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Home » Gorilla Trekking in Africa: The Ultimate Africa Gorilla Tours Guide 2024

Gorilla Trekking in Africa: The Ultimate Africa Gorilla Tours Guide 2024

Our Africa gorilla tours (Africa gorilla safaris) offer amazing gorilla trekking in Africa with in her tropical rain forest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park & Kahuzi National Park in Congo.

These Africa gorilla safaris offer lifetime African safari experiences. Are looking for where to go on a gorilla trekking Africa safari? wondering how difficult gorilla trekking in Africa is in Uganda, Rwanda & Congo? what is the best time to go for an African gorilla safari? How much a gorilla permit cost? How much does an African gorilla safari cost? What to wear and carry for your gorilla safari in Africa?

We have put up this comprehensive Africa gorilla trekking guide for your reference.

What Classification Do Gorillas In Africa Belong To?

Mountain gorillas seen during gorilla trekking in Africa are primates under the great apes’ classification. Great apes are primates that have highly developed and complex brains and lack an external tail.

Great apes are further classified into 4 smaller clusters which include Orang-utans- this comprises of the 2 subspecies, the Bornean Orangutan and the Sumatran Orangutan.

Chimpanzees- this group also has two species- the eastern/ common chimpanzees and the Bonobo or Pygmy chimpanzees, the third group has man or humans alone.

The final subcategory in the apes’ group has the gorillas- the gorilla subgroup has 2 sub-groups- western gorillas also known as Gorilla gorillas. This group has 2 species- the Western Lowland Gorillas and the Cross River Gorillas.

The eastern gorillas are also called Gorilla beringei. Eastern gorillas are also divided into 2 subspecies- the mountain gorillas are also known as Gorilla beringei beringei and the Eastern Lowland Gorillas also called gorilla beringei graueri.

Mountain gorillas are the second largest of the 4 gorilla species with the eastern lowland gorillas being the biggest of all the gorillas out there.

What Is The Physical Description Of Mountain Gorillas In Africa? / How Do Mountain Gorillas In Africa Look Like?

Scientifically termed as Gorilla beringei beringei, mountain gorillas are typically gentle and amazingly shy and calm animals that have thick and long fur and this enables them to live in cooler temperature climatic zones, each gorilla can be identified based on its nose print which is unique to each individual, adult males can weigh as much as 195 kg with a standing height of 168cm or 66 inches while their female counterparts can weigh 100kg with a height of 140 cm or 55inches.

Mountain gorillas are diurnal animals as they are very active in the early morning and evening hours which they use for foraging or eating, They maintain a herbivorous diet that consists of leaves, fruits, tree branches, and bamboo shoots.

What Is An African Gorilla Safari?

An African gorilla safari is a type of African safari taking you gorilla trekking in Africa, in Uganda, Rwanda, or Congo.

On this unique Africa gorilla tour, you get a golden opportunity to trek and see the critically endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat from a close range.

Where Is Gorilla Trekking In Africa Carried Out?

Gorilla trekking in Africa is carried out in the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. In Uganda, you can trek Mountain Gorillas in either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

In Rwanda, you will trek Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park which is located in the North-Western part of the country, as African gorilla safaris in Congo are carried out in Virunga National Park for Mountain Gorillas and Kahuzi Biega National Park for Low Land Gorillas.

What Species Of Gorillas Are Seen During A Gorilla Trekking In Africa Tour To Uganda Congo Or Rwanda?

There are two species of gorillas ie Mountain Gorillas or also known as Gorilla berengei berengei or the Eastern Lowland Gorillas ( gorilla berengei graurei ).

Mountain gorillas can be seen when you make a gorilla trekking safari to either Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or Rwanda safari tour to Volcanoes National and if you’re doing a Congo gorilla tour then a personal encounter with the mountain gorillas can only be gotten when you visit Virunga National Park.

However, the stocky eastern lowland gorillas are only found in Kahuzi Biega National Park

How Is Gorilla Trekking In Africa Carried Out?

Undertaking an African gorilla safari in any of these countries requires you to secure a gorilla trekking permit to track any of the habituated gorilla families in any of the national parks in which these gorillas are found.

With your gorilla trekking permit in hand, you have secured the right to track any gorilla family in any of these gorilla parks.

The gorilla permit includes entry fees to the gorilla park, a park guide to lead you to the gorilla family, and an hour with the gorillas for you to observe them in their natural habitat.

How Many People Can Track A Gorilla Family In Africa?

Each gorilla family in the gorilla parks in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo can be tracked by a group of 1-8 people.

This means that if you come in a group of more than 8 people you will be divided into groups of not more than 8 individuals and each group will track a different gorilla family at the same time.

In case you have a group of more than 8 individuals, it’s alright you are still welcome to visit Uganda, Rwanda, or Congo and engage in a gorilla trekking thriller because the park wardens in these gorilla parks will simply divide you into 2 smaller groups of less than 8 people so that you qualify to track and each of these 2 smaller subgroups will track a different family.

What Are The Gorilla Families That Are Found In Africa In Uganda, Rwanda, And Congo Gorilla Parks?

Which Gorilla Families Can One Trek In Uganda, Rwanda, And Congo During An Africa Gorilla Safari Tour?

