Gorilla tracking activity is carried out in only two national parks in south western Uganda namely; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park which is Uganda’s portion of the Virunga Massif. Gorilla tracking in Uganda is an excellent option for those looking for a remarkable wildlife encounter, there approximately close to 500 mountain gorillas in Uganda and the world’s population is now shooting to 1000 mountain gorillas, the parks named above are the only parks where you can track mountain gorillas in Uganda. Given the diversity of wildlife, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has an excellent opportunity for, hiking, community experiences and birding safaris.

Before going for the tracking activity, all travelers are required to attend a simple briefing about the rules and regulations while with the mountain gorillas. These rules have been put there to ensure the safety of gorillas and trackers in the jungle. These rules and regulation were established by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to protect the endangered mountain gorillas and travelers from the possibility of disease transmission from human to gorilla hence gorilla conservation.

Before departing on your gorilla tracking

  • A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
  • Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
A maximum of 8 persons on a Gorilla tracking encounter

 On the way to the gorillas

  • Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
  • DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  • You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way.
  • When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.

When with the gorillas

  • A 7 meter (21 feet) distance is to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  • You must stay in tight groups when you are near the gorillas.
  • Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  • Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
  • Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
  • Flash photography is not permitted, when taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
  • Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  • The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
  • After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General health rules

Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are ways to minimize the risk that your visit might pose to them:

  • Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  • If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
  • If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
  • Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  • Do not leave any rubbish (e.g. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  • If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.

What to bring on your Gorilla Safari

  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
  • Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
  • Carry packed lunch and enough drinking water.
  • Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
  • Bring a camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.

For more information about Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations, kindly contact us here.

2 Day Uganda-Rwanda Gorilla Safari

4 Day Uganda Primate Safari

6 Day Uganda Primate Safari

10 Day Uganda wildlife and Primate Safari

By Emmanuel Gambarombo

Gorilla Habituation is a process of training mountain gorillas to become used to tourists. This process takes a period of three to four years. Usually trained park rangers from the Uganda Wildlife Authority are in charge. Park rangers usually spend a short period of time with the gorillas every day, keep a certain distance to see if they are used to their cousin hence ready for tourists to visit them.

Gorillas in there natural Habitat

Gorillas are one of the few big wild species that can be seen in the wild with no aid of cars or other instrument to protect you, and for this reason the tracking offers a unique experience.


The Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda

The cost for Mountain Gorilla Habituation in Uganda is 1500 USD and only 4 visitors per group are allowed per day to participate in the Gorilla Habituation Experience while 8 visitors per group are allowed to track mountain gorillas every day at $600 USD which will now be $700 as per new UWA tariffs. Furthermore, given that they are so profitable, every year more Gorilla groups undergo the habituation procedure. The more Gorilla groups are available for gorilla tracking the more tourists are allowed to come to Uganda.

A Gorilla encounter


As of Dec 2017, 12 gorilla families have been habituated for gorilla trekking activity including Nkuringo, Bweza, Kahungye and Nshoji Gorilla groups which lie on the park’s southwestern boundary, Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura which are found on the park’s northern boundary, Far East at Ruhija are the Bitukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguriro gorilla families. Mountain Gorilla Habituation process gives travellers the opportunity to understand the mountain Gorillas behaviors and how they live in their natural habitat.

Photocredit: Getty Images


Gorilla Habituation for research or tourism requires regular, continuous and close human presence near the gorillas in their natural habitat. Researchers usually spend several hours at a time with Gorilla groups, and therefore represent a similar degree of exposure to gorillas as tourists (in person-hours), even though they may not visit gorillas as often as tourists. In addition, occasional emergency veterinary interventions are inevitable and imply staff getting in direct contact with gorillas through clothes, hair and other forms, despite the required use of masks and gloves, thus representing an acute additional source of exposure for Gorilla groups.


What is important to highlight is that gorillas are majestic, big wild animals that let you be in their presence, but at the same time they have strong agency in the equation of gorilla tourism, in as much as they are the ones who decide the limits and the conditions.

Click here to get started.


