Did you know that gorilla trekking can only be done in Uganda, Congo and Rwanda while on your African safari?
Gorilla trekking is an experience where visitors penetrate the forest to search for the gorillas and then spend a maximum of an hour while in their presence. This is done in a group of 8 visitors with two park ranger guide who are fully armed to offer protection in case of any attack from wild animals. All you need to know is that the overall experience takes about 3 to 5 hours and this depends on the location of a gorilla family you’ve been allocated to.
There are two different species of gorillas in Africa and these are; the Eastern gorillas and western gorillas; are also divided into four sub species. These sub species are western lowland gorillas (gorilla gorilla), the cross river gorillas (gorilla dhehli), the grauer’s gorilla or eastern low land gorillas (beringeigraueri) and mountain gorillas (Gorillaberingeiberingei). Of the four sub species, only cross river gorillas cannot be found in the three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo).
When in Uganda, you can only trek mountain gorillas in two prime national parks and these are Mgahinga and Bwindi impenetrable national parks. These national parks are located in the Virunga Mountains where mountain gorillas can be located in the whole world. This is where the name for these apes originates since they are located in mountainous areas with altitude of about 8,000 to12,000 ft. above sea level. Their thick and long fur makes them stay in such cold areas.
The two national parks are located in south Western Uganda and a drive to these parks rewards you with a great adventure of sight-seeing, meandering roads, road side attractions like local markets, the Uganda equator in Queen Elizabeth national park and Kayabwe among others.There are other attractions you can spot while on a gorilla trekking expedition like golden monkeys in Mgahinga national park, different bird species including rift valley endemics, vegetation among others.
While in Rwanda, gorilla trekking can be done only in Volcanoes National Park, which has about 12 habituated gorilla families.This national park is known to host 5 of eight volcanoes and these include Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Sabyinyo and Gahinga. It is also known for being the home of Dian Fossey’s graveyard, female researcher and primatologist who lived all her life trying to protect mountain gorillas from poachers. She was later killed by unknown people after establishing Karisoke research center which is located between Karisimbi and Bisoke.
Here gorilla trekking is done in two national parks - Virunga national park for mountain gorillas and Kahuzi-Biega national park for lowland gorillas. Virunga national park is an amazing destination where you have a chance to explore the two active volcanoes - Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. Virunga national park has only 9 habituated gorilla families, just like its counterpart Kahuzi-Biega national park.
Gorilla trekking in these 3 countries takes place in the morning hours, starting at 8:00am and only one shift per day. This means that there are limited gorilla trekking permits per day and therefore a need for you to book your gorilla trekking permit earlier enough,at least6 months or earlier. This gives you a chance to trek the gorilla family of your choice at any destination.
The first and primary requirement is gorilla trekking permit which can be acquired from a recognized tour operator or through government agencies including Uganda Wildlife Authority, Rwanda Development Authority and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature. You are required to acquire the permit at least6 months before trekking your intended trekking day. Each country has its cost for the permits, with Rwanda presenting as the most expensive at USD1500, USD700 in Uganda and USD400 in D.R. Congo, for foreign Non-Residents.
Only persons aged 15 years and above are allowed to trek the great apes, therefore children below that age are not allowed to take part in gorilla trekking. This is because of the strict trekking precautions that may not be followed well by young children and distance usually covered with extensive hikes.
Other requirements include; vaccination cards, yellow fever vaccine card, gardening gloves, long sleeved pair of pants and a shirt, hut, insect repellent, extra money for hiring potters and tips among others.
Are you planning to take a gorilla safari in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo? We are ready to tailor the best gorilla trekking experience for you.