The Great Mountain Gorillas, Culture and exclusive conservancies

I grew up in Uganda and always associate it with my childhood. Since 1986 is a safe and well organized destination to bring your family on safari. The Bwindi Impenetrable forest, Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley and Queen Elizabeth National Parks are full of wildlife. Many camps and lodges offer family friendly activities and the Ugandans just love children! The Ssesse Island in the middle of Lake Victoria offers white sandy beaches and turquoise sunset boat rides for a rest at the end of your safari.

Uganda is a very special destination for a safari and our team of Africa experts will help this magical country come alive for you with a private, personalized tour.

With a country as popular as Uganda it’s very important to keep away from the crowds and mass-market tourism. That’s why, with Gorilla hub tours, you’ll experience a genuine and rewarding safari with visits to special, private conservation areas, owner-run camps and intimate luxury lodges. We’ve found the very best of Uganda and its hidden secrets for you to enjoy.

Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable forest N. Park

In this vast and varied landscape, you can witness some spectacular game.

Experience the visceral excitement of the world famous Gorilla trekking adventure in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest (which we’ll help you enjoy in private conservation areas).

Pop into Murchison falls for spectacular magical waterfalls and variety of wildlife species continue the western route for stunning views over the snow-capped Mount Rwenzori or further west to Kibale forest for another unique experience of human closest cousins the chimpanzee tracking.

Beautiful mighty Murchison Falls inside Murchison falls National Park in Uganda

In the south western part of Uganda along the rift valley route is where you will meet the unique Batwa people and learn about the remarkable insight into the lives of the Batwa who lived and depended so much on the forest.

Venture north to the romantic Kidepo Valley National park with expert guides to help you seek out the hard to find cheetah, Leopard, Lion as well as beautiful landscape of Savanah grasslands.

Visit Queen Elizabeth National park for a variety of landscape where lion and leopard stalk their prey. Enjoy the spectacular boat cruise along Kazinga channel that connect Lake George from Lake Edward and experience the highest concentration of wildlife like the largest pool of hippos in Africa, Elephants, and big herds of buffaloes, over 600 bird species recorded and different antelope species.

In the south is the Ishasha sector which is one of the few places in the world where you can spot the rare tree climbing lions. They are mostly seen roaming in the big fig tree branches relaxing and trying to spot their prey. It is also believed that they climb trees to escape from the hot ground of the savannah

The Tree Climbing Lion of Isasha, south of Queen Elizabeth National Park

With something for everyone, the game and culture rich country Uganda can be as action packed or as relaxing as you wish, in absolute comfort and luxury. Lake Bunyonyi which is the third deepest lake in the world also provides a perfect relaxation especially after a hard gorilla trek in the thick and hilly forest of Bwindi. Also name Switzerland of Africa because of its coolest temperatures, Lake Bunyonyi provides spectacular views especially the numerous highlands, the boat cruise to most of the highlands including the punishment highland, bird watching and cultural experiences are a must do while there

Beautiful Lake Bunyonyi in the Western Uganda

Get inspired by browsing through some of our most popular per-designed trips here. Then get in touch with one of our expert Uganda Travel or safari Designers to start planning the journey of a lifetime.

In the Eastern part of the the country are numerous thrilling adventure activities like grade five White water rafting, Bungee jumping, grade five Zip lining up in the tree branches as well as spectacular views of Waterfalls like Sipi falls whose waters stem from the Wagaggai peak of Mountain Elgon

How Do Mountain Gorillas Defend Itself?

Mountain gorillas are found in the tropical rain forests of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Like any other living creature, Gorillas also have enemies known as predators as man is the chief enemy of Gorillas. Man kills gorillas on traps, gun shots, spears to mention a few. In some countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Gorillas are killed for meat and sometimes for fun or commercial use.

When their family is attacked or if they sense any danger, the typical response of a male silverback to a threat is making bluff charges by beating on their chest, making aggressive sounds or running up to their target quickly, then stopping a few feet away. However, if he runs away instead, the excited gorilla is provoked even more. He will follow the fugitive and bite him into the body part he can seize first, most frequently a leg or buttock. The result of such an attack usually is a deep wound.

Sometimes, gorillas pick up and swing sticks at the threat. If the aggressor stands on ground, the gorilla will often break off the attack as it is primarily designed as a bluff. However, if the animal turns and runs, the gorilla interprets this as weakness, and pounces on it.

