Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking

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The remote areas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda and the Virunga Massif have one of the wildlife treasures on the African continent. The wildlife treasures are the very rare and endangered mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are great primates of the apes’ family that live in the forested mountainous areas in southwestern Uganda, northwestern Rwanda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

These primates are herbivores that predominantly feed on plant leaves and bamboo shoots. Surprisingly mountain gorillas don’t usually drink water because the plant leaves that they feed on are well moisturized with enough water that quenches their thirst.

Mountain gorillas have about 98% DNA similar to humans making them among the closest wild animals to human beings. Just like human beings, mountain gorillas live in groups/families that are led and guided by the strongest male mountain gorilla in that particular group commonly known as a silverback.

Best Destination For Mountain Gorilla Tracking

As earlier mentioned, mountain gorillas can only be found in three countries on the African continent and the entire planet at large. There are gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Uganda

In Uganda, mountain gorillas inhabit Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park all situated in the southwestern part of the country. Bwindi impenetrable national park has the highest mountain gorilla population in Uganda and half of the total mountain gorilla population remaining on the entire planet (about 450). This is the favorite destination where gorilla tracking is done in Uganda.

Some of the mountain gorillas here are habituated while others are currently under going habituation. Currently Bwindi impenetrable national park has 14 habituated gorilla families with several other gorilla groups undergoing the habituation process. With 14 habituated gorilla groups that can be visited by tourists, there are  112 gorilla permits available per day.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park on the other hand has one habituated gorilla group. A tourist can track gorillas in any of these two national parks. Both Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi impenetrable national parks can be got to after a 9 to 10 hours drive from Kampala Uganda’s capital city.

Rwanda

Rwanda’s mountain gorillas live in volcanoes national park situated in northwestern Rwanda. This national park has 10 habituated mountain gorilla families that are open to tourist visitation. Volcanoes national park can be accessed by road from Rwanda’s capital city Kigali after a 2 to 3 hours drive.

DR Congo

In Democratic Republic of Congo, mountain gorillas can be tracked in Virunga National park, which has 6 habituated gorilla groups. This national park can best be accessed from Rwanda via Goma or from Uganda via Bunagana border. Currently the gorilla permits cost USD 400 per person.

All the three mountain gorilla destinations offer exclusive mountain gorilla experiences coupled with sightings of other wildlife species that these national parks have and therefore it’s upon one’s preference to select the best gorilla tracking destination.

Each of the habituated gorilla group is open to be tracked by strictly 8 tourists a day spending only one hour with them.

The Mountain Gorilla Tracking Experience

Tourists are expected to be at the national park head quarters early in the morning for a briefing about the mountain gorillas. Before the briefing, these tourists are divided into groups of 8 and allocated to a guide who will be leading them throughout the entire gorilla tracking expedition. The journey to the forest in search of the mountain gorillas then starts lasting for 1 to 8 hours of hiking because mountain gorillas usually move from one place to another and thus getting to them might last longer than expected. After getting to the allocated mountain gorilla group, tourists are given an hour to interact, take photographs and learn more about these primates.

The Mountain Gorilla Tracking Permits

These are very important for any one interested in going for mountain gorilla tracking. A mountain gorilla permit for Rwanda are sold at $750, in Uganda $600 and in Democratic Republic of Congo at $500.  These are always limited and therefore tourists should ensure to secure their permits early enough.

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