Gorilla Safaris in Uganda,Mountain Gorilla Trekking Tour Uganda,Gorilla Safari

Gorilla safaris in Uganda/Mountain Gorilla tracking tour trips taking you Gorilla trekking in Uganda`s Bwindi forest form the greatest number of Uganda safaris and are high ranked by most Uganda safari travelers.

The following information is very important for those who intend to have a Gorillas trek safari in Uganda.

 

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN UGANDA

In science, the mountain gorillas are known as Gorilla beringei beringei and are noted to be the descendants of the ancestral monkeys which are known to have lived in Africa and Arabia at the beginning of the Oligocene epoch about 34 – 24 million years ago. Despite the poor record of their evolutionary history, it is believed that the primate group which evolved into gorillas separated from the common ancestor along with the chimpanzees and humans about nine (9) million years ago and the initial relative of mountain gorillas is known as Proconsul Africanus. The mountain gorillas are known to have separated from the Eastern lowland gorillas about 400,000 years ago while the two are believed to have separated from the western lowland gorillas about 2 million years ago.

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Mountain Gorilla safaris in Uganda, are an unforgettable life-time memory experience . Gorilla trekking in Uganda is an amazing captivating search involving long walks following gorilla trails in Bwindi Impenetrabe National Park majorly or Mgahinga National Park . Travel to Africa and tour mountain in Uganda deep in the heart of Africa’s most spectacular rain forests. A mountain gorilla trek trip in Bwindi can take anything from 15 minutes to 8 hours, depending on where the Uganda Gorillas are located. At the end of each Gorilla search in Uganda`s thick forested mountains, you will stay for only one hour photographing, admiring, learning and interacting with these great mountains Gorillas or apes.Uganda gorilla safaris require one to have gorilla permits that are bought in advance to allow one track gorillas because only a maximum of Eight people are allowed to search each gorilla group in Bwindi, and Mgahinga. Uganda has 12 mountain gorilla groups open to tourists and one spends only one hour observing these beautiful mountain Gorillas and taking photos.Below are the top gorilla safari treks that we offer.Gorilla groups in Uganda Bwindi include; Mubare,Habinyanja, Rushegura in Buhoma sector in the north, Ruhiija sector in the east has Oruzogo, Bitukura, Kyaguriro. In the southern sector in Rushaga has Nkuringo,  Nshongi, Kahungye and Mishaya and one group Nyakagezi in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. New Gorilla Families in Uganda are soon to be officially opened for trekking tours.  These are some of our Gorilla trek safaris in Uganda & Rwanda

 Gorilla Safari in Uganda 3 daysgorilla safaris in uganda 3 daysVisit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and trek Endangered mountain gorillas, Our star attraction…. more >>
Gorilla safari to Mgahinga Gorilla NP 3 days trekking gorilla The park is notably known as the second refigium for the critically endangered mountain gorillas … more >>
Bwindi gorilla trekking 4 daysbwindi and queen safari in ugandaTrek the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest & wildlife in queen Elizabeth park! … more >>
Bwindi Gorilla Safari & Wildlife 4 daysgorillas in rwandaSee mountain gorillas in Bwindi Park & Queen Elizabeth Park for game viewing … more >>
4 Days Gorilla tour in Uganda – double tracking batwa-dance-uganda safariDo gorilla trekking and have an evening performance of the Batwa / Bakiga … more >>
  Gorillas & Wildlife Uganda Safari Tour 5 days5 days gorilla tracking safari in UgandaTrek Endangered Mountain gorillas in Bwindi and wildlife in Queen Elizabeth Park. .. more >>
5 Days Africa Gorilla tour in Ugandagorillas-uganda safariDo morning game drive and afternoon boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel & an evening game drive along the channel track … more >>
Gorillas trek Rwanda and Safari in Queen Elizabeth NP Ugandagorillas-uganda safariIs a cross boundary safari package that allows you to track the critically endangered mountain gorillas… more >>
 Primate Trekking Uganda Safari 6 daysUganda gorilla safaris 6 daysGo gorilla tracking in Bwindi, chimps and see Wild life on this 6 Days adventure in Uganda…. more >>
Uganda Gorilla Safari, 6 Daysgorilla safaris in ugandaOur 6 Days Uganda Gorilla safari takes you to Uganda`s population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi … more >>
Bwindi, Queen, Lake Mburo tour – 6 days5days-gorilla-safarisThe safari incorporates wild game viewing with possibilities of exploring the Big four of the Big five namely … more >>
Gorilla trekking Safari Tour 8 daysUganda gorilla safari 8 days Trek Mountain Gorillas in Uganda Bwindi Impenetrable Forest & see Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth NP, Kibale and more parks…. more >>

