African safaris have for a long time been defined by savannah game drives whose main highlight is encountering the big five. That is lions, leopards, Elephants, Buffaloes and Rhinos. Though it is possible to encounter all these animals in Uganda, the most popular wildlife adventure in Uganda is gorilla trekking.

Unlike game drives where you just sit in a safari car and drive through the park until you meet the animals, gorilla trekking requires you to get out of your car and walk for a minimum of three hours through the forest in search for the endangered mountain gorillas. Sometimes the walk can take up to six hours. 

Though some people find it tiresome, the majority of the people who have either been to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park can attest to gorilla safaris being a wilderness activity like no other. But in the ever-changing world, there is always a need for an update on the facts. Here are five things you need to know about gorilla trekking in Uganda:

Gorilla Permit Rates Were Revised

A gorilla trekking permit is a permission document from Uganda wildlife Authority obtained by making the respective payment according to nationality. Formerly, East Africans were paying Ugx 250,000 for a gorilla trekking. That has been changed to Ugx 300,000. 

A gorilla trekking permit for a foreign non-resident was costing $700. It has been revised to $800 per permit. Foreign residents were paying $600 per permit. The rate has been revised to $700. 

Gorilla trekking permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers only eight gorilla trekking permits a day, while Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers over 180 permits per day. It is recommended to secure your slot at least four months in advance to ensure availability on your preferred dates.  

All permits for foreign non-residents can only be purchased through a licensed local tour operator. Uganda Wildlife Authority does not sell foreign non-resident gorilla trekking permits to individuals. 

Minimum Age Requirement Is 15 Years

Gorilla trekking is a dream activity for many people who opt to go for Uganda safaris. Unlike game drives, there is a minimum age requirement of 15 years. Anyone below 15 years is not allowed to go gorilla trekking. However, in rare circumstances, parents of 13-year-olds and 14-year-olds can make a special request where they vow to be accountable for whatever happens to the minor(s) during the trek. 

There Are 5 Gorilla Trekking Locations

Uganda is the only country in the whole world that has two parks that host mountain gorillas; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park. But besides having two national park, there are five gorilla trekking locations. One of the location is found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and four of the gorilla trekking locations are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

During the process of booking the gorilla trekking, everyone is required to make a choice on which of the five gorilla trekking locations in Uganda they prefer. Gorilla permits are issued according to the trekking locations, not the national park. There is no Bwindi gorilla trekking permit. Gorilla trekking permits are sector specific. 

The most popular sector is Bwindi impenetrable national park is Buhoma sector. The least popular sector in Bwindi impenetrable national park is Nkuringo sector. Rushaga sector and Ruhija sector are the second best sectors after Buhoma sector. 

All Locations Provide Equal Chances of Seeing the Gorillas

Whenever people find out that there are several gorilla-watching locations in Uganda, their first question is often which one is the best location to visit. All sectors provide equal opportunities for spotting mountain gorillas. There is no sector you will go to and miss out on encountering the gorillas. 

However, there are other things to consider when choosing your sector. Among these include your itinerary. If you are coming from Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Buhoma sector is the closest and most recommended sector. It also has a lot of accommodation options.

If you intend to visit Lake Bunyonyo after your gorilla trek, then Ruhija sector is the best option. If you intend to cross to Rwanda after your gorilla trek, then Rushaga sector and Ruhija sector would be the best option. Regardless of the sector you choose, you will have an encounter with the gorillas at any given day.  

Gorilla Parks Are Located 8 Hours' Drive from Entebbe

Before booking your gorilla safari to Uganda, it is important to note that all the gorilla parks are located over 420km from Entebbe international airport. It is not possible to go gorilla trekking on the same day you land at Entebbe international airport. Therefore you have to brace yourself for a full day transfer to the gorilla permit. Alternatively, you can opt for a local flight to Kisoro airport. 

It is important to note that even when you take a flight to Kisoro, it is still not possible to trek gorillas on the same day that you land at Entebbe International Airport.