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Mountain Gorilla trekking in Africa

Mountain gorilla trekking is a once-in-a lifetime adventure, experienced deep in the heart of lush rain forests of Africa where you have to the opportunity to encounter one of the world’s most fascinating creatures.

Mountain gorilla trekking in Africa offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience that allows tourists to witness these gentle giants in their natural habitat forming an indelible connection with nature.

Africa is home to three species of gorillas that is the endangered mountain gorillas. the eastern lowland gorillas and the critically endangered western lowland gorillas

What is Mountain Gorilla Trekking?

Mountain Gorilla Trekking is an extra-ordinary wildlife activity referring to a thrilling activity of venturing into the remote corners of Africa’s dense forests in search of habituated gorilla families, this immersive experience allows you to observe these captivating primates up close, witness their social interactions, behavior and their intricate dynamics of their family groups.

Mountain gorilla trekking is a chance to witness their astounding strength intelligence and striking resemblance to humans, mountain gorillas are the closest relative to humans sharing 97% of the DNA.

Where Can You Go Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Africa?

Mountain gorillas are an endangered species and there are only three countries in the world where you can see them and that is Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Each gorilla destination offers a unique gorilla trekking experience of encountering gorillas in their natural environment.

Uganda

Crowned the Pearl of Africa, 2 of Uganda’s dense forests are home to almost half of the world’s remaining population of the mountain gorillas protected in two fragile habitats that have been gazetted as national parks, these are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park both situated in South Western Uganda.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in Southwestern Uganda on the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of the oldest rain forests that date back over 25,000 years. Bwindi forest is a great destination for eco tours given its unique flora and fauna.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to 120 mammals including several primate species including baboons, chimpanzees, forest elephants and antelopes.

Uganda is a home to 20 habituated gorilla families that can be visited by tourists each day. On a daily a number of visitors are regulated to a maximum of eight tourists visiting each gorilla family and observing mountain gorillas is strictly limited to one hour.

Also, Uganda offers a privilege of watching the gorillas for longer hours on a gorilla habituation experience which can be done in Rushaga – the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Gorilla Habituation Experience can be arranged with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and a gorilla permit costs US$ 1,500 per person, the activity is restricted to only four visitors so that you can maximise your experience with the great apes.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best for mountain gorilla trekking in Africa, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to half of the remaining population of mountain gorillas with the most habituated gorilla families.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the southwest of the country on the border of Uganda with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, situated on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley incorporating 124 square miles of untamed mountainous and lowland forest.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking is the main Uganda safari activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and it takes place in four sectors/areas of the park that is Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.

Mountain gorilla families open for mountain gorilla trekking experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include

  • Rushaga Sector - Nshongi Group, Kutu Gorilla Family, Mucunguzi Gorilla Family, Rwigi Gorilla Family, Bikingi Gorilla Family,  Kahungye, Bweza, Busingye and Mishaya Gorilla Families. 
  • Buhoma Sector -  Mubare Gorilla Family, Habinyanja Gorilla Family, Katwe Gorilla Family,  Muyambi Gorilla Familyand Rushegura Gorilla Family
  • Ruhija Sector – Kyaguriro Gorilla Family, Mukiza Gorilla Family, Bitukura Gorilla Family,  and Oruzogo gorilla family
  • Nkuringo Sector – Nkuringo Gorilla Family, Bushaho Gorilla Family.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the second mountain gorilla trekking destination in Uganda also situated in the Southwestern corner of the country, the park is part of the Great Virunga Conservation Area and straddles the magnificent slopes of the majestic Virunga Volcanoes – the massif mountain ranges that rise at an altitude of 4507 m on the Uganda border with Rwanda and DR.Congo.

Crowned as “a place where gold meets silver”, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to two endangered primate species that is mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to one habituated gorilla family – Nyakagezi gorilla family, this family is famously known for crossing over to Rwanda as well as DR.Congo but for the last years it has settled on the Uganda side in the forested volcanoes of Mgahinga, Sabinyo and Muhavura.

How to Travel to Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks

Uganda’s gorilla destinations – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are located in South Western region of the country, most organized tours start from Entebbe or Kampala and you can get their by either road or air.

By road – it is a journey of approximately 8 to 9 hours through the towns of Masaka, Mbarara and Kisoro.

Alternatively, it is possible to get to either Bwindi or Mgahinga from Kigali City. It is a drive of approximately 4 hours with border crossing at either Cyanika or Katuna Border.

By Air – there are charter/domestic flights from either Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip then transferred to the parks.

