Africa Retired Travelers Travel by Location Uganda

Uganda Gorilla Trekking-What to Expect

Written by Tom

My dad’s final (for now) Africa installment is here! To see the other posts in the series, check our list at the bottom of the page. If you’re going on a trip to Uganda, seeing the gorillas is a bucket list experience. We’ve outlined what to expect. –Amy

Preparing for the weather on your gorilla trek in Uganda

Gorilla trek in Uganda
No need for fashion statements- pack hiking clothes, wear sleeves, and tuck your pants into your socks!

Dayna and I went on our gorilla trek in Uganda during the rainy season, but it was a blue sky day until our drive home. Even though Uganda is nearly on the equator, the morning was a little chilly since we were at high altitude. By “trekking time” it was warm and humid but I wore a light shell for protection. I also had a set of work gloves that were invaluable- see my packing tips for Africa article for more hints.

Lonely Planet East Africa

Headed to Uganda? Taking an overland tour or going out on your own? Either way, make sure you bring Lonely Planet’s Guide to East Africa! Use coupon code BOLDTOURIST10 and checkout and get 10% off your order!

Uganda Gorilla Trekking

Uganda Gorilla Trekking
So glad I brought these gloves for bushwhacking!

After a 30 minute orientation, we were divided into groups of 6-7. Each group was paired with a guide carrying a radio and a game ranger packing an AK-47 to shoot poachers and only scare renegade male gorillas if need be. We also had another guy tagging along to carry water bottles and excess baggage for us in case we broke down. After scaring us with the threat of thrashing around in the heat and humidity of the jungle for up to six hours looking for the gorillas, we headed out on a well-worn path.

Uganda gorilla trek
The adult male silverback

Each group visited a different family of gorillas in the National Park (Gorillas live in family groups). As a couple of 60-year olds, we had no trouble keeping up. What we didn’t know was that each gorilla family is tracked nearly 24/7 by a ranger with a radio and he honed us in to the gorilla family in about 90 minutes.

Uganda Gorilla Trekking
This photo shows just how close we were to the gorilla family!

The last 30 minutes was “bushwhacking” and my gloves came in handy! We spent an hour with the gorilla family and that really was enough. Each family gets only one visit per day. You will get very close to them. Our group had one big silverback (the adult male), another old male, a couple of juveniles, and two mamas with babies. After an hour trek back to the starting point we were really happy, tired and soaked through from the inside out. A little tip for the guides is always appreciated. And like any Disneyland ride, there are concessions at the car park.

Plenty of souvenir shops and concession stands at the car park before and after your trek

The gorilla trek during an Africa overland tour

Uganda equator

We had taken a chimp trek a few days earlier, which was about the same but over easier terrain. The rhino hike at a private reserve was mostly a short drive and a walk in the grasslands for a couple of hours. With side trips to the Maasai Mara Reserve and other parks, our 14 day Africa overland tour was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

See more posts in our Africa series!

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