Gorilla Trekking in Congo
Gorilla Trekking in Congo is one of the top tourist activities that a traveler must engage in when they plan a Congo Safaris Tour to explore the big country. Gorilla trekking is an interesting and exciting activity where visitors above the age of fifteen years move into the forest in search of gorillas and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking is carried out in three African countries namely Uganda with two gorilla destinations namely Bwindi Impenetrable National park with the highest number of gorillas and Mgahinga gorilla national park all located in south western Uganda, Rwanda with one gorilla destination called Volcanoes national park and Democratic Republic of Congo with two gorilla destinations namely Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park.
Where to go for gorilla trekking activity in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo is situated in central Africa and one of the destinations that harbor two species of the endangered gorillas namely the mountain gorillas in Virunga national park and the eastern lowland in Kahuzi Biega national park.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park
Virunga national park is located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and is one of the oldest national parks in Africa. Virunga national park was gazette in 1925 mainly to protect and conserve the endangered mountain gorillas. Virunga national park is a protected area in Democratic Republic of Congo that harbors the highest number of gorillas and the gorillas have been habituated into 8 gorilla families which are ready for trekking on daily basis and they include Nyakamwe, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Kabirizi, Rugendo, Munyanga, Bageni, and Humba.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park is the most popular activity and it starts early in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters where visitors are briefed about the rules and regulations for gorilla trekking and the expectations during trekking. After the briefing visitors are grouped into a group of 8 people because each gorilla family can be visited by a maximum of 8, visitors are grouped depending on their physical fitness and interests and then they will be allocated a park guide.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park takes about 2 to 8 hours depending on the location of the mountain gorillas because they like to move from one place to another in search of food which makes trekking longer. Once the gorilla family has been found visitors are allowed to spend one hour with the gorillas in their natural habitat learning about their behaviors, habits, watching them feed, breastfeed, taking plenty of photos with flashless cameras and recording videos. During gorilla trekking in Virunga national park, you will be able to view different bird species, tree species and other primates like monkeys which will offer you with extraordinary experiences on your safari.
Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega national park is one of the largest national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo located near Bukavu town at the border with Rwanda. Kahuzi Biega national park is a unique gorilla destination that harbors the eastern lowland gorillas, the eastern lowland gorillas are bigger and their fur is shorter compared to the mountain gorillas and in Africa it is only Kahuzi Biega that harbors the eastern lowland gorillas. Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega national park starts in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters where after the visitors will be grouped into 8 people and allocated a guide that will go with them during trekking explaining about the gorillas.
Kahuzi Biega national park is a home of 12 gorilla families and 5 of the families have been habituated for trekking hence available on a daily basis namely Mpungwe, Chimanuka, Bonnani, Mugaruka, and Nganwa. Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega national park takes about 2 to 6 hours trek which is a short and adventurous hike for the visitors who do not like long hikes and the visitors will be able to spend one hour with the gorilla families taking photos, learning about their habits and behaviors, watching the females nursing the young ones, juveniles playing to entertain the group and the silverbacks looking out for any danger hence an amazing activity with breathtaking experiences.
Cost of a gorilla trekking permit in the Democratic Republic of Congo
A gorilla trekking permit is a legal document that is issued to the visitors above the age of fifteen allowing them to trek gorillas in either Kahuzi Biega national park or Virunga national park. A single gorilla trekking permit in the Democratic Republic of Congo costs $400 for the foreign residents and it’s the cheapest permit compared to other destinations in Uganda it costs $600 and will be $700 with effect from 1st July 2020, in Rwanda it costs $1500. However, the Democratic Republic of Congo is the only country that offers discounted gorilla trekking permits during the low season.
A gorilla trekking permit in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park allows you to trek, one gorilla family, spend one hour and is valid for one day. The permit includes the services of a park guide, park ranger, park entrance fee and excludes the porter and tips.
