While gorilla trekking is undoubtedly the most sought after primate adventure. Many travelers wonder about the best duration to spend on a gorilla safari. One of the surprising questions is a possibility of a gorilla trek within a day! Many travelers ask whether it is possible for one to trek gorillas in Bwindi and later travel back to Kampala.This is not possible given the distance between Kampala and Bwindi.
Given the location of Bwindi National Park away from Kampala city center, for one to get there, he or she needs about 8-10 hours to drive which means you may need to spend at least 3 days or more to have a complete gorilla safari in this park. In case you do not need to spend more hours on the road, the best alternative is for you to take a flight from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi airstrip and land into Kihihi or Kisoro airfield then connect to the park. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is situated in southwestern Uganda along the Albertine rift valley just close to border area of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This park comprises of 4 main areas where treks usually kick start and they include Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija sectors. The most popular of these is Buhoma sector with habituated gorilla families like Mubare the first ever to be opened for tourism in Bwindi, Habinyanja, Katwe group which is newly established and opened family in this sector, Bwindi and Uganda as a whole and many others. Gorilla treks kick start at any of the 4 trailheads depending on where your gorilla permit directs you to. At the park headquarters, you are briefed on dos and don’ts for gorilla trekking then be assigned to only 1 habituated group to track in a group of 8 visitors.
The length of treks are unpredictable as it depends on a number a number of factors especially your hiking speed, nature of gorilla habitat and location of gorillas in the wild. However, a trek to see a group of these magnificent creatures may take you about 2 to 8 hours. Gorilla treks are generally strenuous and need you to be physically well the fact that you will be required to hike through the steep slopes and thick rainforest in search of these rare apes in their natural habitat. They thrive mainly at altitude of about 2200 to 4300 meters. Before embarking on gorilla safari, it is also important that you get to understand when it is best to track gorillas. The wet season is usually characterized by heavy rainfall thus making the ground slippery and muddy which makes hiking to see mountain gorillas a little bit challenging. The advantage with it is that it comes with abundant forage for gorillas to feed on and they do not move to long distances. The wet/rainy season usually comes 2 times with the first one beginning from March to May and the other from October to November. The dry season on the other hand comes with relative drier ground thus making it a little bit easier for one to hike through the thick rainforest and steep slopes in search of mountain gorillas. The dry season normally occurs from June to September and December to February. In case of heavy luggage, there are porters for hire at $15-$20 and they can help you carry the heavy luggage and you only concentrate on the real adventure.
Once you bump into a group of gorillas that is assigned to you, you have only an hour to have a face to face encounter with these beautiful creatures while in their natural habitat. It is during this time that you also have to maximize exploring their behavior, body gestures, take as many photos as possible and ask as many questions as you can. Note, your camera should have no flash light and if it does, make sure that you have turned it off before taking photos otherwise this will scare off or make these creatures get irritated and charge against you something that may cause harm to you.
What to pack for gorilla trek in Bwindi
To have a successful gorilla trek in Bwindi national park, you need a permit which you can obtain at $600, long sleeved shirts/t-shirt, waterproof hiking boots, insect repellents, first aid kit, gardening gloves, camera with no flashlight, rain jacket, bottled water, energy giving snacks and others.
Conclusively, to trek gorillas in Bwindi national park, you need to plan for at least 3 days gorilla safari. This is because the first day is just for you to travel from Kampala to the park and the next day for real adventure then the other for you to drive back.