By Emmanuel Gambarombo

Tourists while tracking Gorillas

It is well known that only chimpanzees and orangutans have a DNA that is closely related to that of humans, however there are other great apes whose genome is closely related to humans and these are Mountain gorillas.

A mountain gorilla can only survive in the wild, and not any wild, but a small volcanic region located in East Africa and so trekking into their native forests is your only chance you have to catch a peek.

Matter of fact, there are just about 850 mountain gorillas that exist only in the small tropical mountains of East Africa, and gorilla tracking is the only safari activity that provides a once in a life time rare opportunity to observe the everyday interactions of these gentle, mysterious giants.

Found only in East Africa and not anywhere else in the world, Gorillas live in the jungles of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and along the Great Virunga forest that stretches from Southwestern Uganda, Northwestern Rwanda and to the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo covering Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC respectively.

Since the early 80’s, environmentalists and governments have been jealously protecting the mountain gorillas with numbers going up from 254 in 1981 to over 800 in the recent 2018 census, thanks to these efforts anyone can go see them. Since these critically endangered creatures can’t survive in captivity, the only way to see them is by trekking up to their natural habitat, the misty cloudy forests that can reach altitudes of 14,763 feet (4,500 meters).

Going to spend some tiny moment with the mighty gorillas/ track the Gorillas is an arduous trip and not cheap at that. For that reason, we’ve put together important reasons why you should book that flight ticket, get us to arrange your all-inclusive gorilla safari and have you tick that off your bucket list with less hustle.

  • The Gorilla Habituation Experience

Forget tracking the gorillas that give you strictly 60 minutes with a mountain gorilla family when found. If you’re an adventurer, you would want to spend more time with your cousins. That’s what the gorilla habituation experience is for.

An encounter with a silver back (Tracking Gorillas)

Remember, mountain gorillas are wild animals. Though commonly known as gentle giants, the wild is something humans abandoned 70,000 years ago. It can take researchers, doctors, rangers and trackers up-to 5 years to habituate a discovered gorilla group to a point where humans can come spend time with them. Every day is a different one for five years and even after getting habituated, you’re only allowed one hour with them to avoid getting the wild out of them.

If you can take the excitement for four exciting hours with the wild unhabituated mountain gorilla deep into its territory, well why not! For the price US$1500 and you’ll be issued with a gorilla habituation experience permit for you to let your emotions go wild in the Jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable forest.

Uganda should be your next destination and Pearlland Safaris is a perfect operator for an all-inclusive gorilla tour to Uganda. No third parties, no hidden fees but a great selection of great accommodation, travel in a comfortable 4×4 cruiser and eat what surprises only your mind but leaves your belly smiling. Hit this link to start planning your gorilla tour right away.


A gorilla permit is invariably expensive to acquire and this is generally because it takes great effort and money to jealously protect the gorillas from poachers, keep them healthy and making sure they flourish in their natural habitat. The gorilla tracking permit is the best option to that cause.

The main competition to Uganda’s gorilla tracking permit is Rwanda. We can arguably rule out DRC for they have been having unresolved conflicts in the region which leaves Rwanda charging a hefty US$1,500 per person. Now if you’re comfortable with spending that high but on the other side Uganda charges less than half of that, US$600 for each gorilla permit which price is set to increase by $100 (US$700) starting July 1, 2020 according to the latest tariff guide.

 However, if you’re sensitive on price, Uganda should be your choice for gorilla tracking. With this price also comes more than 4 choices of gorilla tracking starting points (trail-heads). Bwindi alone gives you 4 starting points that determine the terrain and difficulty of tracking the gorillas. This comes as a bonus for seasoned trackers that want to explore different parts of the forest.

You can also talk to your travel operator and visit some local schools and women groups in the area if you have time on your itinerary. You know, teach a class, hand out gifts or learn a few things for your story telling back home. Either way, leave a piece of you in Africa, don’t just take the whole of you back.


  • Chances of sighting other primates along your path.

One other primate that draws crowds to Uganda is the chimpanzee. Primates flourish in this tiny country and most of the research done in the wild has taken place in this primate haven. Kibale Forest National Park for one issues out 72 chimpanzee permits per day. You could easily add Kibale to your gorilla tracking itinerary and spend some time with your distant cousins.