How to book a gorilla trekking permit in the Democratic Republic of Congo
A gorilla trekking permit in the Democratic Republic of Congo can either be booked directly through the Virunga tourism office in Goma by contacting them via email or telephone calls. You can also book through Achieve Global Safaris a trusted tour company that will not only purchase a gorilla trekking permit for you but also arrange safari trips in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other destinations in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. When booking via Achieve Global Safaris, you will contact us with the names, date, month and year when you want to engage in gorilla trekking activity in DRC and we will check availability of the permit and ask you to make a deposit. Once the deposit has been made you will be asked to send your scanned copies of your passport which will be used on a permit and we will acquire your permit and reserve it for you.
A gorilla trekking permit in the Democratic Republic of Congo should be acquired at least 4 months in advance before the trekking date so as to avoid disappointments because the permits are competitive and usually get sold out especially during the peak season in Virunga national park.
Best time to go for gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During the dry season, the forests receive less or little rainfall, therefore, gorilla trekking will be successful because the gorilla trekking trails will be passable. The Democratic Republic of Congo also experiences two rainy seasons in March to May and October to November where the parks will receive heavy rainfall which makes gorilla trekking difficult because the trails will be muddy and slippery. The rainy season is however good for bird watching for the bird lovers.
Where to stay during your gorilla trekking safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park have a number of luxury, mid-range and budget accommodations where visitors on a gorilla trekking safari can stay including Mikeno lodge, Bukima tented lodge, Nyiragongo volcano summit shelters, Kibumba camp, Tchegera island tented camp, Lulimbi tented camp among others in Virunga national park, Coco lodge Bukavu, Hotel Begonias, Exodus hotel, Lakeside hotel, L’orchids safari club, Mount Kahuzi hotel among others in Kahuzi Biega national park. The accommodation facilities offer comfortable shelter, quality dishes, free internet in some public places, favorable environment for relaxation after a gorilla trekking activity, beautiful scenic views of the forest, primates, bird species among others which makes you fill at home as you enjoy your gorilla trekking safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
What to pack/wear on your gorilla trekking safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Gorilla trekking permit, a gorilla trekking permit is the most essential item to carry when going for a gorilla trekking activity in any of the destinations because without a valid permit you will not be allowed to trek any gorilla family.
- Hiking shoes, the hiking shoes should be comfortable and reach your ankles because trekking is done in steep slopes therefore the hiking shoes will help you trek long distances and keep your feet dry since the trails are sometimes muddy and slippery.
- Long sleeved shirt and trousers, the long sleeved shirt and trouser will give you warmth because the forests are sometimes cold during morning and evening hours. The long sleeved shirt and trouser will also help you from getting injuries while in the jungle and protect you from the insects.
- Garden gloves, gorilla trekking is done in the forest therefore you might hold some vegetation unknowingly which is thorny hence hurting you therefore the garden gloves will protect you from germs.
- Waterproof rain jacket, since you will be trekking in the tropical rainforest it can rain anytime of the day regardless of the season therefore the rain jacket will protect you from rain during trekking
- Hat and sunglasses, these will protect you from direct sunlight since gorilla trekking will be done in the dry season.
- Energy giving snacks, gorilla trekking in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park is unpredictable therefore trekking might take short or long hours depending on the location of the gorillas because they like to move from one place to another in search of food. Therefore you need energy giving snacks like drinking water and packed food to give you the strength to keep on trekking.
- Cameras and extra batteries, when going on a safari the camera is one of the first items to carry in that you will need to take plenty of photos and capture all the moments to share with your loved ones after the safari, however, the cameras flash should be off when taking photos of the gorillas.
- Insect repellent, this will protect you from insect bites during trekking and while at the lodge for example mosquitos, tsetse flies, safari ants among others.
- Backpack, the backpack will be used to carry all your items such as the energy giving snacks, insect repellent, camera and batteries among others.
- Porter, gorilla trekking is done in the forest and involves trekking in steep areas which are sometimes wet, muddy and slippery therefore it’s advisable to hire a port so as to give you a push and pull and also carry your backpack.
- Binoculars will be used to view far wildlife species, for example, the bird species which will be up in the trees, monkeys among others.
Gorilla trekking in Congo in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park is an interesting and exceptional activity that will offer you extraordinary and lifetime experiences on your safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo.