Gorilla Trek Africa
A Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda plus post Lockdown Safaris with Sight View Safaris will take you adventuring into the tropical rainforest jungles of Rwanda and Uganda in the famous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga National Park and Volcanoes National Park the Rwanda side to see elusive mountain giants, the mountain gorilla. Our trips take care of all the hustle and bustle of a Rwanda and Uganda trip including processing the Gorilla permit, entry fees & permits, putting together your itinerary, transfers and making sure you are booked in the best accommodation facilities.
Sight View Safaris specializes in new normal tailor made gorilla tracking tours to Uganda and Rwanda plus holidays in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania and African safaris in selected East African Destinations. A local Uganda tour operator; Experts in booking escorted tours, city breaks, hiking holidays, mountain gorilla experiences and more jungle experiences, we can find the perfect holiday experience for you. Wander the mesmerizing East African savanna, hike though the rainforest jungles or experience the magic of the African culture. We offer the very best that African safaris have to offer. Speak to one of our experienced and dedicated safari advisors, if you need inspiration or friendly advice, our team is on hand to provide personalized customer service and expertise.
MOUNTAIN GORILLA FACTS
Standing at 4-6 ft tall and weighing about 300-485 lbs (136 to 220 Kgs), the mountain gorilla, scientific name Gorilla beringei beringei, is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla.
The Mountain gorilla population is estimated to be just above 1060 individuals occupying the montane and bamboo forest jungles of central-east Africa’s volcanic mountain slopes at an altitude of 2,200–4,300 meters (7,200–14,100 ft). These precious mountain giants are listed on the ICUN Red List as endangered species.
Of the four gorilla species found only in Africa, Mountain gorillas live in the most extreme environment. There are two populations protected within the small central-eastern Africa border reserves of three countries.
One of the gorilla populations is in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three protected reserves, including Mgahinga National Park in southwest Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in northwest Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The second mountain gorilla population, which is almost half of the total population, occupies the rugged jungles of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Mountain gorillas can not survive anywhere else other than where they live, even though people have tried to captured and transfer them countless times.
They live in the wild in social families (troops or bands) of 5-30 individuals led by a dominant male silverback who organizes troop activities in a home range of up to 16 sq mi and retains all mating rights to the numerous females among his family.
Ther diet is omnivores, feeding on roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, tree bark, and pulp. They can weigh up to 481 pounds (216 kgs) at a standing height of up to 6 ft (1.8 m) and live to be 35 years. Mountain gorillas can climb trees but prefer to spend most of their lives on the forest floor, where they find plentiful food for their vegetarian diet.
Contrary to popular belief, mountain gorillas are gentle giants that spend most of their time foraging, feeding, napping, fornicating, and grooming each other. The huge male silverback will occasionally show off his physical prowess by chest-thumping and hauling in deep, loud voices, but he would rather avoid a confrontation if he can. He could, however, tare a human to pieces if provoked. Violent encounters with other silverbacks are often fatal leading to death.
There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with the gorilla than any other animal that I know. We’re so similar. Their sight, their hearing, their sense of smell are so similar to ours, that they see the world in the same way as we do.
David Attenborough, during his famous encounter with gorillas in 1978’s Life on Earth
Of all of Sir David Attenborough’s encounters with wild animals, it is his meeting with the mountain gorillas that made the biggest impression on his fans – and seemingly on Attenborough, too. Gorillas are one of our closest relatives, sharing almost all of our DNA, and their social structures, behaviors and even small gestures are so similar to our own, that spending time in their presence is an uncanny experience.
While lowland gorillas have, sadly, been kept in zoos and wildlife parks, mountain gorillas do not survive in captivity, so heading to the thickly forested – and yes, often misty – mountains along the Uganda-Congo-Rwanda border is the only way to view these animals. Throughout the 20th century their numbers dropped alarmingly due to habit loss and hunting, but thanks to impressive conservation measures including the gazetting of national parks and tightly regulated tourism, it is estimated that there are now around 880 mountain gorillas in the wild* – with close to half of these inhabiting Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and the rest in the nearby Virunga Mountain range.
Wheelchair accessible gorilla safaris
Travelers in wheelchairs or with mobility issues can still make the journey out to the gorillas. You can be carried in a throne chair by capable porters, your own wheelchair carried separately. The journey can be long, and not particularly comfortable, but so, so worth it.
Book any of our Uganda gorilla trekking tours above to see these incredible giants up-close in their natural habitat. Remember, they’re not found in any zoo worldwide; the ones you see in zoos are the other smaller species, the western lowland gorillas from West Africa.
Should you Trek in Uganda or Rwanda?
A common question among travelers before considering gorilla safari is whether to trek gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda. Both countries offer excellent trekking experiences, but since we offer custom Uganda gorilla trekking tours, our consultants will usually give you all the pros and cons for either country and let you weigh what works for you.
But your choice comes down to a few options including, the terrain for physical fitness, driving distance from the airport, accommodation choices, permit pricing, and entry restrictions. Otherwise, the gorilla-watching experience is the same in both countries, and the chance of seeing the gorillas is the same.
Rwanda offers more upmarket travel options for gorilla safari accommodation.
The gorilla permit price in Rwanda is more than doubles that of Uganda at $1,500 per person.
With transfers, it’s a shorter distance from Kigali International airport to Volcanoes National Park, where tourists trek gorillas, about a 3-hour drive. It’s about a 10-hours drive through Uganda’s pristine southwestern highlands to make it to the gorillas. One can take a small flight from Entebbe to a small airstrip 3 hours outside the park, though!
On the other hand, Uganda offers a raw and challenging experience with more options to combine trekking with savannah game drives. Uganda also offers relatively more accommodation options for all markets, cheaper safari packages, more trekking trailheads, and more gorilla families habituated for tourism. There are more gorilla permits in Uganda than in Rwanda.
