Gorilla trekking in Africa is probably the most exhilarating thing to do an African Safari, many travelers have reviewed the experience as life changing, magical and once in a life time experience.There are three countries where you can do Gorilla trekking; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla trekking safaris to Uganda take you to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, the Park is home to half of the remaining population of mountain gorillas left in the world. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is carried out in Volcanoes National Park whereas in The Democratic Republic of Congo, a gorilla trekking safari takes you to Virunga National Park. As of 2013 gorilla population census, there were only about 800 mountain gorillas left in the world but we are very happy to say that they are now over a thousand and the population is steadily growing. Mountain Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda are by far the biggest of all the primates, gorillas you see in zoos are actually Lola mountain gorillas who are smaller than these ones you see in the wild while on a gorilla trekking Uganda or Rwanda Safari.
Gorilla Trekking Safari Tours
Why you should trek mountain Gorillas
Mountain Gorillas are very rare with only about a thousand or so mountain gorillas remaining in the wild and they are considered critically endangered species however the good news is that their numbers are slowly increasing due to conservation efforts. Every year we get good news about a baby boom going on with the gorillas so their numbers are steadily increasing but their species is still under threat due to some significant challenges they are still facing which include; habitat loss as populations increase in both Uganda and Rwanda, their natural habitat decrease. Climate change also means uncertainty because mountain gorillas live on the slopes of mountains there fore they can only go up so high to keep within the same kind of temperate region which exposes them to poaching. Poaching is anissue not particularly poaching of the gorillas themselves but indiscriminatemethods like snares and traps catch gorillas. Mountain gorillas also have the most robust immune systems, they are not evolved to cope with human diseases which makes it easy for them to get infected especially with respiratory diseases like flu. Civil Wars within the region like the Civil War currently going on in the DRC and theneven looking back at the Rwandan genocide of 1994, these had really detrimental effects on gorilla population numbers. Mountain gorillas are threatened from all kind of from all sides but the good news is that one of the best things that you can do is visit them so revenue from tourism can help to fund parks, conservation programs and community involvement. The communities have gotten involved recognizing that this iconic species if they thrive then it’s a valuable resource for local communities and and for these countries so both the countries and communities have recognized this and they’ve really gotten on board with with trying to help conserve these gentle creatures.
How to plan Uganda and Rwanda Gorilla trekking | Complete Guide
Gorilla trekking is one of the highlights of African safara but it’s very confusing to organize especially for independent travelers. Basic requirements for booking gorilla trekking Uganda are the same steps you will require if you opt for gorilla trekking Rwanda or Congo. These requirements include: a gorilla permit, tourist visa, credible tour operator as for the start.
Gorilla permit | Gorilla permit cost
This is your ticket to a gorilla trekking safari to Uganda, Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda has the most officiated gorilla groups and it’s also the cheapest with permits costing only four $450 in the low season of April and May and $700 in the peak season. ln Rwanda it costs $ 1500, in the DRC a gorilla permit goes for $400. However due to Covid 19 affecting travel, gorilla permit have een discounted with a permit in Uganda costing $400 and Rwanda has its permit at $500. These discounted rates are valid for gorilla permit bookings not later than May 2021
How to get a Uganda Gorilla trekking permit
To secure your ticket to a gorilla trekking Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park Safari, you have to contact a credible tour operator who will provide you with relevant information on the availability of gorilla permits for your desired travel dates. It is best to book your Gorilla permit a year or 3 months in advance to your travel dates, this is because these permits run out 3 months or more prior to their dates. Gorilla tracking is organized by the Uganda wildlife Authority from where your tour operator and must purchase your gorilla permit. There are four different gorilla trekking sections in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Uganda but we recommend Rushaga. This section has more gorilla families and is the nearest to track.
How to acquire a Rwanda Gorilla trekking permit
To book gorilla trekking permit Rwanda, you can contact a credible tour operator to help you book your gorilla permit or alternatively, you can visit the RDB website to check for the availability of the gorilla permits, if they’re still available, there are two ways to book. The first way is to use the service of a Rwanda tour operator who can purchase your gorilla permit to confirm your booking. The second option is to pay pay online after confirming availability of the permit for your travel dates. You can go ahead and deposit the money on Rwanda DB accounts which are provided upon inquiry.
How far in advance should one book a gorilla permit?
This depends, in the high season we recommend that visitors book as early as three months let’s say three months or four months to make sure they secure their bookings. Alternatively visitors can arrange their permits once the in Rwanda or Uganda if they didn’t come mainly for the gorillas. It is advisable to cantact the offices in charge to arrange and see if there are cases of open gorilla permits due to cancellations that are often made by some travelers. However this shouldn’t be a chance you should so we don’t recommend this option.
