News, Culture & Society

Handy Guide to Gorilla Filming in Uganda

Gorilla filming in Uganda offers nature lovers a lifetime opportunity to capture live videos of massive mountain gorillas right in their natural habitat. This is without doubt one of the mesmerizing primate experiences any trekker who is interested in making gorilla documentaries or filmmakers can be part of.

Participating in gorilla filming in Uganda is possible provided that the film crew, filmmakers, production company, etc are fully prepared.

Part of the preparation for a successful gorilla safari in Uganda includes obtaining valid gorilla filming permits in advance, getting clearance, obtaining the right filming equipment/gear, and covering all costs related to gorilla filming in Uganda.

You can travel for gorilla filming in Uganda as an individual, filmmaker, professional, TV production companies/agency, and others. This is often done by journalists, and the government mainly for making documentaries or publication purposes.

Such documentaries are used as a means to create awareness among local communities about significance of gorilla conservation and tourism. This is aimed at making the local residents embrace wildlife or gorilla conservation and tourism.

Gorilla filming locations in Uganda

Uganda has two important gorilla filming locations that are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Over half of today’s 1063 mountain gorillas all live in these two national parks.

The remaining population of these endangered species lives in Rwanda and DR Congo.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Uganda’s premier gorilla filming destination and it is positioned in Southwestern Uganda. Bwindi occupies about 331 sq km and over 459 mountain gorillas thrive within its misty impenetrable forest.

It was founded in 1991 purposely to inhabit mountain gorillas and it is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage.

Bwindi National Park was declared a UNESCO Site in 1994 due to its biodiversity protecting over 120 mammal species including mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, plus a range of other primates.

While on a gorilla filming tour in Bwindi, there are 4 regions to start your adventure from that is Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors located in the Southern part of the park, Ruhija, and Buhoma.

Bwindi shelters more than mammals, there are also over 360 bird species such as black-billed turacos, western bellied robin chat, African green broadbill, handsome francolins, purple breasted sunbird, etc.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The less known Mgahinga National Park is a great location for filming. Located in Kisoro, Southwestern Uganda, Mgahinga is one of the most scenic places in Africa and thus an important location worth visiting for gorilla and nature filming.

At the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, filming adventures start at Ntebeko with briefing. The habituated gorilla family for gorilla visits and the three conical volcanoes of the Virunga offer a great setting for photography and filming.

Why choose gorilla filming in Uganda over Rwanda?

Mountain gorillas are generally unique creatures in Africa and the world as a whole. They exist in only three countries- Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. However, there are a 1000 reasons why gorilla filming in Uganda should be a must-do.

Firstly, filmmakers have two locations to achieve their filming dreams from that is Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga National Park.

Secondly, Uganda is an affordable gorilla filming destination compared to Rwanda. There are also over 21 habituated gorilla groups living in Bwindi and Mgahinga- these are open for gorilla filming safaris.

In terms of safety, Uganda is definitely the right place for you to go gorilla filming in Africa.

How much are gorilla filming permits in Uganda?

All interested persons in mountain gorilla filming experience in Uganda require to secure filming permits and other costs involved. As of 2022, Uganda gorilla permits are obtainable at US Dollars 700 for foreign non-residents, USD 600 foreign residents and as low as shs. 250,000 for East African citizens.

You can only be allowed to go film mountain gorillas if you have a valid gorilla permit. In addition to securing gorilla permits, you will also meet the USD 4200 cost for the gorilla filming experience.

This guarantees you an hour with mountain gorillas and there is USD1000 refundable fee to be paid and you get it back after sharing a copy of your photoshoot or CD at the end of your gorilla filming adventure.

You will share CD or photoshoot with Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Gorilla filming permits in Uganda plus other fees include park entry fees, the gorilla filming experience, guide fees, your security, etc. But, it excludes any costs related to accommodation and travels to and from your gorilla filming destination.

Before setting off for actual gorilla filming experience, you will be required to have permission from Uganda Media Council. You can secure your media cards at US Dollars 175 and it takes you 2 to 3 working hours for them to be processed.

When to travel for Uganda gorilla filming?

Any time is the right time to visit Uganda for a gorilla filming experience. However, you can have the best of it during the dry season from June to September or December to February when there is low or no rainfall.

The rainy months- March to May/October to November are ideal for gorilla filming but they experience heavy rains which often make the ground muddy, steep slopes slippery and there is dense vegetation.

What else to carry for the Uganda gorilla filming adventure?

Besides gorilla filming permits, other essentials to have include gardening gloves, good filming cameras, insect repellents, waterproof hiking boots, bottled water, snacks, sweater, rain jacket, daypacks,s and more.