Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo is a life changing primate adventure worthy including on your bucket-list experiences. This is a memorable on-foot-walk experience and it offers an in-depth exploration about Africa’s distinct gorilla species, how they behave with a great opportunity for you to take photos.
Brief about mountain gorillas
Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) are exceptionally unique apes existing only in African continent. A glimpse at these creatures in their natural habitat is such a mesmerizing experience you need to be part of. Mountain gorillas are endangered species and they are a sub-species of the Eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei). As of today, only 1063 mountain gorillas still exist on planet earth and they live only in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.
Mountain gorillas are thicker in size and they have longer fur, one distinct trait that favors them to thrive on colder temperatures on montane areas. They are distinct creatures with unique nose prints. Unlike females, male mountain gorillas are heavier about 195kgs for a silverback compared to 100kgs for females. In terms of lifespan, they can live up to 40-50 years and usually exist in families or groups of 2 to 40 individuals.
Mountain gorillas in Uganda the pearl of Africa
About half of all the world’s 1063 mountain gorillas, all exist in Uganda and holidaymakers on Uganda gorilla safari can trek them in anyone of the country’s 2 parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Bwindi, there are about 459 mountain gorillas and 20 habituated families to explore in its 4 gorilla trekking regions (Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija and Buhoma). In Mgahinga, only Nyakagezi family can be trekked starting from Ntebeko area.
All gorilla permits for Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park are obtainable at $700 if you are under visitor category of foreign non-residents, $600 foreign residents and shs. 250000 East Africa Community citizens. These can easily be booked without you involving yourself in the strenuous process through a ground tour operator/company or contact reservation services of Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks are all in Southwestern Uganda. They can easily be reached by road about 8-9 hours’ drive from Kampala and 3-4 hours’ drive from Kigali Rwanda or by air from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield Uganda to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip.
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Rwanda is another Africa’s most favorite gorilla destination. Tracking to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda is done only in Volcanoes National Park. The 160sq.kms protected area also forms part of the larger Virunga Conservation Area. It is Africa’s oldest park, created in 1925 and today, it hosts 13 habituated gorill families.
Unlike Uganda and Congo, Rwanda is a luxury gorilla safari destination. Gorilla permits are sold at US Dollars 1500 per person and each permit offers holidaymakers a chance to track only one of the park’s habituated families. Rwanda gorilla permits can be booked by tourists on gorilla tour via a ground tour operator/company that is reputable, registered.
Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri is in the Northwestern Rwanda and visitors can reach the park within just 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali. Or cross from the Southwestern Uganda/Kisoro or Kabale through Chanika border or Katuna and this is about 3-4 hours’ drive.
Mountain gorillas in Congo
Virunga National Park is the only place where mountain gorillas can be trekked by holidaymakers on Congo gorilla safari. It is the largest of all the mountain gorilla safari parks, occupying up to 7800sq.kms of land area. It is also a designated UNESCO Site and a host to an estimated number of 300 mountain gorillas. Presently, trekking mountain gorillas in the Virunga is done in any of its 8 habituated gorilla families with gorilla permits issued at US Dollars 450 per person.
Eastern Lowland gorillas
Interestingly, gorilla safaris in Congo don’t stop at visiting mountain gorillas alone but also you have a chance to see the Eastern Lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri) in the wild. This is also a sub-species of the Eastern Gorilla and Lowland Gorilla Trekking is conducted in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in any of its 5 groups already open for gorilla tourism. The closest lodging options to Kahuzi-Biega National Park include L’Orchids Safari Club, Coco Lodge, Exodus Bukavu Hotel and many more.
What to carry on Uganda, Rwanda and Congo gorilla safari?
The list of items to have on your Uganda, Rwanda and Congo gorilla safari is long but you must have essential ones. These include rain jacket, insect repellent, long-sleeved shirt, trousers, camera without flashlight, daypack, bottled drinking water, sun hat, gardening gloves, first aid kit, sunscreen, waterproof but lightweight hiking boots.
When to go for Uganda, Rwanda and Congo gorilla tour
All gorilla safari parks in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo welcome all year round. But for gorilla trekking in particular, the dry season is the best period and it takes place from June-September and December-February. These are the peak months of the year and low season is characterized by heavy rains. The rainy months to mark on your calendar range from March to May and October to November.