Each of these 3 countries has a varying number of gorilla families that are found within their respective gorilla national parks. Let me give you a preview of the various gorilla families found in each of these countries

Gorilla Trekking  Families Of Uganda That You  Trek See Mountain Gorillas.

Given the fact that Uganda is home to over 50% of the 1063 mountain gorillas that exist on the planet as of today, it doesn’t come as a surprise that it has the biggest number of habituated gorilla families that are found in the 2 national parks of Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park.

Bwindi alone has 18 habituated gorilla families while Mgahinga gorilla national park is home to only 1 habituated gorilla family taking Uganda’s tally of gorilla families that are available for a stunning gorilla safari in Uganda experience to 19.

However, this doesn’t mean that these are the only gorillas that live in Bwindi because there are several other gorilla families that reside in these forests of Bwindi but they haven’t been habituated yet.

The gorilla families of Bwindi are found in four major sectors of the park which are Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Rushaga.

Gorilla Families Found In Rushaga Of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Of Uganda In Africa?

This sector is found in the southern end of the park and it has the biggest number of gorilla families that can be seen on your gorilla safari to this sector of Bwindi which is 8 here are these families

Nshongi family.

With 25 members constituting this group, Nshongi is the biggest family in Rushaga. This group got its name from the river Nshongi that flows where this family was first sighted.

Nshongi family has 2 silverbacks leading it namely  Nshongi the overall leader of the group and Kakono another silverback that doubles as a second to Nshongi.

Bweza family.

This family consists of 9 members. It is led by a silverback called Bweza. This family was previously part of the Nshongi family but due to misunderstandings, Bweza broke away from the Nshongi family to form his own family which is named after him. This family has one silverback, 2 infants

Kahugye family.

This family has 17 members. It is led by a silverback called Rumanzi. This family was named after Kahugye Hill in the Rushaga sector where this family was first discovered. This family includes 3 silverbacks 3 blackbacks, 3 female adults, 3juveniles, and 2 infants.

Busingye family.

The name Busingye is a Runyakitara word that means Peace and just like its name, this gorilla family is quite peaceful and only goes into the battle mood when intensively provoked. This family has 9 members that are being led by Busingye.

Mishaya family.

Under the steadfast leadership of Mishaya, this gorilla family comprises 12 members. It has 2 adult females namely Bakunzi and Mwiza, and 2 juveniles namely Rutaro, Mize, and 5 infants but only 3 infants have the names Mwiza baby 1, Mwiza Baby 2, and Bakunzi. the two remaining infants are unknown.

Mucunguzi family.

This gorilla family came into existence after a power struggle erupted within the Bweza family in which Mucunguzi was third in the line of command.

Mucunguzi was defeated by the leader of this group Bweza hence he was banished from the Bweza gorilla family. Mucunguzi ventured into the Bwindi wilderness as a solitary male for a while as he was planning his move.

After recuperating from his injuries and hatching a careful plan, he decided to attack another gorilla family called Bikiyinji, he fought the dominant silverback there and successfully managed to annex a few of its members and began a family of his own which was therefore named after him. Mucunguzi now consists of about 8 members with

Rwigi family.

This is a splitter group from the Kahungye gorilla family. Rwigi was one of the silverbacks in the Kahungye gorilla family and when he got tired of taking orders from the dominant silverback Kahugye, he decided to challenge him in a fight which ended up with Rwigi successfully managing to annex a few of the members of the Kahungye group and started his own family which was named after him. Rwigi now has 6 members

Bikiyingi family.

The Bikiyingi family was discovered in the Bikyingi area in the Rushaga sector hence having its name derived from the area where it was discovered.

This family is only open to habituation experience. This family is under the leadership of a dominant silver buck called Bikiyingi.

Other members in this group include 5 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 2 juveniles, and 1 infant.

Gorilla Families Found In Ruhija Sector Of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?

The Ruhija sector is found in the Eastern part of Bwindi and has 4 gorilla families

Kyaguliro family.

this family consists of 2 smaller families named Kyaguliro A and Kyaguliro B which came into existence after the death of the founder of this family Rukina 2015 who was struck by lightning.

Kyaguliro A is under the leadership of Mukiza while Kyaguliro B is under Rukara’s leadership. The Mukiza family consists of 10 members

Oruzogo family.

This is quite another big family in Bwindi with 17 family members. It got its name after a plant commonly called “Oruzogoto” which has 17 members.

It is led by a silverback called Bakwate whose name means “an intelligent being and learns quickly”. This gorilla family has 5 adult females and 4 infants

Bitukura family.

Of the 4 families that are found in Ruhija, this is the last one in the gorilla families of Bwindi and it consists of 13 members.

This family is led by a younger silverback called Ndahura regardless of his age he is the dominant male in this group.

Gorilla Families In Buhoma Sector Of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Buhoma is found in the Northern part of the Bwindi and it has 4 gorilla families

Habinyanja family

The Habinyanja family gets the name from a Nyanja a local meaning “water or lake”. Led by Makara as a dominant silverback, this family boosts up 19 individuals which include 6 adult females 2 blackbucks, 2 sub-adult males, 3 juveniles, 5 infants

Rushegura family.

Named after a tree species called “Ebishegura” that’s abundant in the area where it was discovered, The Rushegura family comes with 19 family members with Mwirima as the dominant silverback.