One gorilla home you most likely to meet another habituated fella is Mgahinga National Park. Hiking in Mgahinga is like minding your business then which you try to get to the gorillas and then surprise! One of those comical Golden Monkey may cross your path. These little shiny endangered primates live high up in the bamboo zones and tracking them is another activity done in Mgahinga National Park.

L’hoest monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys, blue monkeys, Patas monkeys roam around Murchison Falls National Park, chimpanzees and the red-tailed monkey jump high up in the treetops of Queen Elizabeth National Parks Kyambura Gorge. If it’s primates that tickle your joys, Uganda does not disappoint.


  • More than half of the last 850 gorillas call Uganda their home.

Compared to Rwanda and DRC, Uganda has lead on having more numbers of gorilla families. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park alone protects more than 400 gorillas. In addition to that, Uganda has a second gorilla home, Mgahinga National Park that shares borders with DRC and Rwanda’s Virunga and Volcanoes National Parks respectively. Now, gorillas don’t pay mind to political borders, so populations within the Virungas are relatively fluid giving Uganda and edge. Therefore, mountain gorilla sighting can be guaranteed up to 98% chance in Uganda than anywhere else.

A Gorilla Family in Uganda

Spanning an expanse of 331 sq km (128 sq mi), Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the continent’s oldest forests dating back to the ice ages era. Species diversity is a feature of the park, and that’s why it’s listed as a UNESCO heritage site. That is because it provides habitat for 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds, 220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos, and many other endangered species. Floristically, the park is among the most diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species, including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns. The northern (low elevation) sector has many species of Guineo-Congolian flora, including two endangered species, the brown mahogany and Brazzeia longipedicellata. In particular, the area shares in the high levels of endemisms of the Albertine Rift.

The park is a sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and many birds such as hornbills and turacos. And of course it’s most notable for the more than 400 endangered mountain gorillas that find sanctuary in Bwindi Forests. 14 Gorilla groups are habituated and open to tourism in four different sectors of Buhoma, Ruhijja, Rushaga and the Nkuringo in the Districts of Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro respectively all under the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.


“The primary threat to mountain gorillas comes from forest clearance and degradation, as the region’s growing human population struggles to earn out a living.” Says the International Gorilla Conservation Program.

The local communities who benefit

Conversion of land for agriculture and competition for limited natural resources such as firewood lead to varying degrees of deforestation. The only way to maintain gorilla habitat is to develop alternative economic activities that allow people to meet their daily needs, so that they see gorillas not as competitors, but as a means of improving their own situation.

Over the last decade Uganda has been a great beneficiary to tourism growth, seeing a number of locals benefiting generously from gorilla trekking safaris with over 20,000 coming to see gorillas annually. But you could make it more than just a number and help out the number of very low income communities that live around the gorilla national parks.

You can hire a porter for one, a local porter will carry your bag for you or even put you on his back if your body energy is used up. The park’s terrain can sometimes be steep and unlevelled, making it really difficult to hike for unseasoned trackers. A local porter will help you navigate the terrain, cross rivers, pull/carry you up steep slopes and muddy inclines.

How about signing up for a Batwa trail hike. The Batwa are the native forest inhabitants that were later relocated and given land outside the park. So the elders occasionally have these trips with tourists through the forest enacting their old ways of survival through the golden years in the forest. For US$100 (solo, less in group), you would relive the Batwa forest history and travel with a cause.

  • Choice of terrain to trek.

Driving through the unending winding roads, rolling slopes and terraced hills for hours to get to the gorilla haven and the shear beauty alone can’t keep you from the thought that trekking that altitude to reach the mountain gorillas is not going to be that simple but a challenge. An adventure of your life that requires you to tick off your list.

Trekking through the rugged terrain

It’s challenging to reach these gentle giants. Sometimes it may require you to hike upwards or downwards depending on your chosen tracking sector and safari accommodation. You’ll be led through thick jungle shrubs, tangles of vines, hundreds of year old fat trees, roots and a damp forest floor just to confirm to you that this territory is untouched.

