The gorilla is the largest living primate in the world. More than half of the population of the mountain gorillas in the world is located in Uganda. The gorilla is omnivorous in nature, and dwells predominantly on the forest ground. One such forest is the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in South Western Uganda.
The gorilla can be classified into two species: the Western gorilla and the Eastern Gorilla. The gorillas of Uganda are the mountain gorillas and there is a thriving population within both parks. All three species of gorillas are in danger of extinction. The primary reasons for this include large-scale poaching, loss of habitat, and demand for bush meat. However, Uganda has tried to protect its mountain gorilla population and the population is reported to be increasing in both its parks.
About Uganda’s Gorillas
Gorillas thrive in groups. There are several families that live within the Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga Forest. The Silverback gorilla is responsible in decision-making, safety, and care of the group. The Silverback gorilla is usually a 12-year-old male and meeting it face to face in the jungle is a lifetime experience that features on many adventure travelers bucketlists.
The Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park are two parks that boast of a large gorilla population. In neighboring Rwanda, the Volcanoes National Park also known as Park de Volcans is famous for Gorilla tracking. Fruits and foliage are the primary sources of food for the mountain gorillas. The diet of the gorillas is similar to the diet of the chimpanzees.
Most of the tourists landing in Uganda take part in gorilla trekking adventures that are conducted all year round. This safari activity can be availed by obtaining a permit. A gorilla permit costs USD600 for foreign tourists, USD450 for East African Residents with valid work permits and UGX250,000 (USD80) for East African Nationals.
You can plan a gorilla trek in Uganda with a local tour operator within Uganda. There are lots of packaged tours to see the gorillas that are offered by tour operators. Independent travelers can also plan independent trips though this requires booking the gorilla permits from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala. Please note that there are no more bookings taken from the park headquarters as per the August 2018 UWA Update.
Where to Go
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the most popular national park for gorilla trekking in the world. The park has 16 habituated gorilla groups that can be visited by tourists. Gorilla visits are highly regulated given that gorilla tourism was developed along guidelines of responsible tourism. Visitors are given up to 1 hour to watch the mountain gorillas in a visited family. Travelers are also restricted to stay atleast 7 meters away from the gorillas. All these aimed at controlling the effect of humans on the apes!
There is also one gorilla family that can be visited by those interested in gorilla habituation, a slightly different gorilla watching adventure that will require you staying with the gorillas in the jungle for up to 4 hours.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Though less known, the Mgahinga National Park is located at the border of Uganda with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is the Ugandan part of the Virunga Region, the second habitat to mountain gorillas after Bwindi.
The Virunga spreads of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and in each country the area has been gazetted as a national park; the Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).