There are about 880 mountain gorillas and the babies are so cute that you want to touch them. Because mountain gorillas live in national parks, visitors are not allowed to touch the gorillas. Even if you tried, within the brink of an eye, the silver back would beat its chest high that you can no longer make any step. The rule is to look, take nice pictures and leave the gorillas alone in the forest.
Every traveler has their own favorite place they want to trek gorillas. Depending on the cost of the tour and that of the gorilla trekking permit itself, it is the difference and reason you may choose to trek gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo.
The other important things are the logistic you require to execute your gorilla safari. Tourists have the option of getting to see gorillas on shorter 3-4 days gorilla tour. Because the gorilla families in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC are constantly monitored by experienced rangers and trackers, visitors are guaranteed to track with them to the gorillas within a day.
You will find that Uganda has large groups of habituated about 14 gorilla families that you can track where while DRC Virunga national park few about 6 gorilla families, these countries have promotions every low season as you can purchase a gorilla permit at a cost below $400. It becomes cheaper to see gorillas whereas Rwanda is currently increasing its gorilla permit fees.
When you start to plan a gorilla trekking safari, eventually you get perfectly a trip schedule that fits your budget, time since there are other tourists also doing the tour. So you have to book your tour ahead of time and the tour operator runs all that but needs time to purchase gorilla permits on ground. You’ll find out that Uganda and Rwanda have a similar gorilla permit booking process whereas DRC has booking a gorilla permit is you have to first confirm your stay or activity like Mt. Nyiragongo active volcano.
There would be nothing to worry about your gorilla trek when you arrive. In Rwanda if the price of the gorilla permit isn’t an issue, tourists use only two hours to drive from Kigali airport to volcanoes national park in Musanze.
In Uganda you spend night in Kampala city or Entebbe, embark on whole day journey to southwest direct to your lodge near the gorilla trekking center. The main reason is you have a relaxed wake up with energy and ready to go into the forest with guides and rangers. Bwindi has four gorilla trekking centers which include Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.
Getting to DRC for your gorilla trek takes whole day transfers from Rwanda or southwest Uganda. So you should have your visas and passports ready to cross the borders and continue straight to Virunga national park. Treks here start at Bukima post in south of the park
No matter the place and season of the year you want to visit to see the gorillas, gorilla trekking remains a memorable and life time wildlife experience.
On the day of gorilla trekking, you wake up early morning upon arrival at any of the sector posts, the guides will meet you and help to hire porters. They will then give you a briefing and describe the different gorilla families and anticipate how long it might take to reach a particular gorilla family. You will be asked how fit you’re so that you’re grouped accordingly. The aim is to ensure that all trekkers have a relaxed and enjoyable gorilla trek regardless.
A typical gorilla trek may take at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours a day in the forest depending on where you find the gorillas. The trails go through dense foliage and canopy. On the way to the gorillas, guides frequently communicate with trackers who are always monitoring gorillas and will inform you to come where they are located.
Once the gorillas are found, we spend one hour observing at a distance of 7 meters must be kept but the playful baby gorillas might come closer to touch on you before you do so. This can be scaring but whenever it happens none of the tourists has ever been hurt and it is a typical example of how to behave when you’re viewing the gorillas.
The joy of spending one hour just meters from the world’s largest ape is unforgettable but still wonders how it can easily grab you in seconds. Majority of visitors who encounter habituated gorillas do so without any problems. Regardless of the positions you take to take nice pictures of silverbacks or babies, the gorillas don’t mind and continue their daily activities feeding and grooming each other. Guides take the welfare of the gorillas very seriously and tourist contact with gorillas is limited for good reasons. Gorillas share 98% of their DNA with humans, it is therefore important for visitors not to touch the gorillas since it can increase risk of disease transmission. It is so important that even eating or drinking with gorillas is prohibited and no litter or food is left in the forest.
What else to do after the gorillas
While gorilla trekking is most amazing activity for tourists who desire to see gorillas and also take nice pictures, there are a lot of things that you can add to your gorilla tour including big game viewing, cultural encounters, bird watching, and primate viewing and hiking.
When you visit gorillas, you can arrange cultural walks to experience traditional lifestyles of local people, including the ancient forest inhabitants BaTwa cultural encounters is always a rewarding experience. Most of the local people around gorilla national parks are now involved in managing some of the conservation projects and also run income generating enterprises. There are many crafts shops from where you can pop in to buy handmade crafts. You’re helping to support conservation and local development in many ways as well as get great value for your money.
When you’re able to purchase a gorilla permit, revenues help conservation work to thrive as much as the benefits from gorilla trekking over time has changed the mindset locals turning from poaching and encroachment to tourism and conservation.
In Rwanda, volcanoes national park is probably the most famous place for gorilla trekking. The gorillas are such a feature there that they get their own annual gorilla naming ceremony (Kwita Izina) where new born gorillas are given names.