Most visitors to Uganda come to track the endangered mountain
gorillas in the south west of the country, in either Bwindi
Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga National Park. Less than 700 of
these gentle giants exist in the world, with half the remaining
population living in Uganda, divided into four habituated gorilla
troops: three in Bwindi and one in Mgahinga. Despite being the
largest and most ferocious looking of the ape family, gorillas are
peaceable primates, and the chance to view them from up close is a
thrilling as well as awe-inspiring experience.
Gorilla-trekking in Uganda generally involves a fairly strenuous walk through forest or dense undergrowth, and on steep mountain slopes, led by guides who take trekkers to where the gorillas were found the day before. From there the trackers look for signs to indicate which way they went. Tracking can take anything from three to eight hours, but groups are only permitted to stay with the gorillas for one hour once they have been found, to prevent behavioural disturbances and the possible transmission of diseases from humans to gorillas. Gorillas share 95% of their genes with humans and people with even a common cold are not allowed to join a group, as this could be fatal to the animal. Peak season is January, being one of the drier times of year. Permits allow a maximum of six people per group per day and booking is at the UWA Headquarters in Kampala.