While running toward the aggressor, the gorilla may beat his chest, scream or break vegetation. In the process the enemy may run and disappear.

Gorillas run away from the enemy. The female gorillas always fear to attack the aggressor and decide to run away. Like fathers at home, silverbacks are the strongest in the each gorilla group so they are taken as fighters and defenders of the gorilla groups. Once a threat occurs, the rest move under the silverback for defense.

Large males form harems of several females, their offspring and a few subordinate males. The dominant male will defend the group from all threats. Dominant male gorillas may exceed 400 pounds in weight, while females and subordinate males are typically smaller. The size of gorillas is enough to create fear to most predators

Gorillas protect themselves by living in groups that are protected by a large, dominant male and by being secretive. More so, they are skilled climbers so they can flee to the trees if pursued by a predator.

Silverback males give off a particularly intensive smell and emit characteristic sounds. Nonetheless for gorillas, their main line of defense is their strength.

How we can save the Virunga Gorillas

Without gorilla tourism, mountain gorillas might have gone extinct. The regions where mountain gorillas live are home to the densest human populations in Africa. Most of the people living in these areas are farmers, so land is critical to their livelihoods. However, the governments of Rwanda, Uganda, and DR Congo have kept the gorilla’s volcano habitat off-limits to agriculture in order to protect the gorillas, largely because the revenue gained through tourism outweighs the value of using the park land for other purposes.

Due to the genetic similarity between humans and mountain gorillas, trekkers should not go in for the activity if they are sick. Gorillas are susceptible to many of the same infectious diseases that affect people. Mountain gorillas are also immunologically naïve to some diseases, meaning they are particularly susceptible to certain human diseases because of their historic isolation from people. Research conducted by the Gorilla Doctors and other scientists has proven that mountain gorillas have died as a result of infections that originated in people. Infectious disease, after trauma, is the leading cause of death in mountain gorillas. The most common infection is respiratory disease, which can range from mild colds to severe pneumonia. To protect gorillas from such infectious diseases, anyone feeling sick or running a fever should not trek gorillas.

In order to reduce the risk of disease transmission and to avoid changing or disturbing the gorillas’ natural behavior, national park authorities should establish the rule of staying 7 meters or more from the gorillas at all times. The gorillas themselves, especially youngsters, don’t know the rules and may approach humans, but tourists should make the effort to back away and avoid touching the animal if possible. The 7-meter rule should be observed at all times, even when gorillas leave the national park and venture on to property owned by tourist lodges and camps.

One of the most effective ways to help mountain gorillas is to donate money to organizations working on the ground to conserve the species. Many organizations including MGVP have spent decades finding effective methods for protecting mountain gorillas, and most rely on grants and donations to fund their work. MGVP is the only organization providing direct life-saving medical care to mountain gorillas in the wild. Research has shown that the work of the Gorilla Doctors and the anti-poaching efforts of the park rangers and trackers are responsible for up to 40% of the growth of the human-habituated mountain gorilla population in the Virunga Massif over the last 10 years.

As you visit the park, engage also in other activities in addition to gorilla trekking. Most of the tourists, who visit the national parks where gorillas stay, spend a day or two trekking gorillas and then leave. However, all of the gorilla parks offer other amazing wilderness experiences. Like with gorilla trekking, the revenue earned through these activities more so can help to protect mountain gorilla habitat. For instance, you can climb the active Nyiragongo volcano in DR Congo, home to the world’s largest lava lake. Or, hike extinct volcanoes in Rwanda and Uganda, such as the snow-covered Mt. Karismibi or the fluted peaks of Mt. Sabyinyo. Both Rwanda and Uganda offer treks to see golden monkeys and in Rwanda you may also visit the gravesite and former research station of Dian Fossey.

Supporting the local businesses and community projects around the national parks is also vital to ensure the preservation of gorilla habitat and the conservation of mountain gorillas. For example tourists can pay a visit to Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village near Volcanoes National Park, which employs former poachers as cultural interpreters and performers. The more that local people share in tourism revenue and benefit from nonprofit and community efforts in the area, the more they are likely to protect the mountain gorillas. Tourists can also help by buying food from local restaurants, shops, and other businesses, or by making contributions to community projects around the park.

