Gorilla trekking is such a life changing activity that every person should try doing on his/her trip in Africa. Africa is the only continent on earth where mountain gorillas can be found and these endangered primates are only resided in Democratic Republic of Congo (Central Africa), Rwanda and Uganda (East Africa). Gorilla trekking offers one of Africa’s most profound wildlife encounters – their populations even in protected reserves are counted in hundreds rather than thousands.
So rare are gorillas that trekkers are able to give them individual names and identify their faces and personalities easily. Trekking the mountain gorillas in all the three above countries, a trekker should possess a gorilla trekking permit of that particular country he/she is going to take the gorilla expeditions from. Of all the three countries, a Democratic Republic of Congo gorilla permit is the most affordable one and arguably the cheapest as it only costs US$ 400.
However, a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs US$ 600, well as a Rwanda gorilla permit costs US$ 1500 thus being the most expensive one. The gorilla permit of each country of your choice will be purchased on your behalf by one of the leading and most reliable tour operators in Africa, that specialize in gorilla safaris such as Eco Tours Congo. Only you need to do is contacting any of the above tour operators via any means of communication that you can for example; via email, what’s up, or through direct calling on the operator’s numbers.
In order for you to secure your gorilla safari with the tour operator, you will have to pay a certain deposit of at least 30% such that the operator will plan for your safari accordingly with a brave heart. The above tour operators will book for you a gorilla permit in any of the country you will want to go, book for you a good accommodation in the Park, and you will also be picked up from the airport during your arrival.
Uganda has two mountain gorilla national parks; Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, well as Rwanda has one mountain gorilla national park, Volcanoes National Park, and there is one mountain gorilla national park also in Democratic Republic of Congo called Virunga National Park.
However, like Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo also consists of two gorilla national parks but difference is that the two parks in Congo harbor different gorilla types unlike in Uganda where both Parks inhabit the mountain gorillas. The other gorilla national park in Democratic Republic of Congo is called Kahuzi-Biega National Park, which harbors the eastern lowland gorillas.
There are two gorilla trekking national parks of Democratic Republic of Congo are all found in the eastern province of the country well as the two gorilla trekking national parks in Uganda all reside in the southwestern parts of the country. The gorilla trekking national park in Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is located in the Northwestern parts of the country, Musanze (Ruhengeri).
Volcanoes National Park is the easily accessible gorilla national park in the whole world as it is just less than two hours and thirty minutes’ drive from Rwanda’s capital (Kigali), hence a traveler can even be able to trek the gorillas on that very day he/she has arrived in the country unlike in Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo where the Parks are very far from the city centre. Gorilla trekkers in any of the gorilla trekking parks will only interact with the habituated gorilla families, which are open and friendly to humans.
Habituated Mountain Gorilla families in Uganda:
Uganda currently comprises of 19 habituated gorilla families in its two gorilla national parks (Bwindi and Mgahinga). Gorilla trekking in Bwindi takes place in four sectors of the Park; Buhoma sector, Rushaga sector, Ruhija sector, and Nkuringo sector. Bwindi itself boasts 18 habituated gorilla families and these include; Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, and Katwe (Buhoma sector); Bweza, Busingye, Kahungye, Nshongi, Mishaya, Mukyunguzi, Bikingi and Bushaho (Rushaga sector); Oruzogo, Bitukura, Mukiza, Kyaguriro (Ruhija sector); Nkuringo, and Christmas (Nkuringo sector). Another habituated gorilla family in Uganda is further found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and it is called Nyakagezi gorilla family.
Habituated Mountain gorilla families in Rwanda:
Volcanoes National Park, located in the Northwestern parts of Rwanda, is the only Park known for harboring the mountain gorillas in Rwanda and the Park currently comprises of 11 habituated gorilla families which are; Susa 1, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Amahoro, Umubano, Bwenge, Kwitonda, Agashya, Titus, Ugenda, and Hirwa.
Habituated Mountain gorilla families in Democratic Republic of Congo:
Besides the eastern lowland gorillas which inhabit in the lowland forests of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, in eastern DR Congo, the country also has one Park harboring the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas in DR Congo are only found in Virunga National Park and as of now, the Park consists of 8 habituated gorilla families, which are; Bageni, Nyakamwe, Kabirizi, Munyaga, Mapuwa, Rugendo, Lulengo, and Humba.
Rules and regulations governing gorilla trekking:
-Gorilla trekking is done in groups of eight individuals per trekking group
-Do not use flashlight cameras to take the gorilla photos
-Maintain a distance of at least 7 meters away from the gorillas while viewing them
-Do not litter in the Park
-Do not eat from the Park
– Do not mimic the gorillas
-All the trails in the Park are spearheaded by the Park Rangers/Guides
-The maximum time allowed to spend with the gorillas is strictly one hour and if it is offer, do not give the rangers hard time
-When coughing or sneezing, turn your head away from the gorillas
-Do not go for gorilla trekking when you are ill or sick because the activity is somehow challenging
-Smoking from the Park is also prohibited