The long drive from Kampala to Bwindi impenetrable forest last 8-9 hours with stopovers at the Equator for taking photographs and buying african crafts for keeps and a later lunch stopover in Mbarara and late evening arrival in Bwindi national park for an overnight.
The gorilla tracking day requires you to wake up early for breakfast after which embark on a drive to the Uganda Wildlife Authorities office driving over very rutted dirt roads. Your driver will do hi best o make you feel comfortable on your drive to the park offices. If your driving your self, make sure to drive at a slow speed as the road is rough. Once there, you will register your passport information as you enter the park. At this point you already have your gorilla tracking permit from your tour operator or bought it from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices with your passport for info. You can buy tickets online in high season a permit goes for $600 per person, low season $350/ per person.
The low season permits are in the months of May and December while the rest of the months are high season.
The Typical day of gorilla trekking
You will assemble at the park offices for a short orientation meeting about how to conduct during your gorilla trek after which you will climb into the back of a truck to drive to the trail head.Its very necessary for you to hire a porter who will be able to array your backpack for you, and to also look out for you along the slippery grounds during the hike. Also make sure to have enough water as it gets very hot and you get very thirsty need lots of water and some food. The forest is very dense, slippery, and uneven and there is no accurate way of telling how long the whole trek will take to finally meet the gorillas so you need to be prepared. The forest trails are very steep, they do not have switchbacks. Make sure to workout for a decent level of fitness and determination to do this trek.
Early in the morning trackers go out into the forest to find the position of the gorillas and radio the information to the guides. This is a good way to easily located the gorillas except that gorillas are just like any other wildlife animal and they keep moving so the guide keeps trying to find out where they are and you follow him as he cuts the vegetation to make trekking trails.
Each group of 8 people is led by three guide, the first with a gun in the lead, another one with a machete cutting vegetation for trails and another guide at the back with a gun. The guns are needed in case an animal appears that might be dangerous and for safety reasons generally.
The trek can last from 30 minutes to 5 hours of hiking straight up and down the mountain and once you meet the gorillas, you are allowed an hour to be with them taking pictures. The gorilla group usually comprises from 8 gorillas to over 20 members including silver backs, males, females,Juvenile and babies. During your one hour with them, if they start moving, you move with them as they carry on their day activities. Its very incredible seeing them behave like humans. After the hour you trek back down the mountain to where you left your truck.
You will receive certificates that shows that you did gorilla tracking in Uganda at the park headquarters.
In the high seasons – the summer the number of tourists coming to see gorillas is usually big hence gorilla permits get booked quickly, so if you want to go see gorillas you need to book early to guarantee your gorilla group.