The choice remains with you on which destination suites you. You can also read more in our Gorilla Uganda or Rwanda safari make your choice.
2021 – 2022 GORILLA TREKKING SAFARI OFFERS
Gorilla Trekking is an outdoor activity where tourists are allowed to see mountain gorillas for one hour after purchasing a gorilla permit in Uganda or Rwanda. On every East African Safari travelers bucket list is gorilla trekking in the tropical jungles of Uganda and Rwanda. Sight View Safaris has been in the fore front of creating unforgettable memories of seeing the mountain gorilla in the last decade and we celebrate this achievement by counting to take our travelers through thick, misty, wet and impenetrable jungles and Rwanda’s Volcanoes to spend those memorable 60 minutes with the mighty giant cousin and his family.
We specialize in preparing gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and Rwanda. Check our website for first-hand information on gorilla permits prices and availability, which gorilla family you should track, when is the best time to visit mountain gorillas, what to pack, how to get there and what should be the best choice of accommodation. Take a private or group gorilla safari depending on your budget, include something else on the trip like a classic wildlife safari or take a shorter route through Kigali in Rwanda, choosing the best destination route is quite important for a great gorilla tracking trip.
GORILLA HABITUATION EXPERIENCE
- Uganda National Park offers a choice of luxury safari lodges for around $300.
- Accommodations in the mid-range range from $150 to $300.
- A two-person room with full board can be rented for less than $150.
Any visitor planning a trip to Uganda should first determine how much a journey to Uganda costs. Before the actual journey, A tour price is determined by the numerous aspects that form your Uganda trip itinerary, such as the cost of tourist activities such as permits ($700), lodging, car/flight, driver/guide, and so on. The usual minimum price for a one-day safari in Uganda runs from $200 to $300 for one person, with the cost decreasing as the number of people increases.
Nonetheless, the trip price is not exaggerated because Uganda has one of the world’s lowest living costs. What travelers should know is that Uganda can accommodate all types of passengers, including luxury, mid-range, and budget travelers. Tourism stakeholders have created channels for people from all walks of life to enjoy a safari. As a result, there is no set cost; instead, it is defined by the visitor based on their preferences for travel activities, kind of accommodation, type of safari car, number of days to stay on a tour safari vacation, and so on.
Most local tour firms charge the fees that a traveler is expected to incur when they prepare and come for a vacation. The cost of an airline ticket and travel insurance is always the responsibility of the Safari tourist. We’ll look at some of the variables that come into play while estimating an Uganda safari because the tour price is complicated, and we can’t come up with an all-square figure for everyone.
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda During COVID-19
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda during Covid-19 is open with strict regulations to keep the mountain gorillas and the communities around the parks protecting from acquiring the virus. The fundamental rule for gorilla trekking in Rwanda or anywhere else in Africa is not to go if you suspect to have any illness. COVID-19 has only re-enforced that rule. Mountain gorillas, like chimps, share 98% of human DNA and are susceptible to human respiratory diseases.
Recently, it was discovered that gorillas could also catch the SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19, which has led gorillas conservationists to up their game in protecting these primates against the virus.
However, the new development does not mean the end for gorilla trekking. Gorilla tourism is vital for the continued flourishing of the primates and the communities that live around the parks.
In addition to mandatory Covid-19 testing, the Rwanda wildlife authority, in collaboration with wildlife authorities in Uganda, DRC, and conservation organizations, has placed special operating procedures to ensure the gorillas and communities around them are protected from COVID-19.
In our post today, we take a look at the operating procedures you’ll need to adopt when planning your gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda during COVID-19.
If you’re planning to travel, make sure you get fully vaccinated for COVID-19. There’s no such thing as being too cautious when avoiding disease in today’s world.
Other vaccination jabs that will be very helpful in protecting you and the mountain gorillas include yellow fever, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, polio, and MMR. Yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for entering Rwanda.
RT-PCR COVID-19 Test
All travelers arriving in Rwanda must have a negative COVID-19 certificate. The only accepted test is a SARS-CoV 2 Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) performed within 72 hours before departure (meaning travelers must be tested and get results within 3 days of their first flight). Other tests, such as Rapid Diagnostics Tests (RDTs), are not accepted.
In addition to the mandatory PCR Test, to enter Rwanda, all travelers must complete the Passenger Locator Form and upload the COVID-19 test certificate before their flight to Rwanda.
Before you’re allowed into the countryside for your gorilla trekking adventure, you’ll have to go through another mandatory COVID-19 test (at your own cost of $60) and wait 24 hours for your results at a designated transit hotel. Basically, you’ll be quarantined for 24 hours while observing operating procedures until you get your test results.
If you’re traveling from Uganda or India, you’ll be required to complete a 7-day mandatory quarantine in any of the designated hotels at your own cost. Designated 7-day quarantine hotels include Ubumwe Grande Hotel, Landmark Suites Hotel, Corina K. Guest house, Colours Club SPA & Garden Resort, Hilltop Hotel, Paradol Boutique Hotel, and Best Inn Motel.
Even when you leave the gorilla sanctuary and are ready to head back home, you’ll have to take another PCR test (and test negative) before you’re allowed to enter the airport.
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Operating Procedures
In addition to testing negative for COVID-19, tourists going for gorilla trekking in Rwanda must observe the following strict guidelines:
Trekkers must wear a face mask at all times and stash away a fresh facemask for wearing when they come in close proximity to the gorillas. Preventative measures are imperative, and mask-wearing during gorilla-trekking will likely persist forever to prevent future human-to-gorilla disease transmission.
You’ll be required to have at least two facemasks before your guide allows you to start the gorilla trekking excursion. Preferably an N95 or surgical mask, which filters almost all airborne particles, is recommended. They’ll require that you wear the first mask at the briefing point and a fresh one just before you meet the gorillas.
