Gorilla tracking is a captivating and unforgettable experience which more than repays the effort needed to reach Mgahinga National Park and to trek through the forest. Mgahinga National Park has one habituated gorilla group that can be tracked by tourists. Gorilla tracking is the most thrilling tourist activity in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The habituated gorilla group in this park is called the Nyakagezi, which consists of 9 members, 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants. This group is mobile and sometimes crosses into Rwanda and DRC, so check for updates from Uganda Wildlife Authority (see Contacts).
Gorilla tracking is an intensive experience that can take the whole day. The guide leads you through the gorilla’s world, explaining aspects of their ecology and behavior along the way. We must stress that, while you have a very good chance of seeing gorillas, success is NOT guaranteed! However from the past sightings, there are high chances of meeting the mountain gorillas. When tracking the mountain gorillas, travelers should know that the mountain gorillas are wild creatures with no fixed routine, and finding them requires the skill and experience of your trackers and guides, as well as luck.
Registration and briefing for gorilla tracking in Mgahinga National Park commences at Ntebeko at 07.45.
Tracking starts at 08.30 and can take three to eight hours. The trackers and guides have helped to habituate the gorilla groups and know them intimately. They will take you to the area where they left the mountain gorillas the day before. Before leaving they may be able to suggest how long the hike might be.
- While walking, please feel free to ask guides to slow down if they are going too fast and if you need a rest.
- Feel free to stop and look at birds or flowers, the guide will ensure that you don’t get left behind.
- Gorilla Tracking can be strenuous walk, so go prepared. It is advisable that you:
- Wear shoes with good traction, suitable for steep muddy slopes
- Carry rain gear, sunscreen and a hut, as the weather is unpredictable.
- Carry water and food
- Carry binoculars, you will see much more, you can hire from the park office
- When taking photos, remember your subjects are black animals in dim light, and flash is not allowed.
NB: Gorilla tracking is Uganda’s most sought after tourism activity. You should book well in advance to ensure that permits for your requested dates are available.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking Rules
To protect the endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda, the following rules and regulations must be observed:
- No one with a communicable disease, such as flu or diarrhoea, is allowed to visit the gorillas.
- Do not surround the gorillas but remain in a tight group.
- Leave a distance of at least 5m between you and the gorillas.
- If they approach you, move back slowly.
- Flash photography is strictly forbidden.
- Do not eat or smoke within 200m of the gorillas.
- If you need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the gorillas and cover your nose and mouth.
- Bury all human faeces in a hole dug at least 30cm (one foot) deep and ensure that it is properly filled in afterwards.
- All litter must be removed from the park for disposal.
- Do not spit on vegetation or soil while in the park.
- No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas.
- When with the gorillas, avoid making loud noises or sudden movements.
- Contact time with the gorillas is strictly limited to one hour.
- Please observe all instructions from your guide.
Good Manners for Gorilla Watchers
- Keep your voice down or be quiet. You will see and hear if you do.
- Don’t point or waive your arms- this can be seen as a threat. Move slowly.
- If approached by a gorilla, back away slowly to keep 5m separation.
- Don’t use flash, this could threaten the gorillas and bother other visitors.