There are no paths, signs or direction and that’s why you’ll have a tracker with a machete creating a path and an armed guard to protect you from the unplanned eventualities. But the reward of hiking through the jungle with the fear creamed within and the excitement of meeting the Silver back male mountain gorilla anytime, is something I can’t write about in these lines. You just have to get out of your city comfort and come experience it yourself.

Click here to book yourself a Safari of a life time or check below for some Gorilla Safaris of your choice.

15 Day Primate Safari

3 Day Chimpanzee tracking Safari

3 Day Gorilla Trekking Safari

4 Day Primate  Safari

6 Day Primate Safari

By Emmanuel Gambarombo

Virunga National park is one of not the best with diversity in Africa. Almost more than half of what’s in Sub Saharan Africa in concentrated in this park. This park also boosts of two active volcanoes. Virunga national park though has for a long time been threatened by political conflicts in DRC but somehow it’s still surviving and was recently reopened. Established in 1925 by the then King of Belgium King Albert 1 and it was first called Albert national Park. It was primarily gazetted to protect the endangered Mountain Gorillas which can also be found in Uganda and Rwanda Only. After 1960 when Congo had gotten independence the park deteriorated just like the country and it was not until the early 70s when the president picked interest in conservation that the park was revived and renamed Virunga National Park. The park is about 7800 sq km and stretches from Virunga Mountains in the South to the Rwenzori in the north. The park is well known for its bird, mammal and reptile concentration more than any other protected areas in Africa. Some of the notables include the chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, giraffes, buffaloes and many others.

Virunga National Park is the oldest wildlife protected area on the African soil created to protect and conserve the unique wildlife species therein, for science and research purposes and protecting an indigenous threatened fruit-gathering community; the Twa. The Virunga wildlife conservancy is the joint where the West African rainforests meet with the East African savanna grasslands and runs more than 300 km (190 mi) along the Albertine rift that splits the African continent from north to south.

The vestiges of Virunga’s rich diverse ecosystem that includes block mountain, volcanic mountains, the Albertine rift, craters and crater lakes, rainforests, woodlands, open grasslands, swamp and wetland vegetation amongst others extend into Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable, Queen Elizabeth, Semliki, Rwenzori and Mgahinga National Park as well as Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

Of recent mountain gorillas in Virunga have been the major attraction in this park given the fact that this is among the few parks in the area with these endangered gorillas. People prefer to track the gorillas here also because the cost is low and the park is also less congested compared to other tracking centers like PNV and Bwindi. This park is still fresh for new discoveries since it has not had a lot of tourism activity for a long time since its inception and it would be a good idea for those who want research and adventures in the same line. For some good time the area has been free for rebel activity and it is safe to travel, there is of course propaganda that the place is not safe but what of the influx of tourist coming in every day.

In 1979, the Virunga was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of her ecological importance though political upheavals have had negative implications on the conservancy. The 1990’s war period in the Rwanda was so challenging to the Virunga because of high influx of refugees into the Virunga conservancy who encroached on wildlife resources. In 1994, the Virunga conservancy was declared World Heritage in Danger and later became a Ramsar site of international importance in 1996. The Virunga is still rated a strong ecological pillar for the entire east and central African ecosystem.

Accessing Virunga National park.
Virunga National Park is located in Eastern DR Congo. Travel by road to Virunga is challenging in some way from the rest of DR Congo except Goma Town 32km close. Many travelers to Virunga National Park fly to Kigali International Airport, connect by road through Gisenyi town, and cross to Goma in DR Congo by dirt road. From Gisenyi it is average 2-hour drive to reach the park headquarters at Bukima. Travelers from Uganda side cross at Bunagana border post in Kisoro town and take an hour drive to Bukima the Mountain gorilla trek starting point. Ethiopian Airways operates single flights each week to Goma. The park arranges private transport for travelers arriving by air at Goma Airport. Seek guidance from Virunga National Park on the best way to travel into the park. Travelers may need ranger escorts at times to guide them on the best way to make it to the tourism zones.

