Tag: Gorilla Safari

Gorilla Forest Camp in Bwindi National Park

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Gorilla Forest Camp; The Top Notch Lodge In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is about 530 km from Kampala which takes between 8 to 10 hours’ drive to complete the journey. This puts the tourists taking a Uganda safari to see gorillas at a point where they will have to spend an overnight near the park to go gorilla trekking next day morning and then plan the return journey the day that follows. Even if they opt to fly, the gorilla trekking encounter starts at 8am and no flight that arrives in Bwindi before that time. This means that you ares till required to spend a night around the park.

Sanctuary-gorilla-Forest-Camp
Gorilla Forest Camp

Spending an overnight in Bwindi is something the tourists to Uganda for gorilla tracking in Bwindi forest always take key note of. This comes with the lodge selection which is also influenced by the level of travel budget. The Gorilla Sanctuary, also known as Gorilla Forest Camp is located in the Buhoma Area which is the daring region for gorilla trekking activity and it is re-known as the pioneer region of this activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, thus most travellers planning to do a gorilla safari to Uganda tend to opt for it though the competition for gorilla permits tend to leave out the majority.

Located at close distance from the Buhoma Park entrance inside the Impenetrable Forest, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp offers top notch overnight accommodation to upmarket world travelers. Its Accommodation is offered in a range of eight luxury tents which are very spacious and stylish with each tent having two queen sized beds, in supplement to the warm beds, the rooms feature huge bathtub looking into the impenetrable forest ideal for soaking the tired muscles after a daylong gorilla tracking experience.

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp has impressive forest views and an ample open place and a lounge in a very calm environment only interrupted by the songs of birds and mountain gorillas that occasional visit to the lodge.

gorilla-forest-camp

Planning a flying Gorilla Safari and stay at Gorilla Sanctuary

You need 3 days and 2 nights to complete a 3 days Uganda gorilla safari with a single gorilla trek. If you need more than one trek, then you need more than 3 days, for example, some tourists want to do 2 gorilla treks, we call it double gorilla tracking, where you visit two different gorilla groups. Below is a typical 3 day flying gorilla safari to see gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable forest and and stay for 2 nights at Gorilla Forest Camp.

Organizing a Gorilla Tracking Tour – Initial States

If you want to see the gorillas in the wild (In their natural habitat), it means you must fly to Africa, the only place one can see the mountain gorillas in the wild. According to the gorilla census 2011, there are only 880 mountain gorillas left in the whole world, and this population is found in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. However, gorilla tourism in DR Congo is less developed due to political instabilities.

aerolink
Aero Link Uganda Plane

As you plan a holiday to see gorillas in the wild in Bwindi forest, start with identifying your intended travel dates. After that, then check for availability of International Flights from your home country to Entebbe International Airport. If the flights available fit your intended travel dates, please go ahead and make tentative booking.

The next step is to check for availability of gorilla trekking permits through local Travel Agents / Tour Operators or you can inquire and book direct through Uganda Wildlife Authority in Kampala. If you happen to find gorilla permits available on your preferred dates, please go a head and confirm your flights. In case you happen to find no permits, better you find alternative dates. The demand for gorilla permits is very high throughout the year. One is thus advised to book early at least 2 months in advance. Further more, you should get availability of rooms at Gorilla Forest camp in Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable forest.

If you find no space, there are other gorilla trekking lodges around Buhoma such as Mahogany Springs Lodge, Buhome Lodge, Gorilla Resort and Bwindi Forest Lodge among others. Then you must book a regional flight in advance from Entebbe Airport to Kihihi Airstrip, and there must be arrangements for transfer by road from Kihihi Airstrip to Gorilla Forest lodge. We have both daily scheduled and private charter flights operating along this route. Scheduled daily flights are offered by Aerolink Uganda Limited, while Private Charters are offered by Kampala Aero Club and Eagle Air. Tour Operators can help you will all arrangements like booking permits, accommodation and flights.gorilla_safari

At this moment, we assume that all bookings are confirmed and it,s time to fly to Entebbe International Airport. If you booked through a local tour company, you will find a representative from that company waiting for you at the airport. Usually they carry a placard bearing your name. To get this, you should inform the Agent about your arrival date, time and flight number. Local based safari companies usually offer free airport transfers to guests, or at a subsidized cost.

If you made private arrangements without involving a tour company, then you need to organize for airport transfer to your pre-booked hotel around Entebbe International Airport. Depending on the flight you booked, get ready to fly from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi Airstrip in Western part of Uganda. It is less than 60 minutes flight. At Kihihi Airstrip, you will find a safari vehicle awaiting for you, and then drive for 90 minutes to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, arrive in time for lunch at Gorilla Sanctuary, relax in our cottages as we wait for evening entertainment from the Batwa people (Local community). Gorilla Forest camp is some times visited by mountain gorillas.

GFC dinning
GFC Dining

The next day is for gorilla tracking adventure, get up early for heavy breakfast walk to the park headquarters for a briefing about the trek. You will be divided into groups of 8 persons maximum and assigned to a gorilla group. Start a guided walk in accompaniment of armed rangers, trackers and park guides. Depending on the movement of the gorillas in the forest, the trek can take between 1 and 7 hours. Its quiet strenuous and a certain level of fitness is advised. Sight and stay with gorillas is one hour, take photos and videos with gorillas. You will be receiving advise and guidance from the guide in the whole process. After the trek, descend to the base, have lunch and take a forest walk if interested. Dinner and overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp.