Rwanda Uganda Gorilla trekking Safari 8 dayscombined 8 days gorilla safaris in uganda  Track gorillas in Rwanda Volcanoes  & Uganda Bwindi Impenetrable National Park on this gorilla safari…. more >>
Uganda Safari tour 9 daysUganda safaris 9 daysTour Murchison Falls, Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth & Bwindi national parks…. more >>
9 days Wilderness Camping Gorilla safari in Uganda wilderness camping safaris in Ugands, gorilla safarisGo camping on a gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda & Uganda bwindi, enjoy wildlife safari game drives in the prominent Game parks…. more >>
Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda & Chimps 10 dayschimp trekking safaris in ugandaTrek and find Endangered mountain gorillas and wild chimps in the spectacular forests of Bwindi & Kibale. … more >>
Uganda  Rwanda Gorilla Safari 11 Days5days-gorilla-safaristrek gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda but also tour a range of wildlife and culture…. more >>
Uganda Gorilla Trekking Tour 12 Days5days-gorilla-safarisTransfer to Bwindi NP. Make a stop at Uganda Equator crossing Kayabwe and Igongo Cultural Center for traditional Lunch… more >>
Uganda & Rwanda Safari 13 daysuganda rwanda Gorilla safariTour all the premier destinations in Uganda and Rwanda on this adventure trip…. more >>
Birding & Gorilla trekking Uganda Safari 14 daysbirding safaris in UgandaEnjoy a birding safari in Uganda in top bird watching destinations in Africa on this tour plus Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable… more >>

Uganda Gorilla Trek  Tour– 3 daysgorilla trekking tourGo for the mountain gorilla trek safari in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda’s star attraction.. Read more

Safari Uganda Gorillas & Wildlife – 4 days

uganda gorilla safarisSafari Uganda see mountain gorillas in Bwindi and visit Queen Elizabeth Park for game viewing Read more

Uganda Wildlife & Gorilla safari – 5 days

uganda primate safari tourEnjoy a Mountain gorilla tracking tour in Uganda Bwindi and view wildlife in Queen Elizabeth Park. Read more

Uganda Kibale Primates Safaris – 6 Days

Baboons in UgandaVisit Uganda  mountain gorillas, chimps and wildlife on this 6 Days adventure tour  in Uganda. Read more

Gorilla Safari in Uganda  – 8 Days

Mountain Gorilla Safari UgandaTour Bwindi impenetrable forest national park Gorillas as well as other tourist attractions. Read more

Visit Gorillas in Uganda & Rwanda – 8 Days

Mountain Gorilla Safari Uganda RwandaVisit Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Bwindi Forests national park for Gorilla tracking on this safari. Read more

Uganda Safari featuring Gorilla trekking– 9 Days

gorilla safari Uganda RwandaVisit Murchison Falls, Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth & Bwindi national parks to trek Gorillas. Read more

Safari in Uganda Rwanda – 12 Days

Volcanoes National Park RwandaA safari combing gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking, game drives, boat rides, culture etc, Read more

Safari Uganda &Rwanda – 13 Days

Volcanoes Uganda RwandaThis Safari will start by visiting the magnificent Murchison falls and then proceed to Kibale NP for Chimpanzee tracking Read more

Adventure Safari Uganda – 13 Days

Volcanoes Uganda Rwanda The safari features wild game viewing in Murchison Falls National Park Read more

14 Days Fort Night Uganda Safari

Volcanoes Uganda RwandaThe safari incorporates the wild game viewing, adventure, culture, primate tracking Read more

Safari in the Nile Basin – 15 days

Volcanoes Uganda RwandaThe safari starts and ends at Entebbe International Airport and it takes you to explore the source of River Nile in Jinja Read more

20 Days Grand Safari tour in Uganda

Volcanoes Uganda RwandaThis safari package features an all-round tour of Uganda commencing and ending at Entebbe International Airport Read more

18 Days Comprehensive Safari in Uganda

Volcanoes Uganda RwandaThe 18 Days comprehensive Safari in Uganda as the name suggests features an extended encounter Read more

16 Days Uganda Safari in the Equator Snow

Volcanoes Uganda RwandaThe 16 Days Uganda wildlife Safari in the Equator Snow is one of the extensive Uganda safari packages Read more

Primate, Wildlife & Mountaineering Safari

wildlife-uganda-safarisThe Safari features Mount Rwenzori Climbing with Margarita peak as the prime activity Read more

Uganda Safari – 16 Days

river-nile-ugandaThe 16 Days Uganda Safari allows one to climb Mount Rwenzori for three days exploring the magical Mahoma trail Read more

Adventure to Rwenzori Mountains

mountain-rwenzori-ugandaThe 14 Days Uganda Safari Adventure to Rwenzori Mountains & Gorilla trekking is a fort night safari in Uganda Read more

What to know about gorillas on Uganda gorilla trekking safaris

Are Gorillas Related to Humans in Uganda

Initially, the humans belonged to their Hominidae taxonomy family while the apes were put in another taxonomic family named Pongidae. The separation between the two was brought about by specialization in anatomy, the human brain which is highly developed along with distinct locomotion. However, this has been declared outdated overtime putting the gorillas close relatives to humans second to Chimpanzees and coming before Orangutans. It can be noted that the genetic composition of the apes matches that of humans to a considerable degree with a small distinction in DNA. The gene analysis indicates that man and gorillas differ by 1.6% while man with chimpanzees differs by 1.2%. For gorillas and Chimps, the difference is 1.8% The DNA mitochondrial which is recorded to change faster, the geneticists identified a gap of 8.8% between chimps and humans, 10.3% between gorillas and humans. It should be noted that despite the closeness of the chimpanzees and bonobos to humans, the gorillas resemble humans in a range of aspects. For example, the hands and feet of gorilla resemble those of man than other apes while their feet is more suited for walking just like humans since they spend most of the time on ground unlike other apes. This is common in mountain gorillas that are encountered on Uganda gorilla trekking safaris. gorilla-in-uganda

Where do Gorillas live in Uganda?

