12 The Most Common Gorilla Trekking Mistakes To Avoid In Uganda And Rwanda


It starts with selecting the best country for your gorilla trekking adventure. Gorilla trekking can only be done in three countries: Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country with the most expensive gorilla permit is Rwanda and a single gorilla trekking permit costs $1,500. Rwanda has the most expensive and luxurious lodges among all the gorilla trekking countries. The leading gorilla trekking destination is Uganda which has 2 gorilla national parks namely; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Uganda has a wide range of lodges to choose from, with more gorillas and the most gorilla permits at $800. The last gorilla trekking destination DR Congo’s Virunga National Park which has reasonably priced gorilla permits at $400 permits.

There exists a lot of things that people have a tendency to miss out on most likely because of inaccurate speculations or stumbling on incorrect particulars. Eventually, most errors have the ability to ruin your safari experience if not cost you more money. Here are some common mistakes to avoid on a gorilla safari.

A Glance: Common Gorilla Trekking Mistakes To Avoid In Uganda And Rwanda

  1. Buying gorilla permits on arrival permits
  2. Getting Familiar with Gorillas and not following rules and regulations
  3. Forgetting your passport on the trekking day
  4. Reserving the wrong accommodation
  5. Trekking in the wrong period or season
  6. Not Packing or Ignoring the Appropriate Gear
  7. Choosing the wrong destination and park
  8. Adding the Gorilla Trek last to your time in Africa
  9. Choosing the wrong airport
  10. Buying your Gorilla Permit on your own:
  11. Not using a Porter makes the Trek more difficult
  12. Not being healthy and fit for trek and underestimating the physical fitness demands

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Detailed: Common Gorilla Trekking Mistakes To Avoid In Uganda And Rwanda

Buying gorilla permits on arrival permits

Several tour guides are encouraging the purchase of a gorilla trekking permit at the park headquarters and the gate. Even though at one time this was true. Of recent, it is impossible with the current Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Development Board policies which only authorize licensed tour operators to purchase gorilla trekking permits.

In addition, Gorilla trekking permits are limited hence it is predominant to reserve them in advance to avoid eleventh-hour disappointments. Among the most common mistakes is making assumptions that it is possible to purchase a gorilla trekking permit provided you have the money. This does not take into consideration the issue of availability. For that reason, to keep away from disappointments that come with last-minute bookings, it is highly recommended to reserve your gorilla trekking permits at least six months before the trekking date.

Getting Familiar with Gorillas and not following rules and regulations

The gorilla trekking guidelines request that all trekkers keep not less than 7 meters away from the mountain gorillas since they are wild animals. There exist moments when gorillas proceed towards you and in regards to that, you are highly advised to stop moving.  Nevertheless, because gorillas tend to be gentle, most people resort to mistaking their gentleness for domesticated creatures.

It should be noted that gorillas are wild animals. Even though they are gentle creatures, you should not at any time be deceived into thinking that you can touch or get close to the gorillas. It becomes more threatening when the female gorillas give birth. Although most travelers wish to see gorillas with babies, it is important to note that if you are trekking a gorilla family with babies, more caution is required.

Gorillas are wild animals are you are encouraged to respect their territory and give in when provoked. Keep your voice low. Don’t eat or shit near them. Avoid flash photography and for goodness’ sake, put the camera away. The experience of standing a few feet from a giant ape is not something your camera can record. You have to be present with your whole self.

Forgetting your passport on the trekking day

Passports are a requirement during registration at the Park Headquarters before the actual treks begin and not remembering to carry them is another common mistake that should be avoided during gorilla trekking trips. Park wardens always double-check gorilla permits to make sure that you are the lawful owner thus a passport is important. Did you know that there is a possibility of turning you away from accessing the Park for not carrying your passport? For this reason, don’t ruin your long-awaited dream trip by carrying your passport alongside the gorilla permit.

Reserving the wrong accommodation

Since gorilla trekking starts very early in the morning it is a physically demanding activity. Travelers should avoid booking accommodation that is very far from the starting point. There are several accommodation options near the starting point of the gorilla trek. Visitors are encouraged to select and choose the accommodation that matches the location of their gorilla trekking permits. That way, they will arrive at the briefing point on time and join other trekkers.

Uganda owns five locations where gorilla trekking starts, and just outside the entry points are scattered accommodation options. Bwindi impenetrable national park has four gorilla trekking sectors namely Rushaga, Ruhija, Buhoma, and Nkuringo and all four sectors have accommodation options to choose from. The fifth is at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park’s entrance point with very few lodges but many are a few minute’s drive from Kisoro town. Kinigi town, a thirty-minute drive to the park headquarters is the only location with reasonable accommodation in Volcanoes National Park.

Trekking in the wrong period or season

There are two seasons in the gorilla trekking regions and they are all based on weather conditions. Most tourists dislike the wet season because of the heavy rains and opt to travel in the dry season whose gorilla permits easily sell out. Avoid planning your gorilla trekking safari in the wet season if you can not handle walking in heavy rains and on slippery grounds.

The dry season months are June to September and December to February. The trails and roads are dry, and there are minimal chances of rain during your adventures. Nevertheless, the dry season is regarded as the high season and it is in this season that most travelers plan their safaris. During the dry season, there is limited availability of accommodation and gorilla permits hence you should book your permits and accommodation early enough.

The wet season months are October, November, and March to May is favorable for the availability of gorilla permits and accommodation. There are very few travelers which is why it is regarded as the low season. During the low season, service providers offer discounts and gorilla safaris promise complete privacy.

Nonetheless, you have to deal with the rain in all your outside activities. During this season, it is mandatory to use of a 4×4 truck customized for safari and walking in difficult forest conditions. Many travelers prefer such challenging experiences to the sweet luxuries of the dry seasons.

