Gorilla Trekking is an amazing activity that is done in 3 countries whereby travelers buy trekking gorilla trekking permits to explore the endangered primates. Gorillas in Africa are the largest primates that are divided into two species of the Eastern and Western gorillas.
Gorillas in Africa are found in the East African Region in Uganda and Rwanda countries and the Central Region in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorillas in Africa live in the dense tropical rainforests and stay in groups of 2 to 30 individuals consisting of the silverback as the leader of the group or family, females, juveniles and babies. Male gorillas become mature at the age of 11 to 13 years and they tend to leave the group to form their own family and females become mature at the age of 10 to 12 years hence start giving birth. Gorillas feed on leaves, stems, roots, fruits, tree branches, shoots, insects like ants, pith among others. The gorillas don’t feed on one vegetation type and finish it hence they are always on the move from one area to another to allow re-growth of the vegetation. Gorillas have a life span of 35 to 40 years although some can live up to 50 years and more. They live on the ground, therefore, that’s where they construct their nests for daytime use and night use using the tree branches and leaves. They communicate in using different sounds for example grunts, barks, screams, roars, deep rumbling belch among others, it’s recorded that the gorillas have over 25 ways of communication.
Where are Gorillas in Africa found?
Gorillas in Africa are only found in three countries which are Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo which makes them unique from other countries and visitors visit the countries on a daily basis for gorilla trekking activity which gives them memorable and unforgettable experiences while on a safari in any of the mentioned gorilla countries.
Gorilla trekking is an activity where visitors move in the dense forests in search of the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
Gorilla trekking in any of the mentioned national parks allows a maximum of 8 people to trek each gorilla family daily and once the gorilla family has been found the visitors will be allowed to spend one hour with the gorilla family in their natural habitat taking photos, learning about their habits like feeding, breastfeeding, behaviours and e being entertained by the juvenile gorillas as the play with each other in the tree branches. However, the gorilla habituation process allows a maximum of 4 people daily to participate in the habituation process with the researchers and spend 4 hours with the gorilla family.
Cost of Gorilla trekking permit in Africa
A gorilla trekking permit is a document that is issued to visitors above the age of 15 years allowing them to trek the endangered gorillas in one of the national parks either Bwindi national park, Mgahinga national park, Volcanoes national park, Virunga national park or Kahuzi Biega national park. The gorilla trekking permits in Africa differ depending on the national park you want to visit for the gorilla trekking experience.
- A single gorilla trekking permit in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park in Uganda costs $600 for Foreign Non-Residents, $500 for Foreign Residents and UGX 250,000 for East African citizens. However, the permits in Uganda have been increased by $100 for the Foreign Non-Residents and Foreign Residents starting on 1st July 2020.
- A single gorilla trekking permit in Volcanoes national park found in Rwanda costs $1500 for all nationalities.
- A single gorilla trekking permit in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo costs $400 for Foreign Non-Residents. However, Democratic Republic of Congo is the only country which offers discounted gorilla trekking permits at $200 during the low season.
How to book a gorilla trekking permit in Africa
Gorilla trekking permits for all the parks that is Bwindi national park, Mgahinga national park, Volcanoes national park, Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park should be acquired or booked 4 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date in that they are competitive and usually get sold out.
Gorilla trekking permits can either be booked directly via email or telephone calls through Uganda Wildlife Authority tourism offices in Kampala for Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park in Uganda, through Virunga tourism offices located at Goma border for Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and through Rwanda development board or online via the Irembo portal for Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. However gorilla trekking permits for the above national parks can be booked through a trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris where you will send the date, month and year when you want to go for gorilla trekking in any of the national parks and the company will check the availability of the gorilla trekking permits in a national park of your choice. The company will send you the bank account details where you will pay money for gorilla trekking permit. You will send the scanned copies of your passport which will be used to process the permit and once the payments have been made the gorilla trekking permit will be acquired for you and the company will send you scanned copies of the permit as confirmation.