Other members include 1 black back, 5 adult females, a sub-adult male, a sub-adult female, 5 juveniles 5 infants

Mubare family.

Named after Mubare hills in Buhoma where this group was first seen in 1991, the Mubre family is the oldest gorilla family in Bwindi and it was the first family to be open for gorilla trekking in Uganda in 1993.

This family suffered the loss of its first silver buck leader Ruhondeza and this led to some of its members breaking away from the group leaving it with only 5 members.

However, as of today, the family has 11 members and it is now under the leadership of a dominant silver buck called Kanyonyi.

Katwe family.

This is the most recent gorilla family that has taken shape in the Buhoma sector. This family is comprised of 10 members which include 1 dominant silverback called Katwe, 3 blackbacks, 4 adult females, and 2 infants.

Gorilla Families In Nkuringo Sector Of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park In Uganda

As of late 2019, this sector has 2 gorilla families down from 3 given the disintegration of the newly formed Christmas family

Nkuringo family.

Located in the Nkuringo sector, the Nkuringo gorilla family in this sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and it’s under the leadership of a dominant silverback called Safari.

Other members in this family include 3 other silver Bucks 4 adult females 3 juveniles, 5 infants, and 3 blackbucks

Bushaho family.

This family has 8 members. This was also named after the area it was first met. The Bushaho family is considered a breakaway group from the Nkuringo family.

The family is led by Bahati a dominant silverback. Other members that make up this family include 1sub adult, 3 adult females, 1 blackbuck, 1 juvenile, and 2 infants.

How Many Gorilla Families Are Found In Mgahinga Gorilla Park In Uganda Africa

The Nyakagezi gorilla has 9 members with 4 silverbacks 2 adults, 2 infants, and 1 juvenile. This gorilla family is under the leadership of a silverback named Mark who took leadership from his father Bugingo who by the time of the takeover was aged about 53 years, there are 2 other silverbacks 2 adult females and 3 infants

Gorilla Families In Rwanda Africa; How Many Gorilla Families Are Found In Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

Volcanoes National Park is home to 11 gorilla families that are available for trekking as of today and these include

Susa A gorilla family

Named after the river Susa that runs through the territory this gorilla group calls home, the gorilla family Susa is the epitome of gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park.

Susa A has 28 gorilla individuals with 3 silverbacks and this group defied the odds by having one of the adult females give birth to twins something that’s quite rare in this elusive species of gorillas.

Susa A has a sentimental value attached to it because this was the particular group that Dian Fossey based her research on while here in the Volcanoes Park.

 Karisimbi family

Named after the highest peak of the Virunga ranges, the Karisimbi peak, the Karisimbi family calls the slopes along with Mt. Karisimbi home.

This gorilla family is a splinter faction from the Susa A group and as a result, it reduced the Susa A numbers from 42 members to around 28 members after the split.

Due to this split, the Karisimbi group was 1st referred to as Susa B but its name changed to Karisimbi in 2010. This family has 11 members under the leadership of Nyakangaga a dominant silverback

Sabyinyo gorilla family.

Named after one of the Virunga ranges known as Mount Sabyinyo which actually means an old man’s teeth in the local Kinyarwanda dialect, the Sabyinyo gorilla family is one of the easiest families to track here as it habituates at the lower slopes of Mt. Sabyinyo which lies at the edge of the park. This group is comprised of 9 individuals led by a dominant silverback named Guhonda

Amahoro family

Named after a local Kinyarwanda word Amahoro which means peace, its naming is indeed consistent with the manner in which this family conducts itself which is peace above and before anything else and because of the peaceful nature of the dominant silverback named Ubumwe which means togetherness, this family has 17 members with Ubumwe as the leader, 2 blackbacks, 5 juveniles, 5 adult females and 4 young ones.

Agashya family

Agashya family is also sometimes referred to as group 13 and this is because, at the time of its habituation process, this group had 13 members under the leadership of a dominant silverback named Nyakairima.

Nyakairima was disposed of his dominancy by another silverback within the family named Agastya which means news in the local dialect of Kinyarwanda.

Nyakairima however, is highly credited for his role in expanding this family to its current composition of 25 members under the new leadership of Agastya as a dominant silverback, 12 females, 3 juveniles, and 7 babies.

Umumbano family

Umumbano family consists of 13 members with Charles as their leader, 1 sub-adult, 6 infants, and 3 adult females.

Kwitonda family

This family came into existence in the Volcanoes National Park in 2003 after crossing from the neighboring Virunga National Park in D.R. Congo where it is believed it faced pressure from other gorilla groups hence a decision to move to a new location and start afresh.

By the time of its crossing from Congo, this family was under the leadership of Kwitonda as a dominant silverback but its leadership has now shifted to a younger silverback called Akarevuro after the unfortunate passing of Kwitonda in September of 2012 who was aged 40 years.

Hirwa family.

Hirwa family is named after the Kinyarwanda word Hirwa which means lucky one. This family came into existence after bitter brawls erupted between Munyinga the leader of this family and the leader of the Susa family at the end of the conflicts, Munyiga broke away with 2 adult females and started a family of his own, Munyinga also managed to annex other female gorillas during the early stages of forming the Hirwa group and now this group consists of 16 members

Uganda family

Named after a local Kinyarwanda word Ugenda which means mobile, this gorilla family is indeed very mobile as it’s always on a constant move from one place to another looking for the freshest feeders to eat. The Uganda group comprises 11 members with 2 other silverbacks.