Due to the reported side effects of wearing masks for long periods and in high altitudes, visitors shall take frequent breaks during the tracking to give themselves time to breathe fresh air. During these breaks, social distancing shall be strictly observed.
Rwanda Development Board (UDB) recently reduced the maximum number of trekkers per gorilla group from eight to six to easily observe physical distancing during the gorilla trekking adventure.
When entering or leaving the gorilla park, guides will sanitize your hands and spray all footwear with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
When with the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, you’ll be required to keep a physical distance of 10 meters (32 ft) from the gorillas. Although this is hard to regulate, especially when curious juveniles come to you, you’re requested to follow your guide’s recommendations during your visit.
If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
These guidelines are pretty straightforward for any traveler to follow. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda during COVID-19 is helpful in financing gorilla conservation efforts in the Virunga mountains and keeping the communities around the park employed and involved in protecting the primates.
Gorilla trekking offers an alternative and sustainable source of income from local tour guiding fees, accommodation, national park fees, trekking permits, and taxes. The money gets funneled directly back into the communities, conservation efforts, government coffers, and responsible tourism efforts.
If we can all meticulously observe the operating procedure, we can handle the thin line between mountain gorilla conservation and the overwhelming health risks.
When is the best time for gorilla trekking in Rwanda during Covid?
The best time for gorilla trekking in Rwanda post-COVID-19 is during the short dry season of December-January and the long dry season between June and September. The dry periods offer the best hiking conditions considering trekking occurs in mountainous terrain with unfavorable rainforest conditions.
You can trek gorillas in Rwanda any time of the year. However, the excursion will be more difficult in the rain as paths are steep and muddy. In addition, it’ll be of enormous advantage if you prepare your physical fitness before your trekking trip. Getting to the gorillas may require using your extra muscle strength.
What you should pack
In light of the Rwanda gorilla trekking SOPs we’ve covered above, the first thing you should consider packing is at least 2 N95 facemasks. Remember, you will need one when tracking and a fresh one when with gorillas.
Pack a pair of comfortable waterproof hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
Come with a light waterproof backpack to carry your photography gear, packed lunch, energy snack, drinking water, and anything you’ll need during your gorilla trek.
Read our extensive packing list for guidance on what to pack.
Acquiring a Rwanda Gorilla Permit
RDB issues all gorilla permits in Rwanda. Any traveler above the age of 15 years can acquire a permit from RDB or through a licensed tour operator.
A gorilla permit in Rwanda costs USD 1,500 (£1,062/€1,232) per person per day. The permit is discounted during covid to the following fees:
Corporates/Organizations—10% discount on bulk purchases from 30 permits
Families—15% discount for family visits (couples and children over 15 years old)
African citizens—a promotional $500 will be applied for mountain gorilla trekking.
International tourists (Non- African Citizens) traveling in a group of 100 and more—a promotional rate of $500 will be applied for mountain gorilla trekking.
Read more about gorilla permit information before planning your gorilla trekking in Rwanda during Covid-19.
Booking a Gorilla Trekking Safari in Rwanda Post Covid-19
Travel may currently be restrictive, but we can’t cripple the overwhelming urge to connect with the natural world and excite our senses when we travel. Rwanda is open for tourism, and its tourism jewels in the Virunga Mountain slopes in Volcanoes National Park still welcome visitors post-COVID.
Sight View Safaris employs local experts in planning gorilla trekking safaris, and they have mastered all the Covid-19 gorilla trekking procedures. We would like to guide you in planning your gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda during Covid-19, processing your permits, booking your accommodation, and organizing your transportation.
Contact our desk at: [email protected] to get started.
Planning a Uganda Gorilla Safari During Covid-19
Despite the acute pandemic conditions on the travel industry, Uganda is still open for international tourism and travel to help recover the industry after a devastating toll. Planning a Uganda gorilla safari during COVID-19 will require that you adhere to the prevailing stringent standard operating procedures that will keep you and the primates protected yet still delivering those same authentic wild experiences that has made the pearl of Africa famous.
The golden rule for trekking gorillas has always been that you stay away from the gorilla sanctuaries if you feel ill, which has not changed. Since gorillas share 98% of human DNA, we’ve always known that they’re susceptible to human diseases, and travelers have always followed a set of carefully studied guidelines to keep the primates protected from any human virus strains.
In addition to that, in partnership with the government, gorilla conservation bodies have tightened the gorilla trekking rules to help cab infections that could spread from the tourists to the gorilla troops.
If you’re planning a Uganda gorilla safari during Covid-19, please see that you get your complete COVID-19 vaccination jab. The vaccination will not only protect you, but it will help in combating the spread of the pandemic along your journey.
There’s a thin line between protecting the mountain gorillas from the scourge and keeping tourism open because gorilla tourism is the main reason the primates are flourishing in their natural habitat. Yet if the Covid-19 virus made it into their natural habitat, it would leave devastating consequences on the endangered species that would take more than 70 years to clean up.
Money collected from tourism almost entirely finances conservation efforts and keeps the surrounding communities out of the jungles and employed. So gorilla trekking has to stay open, and also, we have to do everything we can to protect the precious creatures.
It is paramount that tourists adhere to the procedures to protect these rainforest jewels and keep gorilla tourism open. Therefore, we’ve gathered information to guide you in planning your gorilla trekking safari in Uganda post-COVID-19. Take a look.
How to plan a Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safari During Covid-19
The Gorilla Permit
The essential item in planning a Uganda gorilla safari is the gorilla permit. Since there are countable gorilla families available for tourism, and only eight people are allowed to visit one gorilla family per day, gorilla permits are very restricted and scarce.
