Thick jungle misty covered forests, slippery slopes, with a little bit of rain and hard to see even a person walking a meter away from you, this is how the Gorilla trekking adventure begins. The Experience is quite thrilling, unforgettable & indescribable to any traveller.
The mountain gorillas are endangered creatures and there are approximately 900 left in the world. Half of their population lives in Bwindi impenetrable forest in Uganda and the others in the Volcanoes National Park (Parc Des Volcans) in Rwanda and Virunga Mountains in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The Mountain Gorillas Live in forests high in the mountains and have been listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.
Mountain gorillas primarily feed on leaves, shoots, stems, also bark, roots, flowers and fruits – Herbivores. They are very social creatures and live in groups or families and when tracking you are assigned to a specific gorilla family / group. These large creatures have thick and long fur giving them warmth since they live in colder areas. Mountain gorillas are active during daytime i.e. 6:00 am to 6:00 pm and spend the day playing, climbing trees and chasing one another.
Where to go for Gorilla Trekking, Rwanda or Uganda?
So many articles and stories you’ll find on many blogs and websites about where to go for your gorilla trekking i.e. Rwanda, Uganda or Congo, but the fact still remains all experiences are different and interesting. Primate World Safaris offers tailor-made tours & holiday experiences, with the Highlight being the gorillas either in Rwanda or Uganda. The choice to decide where to do the tracking from will depend on your price & budget. Uganda Gorilla Tracking Permits are at 600 USD and in Rwanda at 1500 USD, quite a big difference but all with the same experiences. Your trekking experience depends on level of fitness, health which can all be planned for, but the length of your trek can’t be determined since the ranger guides can never tell how far the gorillas might have moved.
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
This small country has a rich savannah & geography which includes Lakes, Mountains and rivers. One of the most sought after Attractions in Rwanda is the Volcanoes national park in the Virunga region where you will find Mountain Gorillas. About 10 gorilla groups / families have been habituated for tourism in Rwanda. To see these creatures in their natural habitat, there are a number of tours offered by Primate World Safaris ranging from 3 days to 15 days or more.
The cost of each tour depends mostly on the price of the permits which is 1500 USD. The trekking involves hiking up the Virunga mountains passing through the bamboo forests to find these gentle giants. An hour maximum allowed to see the gorillas and you will probably have a chance to take photos & videos while standing close to them. A lot of traveller reviews about gorilla trekking have made it become one of the best things to do on a Safari in Africa. Described as a fantastic opportunity to enjoy your holiday, you will definitely have unforgettable and everlasting memories and anyone who comes this far to meet the gorillas, hopes to come back again someday.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda
Looking for an ‘off the beaten path’ destination with more to see, Uganda is the place to be. Also known as the Pearl of Africa – this country has amazing lush green scenery with plenty of attractions like mountains, rivers, lakes and lastly the mountain gorillas. On a Safari in Uganda, take a journey to the impenetrable forests of Bwindi to see the gentle giants, very incredible and thrilling to stand close the creatures. About 12 habituated gorilla groups are found in Uganda and can be seen in two parks i.e. Bwindi and Mgahinga. The cost of a gorilla tour in Uganda also depends on the price of the permits i.e. $600 USD. The gorilla trekking experience in Bwindi involves hiking into the thick jungle forests in groups of 8 people to see a specific gorilla family. Accompanied by a ranger guide, you will have access for an hour to see these amazing creatures before returning back to the assembly point. Each tourist on completion of the tracking receives a certificate from UWA (Uganda wildlife authority). This is absolutely one the best highlights on any Wildlife Safari and this activity is rated highly by most travelers who have been to Uganda. Get to experience the best of Uganda with Primate World Safaris and going beyond Bwindi to Kibale forest (the primate capital of the world), Murchison, Jinja and Queen Elizabeth Park among others.
Let Primate World Safaris show you a different kind of gorilla trekking safari in Uganda
Cost of a Gorilla Trekking permit in Rwanda
Rwanda has marked itself as a luxury tour destination in Africa and it’s also one of the safest countries. Getting a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda will cost you about USD $1500 and can be booked for weeks before your safari. This is to avoid surprises when it’s time for trekking and you are unable to get a permit. Part of this money will go to promoting conservation and tourism in Rwanda and the local communities as well will also benefit.