Major Attractions in Virunga National Park
Climate; The Virunga conservancy is many travelers’ dream destination because of pleasant warm weather and mild showers. The equator line runs through the Virunga and carries with it high temperatures. Some parts of the Virunga are at a higher altitude and get chilly all the time. The Virunga volcanic soils are rich in nutrients for plant growth and the favorable temperatures ensure rapid plant growth. The surrounding large water bodies; Lakes Kivu, Edward, Albert and other smaller lakes, Rivers Congo, Nile, Semliki and other tributaries have cool breezes and are ideal for water adventure activities. These factors result in a pleasant mix of tropical and equatorial climate with to mean rainfall at 190 mm (7.5 in). Mean temperatures vary between 23–28 °C (73–82 °F) in lowlands, and 16–24 °C (61–75 °F) at higher altitude. March-May and September -November experience large volumes of rains and night temperatures drastically fall low. The climate is favorable for travel and exploration of Virunga attractions all through the year.

Wildlife species; unique impressions of number of wildlife species and populations overwhelm travelers on tour into Virunga National Park. A combination of factors pleasant weather, soils that are fertile and rich in plant mineral content, limited number of travelers explore, discover and congest the wildlife have allowed the Virunga to remain pure and chaste. The conservancy is very rich in wildlife species, a very vibrant plant life and boasts of close to 2,077-plant life of these 264 are tree species and 230 of the grasses, shrubs, and plants are endemic to the Albertine Rift. Swamp and wetland vegetation ring the water bodies rising to open grasslands, woodlands, rainforests, montane forests, heath and alpine vegetation in the highlands. The Virunga is top travel destinations for travelers with an eye for wandering in the lush vegetation to explore and discover the beauty that is hiding in the African wilderness.

Mammals; The Virunga overflows with stunning beauty shown by high diversity in terrain, land features, vegetation and plant species. The Virunga National Park has ideal habitat conditions for any mammal species. The 2012 wildlife census recorded 218 mammal species of these 22 are primates, 706 bird species, 109 reptiles and 65 amphibian species. Travelers into Virunga have options of observing wildlife on game viewing drives, nature walks, hikes, boat cruise or trekking them in the forest. Notable mammal sightings in open grasslands or water include elephant, buffalos, lions, hippopotamus, leopard, okapi, bongo, warthog, waterbuck, bushbuck, blue duikers, bay duiker, yellow backed duiker, red river hog, giant forest hog, topi, aardvark, kob and many others. The rainforests, montane forests and alpine vegetations are ideal places to spot primate species. Travelers trekking Mountain gorillas and tracking chimpanzees in the rainforests have high opportunities to encounter red-tailed monkeys, De brazza’s monkey, blue monkey, golden monkey, Dent’s Mona monkey, Hamlyn’s monkey, Central African red colobus mantled guereza, grey-cheeked mangabey, black and white colobus monkey and olive baboon. Nile crocodiles and monitor lizards are often sightings along the shores of Lakes Edward and Albert and the Semliki River.

Mountain gorilla trekking; Note that Virunga massif that extends into Rwanda and Uganda is the only habitat for Mountain gorillas on earth. Mountain gorilla trekking safaris to Virunga are the most popular of tourism activities in DR Congo. There are not so many Mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park despite the large size of the habitat and six families are open for tourism activities. Kabirizi family is the popular to many travelers on gorilla trekking safari to DR Congo. Kabirizi is a dominant polygamist silverback with the largest of the gorilla family that has close to three dozen members.

Chimpanzees tracking safaris are the second most popular tourism activity in the Virunga that started in 1987 by Frankfurt Zoological Society for research study purposes. Travelers walk into and explore the rainforests on the lookout for families of chimpanzees that are less bothered by curious eyes of adventurers. Travelers tracking chimpanzees are restricted to one-hour interaction with the chimpanzees. Chimpanzee habituation exercise is an exciting travel activity that gives travelers an entire day unlimited interaction with families of chimpanzees. The chimpanzee habituation teams set out early morning and wander into the rainforests looking for chimpanzees before they leave their nests, spend entire day observing and discovering their habits until evening when they make nests for the night.