Mountain gorillas are known to be living in the Africa’s tropical rain forests distributed into two sects with about 900km in between the eastern and western lowland gorillas.  Initially, this was a single uniform habitat before it was separated by the ice age that created patches of forests and dry lands in the middle. The dry land eventually grew savannah vegetation that did not favor the existence of apes and even when the rain forests regenerated, the gorillas could not re-unite again.

This kind of separation led to distinct development paths including gorilla exterior and the genetic factor explaining the difference between the eastern and western gorillas. The western gorillas are known to be thriving in the countries of Cameroon, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and extreme west of Democratic Republic of Congo.See more

The Eastern gorillas which include the eastern lowland and mountain gorillas are located in Uganda where they are encountered on Uganda gorilla safaris, Rwanda as viewed on gorilla safaris in Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo in a geographical spread of about 112,000km2. However, it can be noted that mountain gorillas are limited in range to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Virunga massif which comprise of Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

What illnesses do Uganda Gorillas suffer from?

Gorillas in Uganda are prone to most of the human diseases and as a result it is very significant to note that travellers on gorilla safaris in Uganda keep a considerable distance (7m as recommended) to stop the transmission of these diseases.

Besides the human diseases, the mountain gorilla habitats feature cold and wet climate which makes to gorillas to contract develop diseases like respiratory tract diseases especially Pneumonia resulting in to their death.

Gorillas occasionally develop teeth cavities while for the mountain gorillas they hardly suffer from it since they consume little fruit and thus less sugar. However, the bad tartar in mountain gorillas causes periodontitis that dissolve the jaw bone eventually leading to loss of teeth.

It can be noted that most of the free range mountain gorillas feature intestinal parasites (worms) and these affect both man and gorillas though others only capitalize on gorillas. The malaria parasites also have got an effect on gorillas however they are different species than those that cause sickness in humans.

Snares usually set by poachers targeting other wildlife accidentally tend to grab the foot of the hand of the gorillas causing wounds that might result into death. The case like ebora is a big threat to gorillas as it can be transferred from Humans to gorillas and vise versa.

What do gorillas in Uganda eat?

gorilla in uganda eating The question of what the gorilla eats depends on the season of the year and the respective gorilla habitat has to offer. It can be noted that mountain gorillas consume parts of green plants while for lowland gorilla take plenty of fruit. In the dry season, the availability of juicy fruits is limited which makes the gorilla to consume of the tree bark and fruits. Generally, the gorillas are noted to stick on the vegetarian diet consuming the bamboo shoots, the stems along with fruit while for the Western lowland gorillas that go on to consume ants, termites and even go ahead to break the termite nests to consume Larvae.

Since the fruits grow on trees, the gorillas of all age categories climb these trees to harvest them. Even though the western gorillas feature a lot of fruit consumption more than stems, leaves, shoots and piths, they cannot exceed Orangutans and chimpanzees in the quantity of fruit consumption. It can be noted that the western gorillas feature a wide range of around species of plants that belong to the arrowroot and ginger families while the Virunga and Bwindi dwelling mountain gorillas consume only 38 plant species mostly thistles, nettles, Galium and celery.

The mature Grauer’s gorilla male is noted to consume up to 30 kg of plants daily while for the females, it is around 18 kg. Gorillas feature strong chewing muscles that allow them to process this plant material gathered. The teeth of the gorilla are like those of humans apart their long pointed canines possessed by mature gorilla males though it is used for fighting other than feeding.

What threats do gorillas in Uganda face?

It is noted that Mountain gorillas are critically endangered which is even highlighted on gorilla safari in Uganda.  The gorillas are sensitive to environmental alterations especially their habitats. In the Virunga Volcanoes, gorillas are disturbed by loggers, cattle herds, honey and grass collectors, poachers and smugglers not forgetting the visitors on gorilla safaris themselves. Mining is also a point of disturbance to gorillas in some parts.

In most of the aspects, the poachers tend to set wire snares to catch the duiker but unfortunately the gorillas become victims losing their hands or feet resulting into death. The vets tend to remove such snares in the habituated gorilla groups.

For the western and Grauer’s gorilla are hunted for their meat by the local people despite its illegality. The gorillas also raid on people’s gardens and are killed since it is noted that one gorilla group can put down the entire harvest.

The increasing gorilla habitat loss arising from rain forest deforestation creates small patches of isolated forests which are inadequate for the gorillas to forage. The Ebola virus is also a main threat to western low land gorillas.

The Habitat and ecology of Mountain gorillas – where to find mountain gorillas on gorilla safari in Uganda 

Uganda Mountain gorillas are noted to be thriving in the cloud montane forests in the Albertine rift that stand at an altitude of 2,200–4,300 m above sea level.  These are distributed into two separate but close ranges with the Virunga Volcanoes which is a chain of eight volcanic mountain stretching from Congo through Rwanda to Uganda and the detached Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the south west of Uganda.  It can be noted that the vegetation on these raised altitudinal landscapes is very dense and it definitely gets scarce when approaching the higher elevations of the Mountains. The mountain gorilla forests are noted to be misty, cloudy with cold conditions.

Mountain gorillas are recorded to be herbivore Species and the majority of its diet is comprised of leaves, stems and shoots (85.8%) from the 142 Species of plants. The gorillas also feed on the tree bark (6.9%), fruit (1.7%) and flowers (2.3%) along with minor invertebrates (0.1%). The mature male gorillas are noted to consume up to 34 kgs everyday whereas a female can consume up to 18kgs.

