Uganda’s dense forests are home to over half the world’s 1,000 or so mountain gorillas, according to Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA).
The rest of these International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) endangered subspecies live in the neighboring countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It’s for this reason that National Geographic Traveller has listed Uganda as one of the world’s 19 must-visit destinations in 2019.
“If you’re longing to see mountain gorillas in the wild, but Rwanda’s ultra-luxe lodges and high permit fees don’t suit your budget, head for Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest instead,” writes the US-based magazine.
The steady growth of Uganda’s gorilla population is one of Africa’s great conservation success stories, with tourists playing an important role.
Almost 20 families can now be visited by guided groups of up to eight. Trekking fees raise funds not only for gorillas and their habitat, but also for Uganda’s other national assets including Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks - home to chimps, giraffes and hippos.
Other indulgencies you can’t miss include exploring Bwindi’s birdwatching trails, cycle routes and craft scene after your gorilla trek.
When Rwanda doubled the price of its gorilla trek permits from $750 to $1,500 (£572 to £1,144) in 2017, Uganda responded by freezing its own rates at $600 (£458) until mid-2019.
What you need to know about gorillas
Gorillas display uncanny human characteristics. The close-knit family groups are headed by a silverback - a mature male - who selects places for the group to eat and sleep, and has many privileges, including the right to feed first. This privilege pays off for the rest of the family, as if the group is threatened, the silverback - weighing up to 120kg (260lbs) - will defend them to the death, if necessary.
Generally though, the gorilla is a gentle species. They are considered to be highly intelligent, have been observed using tools like other great apes, and communicate using a variety of vocal sounds.
The name gorilla comes from the Greek gorillai - meaning hairy women.
Where to find them in Uganda
Uganda has two main places where these Mountain Gorillas may be seen, one is Mgahinga Gorilla Park; a stunning park and a component of the Virunga chain of towering volcanoes that extend into the DRC and Rwanda, and then in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
Below is the full list of the world’s 19 must-visit destinations in 2019 National Geographic
6. San Miguel de Allende
7. West Yorkshire
8. Hong Kong