Home » Countries » Africa » 1 Day Gorilla Trekking Uganda

1 Day Gorilla Trekking Uganda

Although it has its fair share of excellent safari locations where you can see the so-called Big Five game animals, Uganda is also well known as a top destination to see primates. We had the opportunity to track chimpanzees in Kibale and mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable in the south-west region of the country. 1 day gorilla trekking in Uganda is one of the country’s top attractions.

Gorillas in the Mist… And Pouring Rain

Bwindi Gorilla Trekking

The mountain gorillas are critically endangered – there are only about 900 left in the wild and they can be found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda and Rwanda offer a limited number of gorilla tracking permits each day. We chose to travel in the low season when it is more likely to be rainy, because the cost of the permits is reduced significantly during certain months of the year. It’s worth booking the permits in advance. They are really expensive, even out of season, but the money goes directly towards the conservation of these marvellous creatures. And it is really a once in a lifetime experience.

The Ugandan conservation programme has ensured that half of the gorilla population has been habituated – wild, but comfortable in the presence of humans – and the other half remain completely wild. This is a good strategy. The conservationists’ greatest fear is that the gorillas, which share about 98% DNA with humans, could catch a human disease for which they have no immunity. You are requested not to track the gorillas if you have a cold. Following the start of the pandemic, the area was closed off for a while, Covid presenting risks both from the disease but also an increase in illegal poaching activities, but it has now opened up with extra precautions in place that trekkers need to adhere to in order to protect these magnificent creatures.

Bwindi Gorilla Trekking – The Briefing

The trip starts with a briefing at headquarters. Then you are allocated to a gorilla group – a maximum of eight people join each trek. It can take any time between 30 minutes and 6 hours to reach the gorillas – some parties have returned after nightfall in the past. Additionally, we were tracking at altitude, around 2300m above sea level, which enough to knock the breath out of you going up some of the steeper slopes! We were assigned the Bitakura group in the Ruhija area. One member of our party had mobility issues and was carried on a sedan by a team of four porters (who rotated shift with an additional four porters at regular intervals) who did an amazing job and ensured that she had full access to the gorillas. Our guide called it “the helicopter”. This system can be used if any trekker becomes unwell during their hike.

You wouldn’t have known it was the rainy season for most of our trip – virtually every day was bright and sunny and it had rained for a maximum of 15 minutes on just a couple of the days throughout our trip. Of course, on the day we really wanted it to stay dry the rain absolutely chucked it down.  That’s why we packed good walking boots and raincoats.

We were advised to borrow walking sticks and also to employ porters to accompany us on the trek. This was a really good idea. Not only do they carry your backpack (you are advised to take three litres of water and a box lunch because you just don’t know how long it will take to reach the gorillas and you will need the energy) they will also hold your hand to steady you if things get slippery and push/pull you over obstacles if necessary. Importantly, they are local people who can earn a decent living from tourists, so hiring a porter also contributes directly to the community. The porters are available at the starting location and will be allocated if you ask for one.

1 Day Gorilla Trekking Uganda – The Trek

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA – apparently pronounced Oo-er!) have an excellent system in place which ensures that you have practically 100% chance of seeing the gorillas: each morning two trackers head out into the forest to find the troop based on their location the previous day. They then radio to the guide, who will lead the tourists via the best route to see the gorillas. The trackers do an amazing job – they spend all day with the gorillas, even after the tourists have left, so that they know where to trace them to on the following day. We were advised that they would appreciate a personal tip as most tourists don’t recognise the brilliant job they do and we were delighted to do this.

There’s a reason the region is named “Bwindi Impenetrable”. We trekked along a main path – up and down some very steep, muddy and slippery slopes, for a couple of hours. Then our guide indicated that he was close to the trackers. The rangers/trackers cut through the forest with machetes and we followed a newly made path, through dense forest to where the gorillas were located.

1 day Gorilla Trekking uganda

We were soaked through to the skin, muddied, shattered and utterly bedraggled. But nothing beats the sight of wild gorillas just a few metres away from you. 