Not Packing or Ignoring the Appropriate Gear

Overlooking the advice that is offered to you regarding the necessary gear for your gorilla trekking depending on your past treks might cost you. The cold weather requires a sweater or jacket to keep you warm at night. During the trekking exercise, having a sweater is not necessary. During the trek, you need a light pair of trousers, a long-sleeved shirt, a long pair of socks, and lightweight hiking shoes. Bring a light rain jacket and a waterproof backpack if it rains. Most of the other things you can figure out on your own. Some things can be foregone but some are essential Among the most essential things that should not be left out include; rain gear, and insect repellents.

Choosing the wrong destination and park

You ought to know which destination meets your travel arrangements and what kind of gorillas you are interested in seeing. Or else, selecting the wrong destination will open up bad experiences during your long-awaited trip to Africa. Gorillas only survive in the tropical rainforests of East-Central Africa. They are dissected into two species, namely mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas based on where they reside. Lowland gorillas can only be sighted in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kahuzi Biega National Park.

Mountain gorillas reside in two unconnected populations on the Virunga Mountain slopes shared between Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The finest mountain gorilla trekking destinations are Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo on the extreme Left.

A gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda is for those travelers who are interested in sparing nothing on the experience. A single gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park costs $1500 and the prices of accommodation are very high compared to those of Rwanda and Uganda. Uganda offers a more inexpensive gorilla trekking safari with a single permit costing $700. Uganda has some accommodation options outside the gorilla parks for all budgets. The Democratic Republic of Congo has the cheapest gorilla trekking permit but there are limited accommodation options.

Please stay away from the common mistake of reserving gorilla permits at the wrong destination. Before booking gorilla permits, please do a little research on the gorilla species, where they reside, and how to reach them.

Adding the Gorilla Trek last to your time in Africa

Most frequently, trekkers will organize their gorilla trekking safari concentrating on their period of stay in either Maasai Mara Serengeti, the beaches of Zanzibar and Diani and then endeavor to add on Gorillas and Chimpanzees.

The availability of gorilla and chimpanzee permits is limited. Game drives in either Kenya or Tanzania are available any time of the year provided you have paid the park entrance fees. Different from other safari activities in Africa, gorilla trekking is a restricted, exclusive, and costly activity.

In addition, for conservation purposes, the number of visitors per day is limited. Plan your time in Africa around your gorilla trek and the rest will fall into place. First book gorilla permits and then plan the rest of your time in Africa.

Choosing the wrong airport

How you arrive at the gorilla parks is a big question that most travelers must ask themselves before planning the trip. Nevertheless, you could arrive at your destination through the wrong airport hence adding horrifying hours to the journey and wrecking the whole experience. Avoid entering through the wrong airport or border by learning about the unchallenging and quickest route to the gorilla parks. Supposing, you are interested in seeing mountain gorillas in Uganda, most travellers land at Entebbe International Airport. The transfer from Entebbe to Mgahinga takes approximately 9 hours driving. You can either choose to drive for the 9 hours or charter a domestic flight from Kajjansi airstrip to Kihihi airstrip.

Alternatively, you can land at Kigali International Airport and drive for four hours to either Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park. To do so, you must be ready to deal with the border bureaucracy between Rwanda and Uganda. Most tourists want to keep away from the transport logistics in Uganda. As an alternative, they organize a gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda for a good reason. Transferring from Kigali International Airport to Volcanoes National Park is just a 2 hours and 30 minutes drive.

Organizing a gorilla trekking safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a bit daring for transport. The airport at Virunga National Park has limited flights connecting to Entebbe, Nairobi, and Kigali. If you intend to trek gorillas in Congo, you can come through Goma city about 35 kilometers (35 to 45 minutes driving). The best alternative is going through Rwanda and crossing the border into Virunga National Park.

Buying your Gorilla Permit on your own:

There are three primary ways of acquiring a gorilla trekking permit. You can contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Development Board either by telephone or via email on their websites. Sounds effortless? The truth for those travelers who made attempts to buy permits on their own have found it difficult and many times turn to a tour Operator who sells stand-alone Permits. Tour operators normally charge a service fee of $50 to $100 to purchase a gorilla permit on your behalf.

We always advise that you use a tour operator who is licensed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Development Board to avoid being scammed. The most effortless way of acquiring a gorilla trekking permit is booking a safari with gorilla Trekking hence your permits will be part of the total safari price.

Not using a Porter makes the Trek more difficult

Having a porter during the gorilla trek will free you from concentrating on your backpack. Using a porter is smart and the right thing for most. Failure to get a porter means additional discomfort for the next 3 to 7 hours on the trail.

Almost all our luxury gorilla trekking safaris have the services of a porter included in the final price. When you use a porter during your gorilla trek, you indirectly support the local community and the families of the porters.

Not being healthy and fit for trek and underestimating the physical fitness demands

Gorilla trekking requires a given level of physical fitness. To have a successful gorilla trek, you should be able to walk for a minimum of 3 hours nonstop. Just in case you are unable to withstand a minimum of three three-hour hikes, there is an option of being carried on a stretcher and this costs $300. When you pay for the services of being carried on a stretcher, they also carry your backpack and gadgets and push you through difficult walks. Porters are very fundamental in making your experience more comfortable by taking care of your excess physical load.

Avoid the mistake of failing to hire a potter because chances are high that you will find obstacles in the forest. Depending on how lucky and unlucky you are, you can even spend more than 6 hours in the jungle searching for the gorillas. Your porter will talk to you and most times motivate you during the most physically trying moments of your trek.

End of Article: 12 Common Gorilla Trekking Mistakes To Avoid In Uganda And Rwanda