Uganda group habituates along the slopes of Mount Visoke and will give you an experience like no other as you will traverse areas around this mount as you track this group.

Bwenge family

The Bwenge family was named after the Kinyarwanda word bwenge which means wisdom. This family was formed when its leader Bwenge decided to split from his natal group and got joined by another female but as time went by Bwenge’s family grew to a strong number of 11 individuals.

The Bwenge family is of strong importance as some of its members were featured in the 1988 documentary film “Gorillas In The Mist” which was shot in honor of Dr. Dian Fossey’s work with the gorillas.

Titus family.

This family gets the name from Titus, a male gorilla that was born during the time Dr. Dian Fossey was researching gorillas in this area.

However, Titus’ family was brutally murdered by poachers and only Titus survived this horrific experience which saw all his parents and siblings perish.

The Titus group lives along the slopes of the Karisimbi and Visoke ranges hence it requires some physical stamina to track this group due to the high altitudes involved in tracking this group.

Gorilla families in Congo

Congo has got two gorilla national parks and these are Virunga National Park which has mountain gorillas and Kahuzi Biega National Park which is home to the Eastern Lowland Gorillas.

How Many Gorilla Families Are Found In Virunga National Park In Dr Congo Africa?

Virunga National Park is home to 8 gorilla families and these include

Rugendo family

The Rugendo family was one of the gorilla families that were habituated first in 1985. At first, this gorilla family was led by a silverback named Rugendo in 2001.

Rugendo family comprises 9 members with 3 silverbacks, 1 black back, 1 adult female, 2 sub-adult females, and 2 babies. This family is found habituating in areas around the Mikeno sector in between Bukima and Bikenge.

Munyaga family

Munyaga family is led by a dominant silverback called Mawazo. This family has 9 members which include 3 silverbacks, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles, and 2 babies. This family traverses areas around Bukima.

Mapuwa family

Over a period of close to 20 years, the Mapuwa family has expanded and evolved to reach a membership count of 22 individuals with 3 silverbacks, 3 blackbacks, 6 adult females, 4 juveniles, 2 sub-adult females, and 5 babies. During all this transformation, Mapuwa is still at the helm of this family as the dominant silverback.

Lulengo family

Initially named as Rugabo family, this was one of the 1st gorilla families to be habituated in the Virunga Park in 1985 with Rugabo as the dominant silverback, but as of today, the Lulengo family has 9 members with 1 silverback, 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult male, 3 babies, and 1 juvenile. The Lulengo family habituates in areas around Jomba.

Kabirizi family

This group was habituated around 1994 and by this time it was under the leadership of Zunguruka as the dominant silverback. Kabirizi as of now comprises 19 members with 2 silverbacks,1 black back, 1 sub-adult male, 3 sub-adult females, 4 juveniles, and 4 infants. This group can be found in the Bukima area.

Bageni family

Bageni family was formed when Bageni silverback son of Kabirizi decided to split from his father’s family Kabirizi and form his own family in January of 2013.

This family has 26 individuals with Bageni as the dominant silverback, 2 blackbacks, 10 adult females, 1 sub-adult female, 3 juveniles, and 9 babies. This family can be seen in Bukima and Gatovu areas

Nyakamwe family

The Nyakamwe family came into existence after the split from the Humba family which was a result of internal bickering between Humba the leader of the Humba family and his younger brother Nyakamwe.

Nyakamwe now leads a group of 11 members with 2 silverbacks, 1 blackback, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles, 1 sub-adult female, and 2 babies.

Humba family

The Humba family was created after a split from the Rugendo family in 1998. As of now, Humba has 10 family members of which 3 are silverbacks, 2 are adult females, 1 is a sub-adult female, 2 are juveniles, and 2 are babies. The Humba family is located in the Gatovu and Bikenge areas.

How Many Gorilla Families Are Found In Kahuzi Biega National Park In Congo Africa?

Kahuzi Biega has 2 habituated families of lowland gorillas and these are

Chimanuka family

The Chimanuka family is led by a dominant silverback called Chimanuka. This family comprises 36 members which include 17 females and 18 infants aged 6 months to 9 years old.

This family has heavily defied the odds by having 4 sets of twin births which is highly uncommon among gorillas.

Mugaruka family.

This is the second habituated gorilla family in Kahuzi Biega National Park. This family is under the leadership of Mugaruka the dominant silverback and he is highly protective of his family members always fighting with Chimanuka and other gorillas who come to annex some of his family members.

What Is The Cost Of A Gorilla Trekking Safari In Africa?

All three gorilla countries have different prices for the cost of their gorilla permits, for example, a Rwanda gorilla trip permit costs 1500USD per person while a Uganda gorilla tour permit, on the other hand, is sold at 700USD. However, Congo has the cheapest gorilla permit as a Congo gorilla tour permit goes for only 400USD.

When Is The Best Time To Go Gorilla Trekking In Africa?

The best time to go gorilla trekking is during the dry season months which are December – February and sometime early March and also from June – early September and this is the same for all these three gorilla countries.