Best time to Visit Africa for Gorilla trekking
Bwindi national park, Mgahinga national park, Volcanoes national park, Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park can be visited any time throughout the year however the best time to visit is during the dry season of June, July, August, December, January and February when there is less rainfall since most of the national parks are covered with rainforest vegetation. During the dry season, the forest grounds are not wet and muddy hence gorilla trekking will be easy though it can as well rain any time. The parks also have a wet season period where they receive rains in the months of March to May and September to November. During this wet season, it rains most of the times and the grounds are always wet, muddy and slippery though gorilla trekking activity will still take place and visitors will be recommended to hire porters so as to give them a push, pull and support while trekking gorillas in the jungle.
What to pack or wear when visiting Gorillas in Africa
Gorilla destinations in Africa are located on high altitude areas which means that the areas are normally cold during the morning, evening and night hours there visitors should pack warm clothes which will give them warmth while on a safari in Africa. Other items to pack include
- Camera, this is very important for visitors coming for gorilla trekking safari in either Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo because the camera will be used to take photos of the gorilla families and capture the moments during the one hour with the gorillas in their natural habitats.
- Gorilla trekking permit, this is the most important item to pack and the permit should be valid when going for gorilla trekking activity in any of the national parks in that without a gorilla trekking permit you will not be allowed to trek the endangered gorillas.
- Garden gloves, the gloves are used to protect you from germs and thorns since the grounds are sometimes slippery and you will be touching the tree branches, shrubs for support.
- Hiking boots, the boots should be reaching the ankles so as to protect your ankles and keep your feet dry while trekking in the wet and muddy jungle.
- Long sleeved shirts and trousers, these clothes will keep you warm in the morning and also protect you from insects like safari ants.
- Long socks, these will be tucked in the trousers and will protect your legs from being injured and protect you from the safari ants which might enter your trousers while trekking.
- Insect repellent, this is so important as well in that it will protect you from insects like tsetse flies, safari ants among others.
- Energy snacks, include packed lunch and enough drinking water and can be got from the lodge where you will be staying while in Africa. The snacks are used to give you energy while trekking in the forests in that some Gorilla groups can be found in long distances and they like to move from place to place in search of food.
- Waterproof rain jacket, this is used to protect you and your electronics such as camera, batteries, phones from the rain while in the forest trekking the gorillas.
- Waterproof bag is used to carry packed lunch, drinking water, camera, rain jacket/poncho among others when going for gorilla trekking activity.
Rules and regulations for gorilla trekking in Africa
Gorilla trekking activity in all the mentioned national parks starts early in the morning at 8 am, after an early breakfast at your lodge you will drive to the park headquarters where you will have a briefing about the expectations and the rules to follow when trekking in the jungle. The rules and regulations include
- The visitor should be 15 years and above
- Visitors for each gorilla group should be 8 maximum
- Visitors should keep their voices low at all times while trekking and after the one hour provided until 200 metres away from the gorillas.
- Should not litter while in the park, therefore whatever you take should be carried back with you.
- Should not drink, smoke, eat when near the gorillas in that the food staffs might drop hence transmitting diseases to the endangered mountain gorillas.
- Visitors should keep 7 meters distance from the gorillas during the one hour in the presence of the mountain gorillas, this protects the gorillas from catching human diseases.
- Visitors should stay in a group when trekking and while near the gorillas
- Visitors should follow the guide’s instructions in that in case the gorillas charge you should not run away or look directly into the gorilla’s eyes.
- Visitors should not use flash cameras when taking photos of the gorillas
- Visitors should not touch the gorillas because they are wild animals
- Visitors who are ill with fever, cold, flu should not trek the gorillas because the gorillas can easily catch human diseases.
The gorilla tour destinations in Africa give you an opportunity to view and take photos of the endangered mountain gorillas through gorilla trekking activity hence spending one hour with the gorillas in their natural habitat which gives you fascinating and unforgettable experiences on your safari in Africa.