No African Safari is complete without seeing the Mountain Gorillas! There are only 700–880 Mountain gorillas remaining on earth. The majority live in the Virunga Mountains that straddle Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in East Africa.
The cost of a Gorilla Trekking permit can cover a wildlife-viewing safari in a top wilderness park in many parts of the world. However, the gorilla trekking experience is completely worth it, it lasts a lifetime. It is the best safari every person must do in their lifetime.
WHERE TO SEE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
In Uganda, Gorilla can be trekked in the famous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi is one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age and it is home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is often described as “life changing”. Gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo-covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. You’ll be introduced by expert trackers and guides to one of the fully-habituated families of mountain gorillas and you can stay with them for an hour as they go about their daily lives.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Expect to meet the gentle mountain Gorillas. Some Silverbacks will come close to you. You will have beautiful pictures to take back home. Gorilla trekking is an active expedition with moderate to strenuous hikes.
Participants must be at least 15 years old, and should be physically fit. While tracking primates, guests will trek through thick jungle at elevations ranging up to 10,000 feet, for as many as four to eight hours, depending on the location of the primates. Treks can be arduous; and the terrain can be steep, uneven, wet, and muddy. This trip is not suitable for those who suffer from a cardiac, respiratory, or circulatory disorder or a disability that limits mobility.
COST OF GORILLA TREKKING SAFARI IN UGANDA AND RWANDA
A Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda is cheaper compared to Rwanda. You need $600 for a Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda.
Rwanda recently announced an increase from $750 to $1500 per person for all visitors. Rwanda also offers ‘Exclusive Visits’ which cost $15000, for personalized mountain gorilla visits for a targeted Gorilla family.
WHAT TO PACK FOR GORILLA TREKKING
Boots — A good quality pair of hiking boots will serve you well. A cheap pair of sneakers can’t work.
Gloves — During the trek you might be grabbing trees, branches and vines, and your hands can get a bit scratched and generally beaten up if you’re not careful. Gloves a must-carry item.
Light rain jacket — Bwindi and Virunga are both tropical rainforests, and there’s a good chance of rain almost the year-round. Pack a light-weight rain jacket that you can roll up in your bag and bring out if necessary.
Energy snacks — The trek to the mountain gorillas isn’t impossible, but it is tough. Energy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, chocolate or power bars are a great idea. Just remember to take any rubbish with you as you go.
Long pants and shirts — It’s best not to expose too much skin during the jungle trek. Long pants, shirts and your rain jacket will cover you up.
BOOK YOUR TOUR WITH A REPUTABLE SAFARI COMPANY
There are several companies that organize gorilla trekking tours. One of the most experienced is Primate Vacations founded in 2013. They do not only focus on Primates but also organize some of the best wildlife viewing safaris in East Africa. Their in-depth knowledge of culture and attractions of each destination enables them to advise on all aspects of your holiday. Do you want to come face-to-face with the mountain gorillas?