Rwanda

Often referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Hills”, Rwanda is renowned for offering the most accessible gorilla trekking expeditions and commitment to conservation and gorilla tourism. The country jealously protects its mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park in the northern region of Rwanda, the park is home to ten habituated gorilla families that can be visited by tourists and each family can be visited by a maximum of 8 tourists.

A gorilla permit in Rwanda costs US$ 1500 per person per trek, though Rwanda is a luxury destination, there are also budget and midrange lodges to make your Rwanda gorilla safari more affordable.

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is a great destination for mountain gorilla trekking in Africa known for offering the easiest gorilla trekking, the park is located in northwestern part of Rwanda approximately 3 hours of drive of Kigali City.

Volcanoes National Park is named after the chain of dormant volcanoes making up the Virunga Massif – Karisimbi – the highest at 4,507m, Bisoke with a beautiful crater lake, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura.

Virunga National Park is home to 10 habituated gorilla families namely Agashya, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Tatus, Susa A, Umubano, Karisimbi, Kirwa, Kwitonda, Bwenge and Ugende which are open and available for gorilla trekking.

How To Travel to Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park is situated in Northern region of Rwanda taking approximately 2 hours to get there from Kigali City – the capital of the country.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo is the only destination where you can see both the Eastern lowland gorillas and the mountain gorillas, though less known to most tourists, Congo offers off-the usual paths for adventure safari seekers.

Democratic Republic of Congo is renowned for its rich biodiversity and wide range of exciting experiences to do including gorilla trekking and volcano hiking.

Virunga National Park

Part of the Great Virunga Conservation Area, Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heriyage Site listed in 1979 covering 3,000 square miles of land on the edge of the world’s second largest tropical forest.

Mountain gorilla trekking is the main Africa safari activity to do in Virunga National Park, the park hosts a third of the 1063 mountain gorillas left in the world. The park is has 8 habituated gorilla families open for gorilla trekking namely Kabirizi gorilla group, Humba gorilla group, Rugendo gorilla group, Mapuwa gorilla group, Lulengo gorilla group, Munyaga Gorilla Group, Nyakamwe gorilla group and Bageni gorilla group.

How to Travel to Virunga National Park

Travelers can reach the Virunga National Park either by road or by air, the easiest way to access the Eastern Congo is fly to Kigali International Airport and travel by road to the border at Gisenyi / Goma Town in Rwanda.

Since most international flights land in a bit late and visitors are advised to spend a night in Kigali, then set off early in the morning the following day.

When is the Best time to Do Gorilla Trekking?

All the 4 gorilla trekking destinations are situated in the same region of Equatorial region with two seasons that is wet season which occurs around March to April and October to November, the rest of the year is dry season (July to October and December to March).

The dry season is the best time for gorilla trekking, this season offers great conditions for hiking through the forests as the trails are relatively dry. 

However, since it is a jungle. Rain can be received at any time of the year.

Also, the dry season coincides with peak season in these three countries thus creating a high demand for gorilla permits and safari accommodations. Therefore it is important to book your gorilla safari well in advance so that you can avoid being disappointed and missing out on the gorilla permits.

The advantage of gorilla trekking in the wet season, you can enjoy discounts in the shoulder months of April, May and June since most lodges offer offseason rates for rooms. Also gorilla trekking experience during the wet season is shorter since there is plenty of food and the gorillas do not roam far as compared with the dry months

Is Gorilla Trekking Safe?

Gorillas are very peaceful animals and since they are omnivores, they are very uninterested in humans. Gorillas are safe and are not aggressive towards human presence.

Gorilla families that are open to gorilla trekking are used to human presence since researcher take time to habituate these gentle apes, this process helps gorillas to understand that the visiting humans are friends not enemies.

Visitors on mountain gorilla trekking experience get close encounter with the gorillas and a distance of 20 feet from these animals must be maintained, there are several measures that are addressed to you at the time of briefing and you are expected to adhere to these rules.

What to Pack for Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Africa

On mountain gorilla trekking experience, packing the right gear is essential and there are important things that should not miss in your back pack.

  • Pair of good walking shoes or boats – these should be comfortable and well fitting for a comfortable gorilla trek
  • A bottle of water – it is recommend to carry at least 3 litres of waters to rehydrate during the gorilla trek
  • Waterproof bag – call a waterproof bag to protect your camera and a rain jacket in case it rains
  • Good Camera – gorilla trekking is a thrilling experience where taking pictures is a must do, make sure that you do not take photos with flash photography.
  • Insect repellent and sun protection
  • Carry-ons – long sleeved shirts or T-Shirts, hats, gloves and sunglasses.

Get to book yourself on a mountain gorilla trekking in Africa at on of our gorilla trekking destinations and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

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