• Mountain gorillas, Rwanda

Gorilla trekking safaris and everything you need to know

Under guidance from the best, most highly trained people for the job, you find yourself face-to-face with something that seems so unequivocally human, it takes your breath away. An early start and a trek through dense rainforest is totally worth it for the privilege of spending an hour with these fascinating mammals. Youngsters may show off and huge silverbacks may beat their chests, but nothing beats just witnessing a gorilla family as they go about their daily business, chomp on bamboo, and watch you in return. It is no wonder that a gorilla trekking safari is often referred to as ‘the most memorable in the world’.


Our expert knowledge means we can put you in the right place at the right time to meet these wonderful animals in their natural environment. Having started as World Primate Safaris back in 2005, you know you are in the best hands, whatever your needs and wants. Make sure you become one of the special few who get to meet the gorillas in their own homes within Uganda or Rwanda


As face-to-face encounters go (which only take place in very select locations in East Africa, involving animals quite literally on the brink of extinction) gorilla trekking is a life-changing and once-in-a-lifetime experience. No other wildlife encounter can match the awe-inspiring experience that is a mountain gorilla trekking safari.

Mountain Gorillas

Mountain Gorilla Safaris - Uganda or Rwanda?

The Virunga Mountains, an astonishing necklace of nine volcanoes in various stages of extinction, dormancy, and activity spans the borders of Uganda, the DRC, and Rwanda and along with the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is the last remaining habitat of the mountain gorillas. When looking to plan a gorilla trek one of the most common questions is should you choose Rwanda or Uganda. It is perhaps unfair to suggest that one destination is better than the other, however, there are differences to take into consideration which may help you make your decision.

Rwanda offers some of the best primate tracking on the planet through the ancient jungle-covered slopes of Volcanoes National Park. Set against the backdrop of its endless green hills, Rwanda as a destination has great infrastructure and some of the best luxury lodges in Africa. This comes at a price and gorilla tracking permits here are $1500 each.

In Uganda, there are two locations where you can track gorillas; Mgahinga National Park which flanks the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes, and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a mist-covered forest swathed over steep ridges and valleys on the edge of the Rift Valley. Gorilla tracking permits here are $700 per trek. It's fair to say the standard of lodges doesn't quite match the luxury available in Rwanda, and the gorilla tracking operations aren't as slick with slightly tougher trekking conditions. The terrain in Bwindi often starts at the top of the hills from where you descend on foot into the valley to see the gorillas, leaving the climb up the slopes to the end of the day which can feel harder.

Whichever you choose, the hour spent with the gorillas is just as remarkable and a truly humbling experience.

Top Places to Stay whilst gorilla trekking

There are some incredible lodges to stay in whilst trekking with Mountain Gorillas, and below are just some of our favourites. 

One of our favourites, Bisate Lodge, has just six rooms that sit in the natural amphitheater of an eroded volcano cone with views of the mist-shrouded Virunga volcanoes. The lodge manages to combine luxury accommodation with a strong conservation and community focus.

The comfortable One and Only Gorilla Nest has great access to Virunga National Park and is perfect for gorilla tracking. Simple and stylish, all rooms look out on the Eucalyptus forest, pyrethrum farms, and shambas beyond. 

Virguna Lodge is perched high on a ridge with some of the finest views in Africa, overlooking the Virunga Volcanoes and the Musanze valley to the west and Lake Bulera and Ruhondo to the east. Sunrise here is a sight to behold. 

Mountain Gorillas Landscape

Mountain Gorillas in the Wild

“There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than with any other animal I know.” — Sir David Attenborough

With just 840 left in the wild after severe poaching and dwindling habitat, witnessing the few reachable groups in these areas is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Predominantly ground-dwelling, mountain gorillas prefer open canopy forests that allow light to reach the forest floor; their diet consists of bamboo, roots, stems, leaves, and vines. Female gorillas actively choose their breeding partners as the male protection is essential to a successful reproductive cycle. Communication varies between barks, screeches, pant grunts and chest-beating. Movement is usually on all fours via "knuckle-walking". Group size varies from 2-30 individuals but a typical average is 9. Mountain gorillas have a fairly limited home range, making them easier to track and habituate for tourism and research possibilities.

Similar to a human fingerprint, mountain gorillas can be identified by their utterly unique nose print. They have large jaws and teeth and long black hair that is often thicker and longer than the other species so they can survive in the colder, mountainous temperatures. Adult males can weigh up to 200kg and be up to 6ft tall, females can be half the size with an average weight of 100kgs and height of 4 foot 11 inches when standing upright

Mountain gorillas are a subspecies of the easter gorilla living in the Virunga Mountains across Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC, as well as the Bwindi Forest of Uganda. 

Mountain gorilla eating, Uganda

Why Book Your Gorilla Trekking Safari With NWS

NWS originally started as World Primate Safaris back in 2005; when it comes to primates we are the experts with a long history of sending clients on transformative gorilla tracking expeditions. Our team of destination specialists have extensive experience tracking gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. Thanks to our in-depth knowledge of the gorillas and what constitutes a top-class gorilla tracking safari, we are recognised as one of the leading authorities in gorilla tourism, awarded by both Travel+Leisure and Conde Nast for our expertise in this area.

Our exclusive safaris dig a little deeper than the norm. We can include scenic helicopter transfers offering a remarkable bird’s-eye view of this endangered habitat. We also offer the opportunity to spend time with the doctors of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project learning about the incredible conservation work they do through veterinary medicine; you can choose to visit them, have them join you at your lodge for dinner, or even have a Gorilla Doctor accompany you on your trek. Working closely with conservationists, we can offer the change to join habituation safaris and more. Our exclusive network on the ground links us to all the best lodges in the region and we are often able to add that little NWS twist to your trip, transforming it into something really special.

Uganda Mountain Gorilla With Baby

Your Next Steps

Download our gorilla travel guide, or talk to one of our specialists for more details on tracking gorillas in the wild. Please note we recommend a budget of from £7,000 / $10,000 USD per person for our style of trip to this destination.