In the tropical rainforest of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda lives the rare Mountain Gorilla.
This "Gentle Giant" is one of the 11 different primates you can visit in the pearls of Africa: Uganda and Rwanda. Others include chimpanzees, baboons, colobus and vervet monkeys – all of which can be seen during our safaris.But Uganda and Rwanda have much more to offer in terms of this mountain gorilla trekking safaris unrivalled. Though Mahale National Park in the western flank of Tanzania has entertaining Chimpazee spotting, It will always be a great choice to combine Rwanda and Uganda or choose either.
The gorilla lives in four parks in Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC. In Uganda they are seen in Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Bwindi in Uganda has four habituated families with 32 permits available daily. The gorillas there live in thicker tropical forest and tracking is more challenging as the hillsides are steeper and it can take 3-10 hours.
Three of the families (Mubare, Habinyanja, and Rushegura) are accessed from Buhoma in the north, staying at Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge or similar. You can also go for nature walks to see birds, monkeys and orchids. The fourth family, in Nkuringo in Southern Bwindi, is accessed from Kisoro, staying at Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge or similar. Access to this group is on a very steep trail. Mgahinga, in Uganda, is a great place to appreciate the unique Virunga volcanoes and has one habituated family, which is about 2-5 hours walk. Sometimes this group moves across the border and viewing is very erratic. You can track gorillas at Nkuringo in Southern Bwindi instead which is about 2 hours drive away. There are 8 permits available. In Mgahinga you can also climb a volcano or go for a nature walk, visit the endangered golden monkey or go birding. Parc National Des Volcans (PNV) in
Rwanda has seven habituated gorilla families (Group 13, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Umubano, Susa, Kwitonda and Hirwa. Most groups are half-day walks but Susa can take 7 hours. There are 36 permits available daily. Tracking in PNV and Mgahinga is usually easier than Bwindi as the afro-montane forest is lighter. You can also climb a volcano, visit the remains of Dian Fossey’s grave and the graves of the gorillas which she studied, or see the endangered golden monkey. Djomba in the DRC also has a number of habituated gorilla families but Depth of Africa Safaris does not currently take clients there.
GORILLA TRACKING AND PERMITS
Only a limited number of permits are available in each gorilla park. It is therefore essential to book well in advance. Permits need to be paid for at the time of the initial safari booking so that they can be purchased immediately. Delay in payment can result in permits not being secured.
Those going gorilla tracking need to be properly equipped and should consult our gorilla tracking specialist on email for a packing list. To protect gorillas from disease, no children under 15 or people with illnesses may go tracking. Trackers must be fit and in good health as tracking in thick forest at heights up to 3,000m traversing steep-sided mountains and ravines can be tough, arduous and wet. Porters can be hired to carry equipment.
Part of the gorilla permit fee goes to communities living around the gorilla parks. Permits are non-refundable except for medical reasons and a medical certificate has to be provided.
Gorilla viewing can be denied at short notice because of national park or border closures, security changes or gorillas going out of range. In such circumstances refunds are at the discretion of the authority and are not within the company's control.
Obtaining a gorilla permit therefore is not a guarantee of seeing a gorilla. One hour is allowed with the gorillas, at a distance of at least 7 metres. Flash photography is not allowed, so fast film is useful (400-1600 ASA). Personal DVD recorders are allowed. Professional film makers require permission and need to purchase filming permits. At the National Parks you will meet your ranger who explains the rules for tracking gorillas and will take you up to the gorillas. Please follow the rules stated.
From Europe the easiest way to get to Entebbe (for Kampala in Uganda) directly from London is with British Airways www.britishairways.com. Kenya Airways www.kenya-airways.com and British Airways have daily connections between London and Nairobi, from where you can connect to Entebbe or Kigali with Kenya Airways. Brussels Airlines www.brusselsairlines.com fly to Entebbe, Kigali or Nairobi from Brussels. Ethiopian Airlines www.ethopianairlines.com fly from London to Entebbe and Kigali via Addis Ababa. KLM www.klm.com fly to Entebbe or Nairobi from Amsterdam. From the US, Emirates www.emirates.com fly from New York to Entebbe and Nairobi via Dubai. Alternatively clients can fly from New York, Washington DC or Atlanta to Johannesburg with South African Airways www.flysaa.com and then take a connecting flight. Rwandair www.rwandair.com has regular connections between Kigali and Entebbe, Kigali and Nairobi and Kigali and Kilimanjaro (Near Arusha in Tanzania).
A valid passport is mandatory. Multiple-entry visas are difficult to obtain. Single entry visas are available without difficulty.
Rwandan visas are NOT required by nationals of USA, Germany, South Africa, Great Britain, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Kenya, DRC, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. Please note that it is no longer possible to acquire Rwandan visas on arrival at the airport, so other nationals should either submit their application demands to Rwandan Embassies/Diplomatic Missions abroad, or request for an online Entry Facility Form, which allows them to obtain a visa on arrival at the airport.
Please visit http://www.migration.gov.rw/services.php#visa for details.
Clients who need a visa will be required to present a copy of the accepted Entry Facility Form at the airport in order to obtain their Visas. A single entry visa to Rwanda costs US$ 60. In the UK the Rwandan Embassy is located 120 - 122 Seymour Place, London W1H 1NR. Telephone: +44 020 722 49 832. In the USA the Rwandan Embassy is located at 1724 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DE 200091. Telephone: +1 202 232 2882.
Ugandan visas are required by citizens of the European Union, the USA and Japan; other nationals should check. Entry visas can be obtained at Ugandan missions overseas or at Entebbe airport or land borders. A single entry visa to Uganda costs US$ 50, and is valid for three months. In the UK the Ugandan Embassy is located at Uganda House, 58/59 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DX. Telephone: +44 (0)20 7839 5783. In the USA the Uganda Embassy is located at 5811 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20011. Telephone: +1 202 726 7100.
Time permitting, go for a guided nature walk in the thick forest rich in birds, butterflies and monkeys. Alternatively, look for monkeys and birds near the river below the lodge.
Accommodation and meals at Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge - An eco-lodge overlooking the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.Day 6: Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi
Day 1: Arrival Transfer to Ruhengeri.
Meet our safari guide at the airport who will transfer you to Ruhengeri in northwestern Rwanda for gorilla trekking the next day. Dinner and overnight at Virungas Volcanoes Lodged, Gorilla Nest Lodge or Kinigi Guest House.
Day 2: Mountain Gorilla trekking and Transfer to Nyungwe National park.
After an early morning breakfast, report to the park headquarters for a briefing from the game rangers. Begin trekking the mountain gorillas at 08.30 am local time and encountering the mountain gorillas may take you between 2 to 8 hours depending on their movement in the jungle. After tracking proceed to Nyungwe National park for dinner and overnight at Gisakura Guest House (FB).
Day 3: Chimpanzee trekking safari.
Take an early morning breakfast, and proceed to Nyungwe Forest at 6:00am to track chimpanzees and the colobus monkeys plus viewing other inhabitants of the forest like birds and butterflies, then return back to the lodge for late breakfast. There after, take a forest guided walk for more fun in the forest, have lunch and a relaxed evening at the lodge. Dinner and overnight at Gisakura Guest House (FB).
Day 4: Departure
Transfer back to Kigali with a visit to the cultural museum in Butare enroute. Then to Kigali airport for your return flight to your home country. End of the safari.