Nature walks; Virunga National Park is a majorly tropical rain forest with dense vegetation. However, some parts are woodland, grassland and swamp. Adventure travelers on safari to Virunga set out in the morning and walk into the wilderness to explore and discover the breathtaking beauty of the landscape and entire wilderness. A defined trail system leads travelers to secret corners with unbelievable sightings and unique sounds from the wilderness.

Nyiragongo hike; Virunga National Park is a travel destination blessed with natural beauty in abundance. Nyiragongo is an active volcano where volcanic eruption goes on in a lava lake all year round. Hiking to the summit of Nyiragongo and observing the natural geographic force as boiling molten lava gush out of the earth crust is an experience that is so rare and for the stonehearted. Nyiragongo hiking safari is a test for travelers’ bravery and a very rare opportunity that awakens travelers’ adventure senses.

Landscape viewing; Virunga National Park is a travel destination with eye-catching landscapes that appeal to many travelers. From snow peaked Rwenzori Mountains, Nyiragongo active volcanic mountains, extinct volcanicmountains, craters, rift valley, clear water bodies, rainforests, savanna grassland and many other, Virunga is every nature lover’s dream destination. Hiking, photography and sightseeing safaris are very popular and give travelers wonderful experiences than ever before.

Birding watching; Virunga has varied habitats that range from mountains, rainforest, open grassland, swamp and marsh, water bodies and rift valleys. These attract different species of birds with more than 706 record sightings. There bird watching expeditions in Virunga have very high potential but opportunities are not fully exploited as of now. Grey throated barbet, Madagascar bee-eater, Narrow-tailed starling, Ruwenzori turaco, African fish eagle and many others are often sighted.

Before traveling to Virunga National Park it is important to first confirm that all requirements to enter the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda have been secure. It is also important to make sure that all immunizations are up to date and all applicable Visas have been processed and printed.

Immunizations: A Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required to enter the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda. After receiving the vaccine, you will receive a signed and stamped Yellow Fever Card which you must bring with you on your Trip.
This certificate should show your full name, date of birth and gender as written in your passport. Please note that you must receive this vaccine at least 10 days before departing for you trip.

Applying for a Visa: To qualify for a Tourist Visa to enter the DRC, you must first purchase a package. Tourist Visas purchased online through Virunga National Park are non-refundable.
Please make sure to secure any other Visas that you will need as you make your way to the DRC. Countries such as Uganda and Rwanda allow some nationalities to obtain Visas upon arrival to their main Airports, however it is up to the up to the individual traveler to verify Visa requirements in advance of arrival.

DRC Tourist Visa in Review:
• Visas are only available online through visitvirunga.org or through a trusted tour operator.
• Only valid in combination with a paid-in-full park package.
• Requires a minimum of two weeks to process and fees are non-refundable.
• Single entry and valid for 14 days from the day of entry.
• Please bring printed copies of your package confirmation and DGM issued electronic visa details.
• Please email a scanned copy of your passport to visa@virnga.org upon completion of your visa application.
• Proof of Yellow Fever Vaccination is required for access into the country.
• The Department on Migration (DGM) reserves the right to reject a visa application.
• Please cross into Goma at the “Grand Barriere” NOT at the “Petite Barriere”


By Emmanuel Gambarombo

Situated on 7 rolling hills some 10km inland of the lake, Kampala, the economic and social hub of Uganda, is the archetypal African capital, more verdant than many of its counterparts, not quite so populous or chaotic as others, but essentially the familiar juxtaposition of a bustling compact high-rise city centre rising from a leafy suburban sprawl, increasingly organic in appearance as one reaches its rustic periphery.

Facts and Figures

Population: 1,507,080
Nicknames: K’la, The Happy City, The City That Never Sleeps, Pearl of Africa (For Uganda too)
Languages: English (main) Kiswahili, Luganda
Location: Central
Size: 180.1 sq kilometers
Division: Kampala Central Division
Environment: Kampala is one of the greenest cities in the world with acres of green areas. There is no a problem of air pollution, the air quality is always good through the year.
Governance: The Kampala Capital City Authority is the main administrative body that manages the city. It’s headed by the Executive Director, the city also has a mayor. Kampala is also the seat of parliament of Uganda, state house and all government ministries.