Therefore, you need to get yours as soon as possible and months in advance. Travelers can even book two years in advance. That way, you’re assured of seeing the mountain gorillas on your set travel date.
A gorilla permit in Uganda costs USD 700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX 250,000 for East African nationals. During COVID-19, when travel was at its lowest, Uganda Wildlife Authority discounted the permits to $400 for foreign non-residents. The discount promotions run until June 31, 2021. We’re not sure if the promotion will be extended, but we’ll keep our blog updated.
You can book your gorilla permit directly with UWA offices or with a licensed tour operator in Uganda. During this covid period, you can use Sight View Safaris’ booking resources to acquire your gorilla permit. In case of any change in travel, Sight View Safaris can postpone your gorilla permit for a later travel date which would be challenging for an individual.
Where Gorilla Trekking Takes Place
Gorilla trekking is done in two national parks found in the southwestern corner of Uganda. The most famous is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas find refuge. The other is Mgahinga National Park, located on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains and sharing habitat with Rwanda and DRC.
There are five trailheads, where all gorilla excursions start, between the two gorilla destinations in Uganda, with four of them in Bwindi and one in Mgahinga. Your acquired gorilla permit allows you to trek in only one of the five trailheads.
The trailheads include Buhoma trailhead in the north of Bwindi with five gorilla families, Nkuringo sector in the south with three gorilla families, Rushaha sector in the southwest with five gorilla families, Ruhija trailhead in the east with three gorilla families, and Mgahinga with one gorilla family. Therefore, make sure you point out which one suits you in terms of terrain, accommodation reservation, and access when booking your gorilla permit.
UWA has initiated stringent COVID-19 operating procedures at all the trailheads. Before you head into the jungle to meet a mountain gorilla group, you’ll be required to meet all the standards.
All trekking trailheads have a string of accommodation choices ranging from budget camping to luxury bush lodges that follow tight operating procedures to protect all tourists and advise them on Coronavirus protective measures. So all the way through your Uganda gorilla safari during Covid-19, everyone is watching out for your health and others.
Operating Procedures for Gorilla Trekking During Covid-19
The first and most crucial gorilla protective measure is to stay home if you feel ill. Not just with Coronavirus but any sickness that can infect anyone else. Gorillas share 98% of our DNA and can easily get infected with our diseases, which could be a fatal blow to years of conservation. Uganda Wildlife Authority guides will not allow anyone into the gorilla forest if they suspect them of any sickness.
Secondly, you should have tested negative for COVID-10 and at least fully vaccinated before you make it to the gorilla park. Besides, it’s one of the main requirements to enter the country. Carry a valid NEGATIVE PCR COVID-19 TEST certificate issued not more than 120 hours beforehand, and you’ll have jumped the greatest stump to see the incredible mountain gorillas in Uganda.
Note that it does not matter whether you’re fully vaccinated or not. Either way, plan on having your VALID test certificate for your Uganda gorilla safari during COVID-19. Otherwise, the only Uganda primates you may see could be the immigration officers.
Your gorilla safari driver-guide will have tested negative for the virus within 48 hours before they pick you up at the airport. They must carry a valid document to that effect and wear a facemask at all times when with you.
The Ministry of Transport and UTB will have licensed your safari vehicle to be on the road for the gorilla safari. It will be disinfected regularly with a minimal number of occupants to avoid overcrowding and observe physical distancing.
According to general procedures, you’ll be required to wear a facemask in all public places, allow your temperature to be checked at all access points, and disinfect your hands and footwear whenever necessary.
At the gorilla trailhead, you’ll be asked to wear a facemask and carry an extra one for when you meet the mountain gorillas. Your footwear will be disinfected, and you’ll be asked to keep your hands sanitized with a portable hand sanitizer spray.
When hiking in the jungle, you’re allowed to put off your facemask before you meet the primates to enjoy the natural forest air. It could take from 30 mins to 4 hours under the forest canopy tracking the mountain gorilla family; make sure you’re in good physical form to take on the uneven terrain in the thick misty forest for long hours.
When you meet the gorillas, your guide will ask you to leave everything else you carried, except your camera/phone, about 50 meters away and approach the gorilla family, not beyond 10 meters. The 10-meter safe distance should be maintained even if the curious little ones approach you. There should be as little to no contact with the gorillas as possible. Seek the guidance of your guide or rangers during this period.
During COVID-19 and any other time, trekkers are allowed only one hour with the mountain gorillas. It’s only with the habituation experience when trekkers are allowed at least four hours with the gorillas. Primatologists came up with this time duration to avoid discomfort in the wild creatures because of alien presence and minimize disease infections.
After you spend your allotted time with the magnificent forest giants, your guide will quietly lead you out of the forest and find a good serene spot to have your packed lunch and exchange experiential vibes. Please don’t little or leave whatever you came with in the forest; gorillas could pick them up and get sick from whatever you carry around.
At the trailhead, your lead guide will award you a certificate for trekking Uganda’s gorillas during COVID-19. A souvenir to show off your brevity and once-in-a-lifetime experience that only a countable few get to have. Show it off when you get home to initiate memorable conversations in your home.
Before you get on your flight to head back home, you’ll need to take another COVID-19 PCR test. Otherwise, you may not be allowed to fly. We’ll talk about how in the later text.
That is just about it on the Covid-19 gorilla trekking operating procedures. The government could make changes to the guidelines, and Sight View Safaris will be there to have your back when you book your Uganda Gorilla Safari with us during this Covid-19 period. We have the capacity to postpone your trip in case of any development and also make sure you have your money’s worth. Send us an email at: [email protected] to book your gorilla safari.
