Gorilla trekking is a popular activity that involves moving or hiking through the dense forests in search of the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Mountain Gorillas in Africa are only found in three countries including Uganda where gorilla trek is done in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park. The parks are found in south western Uganda, Rwanda where gorilla trekking is conducted. Also, mountain gorillas can be found in Volcanoes national park and in Virunga national park in Congo. Gorilla trekking experience can be done in any of the four national parks in a day activity which starts early in the morning at the park headquarters. Visitors interested in the activity should have an early breakfast at their lodge and then travel to the briefing point where they will be briefed about trekking expectations and grouped into different groups with a maximum of eight people for a particular gorilla family. When going for gorilla trekking activity in any of the four national parks, you should be aware of different information which will help you to know more about the gorillas and activity.
Where to go for Gorilla Trekking
Gorilla trekking in Africa is only done in four national parks with different gorilla habituated families that are always available for trekking on a daily basis with a maximum of 8 people per group for a maximum of 1 hour in the presence of the gorilla family which gives you an opportunity to capture the moments using a camera without flashlight.
Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in southwestern Uganda in Kanungu district, on the edge of the Albertine Rift valley along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to Virunga national park. Bwindi national park harbors 400 mountain gorillas which are equivalent to half of the total number of the gorillas in the whole world with 14 gorilla habituated families which are visited daily in the four sectors which include,
- Buhoma sector with three gorilla families including Mubare family which was the first group to be habituated with 11 members, Habinyanga family with 17 members and Rushegura family with 16 members,
- Ruhija sector which harbors three gorilla families including oruzogo family with 17 members, Bitukura family with 13 members and Kyaguliro family with 20 members,
- Rushaga sector which harbors five gorilla families including Nshongi family with 7 members, Mishaya family with 12 members, Kahungye family with 17 members, Busingye family with 9 members and Bweza family with 12 members and
- Nkuringo sectors harbor one gorilla family Nkuringo with 19 members, trekking is the major activity in Bwindi national park which makes it the best destination for trekking the endangered mountain gorillas hence giving you great and memorable experiences on your safari.
Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga national park is one of the smallest national parks in Uganda located in south western Uganda in Bufumbira county in Kisoro district and is known for gorilla trekking with one habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi with 10 members including 4 silverbacks. There are only eight gorilla trekking permits available every day for trekking Nyakagezi family.
Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes national park is the oldest national park in Africa located in Musanze village in Kigali Rwanda and borders Virunga national park and Mgahinga national park. It is known as the top tourist destination for gorilla trekking in Rwanda with 10 habituated gorilla families including
- Susa family was considered the largest group in the park with 42 members but later split to form Karisimbi family hence reducing the number of members to 28 and now
- Karisimbi family has 15 members. It is very difficult to trek because it lives on the slopes of Mount Karisimbi,
- Amahoro family with 17 members including one silverback and is considered the most peaceful in volcanoes national park and is also found beneath Karisimbi Volcano,
- Sabyinyo family with 9 members including two silverbacks and is considered the most accessible gorilla family because it’s found in the foothills of Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Mgahinga,
- Hirwa family with 9 members,
- Kwintonda family with 18 members,
- Agashya family with 25 members,
- Umubano family with 9 members including one silverback,
- Bwenge family with 11 members and
- Ugenda family with 11 members including two silverbacks and lives in the slopes of Mount Karisimbi. Gorilla families in volcanoes national park make it an incredible destination for gorilla tracking which offers you with fascinating and magnificent moments on your Rwanda Gorilla Safaris and tours.
Trekking in Virunga National Park
Virunga national park is located in East of Democratic Republic of Congo in the center of the Albertine Rift between Rwanda and Uganda with gorilla tracking as the biggest and most done activity in the park. Virunga national park is a habitat of over 300 mountain gorillas with ten habituated gorilla families and there are only six families that are open for gorilla viewing on a daily basis which include
- Kabirizi family with 34 members including two silverbacks and is found in Bukima sector close to Goma border,
- Mapowa family with 16 members and lives in Jumba near the Bunagana border,
- Munyanga family with 7 members and is lives in the Bukima sector,
- Lulengo family with 6 members and lives in Jumba near the Bunagana border and
- Rugendo family with 6 members.
These gorilla families give visitors an opportunity to explore in the dense forests of Virunga with the gorillas learning about their behaviors and lifestyles which gives them an incredible experience on the Congo Gorilla Trekking Safari Tours.
