Government regulations permit a limited number of permits in each gorilla park. Therefore, permits need to be paid for at the time of booking. Any delay in payment can result in delay or failure to acquire permits. Permits fees are non-refundable, except for medical reasons, with proof of a medical certificate. Gorilla trekking or viewing can be denied at short notice, under circumstances of border closure, National Park security changes, or gorillas going out of range. In these circumstances, refunds are at the discretion of the Government Authority and are not within the company control.
Gorilla trekking is one of the most sought-after tour activities for those visiting Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo. For many, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To get the best experience out of your trek, you need to prepare well and pack the right gear. Below are things we recommend you bring to ensure you make the most of your trekking experience.
Gorilla trekking involves trekking/hiking and sometimes travelling long distances in search for the endangered mountain gorillas. Because of the nature of the forest, combined with the high altitude, you need light weight hiking boots to help you trek in sometime steep and muddy environments.
You will certainly appreciate having gloves to protect your hands during your gorilla trek. As you move in the forest, remember that it can get slippery and somehow you need to hold on to some plants, trees or sometimes it may even necessitate climbing trees. These gloves will therefore protect you from nettles and other items that may scratch your hands.
Mountain gorillas live on the slopes in the tropical rainforest and, as such, rain is received through out the whole year. You can never tell when it is going to rain. So you need a rain jacket for this purpose. Many clients prefer travelling in traditional drier months of June, July, August and beginning of September so as to try to avoid rainy seasons of March, April and May. But, with global climatic changes, one needs to prepare for any eventualities.
Long-Sleeved Shirts and full-Length Trousers
Ideally, wear thick, long trousers and long sleeved top during your gorilla trek so as to protect against vicious stinging nettles, plants and bush thorns. It is often cold when you set out, so start out with a sweatshirt or jerseys which also help protect against nettles. Whatever clothes you wear to go tracking will likely to get very dirty as you slip and slide in the mud, so if you have pre-muddied clothes, you might as well wear them.
Hat and sun glasses
If it is hot, please carry a hat to protect you from the strong sun rays. You may also need to carry some sun glasses too.
Mountain gorillas are wild primates and given the different factors such as food, threats from poacher and fights with other families, they tend to move from place to place, and with this, it becomes very difficult tell their directions and movements at any time. Implying that it is very difficult to see the same gorilla group in the same location as the previous tourists who trekked it a day before, as Gorillas can either come closer or move further in the forest. For instance, Rushegura Gorilla group commonly referred to as the R-Group has been recorded as the easiest group to trek because of the fact that their territory is just within Buhoma, yet still Buhoma is the start trekking point for those trekking in Buhoma sector. With this, most of the tourists have opted to trek specially this gorilla group. However, this is seasonal given the fact that they can also move very long distances and be difficult to trek down. Therefore purchasing a gorilla permit for Rushegura group does also not promise an easy trek.
There are currently a total of 11 families in Uganda;
Families like Oruzogo, Bitukura, Rushegura, and Mubare are easily accessed from Buhoma. The other families can be tracked from Southern Bwindi, which is easily accessed from Kisoro.
Rwanda on the other hand has a total of 10 gorilla families in the Volcanoes National Park in the Northwestern part of the country. Each family is trekked by a group of eight people per day and the allocation depends on the traveler’s fitness and his/her choice. Gorilla families are located on different altitudes which are nearer, medium and hard, which mean that travelers choose which ones they want to trek depending on their fitness. However regardless of which group trekked, all travelers are assured of a memorable experience.
These Families are;
The family derives its name from Susa River along which the gorilla family was first spotted by Dian Fossey. Susa family was known to be the largest gorilla family in the entire Volcanoes National Park with 42 members and would sometimes move to the higher altitudes, making its trekking quite difficult. However, the family later split to form Karismbi family, which reduced the number of members to 28 gorilla members.
As already said above, this gorilla family split from Susa and became independent. At present, the family has 15 members some of which were former members of Susa A while others joined from other families. The gorilla family lives on the slopes of mount karisimbi, which make it quite difficult to trek.
This is the most peaceful family in Volcanoes National Park led by Ubumwe a dominant silverback. Amahoro is translated in Kinyarwanda as peaceful, and the family has surely proved to be peaceful compared to other families. The Amahoro family comprises of 17 members and lives beneath Karisimbi volcano.
This family was named after mount Sabyinyo, which is a Kinyarwanda word meaning “old man’s teeth.” Sabyinyo comprise of 9 members with 2 silver backs and is one of the most accessible gorilla families in the Volcanoes National Park. In Rwanda, Trekkers who are less fit are advised to opt for Sabyinyo family which does not require much of hiking.
