Mountain Gorillas and chimpanzee tracking
If you asked anybody what they know about Uganda, the answer will absolutely be the Mountain Gorillas. However many tourists who have visited Uganda have got more than Gorillas. At some point Winston Churchill named Uganda “The Pearl of Africa”. Uganda is one of the few places in Africa that you can get up-close and personal with the endangered mountain Gorillas.
The Bwindi Forest Impenetrable National park is 331sq.kms a rainforest that inhabits half of the 880 remaining endangered mountain Gorillas in the world. Uganda also shares a group of mountain gorillas with Rwanda in the mghahinga National park on the extreme end south of the country.
The Buhoma group
This group located on the north-west of the park consists of three (3) families and these are the pioneer families to be tracked. These are;
- The Mubare family consists of seven members including one silverback. Mubare is the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda. They were found in the Mubare hills, deep in Bwindi forest, and fully habituated in 1993.
- Habinyanja family, 15 members including two silverbacks. The Habinyanja group was first visited by tourists in 1999. The name comes from “Nyanja” which is the local word for ‘body of water’. It refers to the swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where the group was first sighted.
- Rushegura family, 19 members including one silverback. The Rushegura gorilla family was brought together in 2002, after one of the silverbacks from the Habinyanja group decided to break away.
The Ruhijja group
This group consists of three(3) families as well and these are the second to be tracked in the gorilla tracking records.
- Oruzogo family are 16 members, available for trekking since 2012.
- Bitukura family is 12 members including four silverbacks. This was named after a river where the family members were first sighted. The habituation process started in 2000.
- Kyaguriro family located in Ruhija is for research but can be tracked on request
The Rushaga group
This is the biggest group to be tracked with over Five(5) families to be tracked. Located on the southern parts of the forest.
- Nshongi family consists of 25 members including two silver backs and six infants. Nshongi is the largest group ever habituated and was officially launched in September 2009. It was named after the river Nshongi, close to the place where the gorilla family was first seen.
- Mishaya family, 17 members including two silver-backs and four infants.
- Kahungye family, 15 members including two silver-backs and three infants.
- Busingye family and Bweza family are also for research but also available for tracking by visitors on request.
The Nkuringo group
This group is said to be the newest entrant into the Bwindi Gorilla tracking records. Consisting of 12 members, including two silverbacks and 4 infants This group is said to be as much friendly as the rushaga. They also have tendencies of touching visitors and tapping their shoulders. They tend to get close to visitors and lick the knees. The tracking trails are a bit steep and require good hikers.
The Mgahinga group
Located in the Mgahinga National Park, located in the Virunga volcanoes. These volcanoes are extinct. Uganda actually shares these gorillas with Rwanda. They sometimes cross to Rwanda and then come back at some point. There is only one family to be tracked here. These are in bamboo trees unlike the Bwindi forest national park.
A maximum of 8 people are allowed to visit a specific family. This is done to avoid overcrowding is a conservation measure and a control measure to conserve the endangered apes. Because we share 97.8% DNA with these great apes, there is likely chances of disease transmition. Therefore a minimum number of 8poeple are required to visit each family.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority is the government body responsible for issuing out the permits. It requires A pre – booking in full payment of USD $600 per person in advance and Auto Rental Uganda team is more than happy to secure you the permits for you you. The UWA body also gives discounts on these permits in the months of April, May and November at a discounted rate of USD $450 for non-residents and so do we on our low seasons special offers.
Interested in knowing much more about the endangered mountain Gorillas, Read more here…
The Chimpanzee tracking is one of the great wildlife encounters. The chimpanzees are human’s closest relatives sharing 98.7% DNA. Trekking these primates can be done in three different spots in Uganda.
Kibale Forest National Park is one of the great places not only in Uganda but in Africa to encounter these great apes. Because it is nature, this rain forest provides a 90% chance to see these apes. The walk in this area is not a difficult one as the forest lies in an almost flat area.
The kanyancu tourist point is where you report for briefing and guide rangers assigned to you. The trekking experience is an awesome one that takes you about an hour or two to find them, an hour with them as you relax and take pictures, observing their natural behaviors and another hour getting back to the starting point. You may require to drive some distance before you start trekking. Done twice a day, in the morning starting 8am and the afternoon session that starts 2 pm. This awesome experience costs USD $150 in high seasons and $100 in low seasons. Price includes park entrance, ranger guide and experience.
The habituation experience is another option to see these great primates. This entails you to follow up these apes from as early as 6 am in the morning till 6Pm in the evening. So this requires you to be at the Kanyancu tourist centre by 5:30pm. In the forest you will follow these apes from place to place, get so close to them. You will learn the daily routine of your closest relatives. How they go on with their daily activities. It is rewarding knowing how close these wild creatures behave. Being a one day full activity, it costs you USD $220. If you have a passion for primates, then this experience is worth it.
The Kyambura Gorge on the eastern part of Queen Elizabeth National park is another gift of nature site to track these primates. This “Valley of Apes” area is a steep slope into the forest gorge that does not only offer you a chance to be with these primates but more wildlife at disposal. However there is no much guarantee that you will see these primates. This is a good option activity for visitors who want to have a more day at the Queen Elizabeth park. The Kyambura chimpanzee permits cost USD $50 and so a good option for budget travelers. Further you can pay on arrival at the park headquarters. The ishasha junction and the Queens pavilion.
The Budongo forest is also another Eco-tourism site to track these primates. Located on the southern part of Murchison falls national park, this forest has more than chimpanzees to offer. A lot of monkey species and a birders paradise. A nature walk for bird watching could easily treat you with a chimpanzee encounter as well. The trekking is organized by Uganda Lodges – Budongo Eco Lodge. Permits can be obtained at Budongo Eco-lodge. Prices are USD$ 90 during the high season and a possibility of a discount in the low season. This is a budget option and a good for those intending to double it with Murchison falls national park.
Securing Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits
Trekking mountain gorillas and chimpanzees in Uganda requires booking in advance for the set day you prefer encountering these great primates. Though payment for the car rental can be done on arrival date, Our Team at Auto Rental can help in securing the permits for you at the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices so that you are sure to track these primates. An additional US $10 will be required to facilitate transport for our reservations personnel secure you the permits.
For us to secure the permits some information is required by the Uganda wildlife authority body that include;
- Full Payment of the permit
- Full names as shown on passport(s) or a scanned passport copy to us.
- Preferred date of tracking and preferred location of tracking the primates.
- Number of people intending to track the primates.
Are you interested? Drop us that email and lets get you to encounter your closest relatives