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“Gorilla trekking in Uganda”

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
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3 Days Gorilla Trekking to Bwindi
Ranked #1 of 22 things to do in Kabale
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 29, 2011

If you like the outdoors, don't mind sweating and getting a bit dirty, and have an interest in seeing one of the most magnificent animals on the planet, read on. Seeing the gorillas in the wild is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I wouldn't mind doing again.

On the recommendation of a friend's parents (who at a 60+ years young had a great time - although to be fair they are big bicyclers and generally very active/in shape), 3 friends and I traveled to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to see the famous (and endangered) mountain gorillas. For a number of reasons, this was one of the most amazing and surreal experiences of my life.

We were met at the airport in Entebbe by Mike. "Born and bred" in Uganda, Mike was to be our driver, guide, comedian, and all around good sport for the next 3 days. He put up with our bad jokes, incessant American chatter, diverse musical choices and post-trekking stench like a champ. We booked the whole trip through Travelust African Safaris and were very happy. TAS - you've got a keeper in Mike.

We stayed at the Gorilla Resort in Bwindi (also owned by Travelust apparently) - it was quite nice and Fred, the manager, took care of us well. The food was excellent, beers cold, beds comfortable, showers hot, and view stunning. The rooms (well, they're tents actually) reminded me of something straight from "Out of Africa", although instead of Meryl Streep I was stuck with my buddy Greg...

In what can only be described as breathtaking (both in terms of the scenery and what it did to me physically), our hike on day 1 lasted a little over 2 hours. I don't think I will ever forget first seeing one of these big boys in the wild. A bit shy with massive bellies and deep red eyes, they were magnificent, each unique in his or her own way. I won't say too much more because I don't want to ruin it for you.

The hike on day 2 was, in my humble opinion, a bit more strenuous than the previous day. I recommend doing 2 days of trekking if you can afford it (permits are US$500/day) - the first day we only saw 4 gorillas and the second day we saw many more, including young ones. Day 2 saw more machete hacking, more mud, and more thorny bushes. Maybe this is a good time to mention that gorilla trekking, while an undeniably amazing experience, is best suited for those that are in decent (preferably good) shape. For the less mobile, apparently there is a '991 Program' whereby you can be carried by 4-8 people (depending on how many big macs you've eaten in the past 6 months) in a stretcher to see the gorillas...

On the flip side, if you are a serious or semi-serious hiker, this is your Mecca. One to tell the grandkids about. Next year, instead of going back to Yosemite, go to Bwindi.

For more info about the whole trip and more pictures, feel free to check out my blog: http://talesofatravelingturkey.blogspot.com/2011/11/just-another-trek-with-mountain.html

85  Thank talesofaturkey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"once in a lifetime"
in 61 reviews
"mountain gorillas"
in 89 reviews
"gorilla family"
in 54 reviews
"bucket list"
in 21 reviews
"an amazing experience"
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"walking stick"
in 17 reviews
"local community"
in 28 reviews
"gorilla experience"
in 16 reviews
"two hours"
in 13 reviews
"natural environment"
in 10 reviews
"life changing experience"
in 6 reviews
"up hill"
in 8 reviews
"starting point"
in 10 reviews
"national park"
in 27 reviews
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"amazing animals"
in 10 reviews
"worth the effort"
in 8 reviews

569 - 573 of 716 reviews

Reviewed November 8, 2011

We stayed at upscale Mahogany Springs in the town of Buhoma, which was very nice. Then you must pay for entry to the National Park and 2 ranger guides (who are armed). Our local guide was from Nkuringo Walking Safaris (on the web)and he carried a couple of books.

We started walking along a forest path and walked for hours, down into a river valley and up to a high ridge. My wife and I are runners and we really enjoyed the motion. Our 24 yo daughter came with us and, not a runner, enjoyed the exercise. We were puffing when we got to the ridge.

The path was at times almost carpeted with butterflies. Asgorio, our guide, usually heard the monkeys before he saw them, then pointed them out to us. He was knowledgeable, nonintrusive but totally available, and a pleasure to go with. The ranger guides looked solemn until we talked with them and they turn out to be nice young men in the service. The trees and flowers were really and truly rain forest.

We went in the rainy season and, in the rain forest, it rained on us. Duh. We got drenched for half an hour and quickly dried (recommend raincoat and coolmax) and it was part of the fun of the walk. This is the real thing.

Arriving in Nkuringo, it turns out Asgorio is a very effective community organizer there and you will be astonished at what he's done for this remote village.

