Gorilla Safaris

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a very captivating activity. Uganda is ranked number one in the world as a destination to experience the thrill of a mountain gorilla safari. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is located in Western Uganda. Today there are only 650 Mountain Gorillas left in the world, half of which are found in Uganda in the Bwindi Forest.

There are three subspecies of gorillas living in different parts of Uganda:
● Western Lowland Gorilla (gorilla gorilla)
● Eastern Lowland Gorilla (gorilla graueri)
● Mountain Gorilla (gorilla berengei)

What do Gorillas eat?
Gorillas eat some 200 types of leaves, flowers, fruit, fungus and some insects. Favorite foods include bamboo, thistles and wild celery. Gorillas do not drink water. They obtain all the moisture they need from the vast amounts of foliage they consume. Males consume approximately 50 lbs. a day.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda:
If you are interested in Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, Bwindi is a great place to go. This ancient rain forest is home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of these gentle giants is surely the most exciting and poignant wildlife encounter that Africa has to offer – but we should not let it distract from Bwindi’s broader biodiversity, a result of its immense antiquity and an altitude span from 1,160 to 2,607m. The national park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white Colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda:
Mgahinga Park is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda. Mgahinga Park is 33.7 sq. km and consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. From far away, the huge cones of the Virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon you as you approach. When you reach the park you can get a great overview of the area by walking up the viewpoint, just 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate. The Virungas are home to a large variety of wildlife, including a large population of critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Here is some packing advice for people on a Gorilla safari in Uganda:

  • Select your clothing based on comfort. Safari clothes should be washable and loose fitting.  Clothing should be light colored (tan, khaki, or neutral colors) on safari; it keeps you comfortable and is unobtrusive and non-threatening to wildlife.
  • Well broken-in, comfortable, and waterproof pair of lightweight hiking boots for gorilla trekking
  • Walking shoes and/or pair of sport sandals
  • 2-3 long-sleeved shirts. Make sure that one of these shirts can close up completely, and button to the neck (for gorilla trekking)
  • 2-3 short-sleeved shirts and/or T-shirts
  • 2-3 pairs of shorts or pants
  • Lightweight fleece or light jacket for cool evenings
  • Lightweight day pack for carrying camera, film, insect repellant, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc. (you can also use your day pack as your carry-on bag)
  • Money belt or waist pack for money/passport.
  • Lightweight, wide-brimmed hat
  • Pair of cotton or lightweight gloves for gorilla trekking (some of the plants in the forest are prickly, and you might have to grab onto vines and trees, so it is a good idea to wear lightweight gloves)
  • Waterproof poncho for gorilla trekking in case it rains

Uganda’s National Parks

Murchison Falls National Park:

Murchison occupies more than 1,500 square miles and is a grassy savannah on the banks of Victoria Nile. The fast moving Nile River is funneled through a 20-foot fissure in the African bedrock. Then it plunges 150 vertical feet. After its amazing drop, the river continues to its junction with Lake Albert, from which it immediately travels northward and joins Lake Albert. Murchison Falls National Park plains are well stocked with elephants, lions, Ugandan kobs, giraffes, and Jackson’s Hartebeast. A boat carries visitors on a 7-mile journey to the foot of the falls passing hundreds of hippos and crocodiles.

This is the biggest national park in Uganda with a vast expanse of unspoiled savanna inter crossed by the great river Nile. It was named after the spectacular Murchison Falls where the mighty River Nile- the longest in the world, bursts thunderously through a small gorge in the Rift Escarpment and spectacularly drops over 40 meters below.  The great Nile itself is habitat to one of the largest populations of hippopotami and crocodiles in Africa, plus a great array of birds like the most sought after uncommon Shoebill stork.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is situated in Southwestern Uganda. The park is a hilly countryside with some remnant low land forest. This is the richest forest in Uganda in terms of plant species. It is one of the few areas in East Africa where low land and mountain communities merge. There are over 300 species of birds and 200 species of tree shrubs. Dense ground cover is comprised of herb vines, shrubs, and trees. It is best known for Gorilla trekking but also provides refuge to elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys and various small antelopes as well as 23 bird species restricted to the Albertine Rift Valley.

