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5 common gorilla trekking mistakes

There are some common mistakes that people make when gorilla trekking. Here's how to avoid five common pitfalls when setting out for gorilla trekking.

Unfortunately some who travel all the way to Uganda or Rwanda to go gorilla trekking don’t actually get to do so, for the reasons shared below. Please take careful note of the mistakes to avoid joining their ranks!

1. Arriving at the wrong park gate

A common (and rather tragic) mistake on the part of many would-be gorilla trekkers in Uganda is arriving at a different part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to what’s on their permit. Bwindi is a large park of 331 km² (128 mi²), and comprises four regions:  

  • Buhoma in the northwest
  • Ruhija in the east
  • Rushaga in the south
  • Nkuringo in the southwest
Follow Alice map of the different sections of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in western Uganda

Map showing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and its four different entrance points

When you book a gorilla trekking permit, you obtain one for a specific portion of the park. And this can't be changed. So if you show up in Buhoma with a trekking permit for Nkuringo, for instance, you’ll miss your trek! 

2. Arriving on the wrong day

The second common mistake that visitors coming to see mountain gorillas make is rocking up on the wrong day. Permits are issued for specific dates and are non-transferrable. This is because trek groups fill up far in advance. Note that there are also no refunds. 

infant gorilla on mothers back

An infant gorilla riding on its mother's back

3. Not bringing your passport

Visitors must bring their passports on the day of the gorilla trek as park officials check these against permits to ensure only rightful permit holders are admitted to the park. Forget your passport and you may not be allowed into the park! It’s possible you’ll be able to dash back to your accommodation to fetch it, but at the very least that will be stressful. At worst, you’ll miss the trek. 

Mistakes like those discussed above are some of the reasons why we recommend you travel with an experienced and reputable tour operator like Follow Alice. We know the in’s and out’s of gorilla trekking super well and ensure our clients don’t go home with any woeful tales like not getting to see mountain gorillas on their mountain gorilla holiday. 

Another reason for booking with a tour operator is the cost-effectiveness of travelling in a group in terms of transport and accommodation. With that in mind, let’s get onto the topic of the cost of gorilla trekking.

“Reto and Dan’s quick responses and Skype chat sold us on booking via Follow Alice." Nicole Bailey

4. Not wearing hiking boots

Many people underestimate how challenging hiking through the alpine forests of central Africa can be. This is not something that should be attempted in new sneakers. It is important to wear sturdy hiking boots that you have worm in. These will help you remain sure footed over the slippery jungle trails. Read our Ultimate guide on what to pack for Gorilla trekking.

Silverback gorilla and two young gorillas in Bwindi

Silverback and two young gorillas

5. Not booking permits in advance

Gorilla trekking permits are limited to 8 people per group of gorillas per day. While Uganda now has many habituated gorilla groups, trekking to see them has become very popular and the permits can become very limited. You need to book your permit often months in advance. If you show up on the day hoping to secure the permit, you are likely to be disappointed.

 

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