Avoid buying products made out of wild animal. Poachers mostly set snares to catch small antelopes to bring home for food but occasionally larger animals such as buffalo or elephants may be targeted also including Gorillas that are often caught in poachers’ snares set for other animals. More so, poachers’ presence in the forest disturbs the environment and increases the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. Whereas the main purpose of poaching is to obtain bush meat, wild animal skins, bones, and ivory may be used in crafts and other items sold to tourists. While mountain gorillas are very rarely targeted by poachers, other animals living in the national parks where gorillas live are actively hunted down.

Anyone can make a difference for the gorillas by spreading the word about mountain gorilla conservation. This is through telling friends, family and colleagues about the mountain gorillas and the efforts being made to save them. Much as mountain gorillas are critically endangered, their story is a positive one! Mountain gorillas are the only subspecies of non-human great ape growing in number. Fewer than 250 animals were counted in the mid-80s when Dian Fossey was researching the gorillas but today the population numbers nearly 800 animals. This species has a fighting chance for survival if we continue to work to address conservation challenges.

How to Plan a Gorilla Safari in Rwanda

Gorilla tracking is an amazing activity that every tourist would wish to do as soon as he visits the East Africa. If you wish to track gorillas, contact your safari expert and they will be able to arrange for you a successful amazing safari to see the mountain gorillas.

The tour operator will be able to make a booking for hotel/ lodge after knowing which permits are available and the gorilla families. In order to ease the movement, accommodation should be near the tracking starting point. Even after booking and making a payment, you need to keep in contact with these lodges for the updates and any changes that may occur.

Transportation is so essential in any safari. Having booked for the permit and the lodge, you have to get the means of transport. There are several car hire companies from which you can book with for the airport pick-ups and transfers including all the days you will be on a trip. Also, there are public means of transport, the buses, Matatus, bodas that can take you to the final destination. These public means of travel are in most cases cheaper hence the best for budget travelers. But to avoid inconveniences its better to contact a tour company.

You have to be well prepared for forest life and get to know what to pack before starting the activity. Mountain gorillas live in forested areas with unpredictable weather, slippery grounds and much undergrowth with thorny bushes. You must therefore pack hiking boots, long sleeved shirts and panties, hat, hand gloves, rain coats to mention but a few. These help in case of unpredictable weather changes. Putting in mind that photographing is the only activity allowed while with the gorillas that you should not forget a non-flash light camera.

Despite the fact that the tour company can arrange for your safari, you can also plan for a gorilla trekking tour yourself. Mountain gorilla safaris offer lifetime experience no matter who makes the arrangement but preparing it yourself makes it feel extraordinary. Get to know whether there are available gorilla permits. The information about permit availability can be accessed from the websites of any government body responsible for issuing out these permits. For the case of Uganda, the Uganda wildlife authority (UWA) provides the information whereas the Rwanda development board provides permit information for Rwanda. After knowing the available permits, book through any of these bodies and then pay for the deposit in advance. Booking should be at least 6 months before the trekking date. This is due to the amplified demand for these permits and for the purposes of timely allocation of the gorilla families among trekkers.


What are Silverback Gorillas?

If you have gone on a gorilla trek and you haven’t seen a silverback gorilla, then you haven’t experienced these great apes. The silverback gorilla is a must see for visitors who take expeditions into the tropical rain forests of East and Central Africa.

The silver back is the name given to the adult male gorilla.  Like the way humans grow grey hair, the gorillas grow silver hair on their backs and thus the name. Silver backs are dominant males over 12 years old with a patch of silvery fur running across their backs and hips. They are the strongest and most powerful in their groups and making all the decisions. Males under 12 years can breed but do not have the silver back and this develops after the group and started anther clan. This means that most male gorillas will at one day become a silverback.

A dominant Silver back leads the group of other males, females and young in their daily activities such as eating and sleeping. They spend the morning and evening hours actively searching for food while midday is spent playing and resting. Every evening, they make their own nests before going to sleep.

More so, they can become aggressive towards one another as the dominant males will beat their chest, scream, roar and bark while standing upright in a show of power. Like any other gorilla, silver backs are known for being intelligent animals. In the jungle, they communicate through vocalization, body language, facial expressions and gestures.

