What are the chances of seeing mountain gorillas in Uganda? This is one of the frequently asked questions by tourists intending to take gorilla tours in Uganda. It is always unusual for a tour operator to confirm a gorilla trip without tourists asking about their chances of spotting these extraordinary Giant Apes.
However, you will ask over a hundred tour operators the same question but none of them will assure you of a 100% chance of seeing them because of several reasons that include the fact that they are mobile animals that keep moving every now and then without being controlled/limited but the chances of encountering them is at least 99%.
From the time gorilla tourism started in the early 1990s, there has not been any single recorded incident of gorilla trekkers failing to spot these endangered primates during a trip, thus you don’t have to worry of missing them during your gorilla safari. It is very disappointing to pay $600 for a gorilla permit in Uganda and you fail to find the mountain gorillas but the good news is that 50% of your money can be refunded in case it happens. Much as there is always no guarantee for trekkers to spot mountain gorillas in their natural habitats, there are always higher chances of seeing them that it is for not seeing them because of the following reasons;
Allocation of tourists to particular gorilla families depends on capability
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is characterized by varying elevations-there are areas of higher and lower elevations and mountain gorilla families occupy different areas in the Park. Therefore, tourists are advised to expect both difficult and easy hikes depending on the location of the gorilla family but depending on your level of physical fitness, personal choice and age, you will be allocated to a gorilla family that goes with your specification. The easier to track gorilla families are allocated to the older tourists while the difficult to reach families are usually tracked by young and energetic tourists.
Trackers always confirm the location of the gorilla families in advance
Before you even head into the jungles to track the gorilla families, a team of trackers have to head into the gorilla habitats earlier to check for the exact location of the family to ascertain where they nested the previous night. This reduces the time you would spend looking for the gorilla family because the trackers will direct the other Park rangers, guides and tourists on what routes to follow to find the mountain gorillas.
In most cases, Park rangers have and use radio calls for linking up with each other. Unlike the Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is divided into four different regions / sectors where gorilla trekking takes place; namely; Rushaga, Ruhija, Buhoma and Nkuringo with several gorilla families, hence making it easier for tourists to track groups from specific sectors.
Booking and preparation is always done early
Booking and preparing for a gorilla tour in advance (at least 3 months before the tracking date) is important for proper planning and avoiding disappointment. Intending gorilla trekkers are always advised to do some simple exercises while preparing for the great task ahead of them (gorilla trekking).
Preparation doesn’t only involve buying gorilla permits in advance but also packing the right equipments/items that include long sleeved shirts, long trousers, strong waterproof hiking boots, cotton socks, gardening gloves, sweater, rain jacket, a backpack, camera, pair of binoculars and snacks/drinking water.
Therefore, even if tourists are not assured of encountering the mountain gorillas in their natural environments, chances of meeting a gorilla family is always higher than those of not seeing them a team of trackers heads to the jungles first before tourists and booking is done in advance to allow earlier preparation. Just in case you miss them today, you have a chance to try again the next day but this is a rare case.