This is mainly due to the fact that the roads leading to many of these gorilla tour destinations, especially in Uganda and Congo are murram roads that get a bit soggy and hard to navigate during the rainy season.

Where Can I Get An African Gorilla Trekking Permit In Uganda, Rwanda, And Congo For My Africa Gorilla Safari?

  • Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda are only accessed through the Uganda Revenue Authority. Uganda Wildlife Authority is the only mandated agency to issue gorilla trekking permits in Uganda.
  • Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda can be obtained only from the Rwanda Development Board. Rwanda Development Board is the only mandated agency to issue gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda. You can access these permits by visiting the offices of the Rwanda Development Board located in Kigali city.
  • Gorilla trekking permits in Congo can be obtained only from Virunga National Park offices. Virunga National Park is the only authorized place to sell Mountain Gorilla trekking permits in this park and Kahuzi Biega National Park for Low Land gorilla trekking permits

Where Can I Get A Gorilla Trekking Permit In Uganda, Rwanda, And Congo For My Africa Gorilla Safari?

It is advisable that you book a gorilla permit way early in advance at least between 3-6 months in advance.

This is major because so many African safari travelers opt to visit these gorilla destinations and yet there aren’t always enough permits for everyone to get any time they feel like especially if you want to come during the peak season of tourist arrivals in these countries of Uganda Rwanda and Congo.

What Is The Minimum Age Of Gorilla Trekking In Africa?

The minimum age required for a person to undertake gorilla trekking is 15 years and above. This so because of the greater challenges that might be involved like tracking gorillas for a long time or getting scared of seeing the gorillas themselves as they are huge animals.

Children below 15 years shouldn’t be left behind on a visit to Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo as there are other activities they engage in such as birding.

How Long Does Gorilla Trekking In Africa Take?

On average gorilla tracking in these countries takes between 4-8 hours to end. The time spent during gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo majorly depends on a number of facts, and these include

The location of the gorilla family: When you track a gorilla family that is known to habituate in areas nearer the park center, you are likely to spend less time out in the open wilderness tracking gorillas and when you track a family that stays far away from the reverse is very true.

Moods of the tracked gorilla family: When you track a gorilla family that has been agitated, your ranger guide might be forced to cut short your time with the gorillas because your safety is his primary concern because these gorillas are wild animals that have the ability to charge to anyone they think is posing a threat to their family.

The onsite weather conditions: Weather conditions greatly influence the time duration spent while tracking gorillas. In case the heavens decide to open up and let it rain prior to or during your gorilla trekking experience. You are bound to spend more time in the wilderness because the trails become quite muddy.

What Are The Chances Of Seeing A Gorilla Family In Uganda Rwanda And Congo If You Go Gorilla Trekking In Africa?

Your chances of seeing a gorilla family in Uganda Rwanda and Congo are high definitely over 95% because before you track a gorilla family, an advanced team of rangers is dispatched into the forest and track the current locations of the gorilla families after establishing their location, the remaining guides at the park center are informed of this information and it acts as a rough guide to you as track these gorillas.

Can I Do Gorilla Trekking In Africa When I Am Physically Handicapped Or Not Energetic Enough To Hike The Virunga Ranges Alone?

Yes, you can because there are ways that have been devised to cater to anyone who doesn’t have a lot of energy levels or is physically handicapped but would wish to enjoy a gorilla safari experience.

Some of these include:

  • Ask the park warden to allocate to you a gorilla family that is habituated near the park headquarters.
  • Use of gorilla trekking “helicopters”. The helicopters are actually stretchers that are manned by four porters who will carry you during the entire gorilla process to the gorillas and from the gorillas.

What Country Offers A Better African Gorilla Safari Experience Between Uganda, Congo, And Rwanda?

Engaging in a gorilla trekking experience in each of these countries is unique on its own and also has its own pros and cons and I will highlight some of the pros and cons of a gorilla safari in each of these countries.

Pros of gorilla trekking in Uganda

  • Engaging in a Uganda gorilla safari is quite cheap because a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda is a lot cheaper costing a whole 900 USD cheaper than a similar permit in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
  • Engaging in a Uganda gorilla tour also gives you a chance to choose from a wide variety of gorilla families to trek since Uganda is home to 19 gorilla families that are found in 2 different parks i.e. Bwindi and Mgahinga while Rwanda is home to only 11 gorilla families while Congo has 10 gorilla families combined.
  • Gorilla trips in Uganda also give you a chance to enjoy a thrilling Uganda cultural safari as you meet the Batwa who are believed to be the original custodians of these jungles of Bwindi and also double as East Africa’s oldest tribe of people
  • You can also easily combine a gorilla tour in Uganda with an Uganda wildlife tour since Uganda gorilla parks are found along a tourism circuit that also has Uganda wildlife safari destinations Lake Mburo National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park and this gives you an opportunity to encounter the best of Uganda’s wildlife biodiversity.

