Gorilla trekking is one of the most famous safari activities in Uganda and Rwanda. The population of mountain gorillas is less than 900 individuals according to the last census conducted in Bwindi impenetrable national park, Mgahinga gorilla national park, Volcanoes national park and Virunga national park. It has been observed that the population of mountain gorillas has increased thanks to the conservation efforts of various non governmental and government support. These areas are safe for tourists and gorillas alike with minimal or no poaching incidences reported because of alternative sources of incomes available to communities in the area due to increase revenues from gorilla tourism.
The mountain gorillas are often found in the undergrowth feeding on the vegetation as they rest and or groom each other. The leader of each gorilla family or group is a silver-back which is very protective of the family, if frustrated it will grunt and beat its chest before moving off with the females, offspring and mature males.
To enjoy the experience of gorilla trekking, you need to prepare adequately starting with choice of tour operator to plan the entire safari, lodges and purchase of gorilla permits. The minimum age for trekking gorillas is 15 years. You require to purchase your permit much earlier especially if you want a specific date because only 8 people can trek a gorilla family per day.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda
In Uganda, Gorilla trekking happens in Bwindi impenetrable national Park and Mgahinga gorilla national park. Uganda currently has 12 gorilla families available for trekking. The trekking in Bwindi is slightly different from Mgahinga because of the nature of the landscape. Bwindi is a rain forest with think undergrowth and varying landscape, you will have experiences of both uphill and downhill on your hike before locating the gorillas. Bwindi is divided into different sectors each with a number of gorilla families. Before you book your lodge it is important to know which sector you will track because the location is quite far a part. The sectors are Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors.
In Mgahinga the gorillas are mainly found in the mid vegetation on the Virunga volcanoes of Mt Muhabura especially in the open areas of the bamboo zone. This gorilla family used to go back and forth to Rwanda but it has since made Mgahinga, be sure to find them if you choose track the Mgahinga gorilla group.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
In Rwanda, gorilla trekking happens in Volcanoes national park. The park has great scenery of the volcanoes and great sightings of the mountain gorillas for all those seeking to trek these great Apes in this area. This is the setting for the famous ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ a movie about Dian Fossey’s work in conservation of gorillas. Rwanda has 10 families available for gorilla trekking after you purchase your permit from RDB through a tour operator.
Gorilla trekking safari preparation tips
Uganda and Rwanda are tropical countries with unpredictable climate, rain gear is a must have
Recommended clothing – long trousers and long sleeved sweaters or shirts while in the forest to avoid insect and plant stings.
Sturdy hiking boots are essential, especially ones you have used before.
Drinking Water, however eating, drinking and smoking near the gorillas is strictly forbidden – your guide will communicate designated time and place.
Photography is permitted, although you must not use flash
Porters are available to help you carry your day-pack for a small charge.
You will not be allowed to trek gorillas if you have communicable disease like flu or cough
Mountain gorillas live at high altitude and this may cause difficulties in hiking up for some visitors. You should pace yourself, walk slowly, drink plenty of water and prepare adequately for this experience. Kagera safaris will purchase your gorilla trekking permits for you in advance for proper planning.