Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, Gorilla Safaris in Rwanda & Gorilla Tours in Congo.
Looking for where do go a Gorilla trekking safari?, wondering how difficult is gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda & Congo?, what is the Ugand gorilla trekking best time to go for your safari as well that Rwanda and Congo?, How much does a gorilla permit cost?, How much a gorilla safari cost?, whether you can start a safari for gorilla trekking in Uganda from Kigali. We bring you all the gorilla safari information you need to know about gorilla trekking. Gorilla trekking in is only done in Africa in the whole world in Uganda to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, in Rwanda to Volcanoes National Park plus Congo in Virunga National Park for Mountain Gorillas and in Kahuzi Biega National Park for Low land Gorillas. The Mgahinga National park of Uganda has a family of habituated gorillas that used to cross the border to Rwanda and back.
Popular Gorilla Trekking Safari Itineraries for Uganda , Rwanda & Congo.
What classification do gorillas belong to?
Mountain gorillas are primates under the great apes’ classification. Great apes are primates that have a highly developed and complex brain and lack an external tail. Great apes are further classified into 4 smaller clusters which include Orang-utans- this comprises of the 2 sub species, 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 sub category in the apes group has the gorillas- the gorilla sub group has 2 sub-groups- western gorillas also known as Gorilla gorilla. This group has 2 species- the western lowland gorillas and the cross river gorillas. The eastern gorillas 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? / How do mountain gorillas 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 basing 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 which consists of leaves, fruits, tree branches and bamboo shoots.
What is a gorilla safari?
A gorilla safari is a type of an Africa tour that gives you an opportunity to encounter the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat from a close range.
Where is gorilla trekking carried out in Africa?
Gorilla trekking is carried out in the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. In Uganda, you can have an encounter with these magical beings by making a Uganda gorilla safari to either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. If you decide to engage in a Rwanda gorilla tour, then visit Volcanoes National Park which is located in the North-Western part of the country. Congo gorilla tours are done in either Virunga National Park or Kahuzi Biega National Park.
What species of gorillas are seen during a gorilla 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 carried out Uganda Rwanda and Congo?
Under taking a 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?
Each gorilla family in the gorilla parks in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo can be tracked by a group between 1-8 people. This means that if you come in a group of more than 8 people you will be divided in 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 Uganda, Rwanda and Congo gorilla parks?
Which gorilla families can be trekked in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo during an Africa gorilla safari experience?
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
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.
How Many Gorilla families are found in Rushaga of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
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 and here are these families
With 25 members constituting in this group, Nshongi is the biggest family I Rushaga. This group got name from the river Nshongi that flows were this family was first sighted. Nshongi family has 2 silver backs leading it namely Nshongi the overall leader of the group and Kakono another silverback that doubles as a second to Nshongi.
This family consists of 9 members. It is led by a silver back 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
This family has 17 members. It is led by a silverback called Rumanzi. This family was named after Kahugye hill in Rushaga sector where this family was first discovered. This family includes 3 silverbacks 3 blackbacks, 3 female aduilts, 3juveniles and 2 infants.
The name busingye is a runyakitara word which means Peace and just like its name, this gorilla family is quite a peaceful which only goes into battle mood when intensively provoked. This family has 9 members that are being led by Busingye.
Under the steadfast leadership of Mishaya, this gorillafamily comprises of 12 members. It has 2 adult females namely Bakunzi and Mwiza, 2 juveniles namely Rutaro, Mize, 5 infants but only 3 infants have names Mwiza baby 1, Mwiza baby 2 and Bakunzi. the two remaining infants are unknown.
This gorilla family came into existence after a power struggle erupted within the Bweza family in which Mucunguzi was third in 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
This is a splitter group from the Kahungye gorilla family. Rwigi was one of the silver backs 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
The Bikiyingi family was discovered in Bikyingi area in the Rushaga sector hence having its name derived from the area where it was discovered. This family is only open for 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.
How Many Gorilla families are found in Ruhija sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
Ruhija sector is found in the Eastern part of Bwindi and has 4 gorilla families
this family consists of 2 smaller families named Kyaguliro A and Kyaguliro B which came in existence after the death of the founder of this family Rukina in 2015 who was struck by lightening. Kyaguliro A is under the leadership of Mukiza while Kyaguliro B is under Rukara’ leadership. The Mukiza family constitutes of 10 members
This is quite another big family in Bwindi with 17 family members. It got its name after a plant commonly called “Oruzogoto” has 17 members. It is led by a silverback called Bakwate his name means “an intelligent being and learns quickly”. This gorilla family has 5 adult females and 4 infants
From 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 silverbuck 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
The Habinyanja family gets name from a Nyanja a local meaning “water or lake”. Led by Makara as a dominant silverbuck, this family boosts of 19 individuals which include 6 adult females 2 black bucks, 2 sub adult males, 3 juveniles, 5 infants
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
Named after Mubare hills in Buhoma where this group was first seen in 1991, the Mubre family is the oldest gorilla families in Bwindi and it was the first family to be open for gorilla trekking in Uganda in 1993. This family suffered loss of its first silver buck leader called 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.