What you should carry during Covid-19
For one, don’t forget your Covid-test certificate, the gorilla permit, and a pack of N95 facemask. A cloth mask is environmentally friendly, but they haven’t been medically tested to protect you effectively. Doctors have used the surgical ones for ages. Throw in a small bottle of hand sanitizer spray; it’ll come in handy.
Pack a good pair of waterproof boots; the forest floor is damp and muddy. Your lightweight hiking boot will protect your foot from the creeping forest floor dwellers and dirt.
Pack a long-sleeved shirt and pair of trousers; there are no used trails in the forest, and shrubs could do your body harm during the trek. Covering your arms and legs will also protect you from bug bites and naughty insects that could crawl up your legs and create a whole other nasty experience.
Of course, you’ll need a light backpack to carry your lunch, energy bites, water bottle, camera equipment, and anything else you’ll need. Make sure it’s waterproof if you’re carrying camera gear.
There’s more: check out our packing list.
Testing For Covid-19 Before/After The Gorilla Trek
At the time of writing this, trekkers coming from category-1 countries (currently only India) are not allowed into the country. Those coming from Category-2 countries (USA, UK, UAE, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, and Tanzania) must take a mandatory COVID-19 PCR test on arrival. Results are given within 2-4 hours at the traveler’s cost of $65.
If a traveler tests positive for Coronavirus, they’ll be required to quarantine for 14 days at a designated hotel at their own cost.
If the traveler from category-2 has been fully vaccinated, they won’t be required to take the mandatory test. However, like every other inbound traveler, they should carry a VALID Negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate issued not more than 120 hours before their arrival.
After gorilla trekking and when heading back home, the trekkers should prove that they’re negative by taking another mandatory PCR test. Your guide or operator will recommend the quickest licensed labs to take your test. Some labs can even send your results via email while you wait in your hotel room.
When should you go?
The best time to go for a Uganda gorilla safari in these COVID-19 times is during the two dry seasons of January to February and June to September. During the dry season, the roads are passable, and there are little to no downpours to interrupt your excursion.
In the wet seasons, downpours are eminent, and some roads become impassable. However, gorilla trekking in Uganda is an all-year activity, and many travelers like to take advantage of the wet seasons’ off-season discounts to cut costs. The rain adventure is worth the experience, though!
Read more on when to travel to Uganda on our website; www.sightviewsafari.com
Booking a Uganda Gorilla Safari
Travel restrictions keep changing, and your Uganda gorilla safari itinerary may unexpectedly be postponed. In that case, you need an expert licensed safari operator to care about your interests and money.
Sight View Safaris can take care of all the bookings, including accommodation, permits, transfers, and also be able to make changes when travel restrictions change. We have successfully taken travelers on private Uganda safaris during Covid-19 with no fetal incidences and would like to do the same for you. Inquire with us at; [email protected], use our online forms to reach us, or call the numbers; +256705152084 right now to chat with a consultant.
New Normal Travel Guidelines (SOPS)
At Sight View Safaris our core value is to provide you with an authentic safari experience during these new and changing times when the whole world is alert about the ongoing pandemic of the Coronavirus. Sight View Safaris Safari Travel SOPS have been put in place to ensure the well-being, safety and health of our clients and as such guidelines and measures have been put in place as we return to the new normal post covid-19. All these are in line with advice, guidelines and procedures for a post covid-19 traveler put in place by WHO, UNWTO, UWA, AUTO, UTB and Civil Aviation.
General recommendations for personal hygiene, cough etiquette and keeping a distance of at least one meter from persons showing symptoms remain particularly important for all travelers and even those without symptoms. These include:
Perform hand hygiene frequently, particularly after contact with respiratory secretions. Hand hygiene includes either cleaning hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub. Alcohol-based hand rubs are preferred and are not easily soiled. All travelers are advised to carry with.
Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing immediately of the tissue and performing hand hygiene; the recommended type of mask is the N95.
Refrain from touching mouth, eyes and nose, in general areas of the face.
Postponing travel plans in cases of illness, and avoiding contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections, hence social distance of at least one meter apart and if you are not sure of your health then postpone travel until you feel
On arrival at the airport or any entry point
Mandatory temperature screening using non-contact infra-red thermometers at the key tourism gates at the Airport.
Clients are required to have tested for the Virus prior to travel dates and should carry with medical documents supported by medical evidence and consistent with health best practices.
A non-contact system (digital travel) has been introduced at the Airport for clients to check in and out and at visa points, you will be attended to by someone behind a glass shield and they will also wear face masks and protectors to maintain as little contact as possible.
It’s now a must for all travel bags to be wrapped in plastic bags for travelers who are checking in at the Airport.
Mandatory hand washing / sanitizing at all entrances of the Airport for all travelers and staff.
Face masks are a must for all travelers, the recommended mask is an N95.
Tours should not exceed more than 4 in a group to maintain social distancing and walk marks in place around the airport.
In the vehicle while traveling.
Regular communication of safety protocols and responsibilities to clients, and to keep them informed and reminded to stay vigilant while enjoying.
Onboard sanitizing tissues and/or fluids to clients (travelers) and staff (driver guides and the like) will be available and we encourage you to use them.
Making stops along the way for gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and surfaces. Hence we will minimize the stops and set designated stopping areas that we prove to be safe for our health and we will encourage a takeaway food system to seating in hotels during stops. We rather encourage picnic eating along the way.
Cleaning all surfaces more frequently, using products and disinfectants that meet requirements with special attention to high-touch surfaces like vehicle door knobs, picnic boxes, hand rests, refrigerators, etc.
Redesigning all processes towards a more digital and touchless approach in all possible touch-points. Like cashless payment points as money has been found to spread the virus.
Reduce the number of objects on board. Limit luggage quantities while traveling to only what is enough for your tour.
At the lodge.
