Gorilla Trekking Guide For Lone Travelers
Gorilla trekking is with no doubt the most humbling experience and to most travelers, it is best described as a lifetime experience. Immersing yourself into the jungles of Africa to see the endangered mountain gorillas is what you shouldn’t miss in your next lone/solo trip.
Where to go for gorilla trekking?
Gorilla trekking to see mountain gorillas in the wild is only conducted in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo, East-Central Africa. In all the 3 countries, there are not more than 1063 mountain gorillas resident in the different National Parks. In Uganda, tracking to view mountain gorillas only happens in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These are the 2 Uganda National Park where half of the world’s 1063 rare mountain gorillas currently reside making it one of the best places for gorilla trekking in Africa. In Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, the places to visit for gorilla trekking on solo/lone travel are Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park respectively.
What is gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park Uganda, Volcanoes National Park Rwanda and Virunga in the D.R. Congo is an on-foot walk experience where you search for a habituated gorilla family or group. On every gorilla trek, visitors are accompanied by experienced guides from respective gorilla parks and all treks begin after briefing and maximum of 8pax are allocated to a group of family. In Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo, a normal gorilla trek often lasts 2-6 hours inclusive of maximum 1 hours for observing a family of gorillas in the wild.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo was primarily introduced in order to support conservation of endangered mountain gorillas. Since introduction of gorilla trekking, a significant increase of mountain gorilla population has been recorded and gorilla tourism still plays an important part on gorilla conservation conservation and community development in the respective gorilla safari parks.
Can I go gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda solo?
Yes, it is possible to arrange a solo/lone travel to see mountain gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda. Contact our team and let us plan your solo gorilla trip together. However, booking a solo gorilla tour doesn’t mean that treks to see mountain gorillas will be done by you alone-you will meet other trekkers at the respective gorilla park whom you will embark on actual trek with. Usually, every group of habituated gorillas, a group of 8 trekkers are assigned during the actual trek and this is often conducted during briefing that starts at 7:00-8:00am.
Is Uganda or Rwanda safe for solo gorilla trekking?
Yes, gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda is safe and secure for all lone travelers. Except D.R. Congo, Uganda & Rwanda have enjoyed peace and stability for a very good time making them the most preferred and safe gorilla trekking destinations. In D.R. Congo, efforts to restore peace and stability is still on going and treks to see mountain gorillas in the Virunga can be done or even if you are interested in lowland gorilla treks in Kahuzi-Biega NP.
In order to ensure that there is continuity in gorilla conservation, everyone on a gorilla trekking safari (solo/lone or group tours) require to have valid gorilla trekking permits. In Uganda, about 168 gorilla permits are issued daily offering a chance to each group of 8 tourists to visit any of the 21 habituated gorilla families, 20 groups that reside in Bwindi National Park and only one (01) in Mgahinga National Park in the South-west. Solo/lone travelers on gorilla trekking can purchase their gorilla permits in Uganda through our reservation team at USD700 per person per trek if you foreign non-resident solo traveler, lone travelers who are foreign residents pay USD600 and East Africa Nationals UGX250,000.
Uganda gorilla safaris start and end in Kampala or Entebbe Airport, and the minimum is 3 days to successfully go gorilla trekking in Bwindi or Mgahinga parks. A typical 3 days Uganda gorilla safari costs approximately USD1200 per person based on 2 persons and this quote includes a gorilla permit.
In Rwanda, lone travelers on plan to visit Volcanoes National Park for gorilla trekking pay USD1500 for gorilla permits-book one through our reservation team or directly with Rwanda Development Board (RDB). A gorilla permit in Rwanda lets you visit any of the 13 habituated families of mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri.
In the D.R. Congo where both mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas live and trekked in the Virunga National Park and Kahuzi-Biega National Park respectively, gorilla permits are issued at USD450 per person per trek. In the Virunga, solo/lone travelers on gorilla trekking tour in DR. Congo track any of the park’s 8 habituated groups which translate to 64 gorilla permits available each day for booking.
Rules & Regulations for gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking has unique approach whereby before the actual trek starts all visitors undertake briefing about guidelines or rules and regulations. The important regulations you must have at the back of your mind as lone/solo traveler include among many; only persons above 15 years go track mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo; Maintain a distance of 8-10m from family/group of gorillas, a valid gorilla permit is a must for everyone-solo/lone or group gorilla travelers, no use of flashlight for taking photos of gorillas, no tracking gorillas if sick or ill.
What to bring
Whether you planning to travel during the dry or wet season for gorilla safari in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo, you must be pack rightly. The most recommended items to pack include waterproof hiking shoes/boots, waterproof backpack, cameras with no flashlight, insect repellents, sunscreen, hat, long sleeved shirts, rain coats/jackets, sweater, bottled water, snacks. The other valuable items include first aid kit, gardening gloves, blouses.
Best time to go gorilla trekking-Uganda, Rwanda and Congo
Gorilla trekking is open to all solo/lone travelers all year round. But, June, July, August to early September and December, January & February are the best months for solo/lone-travelers to have the best of gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo.
Solo gorilla trekking tips
- Avoid moving alone at night, leave all valuables in the safe place or back at the hotel/lodge.
- Try to avoid street food-check into a good restaurant/hotel/lodge to have a meal.
- Don’t drink & drive while on solo/lone gorilla trip.
- Be friendly to other visitors on gorilla trip.
- Make sure your gorilla permit is booked early at least 2-6 months before setting off on lone-travel to Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo.
- Always keep in touch with your family/friends back home.
Where to stay
Choose the best comfortable accommodation for overnight stay while on solo/lone travel in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo. In all the 3 countries, there are Budget, Mid-range and Luxury lodging options to book for you to retire for the night. In Uganda, the lodges to book in Bwindi NP include Chameleon Hill Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge.
In Mgahinga Park, the lodge include Mount Gahinga Lodge/Kisoro Tourist Hotel. In Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, the top lodges include Bisate Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Muhabura Hotel. While at Virunga NP, the lodges include Bukima Tented Camp, Lulimbi Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge, Kibumba Camp and others.