The Mountain gorilla home range is determined by the availability of food sources and the home range normally features a range of vegetation zones. Some of the vegetation zones frequented by mountain gorillas include the lower Bamboo standing at 2,200–2,800m, the Hagenia forests standing at 2,800–3,400 m and the giant senecio zone standing at 3,400–4,300m. It should be noted that the mountain gorillas spend much of its time in the Hagenia forests where their preferred gallium vines exist throughout the year. The parts of the gallium vine are eaten all including the stems, leaves, berries and flowers. The mountain gorillas tend to dwell in the bamboo forests in the few months when the fresh Bamboo shoots exist. The mountain gorillas would then climb to the subalpine regions to have a taste of giant senecio trees soft centers.

Mountain Gorilla Conservation: The Continuity of mountain gorillas and gorilla safaris in Uganda Population size and growth rates

The conservation of mountain gorillas has contributed to their increasing numbers in the two of their habitats namely the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda and Virunga Volcanoes. Apparently the mountain gorilla population is given at 880 individuals. There are also three young gorillas that were affected by trauma as a result of poaching, snare injuries and the loss of the mother as a result of brutal killing thrive at  in the DR Congo’s Senkwekwe Centre orphanage.

Virunga National Park official website announced in December 2010 an increment in the mountain gorilla populations thriving in the Virunga massif by 26.3% for the seven years past with an estimated mean growth rate of 3.7% per year. The census that was conducted in the same year gave the figure of the mountain gorillas at 480 in the massif which is shared by nations of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda rising from 380 mountain gorillas that were ascertained in 2003 and the 320 members in 1989 not forgetting the 254 gorillas in 1981.

In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the south west of Uganda, the 2011 study gave the gorilla population at a minimum of 400 individuals showing a steady increase from the 340 in 2006 and the 320 in 1997. It can be noted that these numbers were ascertained using traditional methods of gorilla counting including collecting dung samples from the night nests of gorillas. In contrast, the genetic analysis indicated that there were 300 gorillas in Bwindi by 2006.

It can be noted that either in Bwindi or the Virunga massif, the gorilla groups which are habituated for Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo have a considerable growth rate compared to those groups that are not habituated as given by computer modeling of dynamics of their populations. The Habituation can be interpreted as the repeated and neutral contact of gorillas with humans resulting into the gorillas getting used with people and would depict normal behavior even when people are around.  The habituated gorillas have opportunities of being guarded by park rangers, receiving veterinary treatment in case of Habituated gorillas are snares or other diseases unlike the unhabituated.  However, gorilla researchers still recommend that a section of gorillas should remain wild (unhabituated) to avoid gorilla extinction in case the dangerous human pathogens are transmitted to the habituated ones.

It should be noted that regardless of increasing numbers, the mountain gorillas are still threatened and the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as critically endangered.

How much space do gorillas need? More about gorillas encountered on gorilla safaris in Uganda

The gorilla families do not actually need independent territories nor do they position themselves to defend their territory from the rest. It can be noted that gorillas roam in the home ranges of which the size is dependent on the availability of food.

The home ranges are noted to be extended in areas where food is spread widely but in case of abundant availability of food the range tend to be limited.  The space also depends on the family members possessed by a given gorilla group. The more the members, the wider space it would require thriving. This at times explains the difference in duration for gorilla trekking activity between different gorilla families.

The gorilla home range contain differing vegetation zones which are utilized seasonally stretching between 4 & 8km2 and even to 30km2 in the areas that are less fertile. It can be noted that home ranges at times overlap and it no surprising to find one gorilla groups entirely with in the home range of another gorilla group.

The gorilla groups tend to move an average distance of 0.5 – 1km to do foraging per day depending on the availability of food. At times, gorillas move to far distances targeting the trees of their loved food. This also affects the duration Gorilla trekking tour in Uganda and Rwanda.

How do Gorillas sleep: Questions on gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda

gorilla-nests-uganda

Gorillas have been observed to sleep in nests which are built either in trees or on ground considering various aspects including the vegetation along with security situation

It can be noted that new nests are constructed per evening by the gorillas even if the previous nest is within the close reach. Every gorilla puts up his / her nest except for the infants who sleep with the mothers in the same nest. The gorillas settle in their respective nests about half an hour to the dark. It is on rare occasions that gorillas out up nests for midday use.

Regarding the construction of a ground nest, the gorillas pulls the branches of plants to the center, layer and anchor them on each other while other plants are also bent in to form the rim of the nest.

For the tree nests, they are put up in forks of branches or related structures and they are built to strength in order to contain the weight of the gorillas. The young ones and females prefer to sleep in trees but the silverbacks rarely do because of their enormous weight.

Evolution, Taxonomy and Classification: Exploring the background of gorillas on Uganda gorilla safaris

Mountain Gorillas are noted to be the descendants of old world monkey and the apes that are known to have thrived in Africa and Arabia at the onset of the Oligocene epoch about (34-24 million years ago). The evidence gathered from fossil records indicates the existence of hominoid primates (apes) in the region of East Africa approximately 18–22 million years past.  However, it should be noted that the fossil record in the area where the mountain gorillas are known to thrive is poor which gives unclear history of evolution.