Sight View Safaris is working with only those lodges that have proven to uphold the health of our clients first and practicing as per the guidelines of WHO as below;
Our partner hotels, lodges and restaurants are those that have increased the frequency of cleaning in common areas and contact surfaces and rooms. The lodges have also gone further to put hand sanitizers in both the common room and in bedrooms.
Social distancing is a must in lodges we use of at least one meter which is the standard around the world.
Upon arrival standard safety protocols will be outlined and how the lodge is practicing them to prevent spread of the virus in case a person is found to be sick.
Our partner hotels and lodges keep spare rooms for possible sick or quarantine guests that are suspected to have the virus and later inform authorities about it.
The hotels and lodges we use have implemented contactless check-in and provide guests with a hygiene welcome kit where possible (this may include gloves, masks, and sanitizers).
Where possible temperature will be taken using a contactless infra-red thermometer as a basic standard for checking the common symptom of covid-19.
The partner lodges have adopted new services such as room service or picnic takeaway to reduce convergence in the common dining area at the lodge and also you are encouraged to avoid buffets while ordering for meals as these attract many people.
Our partners lodges and hotels foster flexibility in all their operations, such as those that can amend bookings if clients are not able to make it at suggested times and those that can keep credit for the client until when they are fit to travel.
At the national parks.
All Staff and visitors shall wear the right face masks that have been prescribed by Ministry of Health (Visitors will carry their own masks an N95).
Staff of Uganda Wildlife Authority will inform the visitor of the general government approved covid operational guidelines. They will explain to the visitor the UWA safety COVID measures (DOs and DONTs) during their tour and stay within the protected areas.
The tourists shall be required to provide a certificate that shows that they are COVID negative, either provided by our Ministry of Health or the relevant authority from the country most recently visited.
Temperature screening will be done at the key tourism gates of the different National Park. Those with temperatures above 37.6 degrees Celsius shall not be allowed into the protected areas and shall be advised to seek medical help through the mechanisms set up by authorities to get to the nearest quarantine location.
Every tourist shall have wash and disinfect their hands at all entry points to the protected areas. Sanitary alcohol sanitizer dispensers as well as hand washing facilities with soap shall be installed at all entry points.
There will be regular disinfecting of common areas with heavy tourist contact before, during and after visiting hours. These include information counters, service desks, waiting areas, park offices and toilets. Toilets in particular should be cleaned at least every 2 hours
Where applicable, transparent screens will be fitted at all, park gate counters. The staff manning the gate will only allow visitors who have the prescribed face masks and who have washed/ sanitized to enter the park.
Tourist vehicles and boats within the national parks
The National guidelines issued by MoH shall be enforced by tourists while in visiting the National Parks i.e
Saloon cars – 3 persons (This does not include the guide, where one is requested and paid for)
Buses, mini buses and omnibuses – Half capacity
Overlanders – Half capacity
Concessionaire delivery vehicles, pick-ups and lories – 2 persons
Private boats and launches – Half capacity
Tour operator game drive vehicles and UWA owned game drive vehicles – 6 persons
Social distancing should be observed within the vehicles
Tour operators and service providers will be regularly reminded to disinfect their cars regularly
UWA owned vehicles will be washed every day before use and disinfected daily through spray pumps
Every protected area shall provide a safe location where this spraying can be done, and where they tour operators can also park their cars to disinfect them
All tour operators shall be encouraged to provide their drivers with an alcohol rub/hand sanitizer for frequently or alternatively wear gloves. Caution should however be taken to remove this sanitizer whenever the car is parked
All other precautionary measures have to be enforced ie washing hands, social distancing and cautiously using masks
Key Tourism Activities
Briefing of tourists
Before engaging in any tourism activities, the tourists shall be given the usual briefing regarding the activities they are about to engage in. In addition to this, the guides shall remind the tourists about the risk / looming dangers of covid and brief them on the general preventative measures government has instituted and the measure they will be expected to abide by while in the Protected Areas, and remind them that it’s both for their safety and that of the wildlife.
These guidelines and measures shall also be printed and displayed in key visible areas within the park such as the briefing areas, the gates, the information centres, the canteens, to mention but a few.
Gorilla and Chimpanzee Tracking
The existing gorilla and chimpanzee tracking rules and guidelines (see annex) will remain in force to prevent any human to animal transmissions. These include
8 and 6 tourists will be allowed to track the gorillas and chimpanzees respectively
The tourists must keep 7m away from the gorillas and chimpanzees
Tourists who during the briefing are observed to be overly coughing shall not be allowed to track
Tourists who during the briefing are observed to be sick shall not be allowed to track. These include tourists with signs flu, and those who report to have diarrhoea and stomach upsets, malaria etc
While the forests are dense and don’t have any specific trails for tracking, the assigned UWA guides shall try as humanly possible to ensure that there is social distancing among the tourists while the tracking takes place
The tourists shall be encouraged to carry light equipment to minimise the need for potters while they undertake the tracking. This will be communicated to potential tourists through the tour operators and other fora
Due to the reported side effects of putting on masks for long periods and in high altitudes, the number of breaks during the tracking shall be doubled to give tourists time to breathe fresh air.
During these breaks, social distancing should be observed
The regular park rules shall apply
The vehicle guidelines above shall also apply
Where a guide is requested, the guide shall sit at the front and shall continuously remind the tourists about the need to social distance
Masks shall be worn at all time
Where a tourists gets side effects due to putting on a mask for a long time, the tourist shall inform the guide who will find a safe and secure place to park the vehicle and allow for the tourists to get fresh air while maintaining social distance
The regular park rules shall apply
The boat and launches guidelines above shall also apply
The UWA owned boats must be cleaned and disinfected every day before any boat cruise activity
The concessionaire shall also be required to clean and disinfect their boats every day before any boat activities
The guide shall enforce social distancing while on the boat.
