Gorilla Trekking

Having the unique opportunity to see some of the endangered mountain gorillas in the wild tropical rain forests of Africa is one of the lifetime experiences you can ever take in Africa. Did you know that there are only about 880 mountain gorillas within the world? These gorillas are found in only three countries and a visit to one the gorilla parks will help in conserving these primates. Start planning a gorilla safari and see of nature’s great species, said to be about 97% human. The mountain gorillas are some of our closest relatives sharing 97% of the human DNA.

Where to See Gorillas in the Wild

Did you know that mountain gorillas are 11th of the most an endangered species in the world and it is said that there are only about 880 left in the wild forest of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo? These gorillas are found in four national parks shared by three countries; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A tour across these parks characterized by several mountains between Rwanda and Uganda leads you into an exclusively different world that offers a rewarding wildlife experience incorporable to no other experience in the world. The experience of watching the mountain gorillas is unexplainable and the stunning features of the forest bring lifetime memories that will never leave your mind. All parks are safe for gorilla tourism including even the Virunga National Park that of recent years had been taken over by the M23 Rebels but now open again for gorilla tourism. Trips through these parks are guided by friendly trackers whom you meet at the different visitor’s centres within these parks.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Bwindi Forest National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the best places to watch the mountain gorillas. Located in southwestern Uganda at the edge of the western arm of the Rift Valley, the park is home to nearly half of the remaining total population of the mountain gorillas in the wild. This mist-covered forest is one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests dating back to over 25,000 years . The forest is rich with both flora and fauna, containing almost 400 species of plants, 120 mammals and 350 bird species. The park protects an estimated 320 mountain gorillas – nearly half of the world’s population. There are several habituated groups where tourists can go for the trekking experience.

Mgahinga National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is another gorilla park in Uganda, located in the south western part of the country. Sitting high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m, this park offers an amazing experience to see some of the mountain gorillas in the wild. Covering only 33kms, this park started as a game sanctuary in 1930 and later gazetted as a National Park in 1991 to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests. It also offers an opportunity to see the endangered golden monkey. Visit www.mgahinganationalpark.com for a complete guide to planning a trek in the park.

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park

The marvelous Volcanoes national park is found in Northern Rwanda and most Rwanda safaris do not end without linking into this park. The park has got three ancient volcanoes whose forms dominate the entire Rwenzori horizon. First gazetted in 1925 by the Belgian Colonialists as a small area bounded by Karisimbi, Visoke and Mikeno, its main purpose was to protect the mountain gorillas from poachers. It was the very first National Park to be created in Africa and in 1929, the borders of the park were extended further into Rwanda and into the Belgian Congo, to form the Albert National Park, a 8090 km² run by the Belgian colonial authorities who were in charge of both countries. Today Volcanoes National Park is one the most visited destinations, the best park for day trips and shorter gorilla treks. For more information about this park visit www.volcanoesrwanda.com

Gorilla Trekking in DR Congo

Gorilla tracking is one of the best adventures one can ever take on the African continent. There are lots of options available for the wildlife-conscious traveler but gorilla tracking in Congo is unirivalled. Less have traveled to this country and the few who have visited the Congo gorilla parks rate it as the best experience!

Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park is the oldest national park in Africa. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo along the border of Uganda and Rwanda. The park is the continent’s most biologically diverse protected area, covering about 7800 square kilometers (3000 square miles). The park includes forests, savanna grasslands, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, active volcanoes, and the glaciated peaks of the Rwenzori mountains. The park is home to about a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. The park is also home to two other Great Ape species, the eastern lowland Grauer’s gorillas and chimpanzees. This makes it the only park in the world to host three taxa of Great Apes. The park is also host to the Okapi, an endangered species, large colonies of hippopotami, both forest and savanna elephants, lions, and numerous rare bird species can also be found in the park. Visit www.visitvirunga.org for a complete guide to gorilla trekking in the Virunga.

Republic of Congo

WHERE: Republic of the Congo
WHO RUNS IT: The Wilderness Collection
Threatened by poaching and the Ebola virus, the western lowland gorilla is also facing increasing habitat loss. The Wilderness Collection, a conservation-focused company, is pioneering gorilla-oriented tourism here. opening the first two lodges in the heart of the Congo Basin. At the simple bamboo Lango Camp, you take game drives on the savanna. At Ngaga Camp, in the heart of the rainforest, you’ll track gorillas. A portion of your fee goes toward the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, which supports anti-poaching programs. From $5,350, plus $650 for internal charter flights.

Gorilla Tracking – What Happens on the D-Day?
On the day of gorilla tracking, trekkers report early at the park headquarters to get briefed about the tour to take. In Uganda, your purchased gorilla permits show the gorilla group where you will do the tracking and you are supposed to report at the assemble point. Remember you are advised to stay at least a night in Bwindi or Mgahinga and the choice of accommodation depends on the region where the gorilla group to be visited exist. In Rwanda, all trekkers assemble at the park headquarters and get assigned to the particular gorilla group to be visited. If you do have fitness requirements such as the aged, your tour guide will help you get assigned to a nearby gorilla group. Remember, there are several choices for Rwanda tours given the distance between Kigali and Ruhengeri. You can therefore take a day trip though it is advised to atleast stay a night in PNV.

The trackers are local guides who have been working with the gorillas for many years and are customary as part of their family.Tracking starts through the natural forest which has abundant crops that are worked by the natural forest lines of pure jungle with no people, no paths and no handrails. The guide creates the path with a machete as the group continues while the guide communicates with the trackers who join the gorillas at 5am. After 45 minutes of great work, and avoiding stinging nettle, there is a greater experience of seeing the gorilla wandering for food.

There are only 32 gorilla permits issued per day in the Parc National de Volcanoes, Rwanda, to outlook one of the four families of habituated gorillas in the park. These gorillas have had protectors surrounding them from poachers for many years, and the visitors are allowed an hour with these amazing apes. The revenue generated from the sale of these permits goes into protecting the gorillas and injecting money-making activities into the communities living around the park. It is clear to see from local community projects that the benefits of protecting these great primates sieve down to all levels of society, and support the local communities to preserve the few gorillas that are left for future generations.

For more information on gorilla trekking in Africa visit www.gorillatrekkingguide.com, a comprehensive guide to gorilla trekking in East and Central Africa.