It’s an adventure that’s on many-a-peoples bucket-list and a fantastic conservation success story on top of that: Trekking the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest! We did it this year and today we have five valuable tips for you we wish someone had told us before we went:
1. Book trekking starting point close to your accommodation.
It is advisable to book your gorilla trekking holiday as early as possible. It is only then that we can ensure to get you availability in a lodge that is close to the starting-point of your trek. What does this mean? – It means that, unlike in Rwanda, in Uganda there are several different starting points for your trek that will lead you to different gorilla families. It is totally possible to book your gorilla permits relatively short-notice ( e.g. 2 weeks prior) but then you will most likely not find available accommodation close-by. Meaning: You’d have to drive quite a long distance before you start trekking = Not ideal.
2. Take a proper rain jacket.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a rain forest, so it could bucket down pretty much any time during your trek. Combine it with proper hiking shoes and plenty of water and you’re good to go. FYI: The National Park will hand out walking sticks at the beginning of your trek, so you don’t need to bring one from home.
3. Book in the dry season.
To avoid the heavy rains as much as possible, it is advised to book your gorilla trekking adventure during the dry season. Find out here when the best time is to see the gorillas of Uganda!
4. Book a “porter” per person.
Before starting your trek, the National Park Rangers will ask you if you would like to book a porter to carry your luggage. Don’t be stingy here – it is a great idea to do this. Here’s why:
- You are supporting the village people
- The hike in Bwindi can be quite challenging for tourists – you will be glad to have someone who can safely carry your backpack with camera equipment and water etc.
- It’s fun to chat to your porter! By the end of the trek you will have established a great relationship and bridged the cultural divide!
5. Take cash with you on the trek.
On your gorilla trek, you will follow in the footsteps of the “trackers” who set out very early each morning to find the gorilla families. These people will most likely not walk back with you to your starting point – if you would like to tip them, you will have to do so upon parting ways in the middle of the forest. Your porter also only takes cash. After returning to the starting point, there is a little ceremony during which each participant will receive a certificate. There is a tip-box here if you would like to tip your rangers who guided you safely through the forest.