If you're not either young and enthusiastic or in reasonably good shape, or both, this walk would be uncomfortably difficult

13  Thank Thomas F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 4, 2011

Visiting Bwindi to see the mountain gorillas was the absolute highlight of my trip to Uganda. However, there are a few things I wish had known before I went there. First of all, make sure you are in good shape. I did two treks, the first one was 1.5 hours, the second one was 2.5 hours, both one-way! Plan for at least a 3 hour hike one way, and do not underestimate how steep the mountains can be or how thick the brush is. Make sure you have plenty of water. I had 2.5 liters of water with me and it was just enough for the second hike. Make sure you have enough food; including your packed lunch, you may also want to consid taking some energy bars or bananas as a snack. If it is too much to carry, the consider hiring a porter, which should be Ush30,000 (about $12) for the day (excluding tip). I do not have problems with fire ants in Bwindi (as in Kibale). I did have problems with the thorns. They are everywhere and I managed to rip both of my t-shirts during my hikes. I would recommend taking clothing you don't mind if they get trashed. I would also recommend taking a pair of leather garden gloves. Several times I reached out to grab hold of something or to stop my fall and managed to cut my hands on the thorns. Gloves would have been a big help! Be sure to bring a rain jacket in case it rains or gets colder. Otherwise, just go there! Consider that visiting the gorillas brings revenue to the local community and gives them an incentive to protect the forest. Plus, it is an amazing experience to see these beautiful creatures in their natural environment.

41  Thank EisBaer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 24, 2011

I thought we'd see a few gorillas on this trek, but what we ended up with was so much more.

We found our gorillas after about a 2 hour trek. Then we sat down to observe them and they ended up observing us.

There were about 16 gorillas in our group and they ended up in a big circle around us. The silverback did the usual chest beating, we saw a couple mating, there were baby gorillas swinging in the trees and one of the mid-sized gorillas actually came up to me and played around with my leg. Very scary at the time but an experience I will never forget.

This was the highlight of our trip for sure.

I would definitely recommend it.

20  Thank Emmafivestar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 17, 2011

We booked our Gorilla tracking trip with Africa Adventure Safaris (AAS) before travelling to east africa.
We actually booked through the website http://www.gorillatrekafrica.com/ but the company behind that website is Africa Adventure Safaris. The same company also uses the website www.safarirwanda.com (and probably others).

AAS secured a permit for us for the Bitukura group in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. As we were squeezed for time, we decided against flying into Kampala which would have involved a long long drive to Bwindi and instead flew into Kigali in Rwanda. A driver contracted by AAS picked us up from the airport in Kigali and drove us across the border into Uganda. We stayed in the Travellers Rest Hotel in Kisoro which was comfortable though pretty quiet. The drive from Kigali to Kisoro took about 4 hours (including the time spent at the border crossing).

However, staying in Kisoro was not a great idea for visiting the Bitukura group as we had to get up at 4.30am and leave at 5am to drive to the Ruhija Gate of Bwindi (which is the access gate for the Bitukura group). The Travellers Rest kindly had a staff member open the kitchen early for us to prepare a breakfast and a packed lunch.

The drive from Kisoro to the Ruhija gate took 3.5 hours and it was pretty awful ... terrible roads not helped by heavy rains from the previous night and dense fog. But our excellent driver did an amazing job to get us to the gate just in time for the start of the rangers briefing.

Once you get to the park gate you are handed over by the tour company into the hands of the rangers from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. After a briefing our group of eight were led into the jungle by our rangers and hiked for about 3 hours until we found the gorillas. The hiking is very physically demanding on difficult terrain and at quite a fast pace (the rangers are obviously keen to find the gorillas as early as possible so that the group can return to the gate before the evening rains and nightfall). That being said, it is also great fun if you enjoy challenging hiking.

When you reach the gorillas you are given one hour to observe them. And yes, the experience is as good as everyone says! We were within about 4 metres of two different silverbacks. The group had nine gorillas in total. The forest is quite dense and some of the gorillas, particularly the younger ones, can be hard to to see clearly if they don't feel like coming out into the clearing. The rangers do their best to get a good view for everyone. After getting back to the gate, the rangers presented us all with certificates. Afterwards our driver drove us back across the border (this time the shorter route via Kabale) to Kigali. About a 4-5 hour journey.

Overall, booking the trip with AAS worked out well for us. We were very concerned about transferring all the money up front to a bank account in Uganda months before our trip, but thankfully it all worked out well. The permit was secured for us in advance, and they emailed us a scan of the permit on request before we completed the payment (important to request this). Our driver Darius was fantastic, doing everything he could to make our trip memorable.

18  Thank Martin H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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