Gorilla trekking in Africa
Gorilla trekking in Africa: Gorilla trekking is the major and most popular activity carried out in Africa. it’s a thrilling and breathtaking activity in that it gives you an opportunity to move into the tropical rain forests on foot looking for the habituated gorilla families and once found spend one hour with them in their natural environment. Gorilla trekking in Africa is one of the adventurous activities that you shouldn’t miss on your safari and it’s done in three countries namely Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gorilla trekking destinations in Africa
Gorilla trekking in Uganda
Uganda is the most visited destination for gorilla trekking in that it harbors the highest number of mountain gorillas in the whole world because according to 2018 mountain gorilla count there are about 1063 mountain gorillas in the world and 459 gorillas are found in Uganda. Uganda is the pearl of Africa and gorilla trekking is carried out in two national parks including
Bwindi impenetrable national park, the national park is located in southwestern Uganda at the border with Democratic Republic of Congo in Kanungu district. Bwindi impenetrable national park is the most visited gorilla destination in Uganda in that it harbors half of the world’s mountain gorillas. The national park is a home of about 19 habituated gorilla families which are found in 4 sectors namely Ruhija sector in the east, Nkuringo sector in the south, Buhoma sector in the north and Rushaga sector in the south. Bwindi impenetrable national park therefore offers about 152 gorilla trekking permits daily for visitors interested in gorilla trekking.
Mgahinga gorilla national park, Mgahinga gorilla national park is another gorilla destination in Uganda that is located in the southwestern region in Kisoro district bordering with Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The national park is a home of two habituated gorilla families that is Nyakagezi and Hirwa family which migrated from Volcanoes national park in October 2019. Therefore there are about 16 gorilla trekking permits that are available daily for visitors who want to visit these two amazing gorilla families.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking activity in Rwanda is carried out in Volcanoes national park which is located in northwestern part of Rwanda in Musanze village. Volcanoes national park harbors over 18 habituated gorilla families and only 12 families are available for trekking while the other families are reserved for research therefore the park offers about 96 gorilla trekking permits daily for visitors interested in gorilla trekking.
Gorilla trekking in Congo
There are two national parks in Congo which offer gorilla trekking activity namely
Virunga national park, Virunga national park is located in northeastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo and it’s the most visited gorilla destination in Congo in that it harbors the highest number of mountain gorillas. The national park is a home of 8 habituated gorilla families including Mapuwa, Lulengo, Munyaga, Kabirizi, Humba, Rugendo, Nyakamwe and Bageni which are available for trekking on a daily basis.
Kahuzi Biega national park, the national park is located west of Bukavu town in the southern part of Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Kahuzi Biega national park is a unique gorilla destination in Africa in that it harbors the eastern lowland gorillas which are sub species of the gorillas that is larger than the mountain gorillas. The national park is a home of 9 gorilla families but only 5 have been habituated and open for trekking and they include Chimanuka, Mugaruka, Mpungwe, Mwira and Marhale gorilla family.
Gorilla trekking experience
Gorilla trekking is all the five national parks starts in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters. After the briefing you will be grouped into 8 people and allocated a gorilla family to trek. Grouping of individuals is however done according to age, physical fitness, personal preference among others therefore visitors who are not physically fit are advised to communicate with their guides so that they are allocated a gorilla family that is easy to trek.
Trekking of the mountain gorillas starts at around 8:00am with a park guide who is experienced and well conversant with the trails in the national parks. Gorilla trekking takes about 30 minutes to 7 hours depending on their location and once found, you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat taking photos, recording moments to show people back home, learning about their lifestyle, habits, behaviors among others.
Cost of a gorilla trekking permit
A gorilla trekking permit is a document or card that is issued to any visitor above the age of fifteen allowing him or her to visit a habituated gorilla family in one of the destinations. Gorilla trekking permit prices vary according to the destination you visit for example
A gorilla trekking permit in volcanoes national park Rwanda costs $1500 per person for all nationalities and it’s the most expensive permit among the gorilla destinations in Africa.
A gorilla trekking permit in Democratic Republic of Congo costs $400 per person for foreign non-residents and $200 discounted gorilla trekking permit during the low season from 15th march to 15th may and 15th October to 15th December. Congo offers a discounted gorilla trekking permit during the low season so as to attract visitors therefore budget visitors should not miss out on this discounted gorilla trekking permit in Congo.
A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs $600 per person for foreign non-residents, $500 per person for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 per person for East African citizens. Uganda however increased the price of a gorilla trekking permit by $100 effective 1st July 2020 therefore the foreign non-residents will be paying $700 and $600 for the foreign residents.
How to book a gorilla trekking permit
Every visitor who is interested in trekking of the mountain gorillas in Africa is required to have a valid gorilla trekking permit. Acquiring a gorilla trekking permit is not hard as long as you know the procedures to follow and there are two options of booking a gorilla trekking permit. The first option is booking directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) a government body in charge of tourism in Uganda, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) a government body in charge of tourism in Rwanda and Virunga Foundation in Democratic Republic of Congo. When booking directly you will contact the offices by telephone or email and then make a reservation for your gorilla trekking permit.
The second option of acquiring a gorilla trekking permit is by booking through a tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris. When booking through a tour operator, you will contact us with the date, month, year and destination where you want to visit the gorillas. We will check for availability of the permit and if available you will be asked to make a deposit for your permit. When the deposit has been made, you will be asked to send a scanned copy of your passport with details like date of birth, nationality, names among others which will be used to register for your permit. Money transfer takes about 2 to 3 working days and when we receive the money we will purchase the permit for you and in case you are going to trek gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda we will send a scanned copy of the receipt as confirmation but in case you are going to trek in Congo your gorilla trekking permit will be reserved under mutual trust because in Congo they don’t send a scanned copy as confirmation.
Booking through a tour operator is the best option to use in that it will save you all the hustle and we will not only acquire a gorilla trekking permit for you but also organize your entire gorilla trekking safari with inclusion of transportation, accommodation, meals and other activities that you wish to engage in during your safari.
When to book a gorilla trekking permit
A gorilla trekking permit should be booked 3 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date because the permits Bwindi impenetrable forest, Mgahinga gorilla national park, Volcanoes national park and Virunga national park are competitive and usually get sold out especially during the peak season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February therefore in order to avoid disappointments at the last minute you are advised to book in advance.
Kahuzi Biega national park doesn’t receive many visitors compared to other gorilla destinations which give last minute visitors an opportunity to acquire a gorilla trekking permit to visit the eastern lowland gorillas.
Company to use for your gorilla trekking safari in Africa
When choosing a gorilla trekking company to use on your gorilla trekking safari there are various factors that you should consider for example company reviews from the previous clients, registration to know if the company is licensed and a member of tourism organizations, check to know if the company carries out gorilla trekking safaris through trip advisor and reviews so that if the reviews are negative you choose another company, way of communication, form of payment, safari price by comparing prices of a gorilla trekking safari with other companies.
What to pack for your gorilla trekking safari in Africa
When going on a gorilla trekking safari you are advised to carry various essentials such as hiking shoes to keep your feet dry, long sleeved shirt and trousers to keep you warm, garden gloves, rain jacket to protect you from rainfall, insect repellent, backpack to carry your items, camera to take photos and record the moments, a pair of binoculars to view far wildlife species like birds in the air or animals, walking stick to give you support when trekking in steep areas among others.
Best time to go for gorilla trekking in Africa
Gorilla trekking in Africa can be done all year round though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During the dry season there is less rainfall in the national parks therefore access roads and gorilla trekking trails in the forests will be passable compared to the rainy season when the trails are muddy and slippery. Though the dry season is the best time to go on a gorilla trekking safari, rain can be expected anytime of the day and the permits are always competitive therefore visitors are advised to book in advance.