This is the 3rd day and your last day in Bwindi Impenetrable forest. Have breakfast and hit the road back to Kihihi Airstrip, then get a plane to Entebbe International Airport for your onward flight or for lunch and dinner at your hotel around Entebbe or Kampala.

3 Day Rwanda Safari Review – Gorilla Tracking

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With my husband, our dream was to take a Rwanda safari and see the mountain gorillas in the wild jungles of Africa in Volcanoes National Park! We had several trips into the dark continent in countries like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Egypt and Kenya. This year, we had our summer holiday in Tanzania. While in Arusha, my wife brought the idea of visiting the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. Though we did had not booked gorilla permits in advance, we inquired different tour companies in Kigali including Rwanda development Board and we were so lucky that, Gorilla Expeditions ltd had gorilla permits on re-sell.

A Juvenile in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
A Juvenile in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

They had received cancellations and therefore, we had to buy those 2 permits. We therefore had a 3 day Rwanda safari to see gorillas and golden monkeys in Parc National Des Volcans. We booked a flight from Kilimanjaro to Kigali by Rwanda Air (www.rwandair.com). We arrived in Kigali by 17:00 hrs. The Staff of Gorilla expeditions was already waiting for us at the airport, we immediately transferred to Volcanoes national park and stayed at Muhabura hotel.

Rwanda Air - Kigali International Airport
Rwanda Air – Kigali International Airport

The next day we got up early, had heavy breakfast at Hotel Muhabura in Ruhengeri, then we drove for about 20 minutes to the park headquarters at Kinigi. Here we found very many tourists from different countries, we interacted with them with free tea and coffee served at the headquarters. We were divided into groups of 8 persons maximum and allocated to different gorilla groups.

For us we were allocated to Hirwa gorilla group, we were briefed about this gorilla group and the trek in general. Later on we boarded our safari vehicle to the trekking start point. We are accompanied by park guides and rangers with guns just in case of any animals that may want to attack us such as forest elephants.Gorilla-filming

It took us about 3 hours to meet Hirwa gorilla group, we were given one hour to stay with gorillas, we took photos and videos. This was highlight of our safari in East Africa. We wanted to do another gorilla trek the next day but there were not gorilla permits available. We decided to return next year and this time we shall combine Uganda and Rwanda. In the evening, we took a community walk through Musanze town and we found out that the Rwanda people are so friendly, lovely and hospitable. Dinner and overnight stay at Hotel Muhabura.

On day 3, our departure flight was scheduled at 18:05hrs, we had ample time to go for golden monkey tracking, we came back early by mid day, we had lunch in Ruhengeri and later drove fro 90 minutes to Kigali, we visit Gisozi genocide memorial museum, later we transferred to Kigali International airport for our scheduled departure flight. This marks the end of our Gorilla safari in Rwanda.

Gentle Giants in their Natural Habitat
Gentle Giants in their Natural Habitat

Some advise to everyone visiting East Africa for wildlife and beach holidays, never miss gorilla tracking activity in either Uganda or Rwanda. It’s such amazing experience to interact with the mountain gorillas in the wild. The experience is totally different from that of Zoo. Just an hour with the gorillas offers lifetime memories. However, you are advised to book your gorilla permits in advance because their demand is very high in both countries. Visit rwandasafarigorilla.com for details and more safari packages.

Absolutely Amazing – A must do gorilla safari Africa!

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gorilla-safari-tourWe visited two families on our gorilla tour (on two separate days); the Amahoro family and the Susa family (studied by Dian Fossey). We were fortunate to visit the Amahoro family when they were lounging in a clearing so were able to get up very close and watch the family (including the dominant Silverback) interact with one another. On one occasion, an adolescent gorilla approached my sister curious of her camera. Of course, she had to back away though not for fear of the young gorilla which really just looked like it wanted to play.
The Susa family is one of the larger families’ habituated to human contacts and has many Silverbacks, females, adolescents and young babies. One particular moment of awe for me occurred when a young mother walked within a foot of where I was sitting with a 3 month old baby on her back, pausing briefly to eat. At that moment, the baby looked at me with big round, almost opaque eyes, and I knew I would have to return (indeed, we are planning a trip to Uganda in the next few years).

We saw 17 gorillas in all, including 1dominant silverback, which is the head of the family. We were told only male gorillas become silverbacks. Their backs become silver around 12 to 15 years of age. It is similar to how men get gray hair when they get older.

We also saw many other young adolescents playing in the trees, swinging from branch to branch and spent several minutes observing a young brash male, apparently inebriated from eating too many fermented bamboo shoots, try to impress with the occasional beating on his chest. While, the cost to visit with a gorilla family may be prohibitive for some, the chance to see these amazing animals (that share 97% of our DNA) in their natural habitat and contribute to Rwanda’s larger conservation efforts, well justifies the expense. Highly recommended!

Once we met up with the other two trackers, we had to take discuss more about the trek before we were awarded our gorilla tracking certificates at the headquarters. The certificate has your name and confirms that you successfully participated in a gorilla safari in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. The first tracker we met had me follow directly behind him so I was the first person again to appreciate the group we tracked. The first feeling that swept over me was one of relief that we actually got to see the gorillas. The tracker who guided us to the family took very good care of me. He always positioned me in a great spot to see the gorillas. I was very thankful to him.