The gorilla family formed after some members split from Sabyinyo and Agashya families to form one Hirwa family. The family comprise of 9 members including a dominant silver back, 2 juveniles, 3 young ones and 3 female adult gorillas.
This family formerly inhabited the tropical rain forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo after which it migrated to Rwanda and settled in Volcanoes National Park. Kwitonda, which means “humble one”, is the head of a family with 18 members, 1 other silverback and the black back. The past movements of the Kwitonda family to the DRC made its trekking difficult but has presently settled in Rwanda and available for trekking.
The family was formerly headed by Nyakarima who was over thrown by Agashya a dominant silverback who currently heads the family. At the time of its habituation, Agashya family comprised of 13 members but has presently expanded to 25 individuals with the leadership of Agashya.
Led by Charles the dominant silverback, Umubano gorilla family was formerly part of the Amahoro family, which broke up when Charles disagreed with Ubumwe the dominant silver back of Amahoro family. Charles decided to start his independent family and went with other families’members. At present, Umubano has a total of 9 members with 1 silverback.
This family comprises of 11 members and is led by Bwenge a dominant silverback. In 2007, Bwenge broke from his former family and was later joined by other members. The family faced hard times in the start when it lost 6 infants at once, which was a great draw back.
The family derived its name from Kinyarwanda word, which means a “move” due to its continuous movements from one place to another. The family now consists of 11 members with 2 silverbacks and roars in the slopes of mount Karisimbi.
In Bwindi, gorillas live in thicker tropical forests and tracking is more challenging than in other Gorilla sanctuaries. On the other hand, Mgahinga National Park in Uganda the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda have steeper hillsides and it can take more than 6 hours after leaving the hotel.
Basic precautions should be taken seriously in all countries. Remember, most of the countries where we operate experience pockets of criminality, in part due to frequent political and civil unrest. We therefore advise you to;
Thieves devise inventive ways to rob you. Some of these may include:
Travel insurance is mandatory– it is a condition that all our clients must fulfill prior to their departure.
Travelers to other countries often face health issues they wouldn’t ordinarily experience at home. To minimize your risks of becoming seriously ill when traveling abroad, you should find out in advance whether any specific immunizations may be recommended for travel to the region of the world you’ll be visiting. It’s also a good time to review your own immunization history.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov), it is best to schedule a visit to your doctor or travel medicine clinic four to six weeks before an international trip. Since your body needs time to build up immunity after receiving a vaccine and many vaccines are given in a series over time, getting an early start on your immunization (s) is the best way to protect yourself. Even if you are making a last-minute trip or plan to leave in less than four weeks, you should still check with your doctor to see if any vaccines or preventive medications might be recommended.
Also, pack any other personal medication required, such as anti-malarial tablets and mosquito repellent. Drink bottled water or boiled water only. Medical facilities, especially in rural areas, where safaris take place are basic, and the insurance cover includes all medical, evacuation, and repatriation.
In the past, the name East Africa was used to refer to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Today however, East Africa has expanded to include Rwanda and Burundi. Thus, when talking of East Africa, you will be talking about the 5 member countries of the East African Community (EAC). The region experiences equal days and nights (12 hours for day and 12 hours for the night). It also boasts of a warm, tropical equatorial climate which makes it ideal for the proliferation of abundant wildlife.
Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania are near the equator. As a result, the climate does not change much. The rainy season tends to be from March to April and October to November, but this varies in different areas. As a rule of thumb, be prepared for rain at all times when you visit the region.
Kent Safari Tours is your most trusted partner when it comes to flight bookings. We have cultivated a cordial and formidable working relationship with reputable Airlines such as Turkish Airlines, Emirates, British Airways, Kenya Airways, KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, among others operating across the African continent.
We also boast of good working relations with Airlines operating flights within Uganda and the East African Region, such as Aero Link, which operates two daily flights between Burundi, Kidepo, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and Kibale Forest. Others include Rwanda Air, Eagle Air and Coastal Aviation. All is designed to let you relax as we handle all the modalities for you to have a stress-free and memorable safari.
Taking photographs is prohibited near military and other security instillations. It is also advisable to politely seek for the consent of those with whom you may want to take photos. However, most parts of the region are picturesque, you may want to take as many pictures as you possibly can, we therefore recommend that you pack extra batteries and car chargers in your small bag, as not all camps or lodges have electricity.
Your safari package covers most of the costs, but for personal expenditures cash is the best option. We recommend that you carry with you, some “pocket change” that can finance a $20 US per day budget. This can be for purchase of souvenir and other regalia that may not be inclusive of the safari package. The exchange rate may fluctuate daily, but $1 is typically the equivalent of about 3700 (UGX). Credit cards are accepted by a few outlets in East African Countries. Hotels and lodges, for the most part, only accept cash.