Best Place for Gorilla Trekking Safaris
Best Place for Gorilla Trekking Safaris: Gorilla trekking safaris are one of the most demanded safari packages by tourists visiting Africa. Gorilla trekking is an exceptional activity where visitors move in the national park, in search of the gorillas in their natural habitat, and observe them as they go about their activities like feeding. The best place to do mountain gorilla trekking safaris is in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. Gorilla trekking safaris is also conducted in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. All these destinations offer unique and different experiences to the visitors who go for gorilla trekking safari.
Choosing the best place for gorilla trekking depends on various factors such as distance to the gorilla destination, price of a gorilla trekking permit, gorilla trekking experience, number of habituated gorilla families among others therefore the choice is yours to decide on the best place for gorilla trekking because each destination offers a unique gorilla trekking experience.
Best Place for Gorilla Trekking Safaris.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda
Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda are conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park. Bwindi impenetrable national park alone harbors half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas which makes it the best place for gorilla trekking safaris. The national park is a home of 19 habituated gorilla groups which are available for trekking on daily basis.
The habituated mountain gorillas in the national park are found in four sectors that is Ruhija sector in the East which harbors Oruzongo, Kyaguriro, Bitukura and Mukiza family, Rushaga sector in the South harbors Nshongi, Kahungye, Mishaya, Bweza, Busingye, Rwigi, Bikyingi and Mucunguzi family, Buhoma sector in the North harbors Mubare, Katwe, Habinyanja, Rushegura family and Nkuringo sector in the South harbors Nkuringo, Christmas and Bushaho family.
Bwindi impenetrable national park also offers visitors gorilla habituation which a process where mountain gorillas are trained so as to get used to human presence. Visitors who participate in gorilla habituation experience spend 4 hour with the mountain gorillas compared to the one hour given during gorilla trekking.
Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda are also conducted in Mgahinga gorilla national park which is located in south western Uganda in Kisoro district. The national park was established in 1991 mainly to protect and conserve the endangered mountain gorillas and it’s currently a home of two gorilla habituated gorilla families namely Nyakagezi family and Hirwa family which migrated from Volcanoes national park in Rwanda in October 2019. The gorilla group can also be trekked by visitors from Rwanda and Uganda.
The national park is the best place for gorilla trekking safari because due to two habituated gorilla families there are no crowds of visitors during trekking therefore visitors who want a wonderful experience with fewer crowds this is the best place to visit.
Cost of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda.
Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda costs $700 for the foreign non-residents, $600 for the foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for the East African citizens.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is only conducted in Volcanoes national park. The park is located in Musanze village northern part of Rwanda and takes about 2 hours’ drive from Kigali to the park. It is the only destination in Rwanda that harbors the endangered mountain gorillas and offers luxury gorilla trekking safari because the gorilla trekking permit costs $1500 for all nationals and it’s the most expensive gorilla trekking destination compared to its competitors in Uganda and Congo. This park is a habitat of over 15 habituated gorilla families which are available for trekking on a daily basis and they include Susa, Sabyinyo, Amahoro, Agashya, Umubano, Kwitonda, Igisha, Karisimbi, Ugenda, Bwenge, Titus, Pablo, Muhoza, Igisha, Isimbi family among others
Though the national park charges the highest gorilla trekking permit, it’s the only gorilla destination that is easily assessed in that it takes about 2 hours’ drive from Kigali international airport to the park which means that you can do gorilla trekking in one day and later fly back to you home.
Gorilla trekking in Democratic Republic of Congo
Gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of Congo is conducted in Virunga national park and Kahuzi-Biega national park. Congo is by far the cheapest gorilla trekking destination in the world with a gorilla permit costing $400 per person.
Also visitors interested in trekking mountain gorillas in Congo can only do so in Virunga national park and then trek eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega national park. Virunga national park in Congo is the oldest national park in Africa and harbors 8 habituated gorilla families which include Rugendo, Kabirizi, Bageni, Nyakamwe, Munyanga, Lulengo, Humba and Mapuwa family. These habituated gorilla families are available for trekking on daily basis.
Kahuzi Biega national park is located in the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo and is a home of 5 habituated gorilla families which include Bonnani, Chimanuka, Mpungwe, Mugaruka and Nganwa family. Congo offers visitors discounted gorilla trekking permit at $200 during the low season which favors the budget visitors who want to participate in gorilla trekking.
Gorilla trekking in all destinations allows a maximum number of 8 people to trek each habituated gorilla family and spend a maximum of one hour in the presence of the gorillas learning more about their behaviors, habits, life style, recording videos and taking pictures with a flash less camera. Gorilla trekking permits can either be booked directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority, Rwanda Development Board or Virunga Park by contacting the offices through email or telephone calls. The permits can also be booked via a trusted tour operator like Explore Rwanda Tours with the dates, month and year when you want to engage in gorilla trekking.
However a gorilla trekking permit in all destinations should be booked in advance before the trekking date because the permits are competitive and usually get sold out especially during the peak season in the months in June to August and December to February therefore visitors should book 3 to 6 months in advance.
Best time for gorilla trekking safaris.
Gorilla trekking safaris can be carried out all year round though the best time to visit is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During this period there is less rainfall in the forest therefore access roads to the gorilla destinations will be passable and also the gorilla trekking trail compared to the wet/rainy season when the gorilla trekking trails are muddy and slippery.
Gorilla trekking rules and regulations
- Visitors should be 15 years of age and above
- Visitors should keep their voices low during trekking in the jungle and while in the presence of the gorillas
- Gorilla trekking allows a maximum of 8 people to trek each habituated gorilla group
- Visitors are allowed to spend one hour with the gorillas in their natural habitat
- Do not litter or throw anything in the forest
- Don not eat, drink or smoke while in the presence of the gorillas
- Do not use flash cameras when taking photos
- Visitors should follow the guide’s instructions
- In case a gorilla charges, you should not look directly into its eyes or run but rather humble yourself and walk away slowly.
- In case you are sick with illnesses like flue, cold it’s advisable to cancel your gorilla trekking trip because the gorillas can easily be infected by human diseases.