Gorilla tourism in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park dates back in 1993 when Mubare gorilla family opened for gorilla trekking. Since then, Bwindi National Park marks 26 years of successful gorilla tourism. Mubare group features as the first family to be habituated and also to open for trekkers on gorilla safari in Bwindi National Park and Uganda at large. This group is found in Buhoma sector in the northern side of the park. Since it was officially opened for trekking, gorilla tourism in Bwindi National Park has witnessed tremendous developments. It should be noted that gorilla tourism and conservation started in 1991 when Bwindi National Park was gazetted as a national park with aim of protecting mountain gorillas and their habitat.
Today, over 19 more gorilla families have been habituated and set for trekking in Bwindi alone making a total of 20 gorilla groups. They are distributed in the four major gorilla trekking regions; Buhoma, Rushaga, Nkuringo and Ruhija. They include Rwingi, Kutu, Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, Bweza, Bikingi and Mucunguzi in Rushaga region; Bitukura, Kyaguriro, Mukiza, Oruzongo in Ruhija area; Nkuringo, Christmas, Bushaho group in Nkuringo region; Habinyanja, Rushegura and Katwe group in Buhoma regions. The significant increase in the number of the gorilla families in this park can be attributed to increase in the number of mountain gorillas which has been supported by the prevailing peace and security in the country. Currently, this park inhabits about half of all the 1004 mountain gorillas that still exist on earth.
Unlike other gorilla destinations, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the only place on earth where mountain gorilla habituation experience is done. This is a unique primate adventure and unlike the usual gorilla treks, habituation experience involves following semi habituated gorillas in order to make them get used to human presence before they are opened for gorilla trekking.
The 36 years of gorilla tourism in Bwindi National Park is characterized by high demand for gorilla permits. Unlike before, today each gorilla permit in Uganda goes at $600 per person for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and shs.250000 for East African residents. However, from 2020, visitors on Uganda safari in Bwindi National Park will be required to pay $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and shs. 250000 for East African residents. About 160 gorilla permits are available for booking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The 26 years of gorilla tourism comes with several gorilla lodges for trekkers to trek. They are distributed in Nkuringo, Rushaga, Ruhija and Buhoma. You can choose from budget to luxury accommodation options to make your gorilla safari experience complete in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. They include Buhoma Lodge/Chameleon Hill Lodge/Mahogany Spring Lodge (Luxury), Engagi Lodge Bwindi/Clouds Mount Gorilla Lodge/Gorilla Mist Camp (Midrange) or Buhoma Community Rest Camp/Broadbill Forest Camp (Budget).