Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a once-in-a-lifetime journey to see the incredible mountain gorillas of central Africa’s rainforests on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains and in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Travelers that have been on this Uganda safari highly rate the activity. They say no other wildlife encounter in Africa compares to the outstanding experience of spending face-to-face time with Uganda’s wild gorillas in a natural setting.

Mountain gorillas cannot survive outside their natural habitat—certainly not in any zoo. They live only in two far-flung rainforest jungles in east & central Africa, specifically Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC. These governments jealously protect the last remaining giant apes like a medieval king’s castle. Your chance of seeing the mountain gorillas is only by visiting either of the three sovereign nations.

Where is the best place to see gorillas?

The best and safest place to go gorilla trekking and see gorillas in Uganda is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. The dense forests of this UNESCO World Heritage Site provide a challenging yet rewarding environment for trekking with gorillas, which makes Uganda the best country for this raw untethered jungle experience for nature lovers.

You’ll find your way through the tall, tangled vines and ancient trees that carpet western Uganda’s rainforest, following an expert tracker clearing the way with a fine-edged machete. Your best foot forward will be wrapped up in light, waterproof hiking boots, wearing long jungle pants and a ridiculous hat. You better pack a bag of patience and a good sense of humor to lighten the anticipation. 

Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is for bucket-list tickers who want the gorilla trekking adventure without getting down and dirty. The type of travelers that want to spend the evenings surrounded by luxurious amenities and high-speed wi-fi. They usually have the money for it. 

Travelers usually avoid DRC, sighting its never-ending civil wars. However, some intrepid adventurers who have been to DRC and braved the uncertain eventualities say great praises for the authentic experience.

Gorilla population and tourism history

Mountain gorillas are the world’s most successful conservation story, thanks to gorilla tourism introduced in 1973. And thanks also the undying efforts of Louis Leakey and Dian Fossey’s research in the ’80s that brought the mountain giants to the natural world’s attention. 

In the 1980s, environmentalists estimated the mountain gorilla population to have dwindled to 240 individuals as habitat loss, poaching, disease, and other threats had exacted a costly toll on the mountain primates. Due to government interests in protecting them, intense research efforts, and funds from gorilla tourism, the mountain gorilla population has grown to more than 1,060 individuals in two decades. The IUCN has also downlisted them from critically endangered to endangered. A beautiful story all environmentalists celebrate.

You can be part of this beautiful story and also get to spend a moment with the world’s most revered primates in the most beautiful natural setting. In the following paragraphs, we will answer some of your questions about gorilla trekking in Uganda to help you plan your jungle experience with first-hand knowledge.

Where can I see mountain gorillas in Uganda?

There are two gorilla trekking destinations where you can see mountain gorillas in Uganda; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. These two parks offer trekking excursions at five trailheads; Nkuringo, Rushaga, Buhoma, Ruhija in Bwindi, and Ntebeko in Mgahinga, all under the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. 

All the sectors combined have 20 habituated mountain gorilla families, and 160 gorilla trekking permits are available daily.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The best destination to see mountain gorillas in Uganda is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park , which has half of the world’s total population. Bwindi is a prehistoric, montane, and lowland forest spanning 131 sq km (128 sq mi). The jungle is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its incredible biodiversity and many endangered species that find sanctuary within its protected boundaries.

Explore Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the second gorilla park in Uganda, takes a 13 sq mi chunk from the more extensive Virunga habitat, stretching 168 square miles into Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The park encompasses three of the eight major Virunga peaks: Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhabura, and Mount Sabyinyo.

Explore Mgahinga National Park

However, Bwindi outshines all the gorilla trekking destinations because of the many habituated gorilla families available for tourism. The park also has several other activities within and around the park, including birding, nature walking safaris, community programs, and habituation experiences.

The experience of walking with mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga is exhilarating and highly rewarding. Which gorilla trekking section you should choose for your adventure excursion will depend on where the gorilla permit will be available when you book. During the peak seasons of June to August and December to February, it can be challenging to own the choice because of the scarcity of permits. But, the low season offers you a chance to choose which trailhead suits you.