Visitors that book luxury gorilla trekking tours are offered with nothing short of magical, with once-in-a-lifetime experience of getting up-close with the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. The finest luxury gorilla trekking experiences lead travellers to Uganda and Rwanda within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Volcanoes National Park respectively.
Luxury gorilla trekking trips come with gorilla trekking permits that cost $1500 per person in Rwanda or $700 per person in Uganda in addition to private fly-in safaris to Kisoro and Kihiihi Airstrips for Uganda as well as helicopter tours direct to Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Mountain gorillas, sub-species of Eastern gorillas live in the dense rainforests, high in the mountains of East-Central Africa in Bwindi and Mgahinga for Uganda, Volcanoes National Park for Rwanda as well as Virunga National Park for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
One could say Uganda’s jungles are still raw and remarkably endowed with highest concentration of mountain gorillas and that’s the fact. Your unforgettable luxury gorilla trekking experience within this spectacular country is enjoyed in two heavenly places-Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the south-west of this stunning country.
The larger and more endowed of these two safari destinations in Bwindi National Park, haven to about 450 of the total survival mountain gorilla population living in four different trekking regions/sectors. This therefore makes it the most popular luxury gorilla trekking destination in not only Uganda but the entire world. Nestled in the south-western corner, its borders are shared by Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro.
This extraordinary Protected Area received International recognition in 1991 when it became a National Park as well as in 1994 when it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Given its lush vegetation and rich biodiversity, the Park received the appreciation of CNN Travel as “the most spectacularly beautiful place on Earth and spiced by its high mountain gorilla population making it every traveler’s luxury gorilla trekking destination. About 21 gorilla groups have been habituated in this park and trekked by only 8 persons per day. These groups are Mishaya, Kyaguliro, Rushegura, Busingye, Mukiza, Mubare, Christmas, Kutu, Habinyanja, Mucunguzi, Katwe, Muyambi, Nshongi, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Nkuringo, Bushaho, Rwigi, Bweza, Kahungye and Bikingi.
Luxury Gorilla trekking tours for Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are limited to only 8 persons per day, because there is only one habituated gorilla family (Nyakagezi). This Park is also in the south-western side of the country, within Kisoro district.
All these adventures (whether in Bwindi or Mgahinga) begin from the trailheads (Nkuringo, Buhoma, and Ruhija. Rushaga and Ntebeko) with registration, briefing on the rules and protocols of the activity and allocation into the gorilla groups. Hire porters who will offer support during treks (in form of carrying your backpack and hold hands where you literally fail to hike).
By 8:00am visitors are prepared to venture into the jungles to search for the allocated gorilla group and because they are constantly moving, expect 1-3 hours or even more of transversing rugged terrains, deep valleys and crossing streams to the point of almost giving up. Your efforts pay off when you finally meet the mountain gorillas and get to spend one hour observing their different human-like characteristics and adorable physical size among others. No matter how exciting and life-changing it is, one hour is the maximum time to be spent in the presence of these Giant Apes.
Possessing valid gorilla permits is the first guarantee for undertaking luxury gorilla trekking tours in Uganda and cost different prices, based on the category that visitors belong to. Visitors that belong to the foreign non-resident category pay $700 per person, the travellers in foreign-resident category are charged $600 per person while the ones under East African community category pay only Shs. 250,000 per person.
Luxury travellers with plans of enjoying the Gorilla Habituation Experience to have more time with endangered mountain gorillas are required to pay $1500 per person.
There are two ways of securing gorilla trekking permits, the first being directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority via their Headquarters in Kampala (Plot 7, Kira Road-Kamwokya - Kampala), by sending an email or via telephone call. This option is usually considered stressful and cumbersome by travellers hence opting for the less stressful and more convenient option of booking a permit through credible ground tour operators.
To make your luxury gorilla trekking safari in Uganda complete, book to stay and enjoy meals at the rustic accommodation options that lie within the different trekking regions.
Buhoma Lodge in Buhoma sector/region is a private and outstanding upmarket lodge known for unrivalled views of the jungle. It has 10 cozy chalets that are specially designed and constructed with traditionally sourced materials. There is an elevated Central place with a spacious lounge area, well-stocked bar and vast dining area.
Located in Rushaga sector, Gorilla Safari Lodge comfortably sits within the jungle treetops, at the edge of Bwindi National Park. It has 18 en-suite and palatial chalets with private verandas, rewarding visitors with mind-boggling views of the verdant Tropical rainforest of Bwindi.
Other lodging options for luxury gorilla trekking in Uganda include Mahogany Springs Camp, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Trackers Safari Lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorillas Lodge, Mount Gahinga Safari Lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Four Gorillas Lodge and so much more.
Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa, making it an overlooked safari destination for travellers but don’t be deceived by its size because it is so far the best definition of luxury gorilla trekking safaris. The country offers the highest gorilla permit price at $1500 per person as well as the most high-end accommodation options.
Most travellers to this country are drawn by the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural environment, within Volcanoes National Park. This is surprisingly the only destination to achieve your dream of undertaking a luxury gorilla trekking trip, about 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali City.
This beautiful Protected Area comfortably sits on approximately 62 square miles of varying vegetation types within the Northern Province of Rwanda. There are about 35% of the World’s surviving mountain gorillas of the wild in this Park alone and 12 habituated groups can be visited by luxury gorilla trekkers. On your trip, you will visit any of Ugenda, Igisha, Bwenge, Umubano, Hirwa, Sabyinyo, Kwitonda, Karisimbi (Susa B), Muhoza, Amahoro, Susa A and Agashya (Group 13). Given the short driving distances to Rwanda’s safari destinations, it is possible to add big game safaris within Akagera National Park, Chimpanzee treks within Nyungwe Forest National Park, not forgetting the jaw-dropping golden monkey tracking within Volcanoes National Park.
Typical luxury gorilla trekking excursions in Volcanoes National Park kick-off with acquainting visitors with the rules and regulations of gorilla trekking, done at Kinigi Park Headquarters. This is mandatory and usually done before actual gorilla treks officially start at 8:00am and keep in mind that these treks last anywhere between 30 minutes and 4 hours, sometimes even longer depending on the movement of mountain gorillas, nature of terrains, weather conditions or speed of your group.
One hour is provided for studying and taking photos of gorilla behavior and physical characteristics, once contact is made with them.
Securing Gorilla permits for luxury gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
Travellers making plans of booking luxury gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda are required to first secure gorilla permits, at $1500 per person. This alone means Rwanda is the best location of luxury gorilla trekking safaris and this guarantees one hour with these gentle creatures in the wild. For best time to make booking, do it within 3-6 months before the planned trekking date via Rwanda Development Board (email, telephone call or physically reaching Kinigi Park Offices in Kigali).
There are remarkable accommodation facilities within the outskirts or close to Volcanoes National Park, that are perfect for luxury gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda and they include;
Situated on the boundary of Volcanoes National Park is the swanky Singita Kwitonda Lodge, named after the iconic and humble silverback of Kwitonda Gorilla Group. It sits on an area of 178 acres and features four-roomed villas for family and group luxury gorilla trips.
Other outstandingly incredible sleeping options for visitors undertaking luxury gorilla trekking in Rwanda include Bishop’s House, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, One & Only Gorilla’s Nest, Bisate Lodge, Tiloreza Volcanoes Ecolodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge and many others.
Luxury gorilla trekking safaris are undertaken throughout the year, because Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks as well as Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park are always open regardless of the season.
However, it should be noted that the dry season-from June to September and October to early December are known for offering more conducive trekking conditions in form of drier trails.