Mountain Gorilla trekking is Uganda’s main safari activity. Uganda, also named the Pearl of Africa by Sir Winston Churchill, is believed to have the highest population of these endangered primates worldwide. Gorillas are said to share 95% of human genes and mountain gorillas are gentle in nature. It can be thrilling but also humbling to look into their soft brown eyes. Uganda shelters 10 Gorilla groups, 9 of them found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and one in Mgahinga National Park. There is a limit of 8 people per group when visiting the gorillas.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park:

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda. Mgahinga Park is 33.7 sq. km and consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. From far away, the huge cones of the Virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon you as you approach. When you reach the park you can get a great overview of the area by walking up the viewpoint, just 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate. The Virungas are home to a large variety of wildlife, including a large population of critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Queen Elizabeth National Park:

The Park was gazetted in 1952 when Queen Elizabeth II visited the area. It lies to the south of the Rwenzori mountain range and soars upward within a dozen miles of the Northern boundary. It is spread along the eastern shore of the rift valley’s Lake Edward covering 2,500 square kilometers. The park’s northern section is particularly scenic. When the weather permits there are tremendous views of Rwenzori peaks from the plains, which are decorated with giant candelabra trees. In the northeast section of the park is Kyambura Gorge where there are many chimpanzees for visitors to enjoy.

Kibale National Park:

The Kibale National Park is inhabited by a wonderfully diverse community of animals; which include baboons, chimpanzees, monkeys, and the grey-cheeked Mangabey. Kibale hosts a population of more than 1,000 chimpanzees. Common monkey species include the acrobatic red colobus, red-tailed monkey, and blue monkey. These animals have been the subjects of long-term research projects. So they are tame and easy to observe. A trail grid has been cut into the forest to facilitate walking. Kibale is located east of Ruwenzori, near the town of Fort Portal.

Lake Mburo National Park:

It is located 230 kilometers southwest of Kampala, Uganda (3-5 hour drive). It has a varying landscape of open plains, acacia grasslands, and marshes. This park is home to a huge array of flora and fauna. About 68 different species of mammals can be found within its borders. The park has approximately 313 different species of birds, including Uganda’s national emblem, the Crested Crane.

We offer a 1-day Lake Mburo safari suitable for short stay groups and individual visitors to Uganda. Lake Mburo National Park is home to several unique species of animals and birds not observed elsewhere in Uganda. It is the only national park in Uganda with a large number of impalas (from which Kampala city derives its’ name), and only one of the three protected areas countrywide where the Burchell’s zebras can be seen. Other antelopes easily seen in Lake Mburo National Park are topis, bushbucks, common duikers, oribis, Defassa waterbucks, and Bofor reedbucks. The lake and lush fringing vegetation support healthy populations of buffalos, warthogs, bush-pigs and hippopotamus. Large herds of the majestic elands roam the park too.

In the swampy areas of the park, it is possible to see sitatungas, a swamp-dwelling antelope. Only two diurnal primates have been seen in Lake Mburo National Park, the vervet monkey and olive baboon. At Lake Mburo National Park, nocturnal calls of the spotted hyena can be heard through the night. Leopards, side-striped jackals and various smaller predators are also present, most visibly the white-tailed mongoose and three otter species reside near the lakes.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary:

Ngamba Island is part of the Koome group of islands located on Lake Victoria 23km south of Entebbe, Uganda. It consists of approximately 100 acres, 98 of which are forested and inhabited by chimpanzees. Ngamba Island was officially opened to visitors in October 1998. The island is home to 42-orphaned chimpanzees. Ngamba Island is a project of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT). They provide these orphaned chimpanzees with a secure home to live out their lives since a return to their natural habitat is currently not possible. The sanctuary aims to educate visitors and the local community about this remarkable species and the importance of conserving their fragile forest habitat. When you spend time watching chimpanzees as they play and interact with each other, it is undoubtedly one of the many fascinating experiences you can enjoy in Uganda. by visiting the chimpanzees on Ngamba Island, you will have a thrilling experience. When you visit the Ngamba Island, you will be directly contributing to their well being and overall conservation of the species. This will give additional meaning to your safari. Rafiki Adventures believes in giving something back to conservation efforts and the local community. The entrance and activity fees go directly toward helping cover the costs of ensuring the well being of the chimpanzees on Ngamba Island.

Rwenzori Mountains:

The Rwenzori Mountains means the mountains of the moon. It was named by the Hellinic astronomer, Ptolemy for its legendary beauty. They were explored and mapped out by Henry Morton Stanley, Emin Pasha, and Prince Luigi Ameteo-di Savoia. At the center of the range are six peaks capped with ice, snow, and glaciers. The mountains are about 75 miles long. They were forced up during the creation of Great Rift Valley. The highest peak of the mountains is Margherita, which rises to 16,762 feet. This is the third highest mountain in Africa.

Kidepo Valley National Park:

It is located 840 kilometers northeast of Kampala (1.5 hour flight or a day drive). It is tucked into the corner of Uganda’s border with Sudan and Kenya. Kidepo is a truly stunning park boasting a real sense of wilderness that enchants visitors. The mountainous terrain of the park is broken up by the Narus Valley in the southwest and the Kidepo Valley in the northeast. The park is large (1,442 km). Most of the wildlife is concentrated within the Narus Valley revealing fantastic panoramic views of vast herds of buffalo as well as elephants, giraffes, waterbucks, and zebras all grazing alongside. There are a number of predators present including the lion, cheetah, leopard, and spotted hyena.

Semliki National Park:

Semliki National Park is the site of the Sempaya Hot Springs and named for the river, which forms the Congolese border. This 221 km area of park protects an extension of the Congolese vast Ituri Rain Forests. The park is of particular interest to bird watchers since a high proportion of the 400 bird species recorded here are thought to occur nowhere else in Uganda. Semliki National Park is one of the richest areas of floral and faunal diversity in Africa, an ancient forest whose species have accumulated over a very long period of time. It is a true birder’s haven, boasting of a whooping 441 species of birds have been recorded in Semliki, accounting for almost 40% of Uganda’s total bird species, and 66% forest bird species. Rare and endemic birds include Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Black Dward Hornbill, White-crested Hornbill, and Black-casqued wattled Hornbill, are only found in this forest. Semliki is home to 8 primate species and in total 60 mammal species, which include the Pygmy Hippos, Mona Monkeys, Elephants, Forest Buffaloes, Leopards, Crocodiles, Pygmy Antelop, Flying squirrels, Chimpanzees, grey-cheeked Mangabey, Baboon, Black-and-white Colobus, Central African Red Colobus, Vervet Monkeys, Pottos, and Bushbabies.

Mount Elgon National Park:

Mount Elgon National Park is set on the Kenya border near Mbale and includes the 4,321 meter mountain for which it is named. Mount Elgon has the largest base of any extinct volcano. The moorland habitats make this park a rewarding destination for hikers and natural history enthusiasts.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary:

Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Nakasongola District, is the proud home of the only wild rhinos in Uganda. The Rhino re-introduction project is a project of Rhino Fund Uganda and Uganda Wildlife Authority. It is conveniently located 176km (100 miles) north of Kampala on the Gulu highway towards Murchison Falls (branch off at Nakitoma trading centre). Ziwa is the only place where you will be able to see rhinos in the wild. Presently the sanctuary is home to fifteen (15) southern white rhinos. The sanctuary has become increasingly popular with tourists for rhino trekking, bird watching, nature walks, and relaxation.

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