August 29, 2023 | Bujo Safaris
Virunga Massif in the Democratic Republic of Congo plus Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park are home to the world's largest remaining population of critically endangered mountain gorillas. Whereas in Rwanda, Gorilla trekking activities are carried out in the Volcanoes National Park. Both countries offer the most remarkable gorilla trekking Safari that is worthy of more visits and both Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo are the top most popular destinations as far as gorilla trekking is concerned in East Africa and Africa at large.
It should therefore be noted that, chances of sighting gorillas in both Virunga and Volcanoes national park of Congo and Rwanda respectively are high at 95%, so the safari experience in both countries doesn’t differ much. When it comes to gorilla families, Uganda is actually the biggest host with 21 habituated gorilla family groups in its Bwindi Impenetrable forest. Congo has 10 gorilla families with 8 of the family groups in Virunga and 2 in Kahuzi-Biega National park. Rwanda’s volcanoes national park homes 13 gorilla families.
Gorilla Trekking in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Visitors should anticipate the best while they are in for their gorilla trekking Safari in Congo for there are 1060 individuals of mountain gorillas remaining in the entire world and one third of these are being hosted in Virunga national park of Democratic republic of Congo. Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga is dominated and surrounded by dense forests and Virunga mountains while the gorillas are the most dominant residents in this park with over 300 of other primates.
8 habituated gorilla families are in Virunga National Park with only four single males. Different gorilla species can be sighted in Congo compared to Rwanda where visitors get to see only one type of gorilla. Also a number of other animal species can be seen in Virunga while trekking unlike Rwanda’s Volcanoes where just a few species are seen due to its small size shape.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park will also give the visitors a chance to sight the largest lava lake in the whole world of the recently erupted famous Nyiragongo Mountain, one of the eight Virunga mountains in the Virunga region. Several primate species from chimpanzees to bonobos can also be sighted giving the guests such a lifetime rewarding Congo Safari experience.
GORILLA TREKKING PERMIT COSTS IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO AND RWANDA.
Gorilla trekking permits are actually much cheaper in the Democratic Republic of Congo compared to Rwanda. This is because both countries are aiming at different tourism goals, while Rwanda is trying to promote and upgrade its luxury tourism, Congo is aiming at promoting gorilla tourism in the country. So for the visitors who wish to save more and compensate for other tourism activities should know where the right choice is at.
A gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda goes for as much as $1500 USD, while the gorilla trekking permits in the Democratic Republic of Congo are as low as $400 USD.
GORILLA TREKKING IN KAHUZI BIEGA NATIONAL PARK, CONGO.
Visitors on Congo Safari should expect a unique moment with the Eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park. In this park, all gorilla trekking activities start at the Tshivanga station.
While Virunga National Park hosts about 8 gorilla family groups, Kahuzi Biega hosts only 2 gorilla groups where one is actually very close to the park's office. With over 36 gorilla individuals, the park has one of the largest Gorilla families in the world. The gorilla families in the Kahuzi Biega National Park are called Mugaruka and Chimunuka with about 36 gorilla individuals who sometimes move deeper in dense forests in search for food.
Since there are two families of gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park, while on the trek each family is assigned to one group of visitors comprising of 8 visitors and each visitors’ group is accompanied by the park ranger and tour guide for safety, sharing informative knowledge about the park and simple instructions to be followed.
Lowland gorilla trekking in the Kahuzi Biega takes about 2 to 4 hours and once these gorillas are sighted, visitors are given a chance of one on one with these comely apes for only 1 full hour. To sight these gorillas largely depends on where the food is, so the availability of enough food in the area attracts these gorillas.
BEST TIME FOR GORILLA TREKKING IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO AND RWANDA.
For both of these countries, gorilla trekking is possible throughout the year. However, the drier months are always the right timing unlike the wet rainy months. This is because in drier seasons, trails are easily accessible with short vegetation especially in the Virunga region where both countries have a share, there are no floods and the trails are less muddy compared to when it’s raining so visitors can be rest assured of the ease in moving their vehicles without being trapped in the mud.
Therefore, the best time for trekking in both Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and since these two countries receive rain more often at the same time is in the drier months of June to August and December to February. March to May and November are not advisable for gorilla trekking due to heavy rains that are always received in these months.