Uganda is a well known destination for mountain gorilla trekking in Africa. This country located astride the Equator is home to nearly 500 gorillas. Mountain gorillas turn out to be the major tourist attraction though the country is also a fascinating destination with many other touristic adventures/ activities including white water rafting along the Nile, chimpanzee tracking, game viewing in small groups, mountain trekking and more.
The country has two gorilla national parks; and the endangered mountain gorillas can be trekked from Uganda’s hilly and forested national parks basically from Bwindi Impenetrable Natural Forest ( a home to almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas) and Mgahinga National park in the Gahinga ranges in the South West of Uganda.
Nearly half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas can be found in Uganda’s jungles of Bwindi Natural forest and Mgahinga ranges. Tracking mountain gorillas from Uganda, is an exciting an thrilling encounter/ experience one can ever have. Mountain gorillas too are a close relative of human race, sharing so much character in common like caring for the young ones, eating, and playing among others.
The most outstanding trait among the gorillas is the too much care the male gorillas have for the little ones, unlike in lions where the Lion haunts the lioness’s cubs to get them out of the way for personal intimacy. It is said that among the Gorillas, the male gorilla unlike the lion takes care of the little ones to gain favor with the mothers.
Visiting The Gorillas
Like all the other primates, gorillas are social animals living in troops of nine on average. In bwindi impenetrable national park there are over thirteen families/ troops that were habituated for purposes of tourism. (Mubare Group, Habinyanja Group:, Rushegura Group, Bitukura Group among others).
In their families/ groups, a Silverback-a male (also the Alpha male) which is often over 12 years; is usually the head and therefore responsible for the protection of its family members from any sorts of attacks if any. In human being, people develop gray hair as they grow older, this trait also applies in gorillas though its only the male gorilla that gets the gray/silver hair on the back specifically.
Gorillas are some of the strongest primates capable of carrying dead weight of over 800 kilograms. On average, a well grown gorilla is 4-8 times stronger than an average human being. The male gorillas can grow up to 5.5 feet while the female gorillas can grow up to 4.5 feet. The male gorillas are also often twice bigger in size in relation to the female gorillas; a well grown male may way up to 400 pounds while the female may weigh up to 200 pounds.
Gorillas, like the chimpanzee; walk on their knuckles. This is believed to be one of the main reasons why they are far stronger than an average human being.
Visiting the mountain gorillas is such a wonderful experience, however it’s done only in groups of 8 members where 8 visitors are allowed to visit a gorilla family group per day and limited to only an hour’s stay with the animals . During this one hour stay, tourists are permitted to take photos, make videos and even watch them as they play, eat and even tease each other.
For accommodation, its best to book those around and near the established sectors since this gorilla tracking activity starts early mornings. And are various accommodation facilities in both Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla parks such as lodges, camps and cottages with standard bed services and cuisines. Upon making your booking for a gorilla safari you need to get to know the location of the gorilla group prebooked so that you can get possible lodges where you will stay.
The journey from Kampala to Bwindi Forest takes between 7 to 9 hours to drive from Kampala to the two mountain gorilla homesteads in Uganda. During this drive, you can be able to enjoy en route views of the real Uganda’s scenic views as well as enjoying game drives in Queen Elizabeth or Lake Mburo national parks.
Alternatively, you can use charter planes from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrips that are near Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla national parks.