Mountain Gorilla Trekking in East Africa
Mountain Gorilla Trekking in East Africa is one of the most exciting safari adventures in the region that is a must experience on your visit to the East African region. Mountain gorilla trekking is an adventure that takes you in the mountainous terrains of different forests in search of the rare and highly endangered mountain gorillas. This experience allows you to not only see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitats but gives you the experience to trek deep into these mountainous forests.
Mountain gorilla trekking in East Africa is done in two East African countries that is:- Rwanda and Uganda. These are the only two countries in East Africa that have mountain gorillas living in their natural habitats, that’s why they are the only places where gorilla trekking can be done in the region.
Mountain gorilla trekking is done all year round in these two countries though like any other safari most trekkers prefer to have the mountain gorilla trekking experience during the dry seasons in the region.
Mountain gorillas are considered the largest primates in the wild and they are also known to share at least 95% of their DNA with humans because of their similar features with humans, similar behavior as humans, and their unbelievable intelligence just like humans. They are socially peaceful herbivores that live in high altitudes in forested mountains; they are also strong and brave that if disturbed or see a need to protect their families they can fight to the death.
The mountain gorilla families are led by males that are known as silverbacks and the families consist of related females and young ones. The silverback is the one who leads the group to eat and to move from place to place.
These animals are critically endangered and governments together with international bodies are joining forces to boost the conservation of these animals through habitat protection, enforcing anti-poaching laws and encouraging tourism.
In Rwanda, mountain gorilla trekking is done North East of the country’s capital in Volcanoes National Park. The park is home to 12 mountain gorilla families that make their life in the forested mountain which is part of the virunga massif.
In Rwanda mountain gorilla trekking starts at 7am with a briefing at the park headquarters about the whole experience and the different dos and don’ts of the trek. After the briefing you head into the forest where you search for the mountain gorillas for about 1 to 2 hours and when you find them you spend one hour with them before you exit the forest. The whole experience will take you about 4 to 5 hours and after the experience you will continue with your day as per your itinerary.
Mountain gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda cost 1500 USD per person per a trek for both foreigners and locals and the adventurous safari can be done any time of year in the park.
In Uganda, the country that is home to over half the world’s population of mountain gorillas, mountain gorilla trekking is done south west of the country in either of these two National Parks:- Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga National Park. Both these parks are homes to the endangered mountain gorillas with over half the world’s population of the mountain gorillas living in Bwindi National Park.
Bwindi National Park has over 20 mountain gorilla families distributed among the four sectors of the park well as Mgahinga National Park has one mountain gorilla family.
Both these park are run by Uganda Wildlife Authority and like in Rwanda, mountain gorilla trekking in either of these parks starts in the morning with a briefing and then you head into the forest to search for the mountain gorillas; when you find them you spend an hour with them and then you exit the forest. In Uganda though, the experience takes longer than in Rwanda between 6 to 8 hours, because of the difficult terrains of the forests in Uganda.
Mountain gorilla trekking permits in Uganda cost 700 USD per person per a trek for foreigners.
During any mountain gorilla trekking experience either in Uganda or Rwanda, you should remember to observe the rules and regulations as communicated to you at the briefing or at the booking of your trekking experience.
Some rules and regulations to remember include but not limited:-
- Booking your mountain gorilla trekking permit at least 3 months in advance to allow proper planning
- You must be 15 years and above to engage in the mountain gorilla trekking adventure
- On a mountain gorilla trekking adventure you should always know that the conservation of the mountain gorillas in very key so you should trek with that in mind
- Don’t trek while you ill or have any infectious ailment
- keep a 7 metres distance between you and the mountain gorillas at all times
- Don’t litter the mountain gorilla habitat
- Don’t threaten the mountain gorillas wellbeing in any way through gestures or actions or sounds among other things
- Respect the one hour you are with the mountain gorillas
- Don’t use flash cameras while capturing photos of the gorillas
- Mountain gorilla trekking is done in groups of 8 persons, so respect the other persons in the group and try to keep harmony at least for the time you are trekking together.
- Don’t smoke or eat in the presence of the gorillas
- and many more rules and regulations
Some of the items you need for your gorilla trekking safari include but not limited to:-
- moderately thick and long sleeved clothing: to help protect you from insect bites and bad rubs from thorny tree stems
- A raincoat is a good accessory, the rain may come from nowhere
- Hiking shoes or hiking footwear to help you during your trek
- On the trek, you will need to carry a snack and some good water.
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