Best time to go for Gorillas Trekking
Gorilla tracking in Bwindi national park, Mgahinga national park, Volcanoes national park, and Virunga national park can be conducted any time throughout the year but it is best done in the dry seasons between June, July, August, September, December, January and February because the forest is not so wet, less mist and mud, not slippery, with short grass for clear viewing of the gorillas than during the rainy season between March to May and October to November when the forest is muddy, slippery, cold, rains anytime of the day in the forest among others.
Cost of a Gorilla Trekking Permit
A gorilla trekking permit is a legal document that is issued to the visitors above the age of 15 years allowing them to trek and spend one hour with the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat in any of the four national parks in Africa. A single Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda and in Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park in Uganda costs $600 per person for foreign nonresidents and $ 500 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African residents. But the price of gorilla permits has been increased effective 1st July 2020 by $100 for the foreign nonresidents and foreign residents. A single gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda costs $1500 for all nationalities and a single gorilla trekking permit in Congo in Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo costs $400 for foreign non-residents and offers discounted permits in the low season during the months of March to May at $200 per person for foreign non residents.
How to acquire a Gorilla Trekking Permit
A gorilla trekking permit can be booked directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority head offices in Uganda, Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda and Virunga National Park Authority in Democratic Republic of Congo or can be acquired through a trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris where you contact the company with the date, month and year when you want to trek gorillas in either Bwindi, Mgahinga, Volcanoes or Virunga national parks and the company will check availability of the permits and get back to you on how you are supposed to pay for the available permits where you will send scanned passport details which will be used when looking for a permit at the offices.
When to book for a Gorilla Trekking Permit
A gorilla trekking permit should be booked 3 to 4 months before the actual trekking date so as to avoid disappointments because gorilla trekking permits are always competitive and on high demand especially during the peak season and they tend to get finished quickly. This is because there are only 112 gorilla trekking permits daily in Bwindi national park, only 8 permits in Mgahinga national park daily, 80 gorilla trekking permits available daily in Volcanoes and 48 daily gorilla trekking permits available in Virunga national park. Therefore the gorilla trekking permit is best booked in advance so as to be on a safer side for trekking gorillas in any of the parks.
What to pack or wear for the Gorilla activity
When going for gorilla trekking tours in Uganda, Congo Or Rwanda national parks, you are advised to pack different items and also wear clothes with dull colors so as to blend with the wild environment because bright colors destruct the gorillas and get dirty when trekking due to mud in the forests. Items to pack include
- The gorilla tracking permit which is the main item because without it you will not be allowed to trek the gorillas,
- Waterproof hiking boots which are used to support your ankles in muddy and hilly terrain because the grounds can be slippery,
- Garden gloves to protect you from itching, thorny plants, and germs when trekking,
- Water proof rain jacket that is used to protect you and the camera from the rain while in the forest,
- Long sleeved shirt and trouser which is used to protect you from the sun, thorns, branches, neetles, insects like safari ants and also give you warmth in the mornings and evenings because the forests are sometimes very cold,
- Packed lunch and enough drinking water from the lodge to give you strength while trekking because sometimes it takes a full day trekking,
- Insect repellent to protect you from insects like tsetse flies and safari ants,
- Cameras which is very important on any safari for catching moments through taking photos and recording videos,
- Warm sweater to keep you warm especially in the rainy seasons,
- Waterproof backpack for packing all the items and protect them from the rain in case it rains,
- Walking stick to provide support while climbing up or down in the steep and muddy hills,
- Hiring a porter who will give you a pull or a push during trekking and also carry the backpack among others.
The equipment to pack is much and will help your trekking to be successful and give you lifetime memories on your safari.
Where to stay during Gorilla tour
Choosing the lodge where to stay depends on the price of the accommodation facilities and the gorilla trekking destination because different destinations offer different accommodations ranging from luxury, mid-range, budget, and campsites.
- Accommodations in Bwindi national park includes Nyundo valley hill, Nkuringo gorilla camp, Bwindi gorilla conservation camp among others,
- Accommodations in Mgahinga they include Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge, Kisoro travelers nest hotel, Lake Mutanda Chameleon hill lodge among others,
- Accommodations in Virunga national park include Mikeno lodge, Bukima tent camp, Tchegera camp among others
- Accommodations in Volcanoes national park include Five Volcanoes Boutique hotel, Sabyinyo silverback lodge, Mountain Gorillas Nest lodge among others.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi national park, Mgahinga national park, Virunga national park, and Volcanoes national park gives you a magnificent and thrilling experience on your Uganda safari tour, Congo safari tour and Rwanda safari tour with unforgettable moments.
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