Masks shall be worn at all time while on the boat
Where a tourists gets side effects due to putting on a mask for a long time, the tourist shall inform the guide who will find space within the boat for this client to get some fresh air for a few minutes. This shall be away from the other tourists
Anticipated travel needs for anyone traveling post Covid-19
Bring enough of your medicine to last you for the entire trip.
Pack enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and keep it within easy to reach.
Bring a cloth face covering to wear in public places. Mask N95 is recommended while traveling to Uganda.
Prepare food and water for your trip where possible and avoid eating at places providing buffets.
Limit the number of people you get in contact with while on safari.
For more information about safety and healthy responses and updates on Covid-19 in Uganda and East Africa, do not hesitate to contact Sight View Safaris
Gorilla Trekking Frequently Asked Questions
What is gorilla trekking?
Gorilla trekking is an activity where tourists/people go searching for gorillas in the wild (not actual dictionary definition). Gorilla trekking is currently available in three African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The process of seeing gorillas involves hiking or trekking in search for the rare mountain gorillas. One needs to acquire a gorilla permit for Bwindi National Park, Mgahinga, Volcanoes NP or Virunga to be able to see these mountain gorillas. The process of gorilla trekking normally starts with an early morning briefing at respective park head quarters, then a hike or walk into the forest following the trail used by mountain gorillas and once found, you spend only one hour with the mountain gorillas. You will then return back and be offered a certificate. The trek itself may take up to 30 minutes or three quarters of the day but once you find gorillas, you are allowed to spend only one hour with them.
What is gorilla habituation experience?
Gorilla habituation experience is a new gorilla trekking experience only taking place in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Gorilla habituation is a four hour gorilla trek which was introduced in 2014 to cater for tourists that have less time but want to spend more hours with mountain gorillas. This four hour gorilla trek only utilizes gorilla families under habituation and tourists are able to see gorillas while participating in activities geared to making these wild mountain gorillas get used to human beings. A gorilla habituation permit costs USD1500 and gives you four hours with mountain gorillas. Only four people are allowed to see these gorillas in Bwindi National Park. We do organize gorilla habituation experience safaris at affordable prices.
When is the best time to trek gorillas?
Every client wants to get the best out of the fee paid for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda in Bwindi, Mgahinga or Volcanoes NP and the first question that arises is-When is the best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda? While mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda can be trekked throughout the whole year, drier months of June, July, August, and early September then December up to February are the most preferred. There is no guarantee that it won’t rain as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a tropical rain forest and its climate is influenced by micro conditions of the area. During high season gorilla permits to visit gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Bwindi National Park is at USD1500.00 and USD600.00 per person respectively. For those who are price sensitive, should take advantage of rwanda low season gorilla permits at USD1050.00 to book a Rwanda gorilla trek. Read More about best time for gorilla trekking.
How much is a gorilla permit in Uganda or Rwanda?
A gorilla permit is a document/card that is obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority for the case of Uganda and Rwanda Development Board in the case of Rwanda to allow you spend one hour with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Volcanoes National Park respectively. Currently Rwanda gorilla permit costs USD1500.00 for Non residents. Uganda gorilla permits to visit mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga cost USD600.00 (Non residents) USD500.00 for Foreign Residents. Read more about gorilla tracking and permit booking.
Help me understand Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable National park is located in south western Uganda and is divided into four regions. Buhoma region in the North, Ruhija region in the east, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the south. Each region has given habituated gorillas families for gorilla tracking. If you are to trek gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, then you need to mind about a specific region where you are going as this will affect the Lodge to be booked, gorilla permit as well as your transport. Contact C Contact Sight View Safaris on details about Bwindi gorilla treks and holidays.
When should I book a gorilla permit?
We advise you to book your Rwanda or Uganda gorilla permit at least three months in advance to shortage most especially during high season. Please contact us with the date when you intend to book gorilla tracking Uganda holidays and Rwanda gorilla trips and we will advise availability of permits on that day.
What is included with the gorilla permit?
A gorilla permit allows you one hour with mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga or Volcanoes National Park in Uganda and Rwanda, respectively. Included in the cost are park entry fees for the respective parks, services of National Park guides/rangers who will escort you to the forest. Gorilla Tracking Uganda will ensure that you secure permits in advance.
How long is a gorilla trek in Uganda or Rwanda
Mountain gorilla trekking exercise in Uganda or Rwanda can take from twenty minutes to three quarters of the day so one needs to prepare for both. This depends on several factors that include, mountain gorilla movements, where the gorillas stayed the previous night and the mood of the gorillas. It may also depend on the people in your group since the guides/rangers move following the slowest person in the group. Gorilla Tracking Uganda trading as Sight View Safaris is happy to provide all relevant advice
What are the chances of seeing a mountain gorilla?
The most asked question about gorilla trekking is the chances of seeing mountain gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda. We can gladly confirm that chances of seeing gorillas either in Bwindi National Park or Volcanoes is 98%. Many tourists tend to book two or more gorilla treks in the fear that they may fail to see gorillas on the first trek and therefore may be lucky with the second trek. The truth of the matter is that gorilla trekking in Bwindi, Mgahinga and Volcanoes in Rwanda is so organized in a way that there is an advanced team of trackers who wake up every morning to find where these gorillas are. Once they find them, they will then communicate to the park head quarters and your ranger guide of the day of the where abouts of these gorillas. You will then start your trek from where the gorillas would have slept the previous night up to when you find them. The advanced team will keep communicating with you guide to make sure you don’t get lost. If the gorilla family in question keeps moving very fast, communication will be made and should they feel that you cannot cope with the speed, UWA may decide to take you to another family. Please contact us for more details
What is the age limit for gorilla tracking?
