Gorillas are the largest living primates and are closely related to humans, sharing about 98% of our DNA. They also display many human-like behaviors and emotions, such as laughter and sadness. Gorillas are shy and retiring by nature, and usually only become aggressive when they feel threatened hence the name- ‘gentle giants’

Gorillas are ground dwellers and are native to the tropical rainforests in Central and East Africa. They live in troops consisting of a dominant silverback, several adult females, and their offspring.

These great apes feed primarily on vegetation such as leaves, stems, fruits, and shoots and spend a significant portion of their day foraging for food.

mountain gorilla tracking in bwindi

What is gorilla trekking?

Gorilla trekking is an amazing wildlife adventure that involves hiking through dense forests in search of these gentle giants.

Gorilla trekking offers you an opportunity to get up close and personal with the gorillas. Coming face-to-face with a Mountain Gorilla is an experience that is equally humbling and mind-blowing.

Gorilla trekking process

Gorilla trekking begins early in the morning with a briefing at the park offices by the park rangers about the guidelines of the activity.  You will then go into the forest in groups of not more than 8 guests in search of mountain gorillas accompanied by knowledgeable guides and trackers.

The gorillas you will track belong to one of the habituated family groups that tolerate the presence of humans for a brief period every day. Your trek will be an exciting journey along forested slopes, entwined vines, bushes, and bamboo before you eventually reach the gorilla’s habitat.

En route, your guide will point out previous signs of gorilla activity such as dung, nests, and chewed bamboo shoots. The treks can last several hours, and participants should be prepared for varying terrains and weather conditions.

Upon finding the gorillas, you will quietly observe, take photographs, and absorb the awe-inspiring experience of being so close to these magnificent creatures. As you observe the gorillas, you may witness their fascinating behavior, including social interactions, grooming rituals, and playful antics.

Wildlife & Gorillas Rwanda Safari

You will have the opportunity to see the unique bonds between family members, the gentle care provided by the mothers, and the powerful yet graceful presence of the silverback, the dominant male in the group.

It is important to maintain a safe distance and follow the guidelines provided by your guides to ensure the gorillas’ well-being and minimize any potential disturbance.

What about gorilla habituation

Gorilla habituation is mostly the same as gorillas trekking except for one major difference – the gorillas involved in habituation are not yet very familiar with human interaction. In essence, when you go for gorilla habituation, you are tracking a group that is not yet fully used to seeing people and is slowly getting acquainted with humans in its range.

When a gorilla family is fully habituated, it is then opened up for gorilla trekking where it can comfortably be seen by tourists on a more regular basis.

Gorilla habituation experience costs more than gorilla tracking but you get to spend 4 hours with the gorillas and be part of helping the gorillas familiarize themselves with humans.

Why is gorilla trekking important

You will spend one hour with the gorillas after which you will be led back to the starting point.

Gorilla trekking not only offers a thrilling adventure but also serves as a vital conservation initiative. The fees from permits and tourism contribute to the protection of gorillas and their habitats, supporting ongoing research, anti-poaching efforts, and community development projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need to be physically fit?

Gorillas live in thick forests that are found in very mountainous areas. This means that the hike into the forest to meet the gorillas is quite tasking.

While you don’t need a certain level of fitness beyond what is normal for most people, you should know that it is not what anyone would call a walk in the park. Gorilla trekking has been done by people of many levels of fitness and all ages.

Even people with mobility issues have tracked gorillas – with some assistance.

Since fitness is different for everyone, feel free to talk to us about your concerns so that our safari specialist can advise you according to your specific questions.

2. Do I need a porter for my gorilla trek?

While going on your trek doesn’t strictly require the help of a local porter, we do recommend going with a local porter to help you along the trek. Whether it is crossing a tricky stream, carrying your day pack, or ascending the steep (sometimes slippery) slopes, a porter makes your trek a little easier.

Since the porters are from the local community, they are more familiar with the landscape and capable of helping you throughout the trek.

3. Will I definitely see the gorillas?

As with all wildlife in the wild, there is never a 100% guarantee of seeing mountain gorillas. This is because the wild is an unpredictable place. However, we can confidently say that your chances of seeing gorillas are as good as 99%.

We are able to say this because of the process by which gorilla trekking happens. Before the guests go into the forest, trackers are sent very early in the morning to follow the paths of various gorilla families.

These trackers communicate with the rangers so that the rangers are following a path more certain. The trackers and rangers truly know the forest and are able to easily navigate it.

4. What is the best time for gorilla trekking?

While gorilla tracking is an activity that can happen all year round, it is best enjoyed during the dry season months of the year. This is from December to February and between June and September.

Inasmuch as the seasons are distinct, gorillas live in high-altitude mountains covered by rainforests. This means that the local weather gets affected by many local factors and it can really rain any time of the year.

If you are interested in coming face-to-face with a gorilla, feel free to talk to us so that we can organize a trip that will suit your needs.