Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas are an endangered species that can’t survive in captivity so you will not see them in a zoo. There are only three countries where they can be seen: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda making Gorilla Tracking something very special.

Gorillas and Humans share 98% of their genetic composition. Unfortunately due to poaching and other activities against the mountain gorillas there are only about 800 left.

Gorilla Tracking Uganda

The largest population of mountain gorillas can be found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, one of the reasons I decided to go trekking there.

Before the Gorilla Trekking – The planning

I did all the research possible to choose the most reasonable priced option. There were not a lot of choices to be honest but from the ones I was looking at I end up choosing Matoke Tours. They were offering the possibility of being picked up from Kigali in Rwanda, something that seemed very interesting for me at the time.

The 3 day package consisted of:

Day 1 – Drive from Kigali, Rwanda to Lake Mutanda

Day 2 – Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi National Park

Day 3 – Drive back to Kigali at any time of preference

In this package everything was included, from accommodation, meals and the permit to visit the gorillas. The package cost 1280 USD$ per person.

The single permit given by the government to visit the mountain gorillas costs 600 USD$ and contributes to their conservation.

The best time to go is all year round, this is because of Uganda’s climate and location to the equator.

Is it safe to see them?

The Gorillas that you are going to see are habituated; this means that they have been exposed to people over time, in a process that takes up to two years. This does not mean that they will not attack if they feel that they are in danger but they will be fine if you stay at a safe distance. The young ones even like to show off to people jumping really fast up the trees. Not all families of mountain gorillas have been habituated.

My Gorilla Trekking experience

We left our accommodation early and got to watch the sunrise on the way through the rain forest. The mist was intense and I finally understood why the movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ filmed in the same location where I was, had that name. The bright orange colour of the sun rising together with the dense forest gave it a mysterious look.

We had to be at the start point at eight sharp. They are very strict with the times as they have a 30 minutes briefing about how to behave in the forest and what kind of efforts they do on a daily basis to protect the gorillas.

Important rules to keep in mind during the contact with the mountain gorillas:

  • Maintain a safe distance from the gorillas of approximately 7m unless they approach you.
  • No eating or drinking near the gorillas.
  • Try to be silent and when talking keep the voice low.
  • Move in small movements and always stay down with your body.
  • There is one hour of contact with the gorillas. No more. Don’t think the park rangers will stretch this by any means; they are very strict with the contact time.
  • If the gorillas come to you, which is possible, put your head down and avoid eye contact. Looking into their eyes means that you want to fight them, so don’t do that.
  • For obvious reasons your camera flash is not allowed.
  • Make sure you are fit and healthy for the trek; if you arrive with symptoms of cold for example you will not be allowed to go. The gorillas have no immunity against these diseases.

Before we left they also warned us that there was no fixed time for the trekking because they move constantly in search for food so we just had to hope for a small trek.

The large group was then divided into two smaller groups of 8 dependant on age and fitness levels. Surprisingly I was deemed to be one of the fittest of my group, so, had the longest trek! This just made the whole thing more rewarding when we finally got to meet the gorillas.

The whole experience is something I will never forget and I get really proud of myself every time I think about it. I am not going to lie, it was hard as hell!

There is a reason why they call it the Impenetrable Forest because literally it is so dense that some parts of the way the rangers had to cut through the bush with their machetes to make a path. Also, most of the time, I was crawling and grabbing slippery brunches because that was the only way to go. Nothing could prepare me for that I can tell you but it was worth it!

Gorilla Tracking
Gorilla Tracking
Little Foot Adventures

I was really glad we had the porters with us; they sure helped me a lot of times!

The porters have the solo job of carrying our bags. We only had small bags but we had researched how important it was to hire them because they have no other source of income up in the mountains.

A minimum of 15 USD$ each but then we end up giving much more than that.

During the trekking we found out that most of them walk kilometers to be there at eight in the morning, leaving their houses in the middle of the night. Sometimes they are not picked and they just come back empty handed. I found this quite sad but at the same time I was happy I had them with us.

They also helped us throughout the way, pushing and pulling me up which I don’t think I could have done without their help. Also over the course of the trekking I got to know my porter and found it fascinating to hear about their lives and what it is like to live in Uganda.

Gorilla Tracking

The trekking is done with park rangers that will guide you to the designated gorilla’s family. These animals are always monitored to protect them from poachers and to make sure they are healthy. It was an exhausting four hours of trekking before we found them! A lot of ups and down, climbing, crawling, sweat and almost despair at some point, but we made it and it was so worth it!