The age limit for gorilla tracking (Uganda and Rwanda) and golden monkey trekking (Uganda) is 15 years. The authorities are very strict on this, so kindly make sure all clients and children are 15 or older in order to avoid any sad incidents like guest(s) kids being refused to track. We ensure that before you book our Gorilla tracking Uganda safari holidays, you have all details concerning age! The age limit for trekking chimpanzees in Uganda is 12 years old and children 10 years and older are allowed to trek golden monkeys in Rwanda as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Children under 15 years are allowed to Dian Fossey’s tomb – although the latter hike is a stiff one so we do not recommend that either to children under 12-13 years. For more information about Gorilla tracking Uganda age limit, contact Sight View Safaris.
What to pack for gorilla trekking trip
You need to prepare very well for your gorilla trek in Uganda and Rwanda, we advise trousers, long sleeved shirts or blouses, long socks to enable you tack in your trousers, garden gloves, a hat, sun glasses, hiking boots, insect repellents and some energy giving foods. More about packing list and gorilla trekking gear.
What is gorilla habituation experience?
Gorilla habituation experience is an activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where tourists are allowed to stay four hours with mountain gorillas after paying USD1500.00 for a gorilla habituation permit. Gorilla habituation safaris are currently taking place only in Rushaga located in south.
Does Rwanda have discounted gorilla tours?
It is true that Uganda abolished low season discounted gorilla permits in 2017 but Rwanda still offers discounted gorilla permits or Low season discounted gorilla permits in Low season months of May and November. The condition for benefiting from Rwanda discounted gorilla permits is that you have two book at least three more days in one of Rwanda’s National Park. These National Parks include Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park. Rwanda discounted gorilla permits cost USD1050.00 per person per trek to trek Rwanda gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. The 1050.00 includes Volcanoes Park entry fees for Volcanoes National Park, watching mountain gorilla for one hour with habituated mountain gorillas and services of well-trained gorilla ranger or guide.
Is it possible to track Uganda gorillas via Kigali Rwanda?
It is now possible to trek Uganda or Bwindi gorillas through Rwanda by flying through Kigali International airport. By flying through Kigali International Airport, one is able to reduce the drive time to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to 5-6 hours compared to if one uses Entebbe International Airport where the drive time is 8-9 and sometimes 10 hours from Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. With the introduction of the East African tourist visa, one can now visit both Uganda and Rwanda without hassle. The good news also is that one can now apply for Rwanda Visa upon arrival something that is making the process of obtaining Rwanda visa easy. East African tourist visa costs USD100.00 and allows you to visit three east African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Uganda. Contact Sight View Safaris for details about Bwindi gorilla safaris through Kigali Airport.
Does DR Congo have discounted gorilla permits?
Democratic Republic of Congo is yet another destination in the whole world that is home to the endangered and rare mountain gorillas. The other countries with mountain gorillas are Uganda and Rwanda. A normal gorilla permit to trek mountain gorillas in Congo’s Virunga National Park is USD400.00 and includes park entry fees, watching gorillas for one hour and services of a ranger guide during your trek. Congo offers discounted gorilla permits at USD200.00 only and can be booked for you if you book with us an all-inclusive tour. For more details about Congo discounted gorilla permits and affordable congo gorilla safaris, please contact Sight View Safaris by phone or email.
When should I book Rwanda discounted gorillas?
Rwanda low season gorilla permits at USD1050 are offered in May and November each year and because of this discount, there is a likely hood that these permits may attract more people. It should be better to book these low season at least two months in advance to avoid short notice disappointments. Feel free to contact Sight View Safaris about booking your low season Rwanda gorilla permits and safaris to visit Rwanda gorillas in Volcanoes National Park
How many people are allowed to trek a gorilla family?
Only a maximum of 8 people are allowed to trek or visit a given gorilla family in Bwindi, Mgahinga and Volcanoes National Park in Uganda and Rwanda. Bwindi has about 14 habituated gorilla families and thus each family is allowed only 8 people per day per hour. Sometimes park management is forced to have more than 8 people depending on circumstances on ground. If such happens, the park authorities will explain. When it comes to gorilla habituation, its only 4 people that are around to spend four hours with mountain gorillas under habituation.
When you should book a gorilla permit
Gorilla permits tend to sell out quickly so it is always advised to book your Rwanda and Uganda gorilla permit in advance. At Sight View Safaris we advise that you book your gorilla permit 3-4 months in advance to avoid short notice disappointments. Gorilla permits tend to run out during high seasons of June, July, August, September, December, January, and February each year. Please contact Sight View Safaris for details about availability and cost of securing gorilla permits.
Mountain Gorilla Safari
We arrange Gorilla Safaris to Uganda and Rwanda with DISCOUNTED GORILLA PERMITS AT $400and we will be venturing in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the near future. Budget, mid-range or luxury Gorilla safaris can be done all year round and we a glad to organize a gorilla safari to suite your budget, interests and time.
We do operate in two countries of Uganda and Rwanda and you can choose gorilla safaris in Volcanoes National Park located in the Northern part of Rwanda in the Virunga ranges or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park located in south western Uganda districts of Kisoro, Kanungu and Kabale.
Whether you prefer tracking gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda, we will help you organize all services including gorilla permits. Currently, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) charges $1500 for a gorilla permit per person while Uganda charges $600 for Foreign Non-Residents, $500.00 for foreign Residents and UGX250,000 for East Africans.
We are very proud to have a team of expert consultants who will not only answers all your inquiries in time, but will also discuss with you all possibilities and options to make sure that you get a tour that is value for money. All our safaris are guided by professional and experiences driver guides knowledgeable in Uganda’s animals, plants and cultures of people and we feel that this is very essential on any gorilla safari to Uganda or Rwanda. Talk to our experts or first browse through our selection of gorilla trips bellow to make your choice simpler.
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