US$30 foreign visitors, Ush 3000 for east African community members.
In conclusion, both gorillas and chimpanzees offer unique experiences which you should not miss while on your Uganda safari.