Gorilla Tracking Uganda

Gorilla Tracking Uganda

Gorilla Tracking Uganda

Gorilla Tracking

At first we spotted two young males which were sat up in a couple of tall trees. It was very green and cosy in there. Suddenly all the effort was worth it! I did not felt tired anymore; I just felt peace watching them.

Gorilla Tracking Uganda

Gorilla Tracking Uganda

Gorilla Tracking Uganda

Little Foot Adventures

Gorilla Tracking Uganda

Gorilla Tracking Uganda

Gorilla Tracking Uganda

Then we saw the other gorillas – it was such a special moment, they were all sat gracefully in a group of about five to seven gorillas including a female and one baby! Their actions were somehow familiar to us, protecting the baby amongst them, playing and cuddling one another.

The males are bigger than the females and referred to as the silverbacks because when they mature the hair on their back turns to a silver colour. They communicate with roars, grunts and shouts and the park rangers will know how to interpret this. The silverback is in charge of the group and the one that leads their movements to appropriate places to eat and sleep.

The silverback we met was gorgeous and is name appropriate, the ‘Handsome’ that weighed 220 Kg. He was the oldest one of the group and very responsible, even separating fights or at least small disagreements amongst the young males.

Little Foot Adventures

Little Foot Adventures

Most of the time they were either sleeping or feeding. Occasionally they even threw the skin of the fruits from above trying to hit us!

There was one part were they started making some loud sounds at us but the park rangers communicated with them doing the same sounds and they calmed down. It was not scary at all but for the all hour of contact my adrenaline levels were very high.

The hour went so quickly and once we left the gorillas we trekked for about 15 minutes where we had the packed lunch that we brought with us from our accommodation. We were still full of adrenaline and talking about it in the group. But then it started to rain and doing the return trekking was even harder I must say!

Little Foot Adventures
Little Foot Adventures
Little Foot Adventures

At about the halfway point on the way back I was truly soaked but we had to keep going. When was it ever going to end I kept thinking but when we finally made it back I don’t think that I have ever felt so proud in my life, almost feeling invincible.

So much back pain but still smiling!

We got our certificates of conclusion of the trek and then back to our lodge. A night of sleep never felt so good!

Little Foot Adventures

 Have you done Gorilla trekking? Would you love to do it? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

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Gorilla Tracking Uganda

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Tags : AfricaGorillagorilla permitGorilla TrackingMountain gorillasUganda


  1. What an amazing experience, it does sound a little scary but still it’s such s great opportunity to see the gorillas so close up. Incidentally I was born in Uganda but never did I see any gorillas.

  2. I had to look for the safety part in your post. So how far is a “safe distance?” But good to know that these gorillas are already exposed to people. I would be scared to go into their habitat like that while just hiking and no vehicle to get me out of there fast. huhuh

  3. This is the coolest thing I’ve read this week! I find gorillas to be such fascinating creatures, and it was very cool that you got to be surrounded by them in a safe but interactive way! Also, very kind of you to give more than the minimum that is expected to the porters, thank you for paying it forward!

    1. I loved to see them in their natural habitat, they are happy there and free! The porters do a great job and there is no much options for them around, it’s a very isolated place I wanted to make sure that even if they don’t have more work for the week at least they have some considerable payment from this trip!

    1. Thank you, that’s exactly what I’m looking for by sharing my experiences! Unfortunately the number in the species has gone down considerable over the last few years but hopefully with all the conservation efforts they will start to turn around!

  4. Beautiful pictures. You’re experience is indeed worthwhile. I hope they come out of extinction soon. I did not know these things about Uganda and gorillas until I read your post.

  5. My goodness, what a way to spend a day! I especially loved seeing all of the photos. The babies are adorable, but I loved the big gorillas with their funny Buddha bellies. I had no idea the mountain gorilla’s numbers were so low and that they won’t survive in captivity. Thank-you so much for raising awareness about their plight!

    1. I knew something already but going there and seeing are precious they are really made me want to protect them even more! The program is great because this way they have funds to keep protecting them, it’s a 24 hour job there making sure they are safe! The baby was adorable and got lots of attention!

  6. Amazing, this is such am awesome experience, I love spotting animals in their natural habitat and what better than this trek to adore the mighty Gorilla’s. Indeed, it has been added in my adventure list.

  7. It is so hard to hear that there is only 800 mountain gorillas left and that they are only in three locations due to hunting and poachers. It saddens me that anyone could be so cruel to endanger the lives of such beautiful and intelligent animals and makes me question the moral ethics of these hunters. Killing animals should not be something that people do for fun, so I thank you for raising awareness and for showing how these creatures live in the wild. It must have been fascinating to hear about these intelligent beings.

