Gorilla Trekking Safaris
Gorilla Trekking safaris are the adventurous ventures that travelers love to engage in as they get close to the amazing endangered gorillas in the forests. Gorilla trekking is also an adventurous and most popular activity in Africa where visitors above 15 years of age are allowed to move into the dense tropical forests in search of and spend one hour with the gorillas once found in their natural habitat. Mountain gorillas are endangered primate species that are found in three African countries namely Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda, the mountain gorillas are found in two national parks i.e. Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park in south western Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Where to trek Gorillas
Mountain gorillas in Africa can be visited in various destinations depending on the national park you want to visit among the four national parks with mountain gorillas in Africa.
Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda: Uganda is the best destination in Africa for gorilla trekking safaris in that it harbors the highest number of mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas in Uganda are found in two destinations namely Bwindi national park which is located in south western Uganda and is known as the best gorilla trekking destination because it harbors half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Bwindi impenetrable national park is a home of 19 habituated gorilla families which are found in four sectors namely the Buhoma sector with 4 gorilla families, the Rushaga sector with 8 gorilla families, Ruhija sector with 4 gorilla families and Nkuringo sector with 3 gorilla families.
Mgahinga national park is another destination in Uganda that harbors the endangered mountain gorillas. Mgahinga Gorilla national park is a home is a home of one habituated gorilla family which is available for trekking on daily basis.
Gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda: Mountain gorillas in Rwanda are found in Volcanoes National Park which is located in the northwestern part of Rwanda in Musanze village. Volcanoes national park is one of the oldest national parks in Africa bordering Mgahinga national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. Volcanoes national park harbors 15 habituated gorilla families and these families offer you the best gorilla trekking experience on your gorilla trekking safari in Africa.
Gorilla trekking safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo are found in two national parks namely Virunga national park which harbors the Mountain gorillas and Kahuzi Biega national park which harbors the Eastern lowland gorillas. Virunga national park is located in the eastern part of Congo and harbors 8 habituated gorilla families that are available for trekking on daily basis for visitors on a safari in Congo whereas Kahuzi Biega national park is a home of 5 habituated gorilla families. Kahuzi Biega national park will offer you the best gorilla trekking safari in that you will be able to trek the eastern lowland gorillas which are bigger in size compared to the mountain gorillas.
How many people are allowed to trek Gorillas on a Gorilla trekking safari?
Gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park, Mgahinga national park, Volcanoes national park, Virunga national park, and Kahuzi Biega national park allow a maximum number of 8 people to trek each habituated gorilla family and once found the visitors are allowed to spend one hour in the presence of the gorillas. 8 people are allowed to trek the gorillas so as to minimize on the disturbance of the gorillas in their natural habitat, to reduce the exposure risk of the gorillas to human diseases and for clear viewing because when the number of people is less there will be clear viewing of the gorillas and take great photos. Due to the fact that each gorilla destination allows a maximum of 8 people to trek each gorilla family, it implies that Bwindi impenetrable national park has 152 available gorilla trekking permits, Mgahinga national park with 8 available permits, Volcanoes national park with 120 available permits, Virunga national park with 64 available permits and Kahuzi Biega national park with 40 available gorilla trekking permits.
Cost of a Gorilla trekking permit
Gorilla trekking permit vary depending on the destination where you are going to trek the gorillas. A single gorilla trekking permit in Uganda in Bwindi Forest national park and Mgahinga national park costs $600 for Foreign Non Residents and $500 for the Foreign Residents, however Uganda increased the gorilla trekking permits by $100 hence effective 1st July 2020 a gorilla trekking permit will cost $700 for Foreign Non Residents and $600 for Foreign Residents.
A single gorilla trekking permit in Volcanoes national park costs $1500 for all nationals and a single gorilla trekking permit in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park costs $400 for Foreign Non Residents and $200 during the low season. Democratic Republic of Congo is the only country in Africa that offers discounted gorilla trekking permits during the low season and this is done so as to increase on the number of people who visit the country for gorilla trekking safaris.
How to book for a Gorilla trekking permit?
A gorilla trekking permit is easy to acquire in that there are two options which include booking directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority a tourism body in Uganda, Rwanda Development Board a tourism body in Rwanda or Virunga tourism offices. When you are booking directly you will contact the offices by either email or telephone calls.
