• Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda

Gorilla tracking questions answered

Learn everything you need to know about tracking gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, from the minimum age to track gorillas, to how long it takes and where you can stay. If you would like more information, or to book your tailor-made gorilla tracking safari, please contact us.

Faq Listing

  • Can I track mountain gorillas if I am unwell?

    No. If you are not well the day you are meant to be tracking the gorillas in Uganda, you must tell your guide.

    Illnesses passed onto gorillas from humans can be fatal, this includes the common cold.

    Make sure you take good care of your health in the run up to your safari. Becoming ill on your travels would be very disappointing.
  • How big are the gorilla tracking groups?

    There are limits to the amount of people allowed to track the gorillas at any one time and rules to follow in order to not upset the wildlife and to keep you safe. 

    There can only be a maximum of 8 people tracking the gorillas per group, per day. It is important that all gorilla tracking participants familiarize themselves with the following regulations and rules of conduct:
    • You must, at all times, follow the instructions of your guide. He is in contact with the gorillas every day and understands them well. Always remain in a quiet, compact group behind the guide, who will attempt to position you in such a way that the dominant male of the group can see you at all times. Please try to keep a minimum distance of 7 metres at all times from the gorillas.
    • If the dominant male gorilla (usually a silverback) approaches very closely, or if he charges, it is very important that you do not move backwards. Remain exactly where you are, look downward, and adopt a submissive, crouched posture.
    • Never make any sudden moves or loud noises in the presence of the gorillas.
    • If a young gorilla approaches, never under any circumstances make any move to touch it. Your guide, in certain instances, may take steps to discourage a youngster from trying to touch you, as this could create a threatening situation with the dominant male.
    • If a gorilla stares at you, look away or down.
    • Avoid taking an excessive number of photographs, and never use a flash when photographing the gorillas.
    • Only visitors in good health at the time of tracking will be permitted to track gorillas, as gorillas are susceptible to colds and other respiratory diseases transmitted by humans. All visitors must be physically fit and capable of enduring a walk of several hours in difficult terrain.
    • Each gorilla family may be visited only once each day, during the morning hours.
    • At this time, all gorilla visits are limited to a maximum of eight (8) persons per gorilla family for a maximum length of one (1) hour. Due to the already-limited number of persons allowed to visit the gorillas each day, it is not possible to do gorilla tracking on a private basis. 
    • Smoking, eating, and/or drinking are not permitted within 200 meters of a gorilla family. Please avoid smoking at any time if possible.
    • It is prohibited to destroy any vegetation unnecessarily and to make open fires in the national parks and reserves. The flora and fauna of national parks and reserves are strictly protected.
    • All visitors must carry their own litter with them out of the park or reserve, leaving nothing behind.
    • Children under the age of fifteen (15) cannot be accepted on gorilla tracking excursions.
  • How far is my lodge from the Gorilla Head Quarters?

    When tracking the gorillas you will be located within easy access of the park headquarters, but the distance will depend on which accommodation you opt for.

    The distance to the headquarters will vary from a 1min walk to a 1hr’s drive. In Uganda, most of the lodges are located within easy walking distance to the park headquarters.

    Take a look at our Uganda Accommodation section for more details on where to stay and the proximity between wildlife and the lodges.
  • How fit do I need to be to track the gorillas?

    Gorilla tracking excursions can vary in length and difficulty. It is possible that you will spend anything from 40 minutes to 7 hours tracking through the rainforest and you can reach altitudes of up to 6,500 feet above sea level.

    Anyone with a reasonable fitness level should be okay, but you must remember that paths can be slippery and steep and the foliage thick.

    The terrain is a little more difficult in Uganda than it is in Rwanda when gorilla trekking, so if you are worried, you might want to consider this as a second option. We can organise you to go to both if you prefer!
  • How long can I spend with the gorillas?

    After tracking the gorillas you will have up to one hour to spend with them as the get on with their daily activities.

    This hour can feel like it goes all too quickly, so we always recommend you track the gorillas twice during a safari in Uganda or Rwanda. This also means that the second time you can put your camera down and really enjoy the experience.
  • How old do I need to be to rack gorillas?

    The minimum age for tracking the mountain gorillas in Uganda is 15 years.

    It may be possible for you to bring younger guests with you on your safari; however they will need to take part in different activities whilst you track the gorillas. Some lodges will provide child care or activities to keep them amused whilst you are out for the day, we can organise this for you.
  • What should I wear for a gorilla trek?

    Packing the right stuff for your gorilla safari is essential to the enjoyment of your safari.

    Click here for a comprehensive list of what you should wear and pack for your gorilla trek.
  • What's the best place to track the gorillas?

    Gorilla tracking is unpredictable and it is difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike.

    In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda the hike is generally more challenging. The rainforest terrain is can be trickier, where you may encounter more dense vegetation and steeper terrain. Hiking times may be longer as the Bwindi gorillas tend to travel longer distances per day when looking for food.

    In Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda the gorilla trekking is usually easier and not as challenging, except for the challenging Karisimbi Group who are located high up on the slopes of the Karisimbi caldera. For shorter gorilla trekking experiences, we would generally recommend visiting Rwanda – the Virunga National Park is a short distance from Kigali International Airport (a 3hr drive). Bwindi is further from the international airport, Entebbe International Airport (a 10hr drive), meaning that you will have to overnight in Lake Mburo National Park enroute.
  • Will I definitely see the mountain gorillas?

    There is a good chance of successfully tracking the mountain gorillas but it is by no means guaranteed.

    If lucky, you will spend 1 hour with the gorillas often in dense vegetation exposed to the elements. Although the guides will advise that a distance of at least 7 metres should be maintained between you and the gorillas there is nothing stopping the gorillas from getting closer on occasions. If they approach you, move back slowly.

    Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, one of the oldest forests in Africa at about 25,000 years old, is at an altitude of between 1,100 – 2,600 metres above sea level. There is an average rainfall of 1,500mm, an with its high ridges and peaks provides the ultimate home for the mountain gorillas. You should be prepared for a whole day of trekking. The hike could take as long as 9 hours through arduous and often off-trail terrain. A person contemplating taking on such an adventure must be physically fit and must be able to cope with the demands of the steep, dense, rugged, uneven and often slippery terrain.

    Gorilla Safaris in Bwindi, Uganda, nowadays concentrate on two main regions, one of these is known as Buhoma and the other Nkuringo. These two locations share half of the world's remaining mountain gorillas at a population of roughly 320 gorillas living in 15 groups. Aside from gorillas, Bwindi also has healthy populations of other mammals including chimpanzees, red-tailed and blue monkeys, black and white Colobus and a small herd of elephants to name a few. Bwindi is also one of the best birding regions of Uganda with 350 different species.

Find out more

Discover more about gorilla TRACKING by downloading your free guide of by contacting one of our Destination Specialists to receive an itinerary tailored to your plans.
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