Cons Of Uganda Gorilla Trekking Tours In Africa

  • Uganda’s gorilla destinations Bwindi and Mgahinga are located very far away from Uganda’s only international airport which is in Entebbe, a place that lies about 500km or 8-10 hour drive time from Bwindi and Mgahinga. This, therefore, means the least number of days you need for the Uganda gorilla safari is 3 days if you’re to begin and end your Uganda safari journey in Kampala and this might not favor you if case you don’t have this number of days to spend in Uganda.
  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla Park are very rugged and engaging in a gorilla trek here is quite challenging and strenuous, especially in the rainy season and also if you aren’t physically fit

Pros Of Rwanda Trekking Gorilla Tours In Africa

  • Volcanoes National Park is quite near Kigali city Rwanda’s capital city which is also home to Rwanda’s international airport the 2 are only separated by a distance of 116km or a 2-3 hours drive time and this means that you can easily engage in a 1 day Rwanda gorilla safari something which can’t easily be achieved if you would wish to do gorilla trekking in either Uganda or Congo.
  • Volcanoes National Park has a relatively low terrain and this makes a huge difference in the ease of trekking as the trekking isn’t as strenuous as the case in Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla parks or even Congo Virunga National Park

Cons Of Rwanda Gorilla Safaris

  • Gorilla tour permits in Rwanda are very expensive as they are sold at 1500USD yet similar permits in Uganda are sold at 600USD and at 500USD in Congo.

Pros Of  Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris In Africa

  • Congo gorilla safaris present you with an opportunity to encounter either the mountain gorillas that are found in Virunga National Park in Congo or the eastern lowland gorillas that are found in Kahuzi Biega National Park and the eastern gorillas are missing in both Rwanda and Uganda.
  • With Congo gorilla trips, you are presented with a rare opportunity to also summit the Nyiragongo volcano which has a spitting crater on top of the peak and this is something you won’t find in either Uganda or Rwanda since all the mountain ranges here are either dormant or extinct.

Cons Of Congo Gorilla Safaris

  • Both gorilla parks in Congo are located very far away from the main airport of Congo and to access you need to pass either via Uganda or Rwanda hence leading to an increase in the transport costs as well as extra VISA costs.
  • The 2 gorilla parks of Congo are located in the eastern part of Congo which is relatively volatile when it comes to security although it is still safe enough for you to consider it as a credible destination for your Africa gorilla tour.
  • The 2 Congo gorilla destinations are found in the region which is prone to Ebola outbreaks but the health officials are always quick enough to quarantine people suspected to have this disease hence keeping the destination always open to visitors who would wish to track gorillas here.

Is It Possible For Me To Do Double Gorilla Trekking In Africa In More Than One Country?

Yes, this is very possible for you to engage in gorilla trekking in more than 1 destination and this has its own benefits as it gives you an opportunity to experience gorilla trekking in Africa‘s various destinations.

For example, if you do double gorilla tracking in Uganda you have an opportunity to see gorillas in 2 different gorilla parks or even in four different sectors of Bwindi

When you engage in double gorilla trekking in Congo you’re presented with an opportunity to encounter 2 different gorilla subspecies rare mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park or eastern lowland gorillas found in Kahuzi Biega National Park.

You can also opt to do double gorilla trekking while combing different gorilla destinations such as gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda or gorilla safaris in Rwanda and Congo or Uganda and Congo or ultimately a triple gorilla trekking experience in all the 3 gorilla countries.

Why Is It Better To Go Gorilla Trekking In Africa Under An Indigenous Safari Company?

Although it is still very possible for you to organize for yourself a gorilla safari, especially in Uganda and Congo, it is advisable for you to seek the help of indigenous tour operators for the following reasons

It is hard for you to the exact dates which have free gorilla permits if you’re on the ground yet a tour operator will easily check and get you a day that still has gorilla permits available.

Tour operators can easily come to suggest other activities and destinations you can visit on top of your gorilla safari experience

Tour companies can also arrange for an all-inclusive Africa gorilla trekking safari package at a single price and this covers all your needs in a gorilla tour such as a gorilla permit, transport to the park, accommodations while on a safari, all meals enjoyed on a safari, services of a well-trained driver-guide, entry fees to the national park that might not be aren’t gorilla parks.

Are Uganda, Rwanda, And Congo Safe For Tourists To Engage In An African Gorilla Tour?

Yes, these countries especially  Rwanda and Uganda are truly safe for tourists who would like to engage in a gorilla tour.

We can never shy from our history which is tainted with various episodes of political turmoil, especially in the 1970s when Uganda was under the dictatorial rule of President Idi Amin.

Uganda has also experienced a few incidents of rebel activity by rebel groups such as ADF and LRA rebel groups.

However, all these have been extinguished and Uganda now enjoys absolute peace, especially after the coming into power of the National Resistance Movement under the leadership of President Museveni.

Rwanda also suffered from insurgencies such as the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. However, these insurgencies here have for long been gone and Rwanda enjoys maximum peace.

Congo suffers from political uncertainties but these are far away from the gorilla destinations of Virunga National Park and Kahuzi Biega National Park hence being open to tourists intending to visit the gorillas here.

What Injections (Vaccinations) Do I Need In Order To Go For Gorilla Trekking In Africa In Uganda, Congo, And Rwanda?

If you intend to safari to Uganda for an Uganda gorilla safari, Uganda wildlife safari, Uganda chimpanzee safari, or even a 1 day Jinja tour, you really don’t need a lot of injections but only one immunization injection against yellow fever.

The same policy is followed if you’re visiting Congo. However, if you’re only visiting Rwanda you may not need to be immunized against Yellow fever as Rwanda is considered a free Yellow fever country.