Cost of Gorilla Trekking permit in Uganda
A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda is at USD $600, bought from Uganda Wildlife Authority. This will allow you to enter Bwindi Impenetrable forest and enjoy trekking for one day at any of the locations in Ruhija, Buhoma, Rushaga or Nkuringo. For 2 or more days, the price will have to be different but a recognized travel company in Uganda can help you with the process. Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda are booked in advance and you can do this through a tour operator who will save you the struggle of waiting at the UWA office in Kampala.
When to go for a Gorilla Trekking Safari
Due to changes in weather conditions, months of April, May & November are the low seasons. There is some rain during this time and trekking is a-bit muddier or the roads leading to these places become muddy. Recommended right gear will help you feel comfortable and Strong 4×4 Wheel Safari vehicles provided by Primate World Safaris will make you reach your destination regardless of the muddy roads. However gorilla trekking is more popular during the dryer months or dry seasons that is from December to February & June to September. You can opt to visit the dry areas both in Uganda & Rwanda when it’s raining and visit the forests when there is less or no rain.
What to bring/ what to pack for your Gorilla Trekking safari
Valid Passport – don’t forget one of the most important documents as it’s a requirement when entering both countries Uganda/ Rwanda and within the parks & other places.
Hiking boots – The Paths through the forests leading you to see the gorillas are somehow steep and very comfortable hiking boots are a requirement. This will allow you to easily move along with the others in a group of eight led a tour guide.
Long-sleeve shirt and pants – While on this safari, it’s highly recommended to be aware of the environment. A short-sleeve shirt and shorts will most definitely expose your skin to ants and the prickly nettle.
Gardening gloves – These will help to protect your hands as you push the nettle away and grasp at branches during steep climbs (not a must but they came in handy)
Insect repellent – There’s probably a number of insects including mosquitoes that will want to come close to your skin but this will help even when at the lodge or through most of the journey.
Drinking water and a packed lunch – The gorilla trekking activity might take some time between 2 to 7 hours and in between there, there’s a possibility of you getting thirsty and hungry. Most of the lodges do offer packed lunch but you can also ask the staff at the lodge to pack one for you.
Waterproof gear during the rainy season should be considered i.e. hiking boots (it can get very muddy), jacket, pants and backpack cover. Waterproof jackets and pants will also give you an advantage as they provide a strong barrier between you and the sharp nettle.
What you Should know before Gorilla Trekking
Booking a Gorilla Safari: Gorilla trekking Permits cost 1500 USD in Rwanda and 600 USD in Uganda and should be booked through the responsible authorities in time especially during high seasons i.e. 3 months before the day of the trekking. When you travel with Primate World Safaris, booking the permit will be handled for you.
Health: Vaccination and medication for Malaria and yellow fever are important since they can be easily got while in Uganda / Rwanda.
Always tuck in your pants into your boots or thick socks to prevent ants from crawling up your legs. A pair of gaiters can be an alternative.
Fitness Level: Depending on where the gorillas might have moved, it might take 2 to 7 hours while hiking to find them. It’s best to prepare for a long climb with sharp inclines but the pace is moderate and broken up with breaks.
You shouldn’t trek if you have flue or cough: Gorillas are highly susceptible to human diseases since they are closely related to us. Since they don’t have the same immune system like we do, they can easily get an infection putting their lives in danger.
Walking sticks are made available to make your trekking easier. Porters are also available for hire at a fee for 10 USD who can help you carry your belongings while hiking up the hills. Also hiring the porter directly contributes to the Local economy.
When with the gorillas: No eating or drinking is allowed and a distance of 10 meters must be kept between you and the gorillas (Although they may approach you). The gorillas you will see are habituated to human observers but are still wild so keep your voice low and do not make sudden movements that might interpreted as a sign of aggression.
Photography: Since flash photography is not allowed, capture clear photos with a fast camera good for a dense shaded forest setting. Increasing your ISO will also help in getting photos in poor light especially when the gorillas are on the move. Rainproof gear for your cameras is ideal.
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