We saw one of the group’s silverbacks…

…some younger males…

…and a mother and child.

It’s difficult to find the words to describe how magical it was just being in their presence. The rules say that you are allowed one hour with these amazing creatures. It flew by. Then there was the slippery, steep trek back to base. It was a tough climb but we made it without difficulty. Gorilla trekking in Uganda was one of the most amazing things we have done. We were exhausted but elated.

The gorillas were feeling a bit sleepy too.

At the Elizabeth National Park we managed to purchase some Gorilla Coffee. Made from arabica beans it is grown, processed and roasted in Uganda, and is delicious. It has a lovely aroma – it smells of sweet, buttery caramel and has a smooth taste with just a touch of distinctive coffee bitterness. Even better, some of the profits from its sales go towards conservation efforts to help the marvellous mountain gorillas.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda
Galapagos Frigate bird
Birds in the Galapagos Islands
Tree climbing lions
Tree climbing lions at QENP, Uganda
A Madagascar road trip
Ethiopia gelada monkeys
Gondar and the Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
Etosha National Park Namibia
Self-drive safari, Namibia
Tambopata National Reserve sunset
Exploring the Tambopata jungle in Peru
Chitwan National Park boat trip
Wildlife safari and cooking with the Chitwan in Nepal
More Posts About Africa
If you liked this post, please share it:


  1. This is well explained, you surely had a great experience in a country full of wonders, that’s why it was called the “pearl of africa”. A country that I’m proud of since it’s my mother land.

    Derrick|Director|Route Wild Safaris

    • Thank you. It was one of many amazing experiences we had when visiting Uganda. As you say, it is a country full of wonders.

  2. Love the title of the post, very creative and fun.
    Good to know that the fees go driectly to supporting the gorillas and wildlife. Gorilla trekking has always been on my list and its great to get info and a personal insight such as this, thanks I visited the website that you put on your post to see prices but I have to enquire by email, which is a faff, to presumaly get them. How much did you pay and which was your package thery offer on thrir website?
    Great pics too.

    • Thanks so much! It was a truly wonderful experience. I’ll get in touch with you directly because it was a few years ago when we visited and it’s possible that prices have changed since then. We do hope you get to visit!

    • It was an absolutely wonderful experience. The treks are so well organised and it’s very reassuring that you have such a good chance of seeing the gorillas. We felt safe at all times. You are allowed to spend one hour with the troop and asked not to walk within 2m of them – of course they can walk within 2m of you!

    • Thank you. It really was a magical experience and a great privilege to get so close to these marvellous creatures.

  3. How absolutely amazing this is. We would LOVE to visit and experience this one day. It must be such a touching and meaningful experience. It’s wonderful to see that the money goes to support the wildlife! Awesome photos, too!

    • Thank you! It was the most wonderful experience and a real privilege to be able to get so close to these remarkable creatures. They are so critically endangered it is great that the money goes back to support them.

  4. I enjoyed reading this post and following the epic trek to see gorillas! I can’t imagine the feeling of seeing them in person, after a long and hard trek to see them. I’d love to do this experience in the future!

    • Thank you. We hope you get to visit. Being able to spend time with these wonderful creatures was just marvellous.

  5. Thank you Colin & Mitch for visiting our country and sharing this superb travel blog, photos (not seen since Uganda tourism reopened again) from your gorilla trekking trip. We look forward to welcome you again in #Uganda

  6. Gutted that it rained on the one day you went out for the hike. That is such a perkele moment 🙁 I’m pleased for you though that you got to see the gorillas and had a memorable and impactful time with them. The guides you had for the tour sound mega professional and hard-working. From organising porters, to trekking down the gorillas in the morning and also ensuring that the encounter stays ethical and in the best interest of the animals. Out of interest, what does such a tour costs? Do I need to train in advance? Did you guys had any issues with altitude sickness?

