Gorillas in Uganda best time to visit
Do you want to do a Uganda gorilla safari? Uganda is a stop center for exceptional outstanding gorilla safari tours since it shelters half of the world’s remaining endangered mountain gorillas.
Gorillas are social and strong great apes which belong to the family known as hominidae. They are also referred to as the endangered primates and they are ground dwelling animals which live in troops commonly led by a Silverback (alpha male).
They are normally submissive and gentle creatures that move around using their knuckles and have unpredictable eating habits depending on the species.
There are 2 main gorilla species which are divided into two subspecies within each and these include; western gorillas and eastern gorillas.
Western gorillas (gorilla), which are known to be the most recognized and populous of gorillas and they are found in central Africa in countries such as; Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Cameroon.
However, under western gorilla there is a subspecies known as the; lowland gorilla (western lowland).
Eastern gorillas (beringei) are located in small places in central Africa and they are sub-divided into another group known as the “mountain gorilla” which is found in Uganda Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Virunga Mountains which border Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo.
Where gorillas are found in Uganda;
Uganda is one of the three countries in the whole world where we can find mountain gorillas and these include; volcanoes in the northwest (Rwanda), Virunga in the east (DRC) and Mgahinga in the south west (Uganda).
The Uganda gorilla safari tours will take you deep into the forests of Mgahinga national park and Bwindi impenetrable national park in the south-western part of Uganda where a minimum of 400 mountain gorillas and 10 gorilla groups have been habituated for human encounter.
In Bwindi impenetrable national park, there are four regions where gorilla families are spread for trekking and these include;
- Ruhinja in the east consisting of (Oruzogo, Bitukura, Kyagurilo and Mukiza).
- Buhoma in the north consisting of(Mubare,Habinyanja,Rushegura and Katwe)
- Nkurigo in the south-west containing( Bushaho and Nkurigo)
- Rushanga in the south featuring (Nshongi, Bweza, Mishaya, Bikingi, Kahungye, Busingye, Muchunguzi and Rwigi.
Mountain gorilla description;
Like other gorillas, the mountain gorilla is a big, great and strong animal which has a black fur and a hairless face with black skin. Its arms are longer than its legs and it has a gloomier thicker hair than that of other gorillas and gorilla subspecies.
A male mountain gorilla has a height of 1.5 m(4.92 ft) and weight( 195 kg) whereas a female weighs(100 kgs) with a height of (1.3 m,4.26 ft).
After a carefully research by the scientists, it has been found out that the reproduction of the mountain gorilla is somewhat similar to that of humans whereby a female gorilla gives birth after a gestation period of 8.5 month to ½ off spring per delivery.
A baby gorilla weighs about 1.8 kg and just like human babies, they spend their first few weeks/month feed on their months and when they reach 8 month they can start eating solid food.
What they feed on;
Majority of the mountain gorillas depend on 85.8% of leaves, 2.3% flowers, 6.9% fruits. A male mountain gorilla can eat up to 34 kg a day, unlike a female one which eats up to 18 kg a day.
At times, gorillas feed on soil and ash in a small amount that possibly helps them in regulating their gastric system and occasionally; they feed on insects like ants and termites. However they rarely drink water therefore, they feed them with herbal tea and sugarcanes.
Similar to humans, mountain gorillas have their favorite fruits such as Dialium, landolphia, tetrapleura,guava,apple as well as banana etc. whereas they don’t feed on diary product such as;meat,eggs and flesh of other animals.
For the western lowland gorillas, they ingest a high fiber diet including foliage, barks, piths and soil.
For travellers who come to Uganda for gorilla safari tours, gorilla tracking is absolutely an exciting adventure which you shouldn’t miss out. This involves hiking through the jungles of Bwindi forest and Mgahinga National Parks in search of the gorillas.
The excitement which travellers experience while marveling at the gorillas eye to eye in the wild is not only memorable but also a life time experience.
Gorilla trekking Uganda;
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is unlike any other experience in Africa, because the trek involves getting through a jungle vapor and get a bit dirty while looking for a group of habituated gorillas with your tour guide.
It is an incredible adventure and it is carried out in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and it is done by a specified number of people (eight).
Gorilla habituation; this is the process of teaching/training gorillas with the intension of getting them familiar with human existence in the forest.
This activity is mainly done by experienced guides or expert researchers who most probably live with them day by day to monitor their behavior and movements.
Therefore, tourists who plan to do a gorilla safari tour in Uganda should put in mind that this activity is not like gorilla trekking and gorilla tracking because this involves a lot of tasks and challenges.
Another unique feature about gorilla habituation is that it takes 4-5 hours unlike gorilla trekking which takes 1-2hours and it is uncommon because it can only be done in limited regions for example; Rushanga and Bushaho gorilla family in Bwindi impenetrable National Park.
In Uganda, permits vary depending on the season which the tourists have decided to visit. For instance in April, May and November, the permits are on USD 450 while the rest of the year it is USD 600 per person. However, starting next year, the permits will be USD 700.
Most tourist worldwide prefer trekking in Uganda because the permits are cheap and affordable unlike its neighbors like Rwanda whose per is USD 1500 per person and all year through and DRC it cost USD 400.
Uganda gorilla trekking best time to go;
This activity is an all year around in Uganda and permits are issued every day. However most travellers prefer to visit the country during its dry seasons which are; May-September and January and February.
What to carry on Uganda Gorilla trekking tour;
Since the trek involves hiking through the bush and forest, there most likely too much thorn and sharp stick which may hurt or pierce your body, therefore tourists are recommended to carry the following; hiking boots, walking sticks, long hiking stocks, safari boots, gardening gloves, rain jacket, insect repellent, drinking water, binoculars and cameras.
Rules and regulation;
Gorilla trekking is an exciting adventure though challenging at times that’s why before you think of a gorilla safari in Uganda, we recommend trekkers to take note to the rules and regulations given by the park guide. Before are some of the rules;
- A maximum number of 8 people are allowed to visit the habituated gorilla families.
- Children under 15 years of age are not allowed to participate in the activity.
- Before you think of doing a gorilla trek, you must be with a trekking PERMIT.
- Tourists with health problems such as flue, cough and other air borne diseases are not allowed in order to avoid spreading to the gorillas.
- Keep your voices low or calm while trekking the mountain gorilla because this helps not to scare them and being frightened.
- Hygiene is essential while in the jungle. Ensure that your hands are washed and clean to avoid spreading germs to the gorillas.
- You’re requested to follow your tour leader/guide because this helps you to stick to your group.
- Tourists are not allowed to smoke, drink or eat in the presence of the gorillas.
- Don’t use flash lights while in the jungle because it irritates the gorillas.
- Bright clothes are not allowed in the park because this may attract the attention of the gorillas.
NUMBER OF MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN THE WORLD HAS INCREASED
It is estimated that the population of Uganda’s mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has increased.
The park is a home to over 43% of the world’s mountain gorilla and lately on Monday 16 2019, the Uganda’s ministry of tourism wildlife and Antiquities released the number of mountain gorillas and it has increased from 400 in 2011 to 459 per now.
According to the minister of tourism wildlife and antiquities, Prof. Ephrain Kamuntu who released the results said that, the 459 individual gorillas were found in 50 groups with 13 solitary individuals.
And according to the survey conducted by the authorities of Uganda and DRC under the Virunga trans-boundary collaboration who institute the population of the primates in these protected areas of Bwindi in Uganda and Sarambwe in DRC, the latest figure now stands at 1,063.