How to organise your gorilla and chimp trekking
Mountain Gorillas are one of the world’s most endangered apes and it is estimated that there are only a mere 800 mountain gorilla’s left in the wild. Almost half of the worlds’ population can be found in Bwindi National Park in Uganda. The spine-tingling feeling that you get being so near to one of our closest relatives is hard to describe.
Important information for roadtrippers that want to trek the gorilla's and chimps. Covered in this section:
- How to obtain a gorilla trekking permit?
- Where to go gorilla tracking?
- Where to go chimpanzee tracking?
- How does a trekking day look like?
How to obtain a gorilla trekking permit
If you are planning to visit the gorillas or chimpanzees, it is recommended that you reserve the permits well in advance. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) headquartered in Kampala issues the permits only upon cash payment in full (no pre-booking). Permits cost USD 600 per person (2018).
Roadtrip Uganda can arrange the gorilla and chimp permits for you after you have hired a car with us. In order to do so, we need (1) full names corresponding with your passport, nationality, date of birth and passport number of all the people tracking, (2) preferred starting location and date (3) second best date in case the preferred date is fully booked. Once proof of payment has been sent, we will purchase the permits on your behalf. Kindly note that UWA does not have a refund policy in case of any cancellation or change of location or data. Note that the minimum age for gorilla tracking is 15 years and for the chimps it is 13 years. For this service we charge a handling fee of USD 25 per gorilla permit and USD 15 per chimp permit.
Once your permits are bought it is not possible to change the start location and / or date.
Where are gorilla trekking locations in Uganda
Bwindi National Park protects an estimated 350 mountain gorillas, including 11 habituated groups which can be tracked. There are four departing places: Buhoma and Ruhija which are in the northern part of the park, and Nkuringo and Rushaga, which are in Kisoro District in the southeast of Bwindi. Roadtrip Uganda partners with Mutanda Lake Resort, from where you can visit the Nkuringo or Rushaga family. Roadtrippers recieve a special rate at this lovely lodge.
Where to go chimpanzee trekking on your roadtrip in Uganda
Kibale Forest is the prime chimpanzee trekking location with a 95% chance that you will spot a chimp family. Trips start every morning and afternoon from Bigodi in Kibale Forest. Chimp tracking permits cost USD 150 per person. You can also opt for the full day chimp habituation experience, which cost USD 200. It is recommended to reserve the permits in advance. Note that the minimum age is 13 years or above for chimp tracking.
For those on a budget, Budongo Forest or Kyambura Gorge are a cheaper alternative to see the chimpanzees. Budongo Forest Reserve is near Murchison National Park. The likelihood of spotting chimps is highest in the morning, with an estimated 80% chance of encountering the chimps. The tracking is organised by Uganda Lodges - Budongo Eco Lodge. Permits can be obtained at the site, or reserved in advance through Uganda Lodges. Prices are USD 75 during low season (March-May, Oct-Nov) and USD 85 during the rest of the year. Kyambura Gorge is located in the far eastern corner of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is a steep walk as you descend to the gorge and enter a totally different mini-ecosystem. Tracking here is highly recommended, yet remarkably little visited by tourists. There is no guarantee that you will spot the chimps (about 50% chance), but there is plenty of other wildlife and the gorge is a destination in its own right. Permits cost USD 50 and can be bought at the Katongo Park Headquarters, or arranged in advance through the UWA.
Curious how a day of gorilla trekking looks like? Read our blog post.