In addition to the above, they are herbivores whereby they feed on a variety of roots, plants, herbs, fruit, bamboo, tree bark and sometimes insects. They can easily eat up to 66 pound of food per day. In the wild, they can live from 40- 50 years and slightly longer in captivity.

Adult male Gorillas are approximately six times as strong as a man. Standing at up to 6 feet tall (182 cm) with arms that extend up to 8 feet (243 cm) wide, Gorillas are the largest living primates. They live in groups or communities with a clearly defined social structure.

The fact that there are roughly 700 Silverbacks left in existence today reflects what humans have done to the population. When we continually cut down trees where gorillas live, we are slowly destroying their habitat which is one of the reasons why they have become an endangered animal. Poachers who capture and kill these animals to make a profit are also contributing to their decline. If aggressive action is not taken to preserve Gorillas and their habitat, kids of future generations may never know what its like to see a real Gorilla.

Humans and gorillas have a very similar genetic makeup. These close relatives share 98% of our DNA. Would you like to see the silverback gorillas? Why not take a trip into the wild and meet the mountain gorilla or the Eastern Lowland Gorilla.

6 Reasons to Add Bwindi to Your Travel Buckelist

Lying strategically on the edge of the Western Rift Valley Albertine Rift Valley in South-Western Uganda is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park also known as “the home of the endangered mountain gorillas,” named as “one of Africa’s most interesting National Parks” in 2014. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is shared by three districts including Kabale, Kisoro and Rukungiri.

Its biological diversity also provides shelter for around 120 mammal species including several primate species like chimpanzees and baboons, around 350 bird species including 23 Albertine endemics, around 220 butterfly species and about 27 frog species. All this reveals the park’s uniqueness, not forgetting the various adventurous activities that will make you fall so much in love with it as shown below.

  1. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has so many habituated mountain gorilla groups located in different regions of the forest. This means that it’s very possible to get gorilla permits when you decide to plan a gorilla tour to Bwindi. These regions include Buhoma in the north with 3 gorilla families, Ruhija in the East with four gorilla families and the rest of the gorilla groups are in the south of the forest.

2 .Bwindi gorilla permits cost USD600.00 per permit and allows you to spend one hour with the gorillas. In the low seasons of April, May and November, Uganda wildlife authority offers discounts on gorilla permits so if you wish to benefit from off season offers, please contact us. With the gorilla permit at USD600, it makes Uganda as a less expensive country to visit for gorilla trekking and gives all the reasons to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

  1. It is only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that one can participate in gorilla habituation experience to spend for hours with mountain gorillas by paying only USD1500.00 for a permit. We organize gorilla habituation experience safaris to the southern part of Bwindi National Park all through the year.
  2. The park is also blessed with 345 confirmed and five unconfirmed species of birds, a high figure when compared to other national parks. Of the particular interest to birders are the 23 species endemics to the Albertine Rift and at least 14 species recorded now where elsewhere, among them the African green broadbill, white tailed blue fly catcher, brown-necked parrot and others. Among the most interesting and colourful birds that are likely to be seen by casual visitors are the harrier hawk, mountain buzzard, olive pigeon, white-headed wood hoopoe and any number of confusingly similar and about gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda.
  3. Besides gorilla trekking, the ancient impenetrable rainforest is also a perfect place that nature enthusiasts would love because hiking and nature walks shows them different primates and other wildlife, colorful birds and thousands of beautiful butterflies and much more. With its main nature trails, that is to say the Kashasha River Trail, the Bamboo Trail, the Muyanga Waterfall Trail, the Muzubijiro Troop, the Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail, the Habinyanja Trail, the Mubwindi Swamp Trail, the Rushura Hill Trail and the River Ivi Walk, you will thoroughly explore the valleys, ridges, the impenetrable forest, the Muyanga waterfall and river Ivi, the sand beaches, the hill of Rushura and much more. Some of these trails were used by the local people thousands of years ago and some by the Batwa pygmy impenetrable forest inhabitants. These hiking and nature walks however need prior preparation especially with dress codes.
  4. Cycling/biking, with or without a guide, through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest following the well-maintained trails will have you enjoying the astonishingly beautiful scenery and is one of the activities you should not miss out on adding to the list of your safari activities. It is usually done early in the morning and in the evenings and the cyclists can be able to view different wildlife for example red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus, squirrels, duikers, bush bucks and many more and the mountain bikes to be used can be rented.