What you need to pack for gorilla trekking
You don’t really need that much, you’re basically going for a hike into a steep jungle terrain so you need good shoes with a chunkier soul to it a little bit of stability you don’t need to have high-top boots, a pair of solid hikers are good, a pair of gaiters is helpful to keep ants bugs mud things like that out of your socks and shoes. Pack gardening gloves you know there’s a lot of prickly plants so it’s a good idea to have something on your hands to protect you. A good camera that does well in bright, light ,dark,near and far basically something that can do it all and something that you’re really familiar with and feel comfortable using. A light rain jacket is really a good idea, the weather high up the mountains can change instantly that means rain so having something like that. Trekking poles/ walking sticks are a good idea to help steady yourself but never the less the porters are happy to lend a hand. It is advisable not to pack bright colors since you will heading out to the jungle, these colors tend to attract tsetse flies bringing you at a risk of contracting tsetse fly bites
Gorilla trekking Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Experience
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable forest National park starts earlymorning, this is because the trackers know where the gorillas were yesterday so the task is to find them on this maiden day. The trek in the jungle has no designated path and so for two hours or for ten hours, you embark on a gorilla trek in search for the habituated gorilla families. If your lucky enough, a gorilla family maybe found within just a few hours of your gorilla trek. Upon encountering the gorillas, you all have to crouch down, sit down in very quiet manner. The immediate rule that you keep a 7 meters distance away from the gorillas therefore you are not allowed to touch or approach towards them but if they come to you, let it happen, they’re very gentle. Have you watched the the famous documentary “gorillas in the mist”? If so, then you have a definite idea of what it is like to be around these gorillas. it’s a life changing experience. You are allowed to stay around the family for a maximum of one hour before you trek back through the forest and that is your gorilla experience.
Alternatively some visitors opt for more hours with the gorilla in an exclusive experience known as gorilla Habituation, this can be prepared at an events extra cost. Gorilla Habituation Experience offers visitors exclusive 4 hours with the gorilla unlike the ordinary one hour a regular gorilla trekking experience offers. In Uganda, a permit to a gorilla Habituation experience cost $ 1500.
Uganda or Rwanda, which is a better option for gorilla trekking?
We always always try and encourage our visitors to see the gorillas twice better in both countries or in one or the other. An answer to sum up Uganda or Rwanda is a really difficult one. Uganda is authentic with a wonderful scenery, it’s got that crazy African feel, densely populated with villages everywhere but the gorillas are a little bit harder to see due to the deep steeper slopes to the gorilla families however the advantage Uganda I has the Lower price of their gorilla permit literally half the price of a gorilla permit in Rwanda. On the other hand the advantage of Rwanda is it’s easier to go see the gorillas, it so near, about two hour drive from Kigali the capital. The trekking is definitely easy and it doesn’t tend to be as steep, the vegetation is not quite as thick but they’re both good and blessed with the gentle giants.
What is the best time to see mountain gorillas?
Quick answer is any time of year can be a good time to visit Rwanda and Uganda mountain gorillas, the primates settle in families which means that they are limited to movements or migrations but never the less considering weather factors, june to October are the best months to embark of a gorilla trekking safari. These months are dry within the region with very scattered rains which eases accessibility to gorilla families. But in reality you’re often combining seeing the gorillas or the Safari maybe with a Kenya or Tanzania or even southern Africa down in Zambia Botswana so really itis dictated by when you want to do the safari and then add the gorillas on the forearm.
How close do you get to the gorillas?
The rule is to stay about 7 meters from the gorillas when you meet them but however there are cases when the gorillas move closer to you in that you could get incredibly close to the family of gorillas probably within arm’s reach. It’s not meant to be an interactive experience but that’s not to say that gorilla might not brush up against your leg when it’s walking past. It is an observational experience which is still incredible but you are close enough to see their teeth see their eyes watch them interact and really sort of understand their their feelings and movements.
The minimum age for trekking is 15 years, there’s no maximum age as long as you’re fit enough you can do it but you definitely want to be able to walk for a the long hours.
Top tip for planning your gorilla trekking safari
when planning a gorilla, make sure you buys your gorilla permit in advance because you cannot guarantee a trip unless you have a gorilla permit. To be safe, you could book your permit a year, 4 months or 3 ahead however if your lucky enough sometimes they can be available the next week sometimes they’re not available for the whole of August so it’s something you really need to plan.
Second tip would be to do two tracks, one where you can take pictures and one where you can put the camera down and really just immerse yourself in the experience.