Do I Need Malaria Tablets Before A Gorilla Safari In Africa To Uganda Congo And Rwanda?

Yes, you may need to have Malaria tablets for a gorilla safari to any of these countries.

These countries are found within the tropical belt which is prone to Malaria hence you may need to come with Malaria tablets and insect repellent to keep away all kinds of bugs.

What Travel Documents Do I Need To Go For An African Gorilla Safari In Rwanda Uganda Or Congo?

Before visiting any of these gorilla destinations all you need is your passport.

It must still be valid for at least the next 6 months and an immunization card for yellow fever and an entry visa for the country where you are going to have your gorilla safari.

If you are planning on visiting both Rwanda and Uganda on the same gorilla tour then you can take advantage of a single-entry East Africa VISA which is accepted in the countries of Rwanda Uganda and Kenya.

Why Is Gorilla Trekking In Africa Expensive?

Gorilla trekking is a bit expensive because of the  following reasons

  • Gorillas are endangered species hence the high price is aimed at reducing the number of people who visit these endangered species
  • The funds collected from the gorilla permit sales are also heavily used to finance the works of the gorilla doctors who work tirelessly to ensure that these gorillas are safe in their natural habitat.
  • Part of the gorilla funds is given back to the local communities which reside adjacent to these gorilla parks as a way of ensuring that these communities don’t engage in activities that are detrimental to the survival of these gorillas such as poaching or destruction of the gorilla habitats through activities like deforestation and bush fires.

What Are Some Of The Trusted Indigenous Tour Operators Can I Use To Organize For An African Gorilla Safari In Congo Uganda And Rwanda?

There are several local tour companies that can help you organize a gorilla safari in any of these destinations such as

What To Wear On Gorilla Trekking Safari In Congo Uganda And Rwanda?

Knowing the right clothes suitable for gorilla trekking safari in Congo Uganda and Rwanda is equally very important.

What you should keep in mind is that gorilla trekking in these countries is done in the ancient Virunga ranges where the weather is very unforeseeable and this implies it can rain at any time.

However, this shouldn’t dampen your spirits because when it comes to African weather even if it rains you can always be sure that it will shine before the day closes.

When it rains, the trekking trails become very slippery, and muddy and hence require travelers to be aware of what to wear during their gorilla safaris.

The following are the recommended clothes to carry for gorilla trekking in Congo.

  • A Long-sleeved shirt or T-shirt on gorilla trekking is quite handy as it can quickly dry up just in case of rain, it can cover your arms from wild plants, and anticipated bush thorns.
  • A light Rain Jacket or fleece or cheap poncho should be carried on your gorilla safaris just in case the skies decide to open up and let it rain while you undertake this gorilla trekking adventure in Virunga where mountain gorilla trekking is done.
  • The Long Pants or Trousers on your Uganda gorilla trek are the best because in case it rains, they quickly dry up and they also offer assured protection from the thorns, nettles, and branches.
  • Hand gloves. Since gorilla trekking is done on slippery trails, travelers are highly encouraged to use building gloves to cover their hands when trekking the mountain gorillas. These can help you to protect your hands from injuries in case you slide on the muddy and slippery trails
  • Shoes We strongly recommend travelers on their gorilla trekking safaris come with a good pair of jungle/ankle boots with good grooves or threads for footwear, this is because as we earlier said, these gorilla parks are located in a hilly area so you need this well-grooved boot to keep you from backsliding as you hike high up and down the Virunga ranges.

Summarized Packing List for Gorilla Tracking

  • Long-Sleeved Shirts/Blouses
  • Trousers
  • Pair of Well Grooved Ankle Boots
  • Insect Repellent
  • Lightweight Raincoat
  • Hiking Boots
  • Cap/Hat
  • Sweater (Chilly Evenings)
  • Camera (No Flash)
  • Backpack/Waterproof Plastic Bag (To Wrap Your Camera and Film In)
  • Snacks or Bites and fluids like bottled mineral water

What Are The General Gorilla Trekking Rules Observed In Congo Uganda And Rwanda?

For travelers who are planning to have a memorable gorilla trekking safari in any of these countries, there are a number of etiquette one is supposed to follow when starting to trek, and spending one magical hour with the stunning mountain gorillas.

These general rules have been categorized into rules before gorilla trekking begins, rules observed when you meet the gorillas, and the general health rules observed. Below is a summary of each of these three categories of rules

Rules Observed Before Starting Gorilla Trekking in Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda:

  1. Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas on the way to the gorillas:
  2. Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great birdlife and other wildlife in the forest.
  3. Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  4. You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. from there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
  5. When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.

Rules Observed When You Encounter the Gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo

A 7-meter (21-foot) distance should be tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. the further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.

  1. You must stay in a tight group when you are near the gorillas.
  2. Keep your voice down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  3. Do not smoke, drink, or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
  4. Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes, and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
  5. Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
  6. Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  7. The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
  8. After the visit keep your voice down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General Health Rules To Be Observed During The Gorilla Trekking Process in Congo Uganda and Rwanda

  1. Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. the following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might pose to them:
  2. Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  3. If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
  4. If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
  5. Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  6. Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  7. If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.

How to Do Mountain Gorillas In Africa Feed? What Do Mountain Gorillas Feed On?

When it comes to feeding, gorillas are some of the best strict dietitians you can ever find in the animal kingdom.