    1. It was really fascinating, I have read a bit before I went but watching them in real time just proved to me how similar they are to us in the way they behave! It’s really sad and it breaks my heart but the teams over there together with the rangers are doing everything they can to protect them and make sure they don’t disappear!

  8. I can’t believe how close you got to them, what an experience! How sad for those men to walk all of that way to sometimes not get any work. That shows some serious dedication there. I’m glad you had a memorable trip! Nikki x

    1. We do get close but always on a safe distance and the rangers are there to help us as they know the gorillas like family! The porters do it because there is not a lot of choices to get some money around there, it’s very isolated and even if just one day or two that they do it it’s still good because the money they make will help them and their families!

  9. Now this was one hell of an expedition Amalia; I would also love to go Gorilla Tracking. The forest is absolutely beautiful and from your pictures, I can tell that the amount of fun you had is totally incomparable! I love how gorillas stay in packs as the ‘silverback’ leads them; such perfect ties indeed relate to us humans!

    1. I think it’s an experience I cannot compare to anything before or after! I loved to watch how similar they are to us humans, and they are amazing!

    1. I was not nervous at all because the rangers go with us the all way and they know the gorillas and their ‘language’ but yes, for me it was more a physical challenge!!

  10. Love this post! What an incredible journey. Beautiful photographs add more value to your content. Your tips are really helpful for the trekkers. Thanks for the share!

    1. Thank you Manoj! I hope that I can inspire people to visit and at the same time be more aware for the wildlife conservancy in this area, X

    1. Thank you Sarmistha! Is an experience of a lifetime, can’t compare to anything I have ever done before! You should try it, it’s easy to arrange it, X

  11. Hi Amalia! We had an excellent tracking! It was 1,5 hour walk/climb until we saw the gorilla’s, but it was a very impressive moment. A silverback and 2 females with 2 little ones sat there. They were eating and playing and doing the things they always do, not impressed by our presence. But suddenly they started moving through the forest so we had to follow them down the hill for about 25 minutes. The trackers made a ‘path’trough the thick bush and we had to follow them quick. AMazing how fast the gorillas go! But we saw again 2 females with baby’s eating and playing. As we all were watching and taking pictures, a silverback came from behind us, out of the bush, and passed along us! A-ma-zing!!!!! What a beautifull animal! By then we only had 5 minutes left and on our way back we saw another female and a little one. It was indeed a very special, once in a lifetime experience!!!!!! Back at the lodge we had a drink with the group and toasted on the most beautifull experience ever!

    1. Hey, I’m glad it was as beautiful for as it was for me! It sounds like you have seen a lot and really had to work for it! Later on when you’re back home you will feel like you’re really lucky to have witness such a perfect moment in nature, XX

  12. You have got to be the bravest girl I know of! I have a really big fear of gorillas so theres no way I could have made this trip!

    1. I was more scared of the path to get there…the gorillas that people visit are habituated but we we had to be on a safe distance and they were really magical and behaving just like us!

  13. Wow! That sounds like an exciting unforgettable immeasurable adventure. I had no idea that adventure was out there. I would love an experience like that. The green forest was so intense, and I really enjoyed your pictures. You really captured the experience in your photographs.

    1. It was one of the best of my life! Thank you, it was a special moments and I’m glad you can feel that be reading the post and the photos! xx

  14. I will be travelling to Uganda on a group trip with Matoke travels this november, wonderful t read about your adventure, I can’t wait for my own encounter with these wonderful apes!

    1. Hi Esther! The all experience was very well organised and the experience it’s just magical.. you will see that once you see the gorillas the all trekking will be worth it! Hoping that you have a small trek and take a good camera with you ?? let me know if you need more advice!

    2. Hi Esther! We will also be travelling with Matoke in november, doing the tracking. Maybe we will meet ?. Almost can ‘t wait……

      1. Love it when travelers find each other on my blog! I hope you both meet and let me know how the experience went…it’s a magical time, enjoy it!! X

        1. I was looking for information about what kind of shoes and clothes we should wear for the tracking, and so I saw your blog ??. I will sure let you know how it was. I hope we don’t have a very long and heavy tracking because of my not só very super condition ?.

          1. Hi Suzy please let me know how it went, it’s interesting to see other stories! It was really hard but completely rewarding once you see the gorillas, they are beautiful, hope you have a small track!! Xx

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