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 silverbuck called katwe, 3 black bucks, 4 adult females and 2 infants.
Gorilla families in Nkuringo sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
As of late 2019, this sector has 2 gorilla families down from 3 given the distengration of the newly formed Christmas family
Located in the Nkuringo sector, the Nkuringo gorilla family in this sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and its under the leadership of a dorminant silverback called Safari. Other members in this family include 3 other silver bucks 4 adult females 3 juveniles, 5 infants and 3 black bucks
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 Nkuringo family. The family is led by Bahati a dominant silver buck. Other members that make up this family include 1sub adult, 3 adult females, 1 black buck, 1 juvenile and 2 infants.
How Many Gorilla families are found in Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda
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 takeover was aged about 53 years, there are 2 other silverbacks 2 adult females and 3 infants
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 river Susa that runs through the territory this gorilla group calls home, 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 defined 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 sentimental value attached to it because this was the particular group that Dian Fossey based her research on while here in the volcanoes park.
Named after the highest peak of the Virunga ranges, Karisimbi peak, the Karisimbi family calls the slopes along mt. Karisimbi home. This gorilla family is a splitter faction from Susa A group and as a result it reduced the Susa A numbers from 42 members to around 28 members after the split. Because of 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 as 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, 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
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, thiss family has 17 members with Ubumwe as the leader then 2 blackbacks, 5 juveniles, 5 adult females and 4 young ones.
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 agashya 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 a new leadership of agashya as a dominant silverback, 12 females, 3 juveniles, and 7 babies.
Umumbano family consists of 13 members with Charles as their leader then 1 sub adult, 6 infants and 3 adult females.
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 its 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 is named after a 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 Susa family and 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
Named after a local Kinyarwanda word Ugenda which means mobile, this gorilla family is indeed very mobile as its always on a constant move from one place to another looking for the freshest feeders to eat. The Ugenda group comprises of 11 members with 2 other silverbacks. Ugenda 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 was named after a Kinyanrwanda 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 has gone by Bwenge family has grown to a strong number of 11 individuals. Bwenge family is of strong importance as some of its members got featured in the 1988 documentary film “Gorillas In The Mist” that was shot in honor of Dr. Dian Fossey’s work with the gorillas.
This family gets name from Titus, a male gorilla that was born during the time Dr. Dian Fossey was researching about 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 Karisimbi and Visoke ranges hence it requires some physical stamina to track this group due to the high altitudes involved during the tracking of this group.
Gorilla families in Congo
Congo has got to gorilla national parks and these are Virunga National Park which has the 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?
Virunga National Park is home to 8 gorilla families and these include
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 of 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 Mikeno sector in between Bukima and Bikenge.
Munyaga family is led by a dominant silver back called Mawazo. This family has 9 members which include 3 silver backs, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 babies. This family traverses areas around Bukima.
Over a period of close to 20 years, Mapuwa family has expanded and evolved to reach a membership count of 22 individuals with 3 silverbacks, 3 black backs, 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.
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 silver back, 3 adult females, 1 sub adult male, 3 babies and 1 juvenile. Lulengo family habituates in areas around Jomba.
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 of 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 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 black backs, 10 adult females, 1 sub adult female, 3 juveniles and 9 babies. This family can be seen in Bukima and Gatovu areas
The Nyakamwe family came into existence after split from Humba family which was as a result of internal bickering between Humba the leader of Humba family and his younger brother Nyakamwe. Nyakamwe now leads a group of 11 members with 2 silverbacks, 1 black back, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles, 1 sub adult female and 2 babies.
Humba family was created after a split from 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. Humba family is located in the Gatovu and Bikenge areas.
How many Gorilla families are found in Kahuzi Biega National Park in Congo?
Kahuzi Biega has 2 habituated families of lowland gorillas and these are
Chimanuka family is led by a dominant silver back called Chimanuka. This family comprises of 36 members which include 17 females and 18 infants aged 6 months to 9 years old. This family has heavily defied odds by having 4 sets of twin births which is highly uncommon among the gorillas.
This is the second habituated gorilla family in Kahuzi Beiga National Park. This family is under the leadership of Mugaruka as the dominant silverback and he his 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 Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo?
All the three gorilla countries have a different price 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 600USD as of today though beginning July 2020, it will cost 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 Uganda, Rwanda or Congo?
The best time to go gorilla trekking is during the dry season months which are December – February and sometime early March and also in 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 which get a bit soggy and hard to navigate during the rainy season.
Where can I get a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo?
- Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda are only accessed through Uganda Revenue Authority. Uganda Wildlife Authority is the only mandated agency to issue out gorilla trekking permits in Uganda. Gorilla permits are only purchased from UWA on which is found in the in the suburb of Kamwokya in the Kampala.
- Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda can be gotten only from one place and that is Rwanda Development Board. Rwanda Development Board is the only mandated agency to issue out gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda. You can access these permits by visiting the offices of Rwanda Development Board found in Kigali city.
- Gorilla trekking permits in Congo’s Virunga National Park Congo can be gotten only by contacting Virunga National Park via their email and request for a gorilla trekking permit. Virunga National Park is the only authorized place to sell gorilla trekking permits in this park.
When Should I Book A Gorilla Trekking Permit In any of these gorilla destinations?
It is advisable that you book gorilla permit way early in advance at least between 3-6 months in advance. This is majorly because so many Africa safari travellers opt to visit these gorilla destinations and yet there isn’t always enough permits for everyone to get anytime 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 Tracking in Uganda Rwanda and /or Congo?
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 on 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 Is Gorilla Tracking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo?
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 which 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 for 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 which 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 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?
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 advance team of rangers is dispatched into the forest and track the current locations of the gorilla families and 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 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 for 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:
- Asking the park warden to allocate to you a gorilla family that habituate 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 better gorilla safari experience between Uganda, Congo and Rwanda?
Engaging in a gorilla trekking experience in each of these countries is unique in its own and also has its own pros and cons and I will highlight some of these 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 900USD 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 ie 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 a Uganda wildlife tour since Uganda gorilla parks are found along a tourism circuit which 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 tours
- Uganda’s gorilla destinations Bwindi and Mgahinga are located very far away from the Uganda’s only international airport which is in Entebbe, a place that lies about 500km or 12 hour drive time from Bwindi and Mgahinga. This therefore means the least numbers of days you need for Uganda gorilla safari is 3 days if you’re to begin and end your Uganda safari journey in Kampala and this might not favour you in 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 engaging in Rwanda gorilla tours
- Volcanoes National park is quite near Kigali city Rwanda’s capital city which is also home to Rwanda’s international airport as the 2 are only separated by a distance of 116km or 2-3 hours drive time and this means that you an 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 ease of trekking as the trekking isn’t as strenuous as it 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 engaging in Congo gorilla safaris
- 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 lava 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 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 the Ebola outbreaks but the health officials are always quick enough to quarantine people suspected to have this disease hence keep the destination always open to visitors who would wish to track gorillas here.
Is it possible for me to do double gorilla tracking in Uganda and Rwanda and Congo?
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 have an experience of gorilla trekking in the 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 tracking in Congo you’re presented with an opportunity to encounter 2 different gorilla sub species which are mountain gorillas in Virunga national park or eastern lowland gorillas that are 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 better to do gorilla trekking 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 but 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 ground yet a tour operator will easily check and get you a day that still has gorilla permits available.
Tour operators can easily come suggest you other activities and destinations you can visit on top of your gorilla safari experience
Tour companies can also arrange for an all inclusive 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 a 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 where 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 is also suffered from insurgencies such as the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. However also 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 do I need in order to visit Uganda, Congo and Rwanda?
If you intend on visiting Uganda for a Uganda gorilla safari, Uganda wildlife safari, Uganda chimpanzee safari or even a Jinja day 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 for a gorilla safari in Uganda Congo and Rwanda?
Yes you may need to have Malaria tablets for a gorilla safari to any of these countries as these countries are found within the tropical belt which is prone to Malaria hence you may need to come with Malaria tablets and also insect repellent to keep away all kinds of bugs.
What travel documents do I need to visit Rwanda Uganda or Congo for a gorilla safari?
Before visiting any of these gorilla destinations all you need is your passport that is still 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 from. If you are planning on visiting both Rwanda and Uganda in 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 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 tireless to ensure that these gorillas are safe in their natural habitat.
- Part of the gorilla funds are given back to the local communities which reside adjacent to these gorilla parks as a way of ensuring that these communities don’t carry out 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 me a 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
- Prime Uganda Safaris
- Wild Gorilla Safaris
- Gorilla Safaris Rwanda
- Gorilla Trekking Rwanda
- Kenya Safari Tours
- Congo Gorilla Safaris Tours
- Cars hire rentals Uganda Kampala
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 put 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 any time. However this shouldn’t dumpen your spirits because when it comes to Africa 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, muddy and hence require travellers to be aware of what to wear during their gorilla safaris.
