If you have always wondered how best you can see mountain gorillas while in their natural habitat then this article has got all that you needed. To trek to see mountain gorillas usually leaves many in wonders as to how to catch a glimpse at these dramatic creatures.
The fact is that these apes live only in the wild meaning not even will you find them in the zoos. To view these intelligent and massive creatures, you have to consider traveling to Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These are the only destinations where mountain gorillas are found and a gorilla safari is a must do if you visit any of these destinations.
Where to Go
Most gorilla treks in these African states are always conducted within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda as well as Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda. The Virunga National Park in eastern DR Congo is another amazing place to see the mountain gorillas. However the on and off insecurity threats in Eastern Congo hinder many travelers from accessing the region. Currently, about 1004 individuals of these large apes still thrive on earth and only distributed within the 3 African states.
In order to see the mountain gorillas, one needs to hold a gorilla trekking permit. The permits come at different prices within the different countries that host the mountain gorillas. Given that gorilla tourism was developed along guidelines of sustainable tourism, there is a limit on number of gorilla permits sold to tourists interested in gorilla watching. One habituated gorilla family is tracked by a maximum of only eight visitors per day.
In Uganda, you can secure a gorilla permit at $600 while in Rwanda you need $1500 and in the Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, gorilla permits cost $400 per person. To book a permit, you can contact ground tour operator or do it directly through reservationist of respective countries. In Uganda you can get in touch with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), in Rwanda-it is the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and in DRC, visit the Virunga National Park authorities. Besides, it is also possible for you to track/plan a gorilla safari on your own although this is a bit challenging and for this case, you will be accompanied by one park ranger guide who will take you through your trek. Gorilla treks are always led by a professional and experienced park ranger.
Be Ready for the Hikes
To see these apes, it involves you hiking through the dense vegetation and steep slopes of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Treks usually last for about 2 to 8 hours depending on your hiking speed, nature of habitat and location of these Great Apes. To view them, visitors are always assigned to one habituated family and in Uganda, there are about 17 that have been habituated and readily available for trekking, 10 are in Rwanda and only 8 are available in the Congo Virunga National Park.
Usually, the male silverback gorilla stretches up to 6 feet and has a weight of 500 ibs and they are largely vegetarians mainly depending on fruits, tree barks, roots, leaves and at times insects. In Uganda, about 480-500 of these Great Apes have been recorded and the rest are shared between Rwanda and DR Congo.
Know the Right Time to See the Gorillas
Gorilla treks can be done any time of the year. The best way for you to strike your imaginations with these dramatic creatures is for you to also consider which season you need to be at the destination. Regardless of the fact that treks to see these creatures are possible at any time of the year, seasonality is one significant factor any intending trekker should put into consideration.
That said, most visitors prefer traveling during the dry season which starts from June to September and December to February. This season is ideal the fact that the habitat remains relatively drier making it easier for trekkers to hike through the dense vegetation and steep slopes in search of these amazing creatures. Equally, the wet or rainy season is better for you to track gorillas and it is usually experienced from March to May and October to November. The challenge with this particular season is that the gorilla habitat tends to be wet and slippery making it a little bit challenging for one to take a hike to search for these unique creatures.
The other factors you need to consider is spending a night in an area where your trek is to kick start. There are many lodges that are distributed in and around the gorilla parks but you need that lodging facility that is close to starting point to avoid delays. For Uganda gorilla safaris, you need to know the sector where you are to go gorilla tracking. There are plenty of lodges in each sector ranging from budget lodges that come at very cheap prices to high end upmarket safari lodges that offer the luxuries you need during your holiday.
Besides, observe all the dos and don’ts for gorilla trekking and you will be on the safer side while on trek to view these dramatic creatures in their habitat.
In conclusion, in order for you to see mountain gorillas, you have to pay a visit to Uganda, Rwanda or the DR Congo. Book for your permit and your dream will come true in Africa!