It can be noted that around nine (9) million years ago, the primate group that was to evolve into gorillas disintegrated from the common ancestor along with humans and chimps resulting into the formation of the genus gorilla.  Though it is not certain who the earliest gorilla relative was, it’s believed that Proconsul Africanus the early ape could be the one.

Mountain gorillas are noted to have disintegrated from the eastern lowland gorillas about 400,000 years past and the two are believed to have disintegrated from their western counter parts about 2 million years. About the classification, one can note that there has been considerable debate and this can be described here; the genus was initially given as Troglodytes in the year 1947 but in the year 1952, it was reverted back to the gorilla naming. After a couple of years, the taxonomist in the names of Colin Gloves suggested that all gorillas should be referred to as one Species Gorilla gorilla in the year 1967 distributed in three sub species namely; the western lowland gorilla scientifically Gorilla gorilla gorilla, the eastern lowland gorillas scientifically Gorilla gorilla graueri and then mountain gorillas scientifically Gorilla gorilla beringei which are mostly encountered on gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda.  The argument continued until the year 2003 when International Union for the Conservation of Nature reviewed the classification and divided the genus into two (2) species namely; the Gorilla berengei and Gorilla gorilla

Do Gorillas fear Water: Questions on Gorilla safari in Uganda

Just like the humans and other apes, the gorillas are not able to swim naturally and as a result tend to avoid expanse water bodies. However, it can be noted that gorillas including the young and adult like playing with water and during their quest for food, the gorillas move through swamps walking on two legs with the water reaching up to their waist.

When the rain shower is heavy enough to their surprise, the gorillas tend to stay motionless waiting for the rain to end.  They will sit under the cave or any shelter of a similar sort if it is within the reach. The gorillas never utilize branches or leaves to cover themselves from rain something that is occasionally done by the Orangutans and the Bonobos.

Day time of Mountain gorillas: Day moments with gorillas on Uganda gorilla safari

According to the study conducted in Virunga Volcanoes, the mountain gorillas embark on foraging early in the morning, rest in the late morning and around midday. They do forage again in the afternoon before retiring for overnight. The mountain gorillas depart their nests about 6am except for the cases of forecast and coldness where they are compelled to stay longer in their nests.

It can be noted that mountain gorillas spend close to half day foraging while the resting times take about 1/3 of the day. The mountain gorillas spend around 6.5% of their day time moving from one point to the other while engaging in social behavior for around 3.6% of the gorilla day time. This tend to happen during the resting periods and as a result mid-day becomes a significant period regarding the social life of the gorillas since it is the period when the animals interact with their mates and when the baby gorillas play with no interruptions.

Can Gorillas climb trees: Exploring more on gorilla safari in Uganda

It can be noted that gorillas primarily thrive on the ground and spend around 5 – 20% of their day time in trees which is lesser than the chimpanzees that spend 5 – 20% along with the orangutans that spend close to 100%.

Gorillas climb to extract fruit or play and they usually climb quadrupedally and on rare occasions, they jump from one branch to another.  The Silverback gorillas hardly move off the ground as result of their enormous size and would climb into fruiting trees provided the branch can contain their weight.

Besides Humans, do Gorillas have enemies: Uganda gorilla safari questions

Besides the humans, the gorillas have a few predators. The Leopard is noted to be the only one preying on gorillas. In the Virunga Volcanoes, the remains of a range of gorillas were found by Walter Baumgärtel after being killed by leopard. A similar case was confirmed in Gabon when a sick young gorilla was noticed to have been killed by leopard.

The gorilla group would behave in a certain (special) way when threatened. The Silver backs send off an intensive smell and produce characteristic sounds while other members congregate together, hug one another or surround the Silverback. The adult males are charged with the responsibility of defending the group positioning themselves amidst the group and the attacker. At times, this duty is taken over by the young males who take the group away from the danger source.

Behavior of Mountain Gorillas – How do Mountain gorillas behave while on Gorilla Safaris in Uganda?

Mountain gorillas are social animals and thrive in stable and cohesive groups which are kept together by long term bonds among the mature males and females. It can be noted that female relationships are averagely weak. The mountain gorillas are non-territorial Species and the silverback gorilla would aim at defending the family other than the territory.

It can be noted that 61% of the gorilla groups feature one mature male and a count of females while the 36% has features more than one mature male. The remaining gorillas either live alone like male or form exclusive male groups which feature one mature male and a range of younger males.   The mountain gorilla group sizes range from five (5) to thirty (30) with the common average being ten (10) members. Atypical group features one main silverback whose leadership is unquestionable followed by another subordinate silverback who is commonly the half-brother, younger brother or even an adult son of the reigning silverback. From this position, there follows the one (1) or two (2) black backs that act as watchmen, three (3) or four (4) that are sexually mature and more bonded to the main silverback for life and these are followed by a range of Juveniles ranging from three (3) to six (6) and the infants.

It can be noted that a considerable number of males and around 60% of the females depart their natal group. The males tend to leave the group when they are around 11 years old and process of separation takes time with them starting to forage on the group edge up to when they depart altogether. They can leave alone or with an entire male group of 2 – 5 years before attracting females to join them and put up a new group. The females are known to leave the group when they are eight (8) years and they either transfer direct to an already established group or forming up a new one with a lone male. It is noted that female tend to transfer to many gorilla groups before settling in one.