NB: Uganda won its freedom from the United Kingdom on October 9, 1962. Ugandans celebrate Independence Day as a public holiday each October 9.

Initially Mutesa I, the Kabaka (King) of Buganda chose the area that was to become Kampala as one of his favorite hunting grounds. The area was made up of hills and wetlands. It was an ideal breeding ground for various wild animals, particularly a species of antelope, and the impala, in whose name the city was named Kampala (the area of Impalas).

The city grew as the capital of the Buganda kingdom, from which several buildings survive, including the Kasubi Tombs (built in 1881), the Lubiri Palace, the Buganda Parliament and the Buganda Court of Justice. Severely damaged in the Uganda-Tanzania War, the city has since then been rebuilt with constructions of new buildings including hotels, banks, shopping malls, educational institutions, hospitals and improvement of war torn buildings and infrastructure.

Traditionally, Kampala was a city of seven hills, but over time it has come to have a lot more.Kampala was initially built on seven hills, although this is now the city has spread over several hills and villages beyond Kampala boundaries. The earliest 7 hills that make up Kampala include;

Old Kampala Hill, (also known as Old Kampala), the hill of the Impala is where the ruins of Lugard’s Fort are. Its also the seat of one of Africa’s biggest mosque (Gadaffi Mosque).

Gadaffi Mosque located on Old Kampala Hill

Lubaga Hill, where the Rubaga Catholic Cathedral is, and was the headquarters of the White Fathers.

Rubaga Cathedral (Catholic founded) located on Lubaga Hill

Namirembe Hill, home to the Namirembe Anglican Cathedral. The Protestants were the first of the Christian Missions to arrive.

Namirembe Cathederal (Anglican founded) located on Namirembe Hill

Mengo Hill, is where the present Lubiri (Kabaka’s Palace) is and the Headquarters of the Buganda Court of Justice and of the Lukiiko, Buganda’s Parliament (Bulange).

The Lubiri-Mengo Kabaka’s Palace located on Mengo Hill

Nakasero Hill, This hill houses the State house for the president of the republic of Uganda and is reserved for public administration. 

Nakasero Hill

Kololo Hill, is a reserved and preferred residence for the top Government officials and those that hold high and top jobs in the country including the Rich and Foreigners. 

Kololo Hill

Makerere Hill, is reserved for the highest institution of learning and the most prestigious university in East Africa (Makerere University) and Mulago neighboring it as the epitome of public health (the national referral hospital).

Mekerere University (The Ivory Tower) located on Makerere Hill

Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. The city is divided into five boroughs that oversee local planning: Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division, and Rubaga Division. Surrounding Kampala is the rapidly growing Wakiso District

These days, Kampala is practically unrecognisable from the dire incarnation of the mid 1980s. The main shopping area along Kampala Road might be that of any African capital, while the edge of the city centre has seen the development of a clutch of bright, modern supermarkets and shopping malls. The area immediately north of Kampala Road, where foreign embassies and government departments rub shoulders with renovated tourist hotels, is as smart as any part of Nairobi or Dar es Salaam. Admittedly it’s a different story downhill of Kampala Road where overcrowded backstreets, congested with hooting minibus-taxis and swerving boda-boda drivers, reveal a more representative face of Kampala the city as most of its residents see it.

Kampala is not only smarter than it used to be but considerably larger. These days it covers almost 200km² as the population has risen from 330,000 in 1969 to at least 1.65 million inhabitants today  a figure easily ten times greater than any other town in Uganda.

Best Time to Visit Kampala
If you’re looking for ideal weather, the best time to visit Kampala is between May and September as well as December to February with average temperatures in the low 20’s.

However, Kampala generally has the nicest temperature all through the year with low precipitation and humidity. This also makes for the perfect game viewing in the National Parks, as animals concentrate around the local water bodies.

What you shouldn’t miss while on a Tour in Kampala
The Buganda Royal Mengo Palace: This is the former home to the king of Buganda and this was constructed in 1885 and is still an important political and religious building. The interior cannot be visited due to hidden reasons but the underground old prison operates daily tours that are worth trying out.


By Emmanuel Gambarombo


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