The following are the recommended clothes to carry for gorilla trekking in Congo.
- 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, 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 an assured protection from the thorns, nettles and branches.
- Hand gloves. Since gorilla trekking is done in the slippery trails, travellers are highly argued to use building gloves to cover their hands when trekking the mountain gorillas. These can help you to protect your hands from the injuries in case you slide in the muddy and slippery trails
- Shoes We strongly recommend travellers on their gorilla trekking safaris to come with a good pair of jungle/ankle boots with good grooves or threads for foot wear, 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 back sliding as you hike high up and down the Virunga ranges.
Summarized Packing List for Gorilla Tracking
- Long Sleeved Shirts/Blouses
- Pair of Well Grooved Ankle Boots
- Insect Repellent
- Lightweight Raincoat
- Hiking Boots
- Sweater (Chilly Evenings)
- Camera (No Flash)
- Back Pack/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 travellers who are planning to have a memorable gorilla trekking safari in any of these countries, there are number of etiquettes one is supposed to follow when starting to trek, when spending the 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:
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas on the way to the gorillas:
- Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
- Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
- 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!
- 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 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. the further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
- You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
- Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- 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.
- Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides 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.
- Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
- Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
- 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.
- After the visit keep your voices 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
- Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. the following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
- Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
- 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 Do Mountain Gorillas 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 animalia kingdom given the fact these gorillas follow a strict diet which consists of large quantities of flowers, leaves, fruit, and bamboo roots, shoots vines, shrub. The Adults can consume up to 75 pounds each day and due to the fact that gorillas receive a large quantity of water from its diet, they rarely take water.
When Are Gorillas Active?
In case you’re planning for a visit to the gorilla lands in Uganda, your encounter with the gorillas will be only scheduled during day time given the fact that these gorillas are diurnal animals who are mainly active between 6:00am to 7:00pm local time. During daytime these gorillas spend about 30% of their time exploring the tropical paradise looking for food, about another 30% feeding and the remaining 40% is spent 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 sleep.
Do gorillas climb trees?
Gorillas are primates that spend almost over ¾ of their lives on ground unlike the chimpanzees and the orangutans that spend over 50% of their time hinged high above the ground in tree branches. Research has shown that gorillas only spend about less than 20% of their time in trees especially when they have fully grown into adults however young gorillas spend more time in trees as they like to play in tree branches. Some of the reasons why gorillas spend most of their time on the ground there a 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 ground.
How do gorillas sleep?
Gorillas build nests in which they sleep comfortably. Each gorilla makes its own nest and its only the young ones that will spend a night in their mothers nest. To build a ground nest, the animals pull the branches of bushes and other plants into the centre, layer them and anchor them to each other. Other plants are bent in 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?
Gorillas suffers quite 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 of the 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 jaw bones to dissolve hence causing loss of teeth among the gorillas. Periodontitis is majorly caused by accumulation of bad tartar in the gorilla dental formula
Besides diseases gorillas also hurt by snares which are set by poachers and these usually cause gorillas to develop wounds if it even gets a chance to free itself from the snare grips. These wounds usually prove lethal for the gorillas as they can easily die from the injury or an infection arising from the wound.
Do gorillas fear water?
We cant 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 seat under until it finishes to rain but they have never gone an extra mile of intentionally covering their heads with big leaves just like the Orangatuns do. However they have been recorded crossing water logged 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 larger and complex brain and no external tail.
- Gorillas and humans share over 98.3% of our their DNA together
- Several of the diseases that have affect humans can also affect these gorillas for example respiratory diseases and parasite worms.
What do gorillas eat?
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, shrub. The adults can consume up to 75 pounds each day and due to the fact that gorillas receive a large quantity of water from its diet, they rarely take water.
How do gorillas spend their day time? What do gorillas do during the day?
Gorillas begin their day by waking up with the sun at around 6:00 hrs. or 06:00am, however this might be prolonged incase the day starts out when it is so cold and rainy. These gorillas will feed for the morning period until around 11:00am when they relax and starting engaging in social behavior or grooming making it a very important part of the day. This continues until around 3 or 4pm 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 is 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 stronger than humans?
Yes its very true that gorillas are stronger than humans. Its believed a gorilla is about 6 times stronger than a fully grown man. However it is believed these gorillas are 6 times stronger than man. The gorillas are armed with strong canine teeth and these can deliver a strong bite which is believed to around 13000psi (pounds per square inch) which is double than that of a lion or great white shark. A mature gorilla outweighs a full grown man as it weighs at about 136kg- 200kg with a lot of muscle while a fully grown man weighs in about 80kg.