A gorilla trekking permit can also be acquired through contacting a trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris to book for you a gorilla trekking permit. When using this option you will contact us with the dates, month and year when you want to visit any gorilla destination and we will check for availability of the permit, once the permits are available you will be asked to send your scanned copies of your passport which will be used to process the permit and make a deposit of some money so as to acquire a gorilla trekking permit for you. When the permit is purchased you will receive a scanned copy of the permit as confirmation. Booking via Achieve Global Safaris is the best option because we will save you all the hustle and also plan for your entire safari in any gorilla destination.
Gorilla trekking permits should however be booked 3 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date because they are competitive and usually get sold out therefore in order to avoid disappointments it’s advisable to book in advance.
When to visit Gorilla destinations
All gorilla trekking destinations in Africa that is Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Mgahinga national park, Volcanoes national park, 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 August and December to February. During the dry season the gorilla destinations receive less rainfall and most visitors travel during these months because the gorilla trekking trails in the forests are dry and passable compared to the wet season.
However, for the budget travelers visiting Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park the low season which is also known as the wet season during the months of March to May and October to November, there will be discounted gorilla trekking permits for all visitors. During the wet season, the forests are always slippery and muddy which makes the gorilla trekking trails impassable making gorilla trekking difficult.
What to carry on your Gorilla trekking safari
Due to weather changes in gorilla destinations, visitors are advised to carry different equipment’s on their gorilla trekking safari including
- Valid gorilla trekking permit, a permit is a document which allows you to access a gorilla family therefore without a valid gorilla trekking permit, you will not be allowed to trek any gorilla family in any of the destinations.
- Hiking boots, the hiking boots should be reaching the ankles and also comfortable so as to keep your feet dry when trekking in muddy and slippery gorilla trails in the jungle.
- Garden gloves, garden gloves will protect your hands from getting hurt since you will be trekking in slippery and steep areas in the jungle and end up torching thorny bushes, tree branches for support.
- Long sleeved shirts and trousers, long sleeved clothes should be comfortable so as to give you warmth and keep your legs and arms from stinging insects and thorny trees.
- Waterproof rain jacket, gorilla trekking is done in tropical rain forests hence it can rain anytime regardless of the season therefore a rain jacket will protect you from rainfall when trekking in the jungle.
- Cotton socks, the socks will be tucked into your long trousers and will prevent the safari ants from entering your clothes when trekking.
- Warm sweater, the warm sweater will give you warmth while on your gorilla trekking safari because most of the gorilla destinations like Bwindi , Mgahinga and Volcanoes national parks become cold during morning and evening hours.
- Hat and sunglasses, these will protect you from direct sunshine and the hat will protect your head from rainfall in case it rains.
- Energy giving snacks, gorilla trekking activity is challenging in that you can trek for many hours and sometimes in steep areas therefor the energy giving snacks will give you energy to keep on trekking. The snacks include packed lunch from the lodge and enough drinking water.
- Insect repellent, this will protect you from stinging insects in the forest such as tsetse flies, safari ants, mosquitos among others.
- Camera, the camera is an important item to carry on your gorilla trekking safari in that it will be used to take photos during the one hour in the presence of the gorillas and also record moments on your gorilla trekking safari.
- Backpack, the backpack will be used to carry your items on a safari such as a camera, energy giving snacks, insect repellent among others.
Gorilla trekking Rules and Regulations for your Gorilla trekking safari
- Visitors should be above 15 years of age
- Gorilla trekking allows a maximum of 8 people to trek each gorilla family
- Always keep your voices down when trekking and while in the presence of the gorillas
- Do not leave any rubbish in the jungle therefore whatever you take you should bring it back with you.
- Visitors should keep 7 meters distance away from the gorillas to prevent them from catching human diseases.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while in the presence of the gorillas because some food particles might fall down hence increasing the risk of getting diseases
- Do not leave your group while in the jungle because you might get lost
- Do not touch the gorillas because they are wild animals
- Do not use flashlight cameras when taking photos
- In case a gorilla charges, do not look directly into its eyes or attempt to run because it will fight you
- In case you are feeling ill, you are advised to cancel the gorilla trekking activity because your human illness will be transmitted to the gorillas.
- You will be given a maximum of one hour with the gorillas in their natural habitat
Gorilla destinations also offer a wide range of activities which you can engage in while on your gorilla trekking safari including bird watching, nature walks, community walks, golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga national park and Volcanoes national park, mountain climbing, cultural encounters like visiting the Batwa people among others which give you incredible and fascinating experiences hence making your gorilla trekking safari enjoyable and memorable.