Dominant Silverback decides on the group movements leading them to the ideal feeding areas all year round. The Silverback settles conflicts within the group and ensures that the group is protected from the external threats. In case of any attack from predators like leopard, other threats like humans or attacks for other gorillas, the Silverback is dedicated to fight beyond self.  The Silverback is the center of focus during the resting periods and the young gorillas always stay close to him and engage him in their playful games. When a mother dies or happens to evacuate the group, the Silverback tends to take care of the abandoned baby even sharing his nest with the young. This alloparental care is also encountered in a range of other animals including the wolf and the elephants.  The silverbacks which are experienced can even remove the poacher’s snares from the feet or hand of any group member.

It can be noted that in cases where the Silverback passes away succumbing to a disease, poaching or accident, there happens a family disruption unless when he has left a capable successor behind. The group splits up or can be taken over by a foreign male. At times, the new Silverback can kill all the infants left by the deceased in order to enable the female conceive its young ones. However, this infanticide has never been encountered in stable gorilla groups.See more

Must read for all Travelers that come for Uganda Gorilla Safaris!

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Tailor  made Uganda gorilla safaris allow you to select the places that you feel like exploring with no influence of Prime Uganda Safaris. The tailor made safaris involves you selecting the preferable travel time and the travel pace that suites your interests.

The Prime Uganda Safaris Tailor made safaris are entirely private where you travel yourself, you’re travelling companions and the Prime Uganda        Safaris local professional safari driver guide who has expert knowledge about Uganda and it’s her sites visited on safaris in Uganda not forgetting the extension to Rwanda.

Your Tailor made safari in Uganda itinerary is further enhanced by the Prime Uganda safari expert who gives you in depth details of the safari and possibly suggest littler further additions and subtractions that deem necessary. Mostly they can help you incorporate the touch of the local people and cultures not forgetting the other novelic sites that would be far beyond the knowledge of the average traveller. Whatever micro destinations and activities that you opt to encounter, Prime Uganda Safaris is always dedicated to offering you ultimate safari memories of a lifetime with great authenticity and style.

The Impenetrable forests of Bwindi that are positioned in the south west of Uganda support a minimum of 400 mountain gorillas that are close to a half of the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park features a count of twelve (12) fully habituated gorilla families that are spread in its four gorilla trekking regions of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. Other two (2) new gorilla groups are under habituation with the possibility of increasing the gorilla groups visited on Uganda gorilla safaris.

Besides Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda also features a second gorilla habitat named Mgahinga Gorilla National Park that is positioned at the extreme south western tip of the country. The protected area is part of the Greater Virunga Trans boundary Conservation Area which protects an eight mountain chain stretching from Uganda through Rwanda to Democratic Republic of Congo supporting a total of 480 mountain gorillas that are more than a half of the global mountain gorilla population. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park shelters one habituated gorilla family called Nyakagyezi that inhabits the slopes of the three volcanoes of Muhabura, Sabyinyo and Gahinga.

Thus your choice of undertaking a Gorilla safari in Uganda is never limited since you have a broad pool from where you can select the respective gorilla region and gorilla family to track. Mountain gorilla safari is so far the best Africa safari offer as noted by the seasoned world travelers.

Planning your Gorilla traking safari in Uganda

When to go Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda

Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda can be carried out at any time of the year. It can be noted that hiking the slopes of the Mgahinga or the hilly rugged landscapes of Bwindi tend to be challenging in the rainy season that stretch from the months of April through May and then November. The forest trails are muddy and slippery present a challenging hike. The rain also presents uncomfortable trek if it happens to rain on the morning of gorilla trekking.

The common time preferred by the many to undertake Gorilla trekking in Uganda is in the drier months that stretch between December and February and then from June to around Mid-September.

Uganda Gorilla trekking Permits

It is advisable to avoid booking the gorilla permits in Uganda on a short notice especially in the popular seasons as you can easily miss out.  Prime Safaris has considerable expertise in Uganda gorilla safari operations and thus can do all the required arrangements to ensure that you have the permit to track gorillas in Uganda.

In Uganda, there are always Ninety Six (96) gorilla permits available per day to track gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and eight (8) more gorilla permits present in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park with each permit costing about $600 for the nonresident foreigners, $500 for resident foreigners and 250,000/= for the citizens of the East African Community (EAC).

Uganda also offers discounted Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda in the low season which is also the rain season and these include months of April, May and November.  The permits are reduced to $350 for the foreign nonresidents, $300 for the resident foreigners and 150,000/= for the East African Community citizens.

The gorilla permits in Uganda are solely sold by the Uganda Wildlife Authority which has offices in Kampala for the gorilla permits of Bwindi and in Kisoro for the gorilla permits of Mgahinga. The gorilla permits of Mgahinga are sold on group because initially the gorilla family tended to cross to Congo thus the permit would be issued depending on whether the group is available. But the group now settled permanently on the Ugandan side though the permits are still issued on ground.

In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, there permits are sold per region and the more gorilla families in the region the more the permits. Rushaga in the south of Bwindi which features five (5) gorilla families has the highest gorilla permits in Bwindi followed by Ruhija and Buhoma that have three (3) gorilla families each and Nkuringo with its single gorilla family comes last. It should be noted that being a pioneer of gorilla trekking activity in Bwindi, Buhoma has well established facilities like accommodation and its trek is less challenging which makes her gorilla permits to be on high demand. Nkuringo also features the most challenging hike in Bwindi and adventurous travellers are always in a rush for its only eight permits. Therefore, if you are targeting these toe regions, it is better to book far back in advance.

In Kampala, UWA offices are located along Plot 7 Kira Road, Kamwokya. You have possibilities of booking a Uganda gorilla permit by yourself or through an Agent. Prime Uganda Safaris can help you to book a gorilla permit on the preferred date. Kindly note that the criteria for booking the gorilla permit is first come and first serve and you need to submit the passport details for gorilla permit printing.

How fit do I need to be to track Gorillas in Uganda?

It can be noted that there is no that kind of super fitness that is necessary for gorilla trekking encounter though a general fitness is required to avoid being inconvenienced by the challenging landscapes. The trek to the gorillas is conducted at a slow move with the speed of the slowest moving person in the group and breaks are made if required.

Depending on the respective gorilla family that you have been allocated to track and the timing of the year not forgetting the region, the situation surrounding the gorilla trekking could be varying. Some gorilla families thrive on the raised slopes which presents a challenging landscape requiring some degree of fitness such as Nkuringo. For timing, the rainy season makes the forest trails muddy and slippery with running water washing away some sections which in turn presents a challenging trek. However during the rainy season, the food is in plenty and thus gorillas tend not to range from a far. But this does not guarantee you easy trek, gorillas still move and you find yourself hiking some impressive steep slopes for counts of hours. Also to note that few hikes through challenging landscapes offers you a more exciting experience than just a gorilla walk of one hour and you are back.

What it’s like on a Gorilla trekking safari in Uganda

Its morning of you long waited date and you wake up, have breakfast at your lodge and then set yourself ready with the items required for gorilla trekking. Make sure that the safari guide has gorilla permits and water supplies. You can carry packed lunch yourself. You drive to the respective Park headquarters which can be Nkuringo, Buhoma, Ruhija or Rushaga depending on where you have the permit in the Impenetrable Bwindi.  For Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, you can gather at Ntebeko visitor Center or Muhabura side depending on where you have the permits.

At 8am, the allocation of gorilla families and then briefing in your respective gorilla groups follows.  You are briefed by the Park ranger guide about the general conduct of gorilla trekking.  Communication is in English and is very fluent.

You then embark on the trek to the forest in search of gorillas in the mist. At times, for some gorilla groups you are required to get back to your vehicles and transfer to the trial heads from where you start the trek in search of gorillas in the forests. In a group of eight (8), you follow clear foot paths made in the forests and where the dense undergrowth of Bwindi which have formed the background for its naming, the ranger uses a machete to make a path.

Though the trekking pace is not fast, the hiking on some parts can be tiring and challenging due to terrain. The trekking duration can last from 2 hours to the whole day. It is normal at times to feel a bit breathless at certain points.

The eventual encounter with the gorillas is memorable. The gigantic Silverback gives you a rather magical welcome though with its frightening nature covered with its typical shyness. In reality, it has the capacity to tear you up as it’s over 3 times more than the average man in terms of weight.  You marvel on how they are spread all over foraging not overly concerned about your coming. They normally glance at you and embark on their routine. At times, the youngsters approach you so close that at times you have to take steps away.

It can be noted that Mountain gorillas comprise 98% of man’s DNA and as a result they are prone to disease contraction. The human infections especially the respiratory ones are dangerous to gorillas because the gorillas do not feature the immune system to neutralize such diseases like that of humans. In fact, a common cold to a gorilla can be threatening.

There are various rules that have been put in place to ensure proper conduct of gorilla trekking in Uganda. These include;

  • On tourist group of eight (8) people can be allowed to track one gorilla family.
  • Upon reaching them, one hour is availed to you to maximize your experience
  • In case, you have flue or cold or any other contagious infection, save yourself from tracking gorillas that day
  • A minimum distance of 7m should be observed between the gorillas and the gorilla trekkers. Since gorillas are unaware of this and attempt to draw closer to you, kindly try to take steps away to maintain the distance.
  • On the moments with the gorilla group, the voices should be kept low and the sudden unnecessary movements avoided ensuring that mountain gorillas are relaxed.
  • Even though the mountain gorillas are habituated, the fact remains that they are wild animals and thus can react if they feel not safe. Always follow the rangers instructions; including desisting from running, crouch down and allow them to pass avoid looking straight in their eyes.
  • The hands have to be washed before heads for the gorilla trekking encounter.
  • Desist from Littering in the gorilla habitat
  • Do not attempt to smoke, eat or drink when you are closer to gorillas
  • It not permitted to use flash photography
  • After the tracking, keep the until you reach 200m away
  • In case you want to use a bush toilet, let the range know such that he can dig for you a hole using his Panga and has to be 30cm deep and then you close it after use.

What kit should you take for a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda?

  • It can be noted that the paths in the mountain gorilla habitats tend to be slippery, steep and muddy which makes the study walking shoes important.
  • Gorilla trekkers also need to have thick gardening gloves since you can get hold of a tree with nettles and thorns while looking for support through challenging hiking sections.
  • Long trousers and long sleeved shirts are necessary to save your body from the thorny bushes
  • A waterproof jacket might be carried along in case it rains during the trek
  • For challenging Gorilla Trekking groups, it is better to take along a walking stick for extra support
  • Do not forget packed lunch and sufficient water as the trekking duration can be longer than expected
  • In case of heavy baggage, less expensive porters are available at the trailheads to help you out with the weight. In fact, porters are local people with in and by hiring them you are contributing to the community development

Photography during Gorilla Safaris in Uganda

Taking photos with mountain gorillas during Gorilla Safaris in Uganda is a living testimony of your encounter with them and there is no limit to the number of pictures one should take during his / her one hour with gorillas. However, it can be noted that light or flash photography is prohibited as it is too sharp in the rain forests and not good for the gorillas especially when the all eight people take flash photos at a minute interval for one hour.  Thus, photos have to be taken without flash. A camera gear is also required to save your camera from rain.

 

Read more about Gorilla Trekking in Uganda


According to IUCN classification, Gorillas are in two sub species namely the Gorilla gorilla and Gorilla beringei. However, this classification has not been an easy matter. The genus was first referred as Troglodytes in the year 1847 but in 1852, it was renamed gorilla. A taxonomist Colin Gloves in the year in 1967 suggested that gorillas should be divided into three Sub species namely Gorilla gorilla gorilla for the western low land gorillas, Gorilla gorilla gruaeri for the eastern lowland and Gorilla gorilla beringei for the mountain gorillas. This was reviewed by IUCN and categorised them in their current setting.

Mountain gorillas in Uganda are known to be vegetarian animals that on rare occasions enjoy the supplement from the insects. They are shy and less offensive creatures though with frightening eyes and body features. The mountain gorillas are the most powerful of all the apes and an adult gorilla can weigh up to 275kg with a height of 1.7m (6ft).

The Mountain gorilla fur is noted to be thicker and extended in length than that of other gorilla species which gives them the capacity to thrive in colder temperatures. The Mountain gorillas are distinguished by the nose prints that are distinct to every individual. The male gorillas feature an average weight of 195 kg and stretch to 150 cm in height while standing upright and they at times weigh twice that of female gorillas. The female gorillas feature a mean weight of 100 kg and stretch to 130cm in height.

gorilla-physical-description

The Mountain gorilla sub species are noted to be the second largest Primate Species second to Eastern Low land gorillas. The adult male gorillas feature more notable bony crests which appear on top and the at the back of their skulls presenting their heads with a more conical shape. The crests get hold of the strong temporalis muscles that are attached to the lower jaw. The mature females also feature crests but are less prominent. The Mountain gorillas like other gorillas feature dark brown eyes that are framed by a black ring surrounding the iris. It can be noted that adult male gorillas are referred to as Silverbacks as a result of a silver patch that develops on their back coming along with age. The hair on the backs of the mountain gorillas is noted to be shorter unlike on other parts of the body while the long hair is on their arms.

The mountain gorillas are recorded to be terrestrial (land dwelling) and quadrupedal (walking on four legs). It can also be noted that the mountain gorillas will climb the trees to extract fruits provided the branches can contain their weight and the mountain gorillas can run bipedally up to 6m. Just like in most of the apes unlike humans, the mountain gorilla arms are noted to be longer in length than the legs and it applies knuckle-walking to support the weight on the backs of curved fingers other than the palms.

gorilla in uganda eating

Mountain gorillas are noted to be diurnal and are active between 6am and 6pm and considerable hours of this period is spent foraging lots of food (vegetation mostly) that is needed to fill its gigantic bulk. The mountain gorillas forage in the morning, rest around midday, forages again in the afternoon and then retire for overnight. Every gorilla puts up a nest from the available vegetation and it does this every evening and cannot sleep in the previous nest even if it is at a very close distance. However, the infants tend to share with their mothers. The mountain gorillas depart their nests at dawn 6am unless it very cold and overcast which forces that forces them to delay in their nest a bit.

Mountain gorillas in Uganda are noted to be thriving in the cloud montane forests in the Albertine rift that stand at an altitude of 2,200–4,300 m above sea level. These are distributed into two separate but close ranges with the Virunga Volcanoes which is a chain of eight volcanic mountain stretching from Congo through Rwanda to Uganda and the detached Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the south west of Uganda. It can be noted that the vegetation on these raised altitudinal landscapes is very dense and it definitely gets scarce when approaching the higher elevations of the Mountains. The mountain gorilla forests are noted to be misty, cloudy with cold conditions.

Mountain gorillas are recorded to be herbivore Species and the majority of its diet is comprised of leaves, stems and shoots (85.8%) from the 142 Species of plants. The gorillas also feed on the tree bark (6.9%), fruit (1.7%) and flowers (2.3%) along with minor invertebrates (0.1%). The mature male gorillas are noted to consume up to 34 kgs everyday whereas a female can consume up to 18kgs.

The Mountain gorilla home range is determined by the availability of food sources and the home range normally features a range of vegetation zones. Some of the vegetation zones frequented by mountain gorillas include the lower Bamboo standing at 2,200–2,800m, the Hagenia forests standing at 2,800–3,400 m and the giant senecio zone standing at 3,400–4,300m. It should be noted that the mountain gorillas spend much of its time in the Hagenia forests where their preferred gallium vines exist throughout the year. The parts of the gallium vine are eaten all including the stems, leaves, berries and flowers. The mountain gorillas tend to dwell in the bamboo forests in the few months when the fresh Bamboo shoots exist. The mountain gorillas would then climb to the subalpine regions to have a taste of giant senecio trees soft centers.

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