Without doubt gorilla trekking is one of the world’s greatest wildlife experiences – the thrill of a close encounter with reclusive gorillas in their natural habitat is a lifetime experience that never fades in one’s memory.
There are several gorilla trekking safaris offered by tour operators to get you up close and personal with these gentle giants. These trips are conducted responsibly, taking care not to disturb these fascinating creatures and as well promote conservation in Africa. On gorilla trekking trips, visiting tourists always keep a respectful distance (about 7 metres) – but it’s not unusual for an inquisitive gorilla to come closer to tourists!
Gorilla tracking in East Africa
There are several places to go gorilla trekking in Africa. The best places to see mountain gorillas in Africa are;
- Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in South Western Uganda
- Mgahinga National Park in Southern Uganda
- Volcanoes National Park in Northern Rwanda
- Volcanoes national Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Like mountain gorillas, there are several tourists interested in watching the lowland gorillas. The best countries to visit to see lowland gorillas are;
- Democratic Republic of Congo
Gorilla trekking is one of the ways of the ways you can save the gorillas in Africa. Find info on how to plan a trek, places to go and guides to gorilla trekking in Africa.
Mountain Gorilla tracking in simple terms is the process off searching for the gorillas in the wild. The mountain gorillas are primate specie believed to share DNA to human beings after the chimpanzee.
Mountain gorillas are only found in the Virunga mountain ranges and in Bwindi National park which is in South Western Uganda.
The Virunga mountain ranges covers Volcanoes national Park in Rwanda, Virunga National park in Democratic republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National park in Uganda, these parks, to which share half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas and the other half lives in Bwindi national Park in Uganda.
Mgahinga gorilla National park in Uganda is located in the south western Uganda in Kisoro District, and shares three of the Virunga Mountain Ranges, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura volcanoes. There is one family of habituated Mountain gorillas called Nyakagezi that is is visited by tracked by the tourists.
On the other hand, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a home to half of the remaining mountain gorillas is located in the southwestern part of Uganda on the rim of the Rift Valley, and shares 3 districts; Kisoro, Kabale and Kanungu districts. This is the most visited national park in Uganda and thousands of travelers have taken gorilla safaris to this impenetrable forest and have seen the endangered creatures in the wild. The park is hilly and is always covered by Mist due to the high altitude and forest cover. The forest is all covered by the thick forest with different tree species, and thus, the name Bwindi impenetrable National Park.
The forest comprises of three parts; Buhoma sector which is in the northern part of the park, Ruhiija sector which is in the central of the park and has the highest altitude of this park, Rushaga sector which is in the southern part of the park and this also shares Nkuringo sector also in the southern part of the park.
There are six habituated gorilla permits in the southern sector; Nkuringo in Nkuringo sector, Mishaya, Kahungye, Nshongyi, Busingye and Bweza in Rushaga sector, Bitukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguriro in Ruhiija sector, Habinyanja, Mubare and Rushegura in the Buhoma sector.
These are the gorilla families that are sought after for gorilla tracking by the tourists. Travels from all over the globe come to Uganda from to enjoy this Ultimate adventure in Uganda – Mountain Gorilla trekking / tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Gorilla tracking involves trekking and penetrating the thick vegetation cover with the help of park guides and rangers who help in creating way through the bushes with pangas and machetes in search of where the gorillas are.
This experience may at times be exhausting, but rewarding when one encounters these beautiful apes and one hour allocated to stay with these creatures seem to be 30minutes because of the exciting experience exhibited with these animals.
How to start the process of Gorilla Tracking
The process of gorilla tracking starts with acquisition of gorilla tracking permits which are obtained through Uganda wildlife authority either directly or through the local tour agent. The permit cost USD600 and allows one to visit the gorillas once for the specified day.
On the gorilla trekking day, you gather at the park headquarters for briefing about the dos and don’ts while with these amazing apes. Rules and regulations are well explained by the park rangers after which, you are allocated different gorilla families in the groups of 8 people.
Your driver will then drive you up to the starting point where you embark on gorilla tracking either by descending or ascending the forest depending on the location of the gorillas. One requires to be realistically physically fit to take part in this mountain gorilla tracking / trekking adventure because it may involve climbing the steep terrain and sometimes can be exhausting depending on the location of the gorillas.
One can get to Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga gorilla national park either by road from Kampala which is an eight hours drive or by road from Kigali-Rwanda which is 3 hours drive or by plane which is 45 minutes flight from Entebbe plus one hour drive to the National park.
Where to Stay
There are several accommodations in Bwindi National Park where one can stay to suitably transfer to the park headquarters in the morning at 7am for pre-tracking briefing.
- In Rushaga sector, there is Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla valley Lodge, Nshongi gorilla lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge among others.
- In Nkuringo there is Nkuringo gorilla camp, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge among others.
- In Ruhiija there is Gorilla Mist camp, Bakiga Lodge, Trekkers Tavern, Ruhiija Lodge, Broadbill Forest camp among others.
- In Buhoma sector, there are several accommodations but most notably there is Silverback Lodge, Mahogany springs, Buhoma Community campsite, Sanctuary gorilla forest camp among others.