    Carolin | Solo Travel Story

  7. I was thrilled to read this as gorilla tracking has been on my bucket list since I was a young girl. I’m blown away that they offer a sedan service for the mobility-challenged. How wonderful.

    It’s a shame you got the heavy rain on your best day — on the other hand, on such a miserable wet day the magic of the gorillas would be even more appreciated.

    I love the photos and my heart melted looking at the mama and baby.

    Lyn | http://www.ramblynjazz.com

    • Thank you! We were so impressed with the organisation of the tracking. It was so nice that the mobility impaired lady got to see the gorillas. Yes, it was heartwarming to see the mama and baby. She had lost a baby the previous year and you can just see how precious this one is. We have kept an eye on them and this one grew up to have a healthy life.

  8. My next Africa bucket list activity for sure. If I could have tagged this on to my recent trip I would have. To see gorillas in the wild would be incredible. Even in the print rain. It sounds like the company is really good and accommodating, and while there are a few rules in place it’s good for the animals so is nice to see

    • We would absolutely recommend a visit to see the gorillas. It was one of the best things we have ever done. The rules are all about ethical tourism with total concern for the gorillas and their conservation. Hope you get to visit!

  9. I need to get to Uganda and explore the nature that it has. It looks wonderful. I have lived in Nairobi for half a year and never managed to get to Uganda which I regret. Nice to read about the process and briefing that you experienced. Bwindi Impenetrable sounds like a daunting and at the same time enticing place to explore. The Gorillas are truly impressive and to experience them up close and personal must be magical.

    • Thank you! It was a challenge but absolutely worthwhile. Our time with the gorillas was simply marvellous. We’d definitely recommend visiting if you get a chance – as you say, it was magical seeing them so close.

  10. To meet King Kong’s cousins in the wild is certainly one of the most exciting things to do in Africa. The thought of getting wet to the skin in the wilderness to see a gorilla brought back an old memory when I encountered Orangutans in Borneo. It wasn’t raining that day but I got soaked none the less from the humidity. Aside from seeing the silverbacks in thier own habitat, there’s also the opportunity of exploring Uganda which I think not many have written about the place. Thanks for sharing this postcard guys #flyingbaguette

    Jan – https://flyingbaguette.com/

    • Thank you! It was an ambition fulfilled to see the gorillas and get so close to them. And yes, Uganda is such a brilliant place for seeing so much amazing wildlife. We would love to visit the orangutans in Borneo and can imagine the sticky humidity making that a challenge! I imagine we would be soaked through as well!

  11. We are doing this in January and I am SO excited to see the gorillas! I’m a little worried about the hours of trekking (three of us have bad knees) haha. It’s good to know about tipping the trackers so I’ll be sure to bring extra cash for that. I’m so excited and your pictures just made me so much more excited!

    • We are thrilled that you will be tracking the gorillas – we will very much look forward to hearing about your adventures! The trek can be tough but you can ask to be assigned to the closest group to the base – it’s not guaranteed but would definitely be worth asking. We also recommend a porter – they are absolutely lovely and very helpful. They will help with the trek, pushing you and pulling you over obstacles and will help steady you on the slippery muddy slopes. In fact, we ended up helping our porters avoid some slips!

  12. What an incredible adventure! I really want to do this activity to see the gorillas and be with them in their natural habitat, in communion with nature.
    The photos of the mother and baby are so tender, what an absolutely magical moment!

    • Thank you. It was truly wonderful. We were so glad that the experience has been developed with utmost concern for the gorillas and their conservation. We loved seeing the mother and her baby – you can see how much she loves him! We kept track of the gorilla’s progress and he made it to adulthood – a fine member of the troope!

  13. This is an incredible adventure and one I should add to my bucket list. Your photos are beautiful! If there’s only 900 left in the wild, it would be so amazing to see some with my own eyes.

    • Thank you! We would definitely recommend adding this to the list, it really was one of the most magical things we have ever done.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up To Our Very Tasty Newsletter