Mountain Gorillas are the greatest of the great Apes and the world's most endangered apes with only a few still living! In Uganda, they are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Rwanda, they are found in Volcanoes National Park and in Congo - Virunga National Park. In the whole world, Eastern Lowland gorillas are found in Kahuzi Biega National Park located in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The mountain gorillas are not only powerfully built Apes but also very beautiful, unique and legendary creatures. A visit to these most endangered Apes in their natural habitat is absolutely a magical, rewarding, and thrilling lifetime experience. In fact, a one-on-one encounter with these gentle giants, also Africa's major highlight is such a rare and moving opportunity!!
Gorilla Trekking can be done all year round however during the rainy season (March-May and September-October), it could be a little challenging due to the rains, muddy and slippery terrain. Visitors normally go through pre-briefing about gorilla trekking at the park headquarters office. Thereafter, you are split into groups of 8pax to visit a particular gorilla family. The team usually comprises of the lead park guide, armed escorts, porters and you - the visitors.The porters are young boys and girls from the neighboring villages of the parks. They help you to carry your backpack, give you a push, act as support and willing to give you a hand during the trek. Porters are highly recommended. The minimum price for a porter is $15 and can be paid directly at the end of their service.
The maximum time allowed with the gorillas is one hour upon seeing them. Thereafter, return to the starting point where you will be awarded with your Gorilla Trekking Certificate.
Frequently asked questions about Gorillas:
How big is the team along which I will track gorillas?
Each habituated gorilla family is visited by a maximum number of 8 tourists per day. This makes it a small and intimate adventure. It also doubles your chances of getting good pictures as there will be lots of room while you are with the gorillas.
How far can I stay from the gorillas?
You will be advised to keep a seven meter distance from the gorillas so as to minimize the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases. However, this rule is hard to keep up as infants of gorillas could wander closer to you out of a desire to play with you.
Can children trek gorillas?
Yes it is possible for children above 15 years to track gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda. If your child is younger, they need clearance from the respective authorities. Amazing Gorilla Expeditions is happy to help you with securing this clearance.
Packing list for Gorilla Trekking:
1.Comfortable hiking shoes.
Mountain gorillas live in high altitudes where temperatures can drop to as low as eight degrees. For their body to be able to the generate sufficient heat to help them overcome Hypothermia, males and females need to eat about 30kgs and 18kg of food respectively every day. To this effect, they spend the better part of their day wandering from one part of the forest to the other in search for food. As such, you are likely to spend 1-4 hours hiking back and forth in search for them during your gorilla excursion. Without good hiking boots, your legs are bound to sustain blisters. Water proof shoes with good treads are highly recommended.
2.Carry water proof gear and warm clothing.
The parks in which mountain gorillas live are tropical rainforests in high altitude settings. It can start to rain anytime regardless of whether it is a wet or dry season. Without water proof gear and warm clothing, you are bound to have an uncomfortable hiking experience. Other necessary clothing also include long sleeved shirt, long pants, long stockings to tuck in your pants tight!
3.Tag along with enough drinking water and lunch.
Given the long duration the excursion could take over 2 hours, your body might dehydrate or run out of energy before the climax of the adventure. To this effect, we will avail you sufficient water and lunch at the start of your gorilla trekking excursion.
4. Walking stick - this will give you more balance during the trek.
5. Leather gardening gloves - these come in handy whilst on the walk as you get to encounter thorny shrubs and stinging nettles.
6. Gaiters - these protect you from safari ants.
Rules and Regulations for Gorilla Trekking:
Flashlights are prohibited when taking pictures.
The usage of flashlight when taking pictures of gorillas is not permitted. In part, this is because bright light irritates their eyes causing them to become insecure or restless. Films of 400-800 ASA will do just fine.
Avoid wearing bright clothing.
Gorillas are disturbed by the sight of clothes with shouting colors as it deprives them of peace of mind. For instance, red traumatizes them as it is identical to the color of blood. Accordingly, you are expected to wear earth colors like dark green, black, grey.
Keep low voices.
Tourists often get carried away at the sight of gorillas as its such an emotional encounter. Some scream, ululate and exclaim aloud. However, it is strongly advisable to always keep a tone down your voice while in the presence of gorillas. They tend to walk away from noisy groups of tourists as they love utter peace.
Don't litter the park.
It is prohibited to leave rubbish in the forest park—in respect to the ethics of conservation.
Anyone with signs of any communicable diseases will not be allowed to track the gorillas.