Bwindi from a to z: my gorilla safari experience

Live the Bwindi Experience – An A – Z Guide

This article provides a step by step guide to the gorilla trekking experience in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. It is based on my personal experience and includes various videos that will help you appreciate what the experience is like.

Also consider the other articles in our gorilla trekking series.

1. En Route to Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite

– The Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite is less than 80 km away from Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort, yet it takes at least 2-2.5 hours to get there. The road is extremely sinuous and part of it is in pretty bad shape.

– Despite the long drive though, you will most definitely enjoy the ride as the area is of immense beauty.

2. Nkuringo Gorilla Camp & Surroundings

– When the sky is clear and the mountains are visible, the spot is highly picturesque (you can see as far as Rwanda and the DRC).

Local villagers are very friendly and most tourists end up being surrounded by children who love to play and laugh with “mzungus” (white people/foreigners).

– Hike to the “Top of the World”, a wonderful viewpoint from which you can take breathtaking pictures.

3. Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge – 5 Star Accommodation Venue

– If you can bear the price (US $470-500 per person per night), you will most definitely be enchanted with your stay there.

– If not, you can still drop by for drinks and experience the dead-gorgeous view of the valley from the terrace.

4. Gorilla Dance – Nkuringo Youth Initiative Group, Bwindi

– The gorilla dance is presented by the Nkuringo Youth Initiative Group.

– Aged from 2-20+, they perform songs and dances that will make you fall in love with the area.

– The chief aim of the initiative is to encourage the youth to work for money instead of begging.

– The money collected from visitors is used for community projects and development programs.

5. Penetrating the “Impenetrable” – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Mountain Gorilla Encounter

Mountain Gorilla Trek: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How many mountain gorillas are there in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?

There are approximately 460 mountain gorillas alone inside Bwindi, which represents about half of the world’s mountain gorilla population.

How much does it cost for a gorilla permit?

Gorilla permits are very volatile in pricing and vary from country to country. For the gorilla permit I got through UWA (Uganda Wildlife Authority), I paid US $510 (2010 price). Nevertheless, normal rates for Uganda now range between $450 and $600 per person depending on the time of year (the rainy season is cheaper).

How much does it cost for a porter?

Porters can be handy, especially when you have to trek for long hours before seeing the gorillas. A porter will typically cost you US $15 for the day.

How long does one need to hike before eventually finding the mountain gorillas?

There is no rule. Some people trek for as little as 30 minutes, while others may have to hike for as long as 8-10 hours before eventually finding them.

We were extremely lucky on my last visit as we encountered them after only 15 minutes. It almost felt disappointing as it was kind of “too easy”! 🙂

NB: While the trackers and guides do their very best to find the large primates, mountain gorilla sightings are by no means guaranteed. Some people may end up having to go back the next day to try and find them.

Do I get my money back for not being able to see the mountain gorillas?

Gorilla permits only get refunded in the following cases:

– If the visitor is sick (50% refund).

– If the gorilla family has crossed the border to one of the neighboring countries (full refund).

– If the tourists have been trekking the whole day without seeing mountain gorillas (75% refund of the tracking fee).

For general cancellations, refunds depend on how long in advance (to the tracking date) you cancel.

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