This is because these gorillas follow a strict diet that consists of large quantities of flowers, leaves, fruit, bamboo roots, shoots vines, and shrubs.

Adults can consume up to 75 pounds each day and due to the fact that gorillas receive a large quantity of water from their diet, they rarely take water.

When Are Gorillas Active in Africa?

In case you’re planning a visit to the gorilla in Uganda, your encounter with the gorillas will be only scheduled during the daytime.

The fact that These gorillas are diurnal animals who are mainly active between 6:00 am to 7:00 pm local time.

During the daytime, these gorillas spend about 30% of their time exploring the tropical paradise looking for food, about another 30% feeding.

They spend the remaining 40% taking a break from their busy schedule.

In the evening, these gorillas will look for a nice spot to spend a night in and will build their nests using soft tree branches and leaves to finally close off the day with a good night’s sleep.

Do Gorillas Climb Trees in Africa?

Gorillas are primates that spend almost over ¾ of their lives on the ground, unlike chimpanzees and orangutans that spend over 50% of their time hinged high above the ground in tree branches.

Research has shown that gorillas only spend less than 20% of their time in trees especially when they have fully grown into adults.

The young ones however spend more time in trees as they like to play in tree branches.

One of the reasons why gorillas spend most of their time on the ground is there are few tree branches that can support their enormous weight, especially as adults.

Another reason is that gorillas like to make nests on which they sleep and tree branches can’t easily support this behavior hence gorillas resort to staying on the ground.

How Do Gorillas Sleep in Africa?

Gorillas build nests in which they sleep comfortably. Each gorilla makes its own nest and it’s only the young ones that will spend a night in their mother’s nest.

To build a ground nest, the animals pull the branches of bushes and other plants into the center, layer them and anchor them to each other.

Other plants are bent to form the nest rim. Tree nests are built mainly in forks of branches or similar structures.

The nest has to be constructed in such a way that it can carry the weight of the gorilla.

What Illnesses Do Go Gorillas Suffer From in Africa?

Gorillas suffer quite a number of diseases with several of them being similar to diseases that are found in humans

This is so true when you consider the fact that several respiratory diseases in humans can also attack the gorillas

Some gorillas carry parasites, especially protozoans and these can also easily find their way into humans though not all of them.

The other disease which we have to point out that actually threatens both the gorilla population and man as well as Ebola

Other diseases that can affect gorillas include Periodontitis which causes their jawbones to dissolve hence causing loss of teeth among the gorillas. Periodontitis is majorly caused by the accumulation of bad tartar in the gorilla dental formula

Besides diseases, gorillas are also hurt by snares that are set by poachers and these usually cause gorillas to develop wounds if they even get a chance to free themselves from the snare grips.

These wounds usually prove lethal for the gorillas as they can easily die from the injury or infection arising from the wound.

Do Gorillas Fear Water in Africa?

We can’t say in conformity that gorillas do fear water altogether but what we can agree on is that they aren’t natural swimmers hence they tend to avoid large bodies of water.

Commonly also is that these gorillas have been observed to stay still during rain showers or even find a cave to sit under until it finishes raining.

However, they have never gone the extra mile of intentionally covering their heads with big leaves just like the Orangatuns do.

However, they have been recorded crossing waterlogged swamps on two legs in their search for food.

Are gorillas related to humans?

Yes gorillas are closely related to humans in many ways and here are some of these ways

  • Gorillas and humans both belong to the same category of Great apes which is characterized by a larger and more complex brain and no external tail.
  • Gorillas and humans share over 98.3% of their DNA together
  • Several of the diseases that have affected humans can also affect these gorillas for example respiratory diseases and parasite worms.

What Do Gorillas Eat in Africa?

These great apes are herbivores and they spend a great deal amount of their time following a strict vegetarian diet which typically consists of large quantities of flowers, leaves, fruit, and bamboo roots, shoots vines, shrubs.

The adults can consume up to 75 pounds each day and due to the fact that gorillas receive a large quantity of water from their diet, they rarely take water.

How Do Gorillas In Africa Spend Their Daytime? What Do Gorillas In Africa Do During The Day? 

Gorillas begin their day by waking up with the sun at around 6:00 hrs. or 06:00 am, however, this might be prolonged in case the day starts out when it is so cold and rainy.

These gorillas will feed in the morning period until around 11:00 a.m. when they relax and start engaging in social behavior or grooming making it a very important part of the day.

This continues until around 3 or 4 pm or 15:00 or 16:00hrs when they start feeding again until they go to sleep.

This therefore translated into 50% of the gorillas’ time being spent while feeding, a 1/3 of the day is spent while resting and grooming while about 6.5% of the day is spent while moving from one point to the next looking for food.

Are Gorillas in Africa Stronger Than Humans?

Yes, it’s very true that gorillas are stronger than humans. It’s believed a gorilla is about 6 times stronger than a fully grown man.

However, it is believed these gorillas are 6 times stronger than men. The gorillas are armed with strong canine teeth and these can deliver a strong bite which is believed to be around 13000 psi (pounds per square inch) which is double that of a lion or great white shark.

A mature gorilla outweighs a full-grown man as it weighs about 136kg- 200kg with a lot of muscle while a fully grown man weighs about 80kg.