Gorilla Trekking in Africa
Gorilla Trekking in Africa is one of the top tourist activities done in East & Central Africa i.e. in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla trekking in Africa is a unique experience that can only be experienced on the African continent. Tourists visiting Africa on a safari and wish to see gorillas can only do so in the countries of Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, and Cameroon.
Gorilla trekking safaris in Africa entails trekking both Mountain (Western) and Eastern lowland gorillas. Tourists who wish to trek mountain gorillas can do so in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo only; while on the other side, eastern lowland gorillas can be tracked in DRC, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Gabon and Congo Brazzaville. However here at Explore Rwanda Tours, we mainly offer our clients gorilla trekking tours in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC.
What does Gorilla Trekking Involve?
Gorilla Trekking in general is an activity which entails visitors searching for gorillas in their natural habitat. This activity normally involves gorilla trekkers hiking mountains and through forests, tracking gorilla footprints, fresh feces and broken plant shoots; with the aim of locating a gorilla group or family.
Gorilla Trekking activities usually commence early in the morning, with a briefing of gorilla trekkers by the head rangers in the national parks where gorilla trekking activities are offered. The activity can take about 4-8 hours of tracking, with an hour allocated to trackers once the gorillas have been located.
Gorilla trekking activities take place in groups of a maximum of 8 individuals per gorilla group/ family. Usually, gorilla trekkers are accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable park guide and an armed ranger, to ensure the safety of both the gorillas and trekkers.
Where to do Gorilla Trekking in East and Central Africa?
Gorilla Trekking in East and Central can be done in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda, visitors can do gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda takes place in Volcanoes National Park; and in Congo, one can trek gorillas in Virunga National Park and Kahuzi-Biega National Parks. Visitors can track both mountain gorillas and east lowland gorillas from Kahuzi-Biega National Park in Congo.
How different is Gorilla Trekking from Gorilla Habituation?
There is much difference between gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation except in the time that tourists get to spend with the gorillas. While gorilla trekking entails visitors spending only an hour with the gorillas, tourists doing gorilla habituation get to spend an entire day (more than 6 hours) with the gorillas. In addition to this, gorilla habituation usually takes a period of 2-3 years to make a specific gorilla group get used/ familiar to human beings.
The other difference between gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation is that the latter involves tourist trekking gorillas in small groups of a maximum of 4 people per gorilla group. On the other hand, gorilla trekking can be done by tourists in groups of a maximum of 8 members per group, per gorilla family/group.
There are quite a number of habituated mountain gorilla families/groups in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, Virunga National Park in Congo and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. However, in Uganda alone, there are only two gorilla groups in Bwindi national park where gorilla habituation is carried out; and these include Nkuringo and Rushaga.
How much does Gorilla Trekking Cost?
Gorilla trekking may prove to be a bit expensive but the experience is totally worth it. Obtaining a gorilla trekking permit will cost USD 600 dollars in Uganda, USD 1500 dollars in Rwanda and USD 400 dollars in Congo. However, it is important for visitors to know that the cost of gorilla trekking permits in Uganda will increase to USD 700 dollars with effect from 1st July 2020.
Who can do Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla Trekking can be done by any adult starting from the age of 15 years. Gorilla trekking activities involve a lot of vigorous activities like hiking places of high altitudes, navigating through dense forest vegetation and walking on steep and slippery trails; hence the activity is not suitable for children and adults with conical heart conditions.
How safe is Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trekking is safe to do in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Visitors trekking gorillas are always briefed before you being allowed to trek, so that those tracking gorillas know how to behave while in the midst of the gorillas. In addition to this, gorilla trekkers are usually accompanied by an experienced guide and armed park rangers to ensure that trekkers are safe while tracking gorillas and also when in the presence of the gorillas.
For those who decide to trek mountain gorillas in Congo’s Virunga National Park, you will be picked from Goma and transported to and from the national park in an armored convoy that is provided by Virunga National Park.
Gorilla Trekking Rules & Regulations
If you plan on embarking on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, Rwanda or Congo, here are some guidelines you must follow before you start trekking gorillas;
- Each gorilla trekking group will have a maximum of 8 members tracking a given gorilla group.
- Always wash your hands before your being your gorilla trekking activity.
- Keep your voice down while trekking gorillas and also while in their presence.
- Keep a distance of 7 meters when in the midst of the mountain gorillas.
- In Virunga National Park, trekkers MUST wear a face mask when trekking mountain gorillas.
- Do not maintain eye contact with the gorillas especially the silverback because it could be a sign of a challenge, and a fight between a human and mountain gorilla is the last thing you want to witness.
- Always minimize your movements while with the gorillas.
- Do not litter the parks during the gorilla trekking expedition.
- Do not use the flash on your camera or phone when taking photos.
What to pack when going Gorilla Trekking in Africa?
In case you are wondering what to bring along with you on your gorilla trekking tour, here is a list of some things you can pack; a good pair of hiking boots, sunscreen, a hat/ cap, a raincoat in case it rains, a walking stick (you can get one at the national park), long sleeve shirt, long trousers, a camera, your packed lunch, mineral water and your gorilla trekking permit.
How difficult is Gorilla Trekking in Africa?
Gorilla trekking in Africa can be quite a tedious activity depending on where you choose to trek gorillas from. Trekking gorillas can prove to be a bit difficult in Uganda and Rwanda because gorilla trekking activities in these two countries involve hiking mountains and walking through very thick vegetation in forests. The hiking trails when tracking gorillas can be really steep and muddy so gorilla trekkers will have to use quite an amount of physical strength and energy while on a gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda and Rwanda. It is for this reason that visitors trekking mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda must be physically and mentally fit for the challenge, as well as apply a great deal of patience since locating a gorilla group can take between 4- 8 Hours.
Gorilla trekking in Congo is not that difficult as compared to Uganda and Rwanda. Trekking gorillas in Congo takes place in relatively low land areas and hence does not involve a lot of vigorous hiking activities.
Is Gorilla Trekking Worth the Money?
Absolutely Yes! Gorilla trekking is worth every penny a tourist has to spend simply because trekking gorillas is not something one can do every day, plus it not every day that you get to see gorillas in the wild. Gorilla trekking provides visitors with the rare opportunity to observe these endangered primate species in their natural habitat, get to observe their interactions with each other and how they feed as well.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking gives trekkers a better understanding of how gorillas socialize with each other, their interaction with human beings, how they feed and what their diet comprises. In addition to this, the activity gives one an insight into how important it is for us to conserve not only the environment but also these primate species that have first become an endangered species.
Do contact us in case you have any inquiries and if you wish to book a gorilla trekking tour with us.