From the drawn list of encounters on an African adventure, gorilla safaris can’t miss at any moment, in all adventure manner a trip to trek mountain gorillas is a lifetime memory. The gorillas are scientifically believed to have existed dates back before man evolution about 40million years ago. So, trekking gorillas is part on tracing man/ your origin, this is so exciting.
When opting to take on a gorilla trekking safari to any of the gorilla designated forests, then you need to get enough knowledge about how to exhaustively encounter the apes. Gorillas are giant among all other apes, as well are the hugest primate species. Mountain gorillas always have shouted to expound the best wild primate encounter, as they can’t survive under any kind of captivity but only blessed in the few tropical volcanoes of the Afro-Albertine lift valley.
Well after you have read and watched all exciting and amazing moments on apes, the like of the plate of the apes movie, gorillas in the mist, mountain gorillas are good neighbors can name it. But a trip yourself to write the own journal on the apes is superb and very considerate. A summarized guide on gorilla safaris for a memorable wild lifetime experience.
Where in the world to go for Gorilla Safaris?
Unluckily, mountain gorillas are such special rare species which can’t just be located in any tropics, but only remained to reside in the tropics of two volcanic rain forests. They can be only found in the wild, none can survive under captivity ((Zoos) or sanctuary, but are found in a proximate of two forests, three countries and four Gorilla gazetted national parks.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forests in the Uganda and Virunga Conservation Areas shared among three countries i.e. DRC, Rwanda and Uganda are global lucky winners by creation to host the mountain gorillas. The world Mountain Gorilla Parks are;
- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda
- Virunga National Park in DRC
- Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
- Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda
To trek the gorilla in any of the forests, the experience may a little differ according to the terrain and the thickness of each forests. And the price of trekking cost of trekking gorilla as well differ.
How much is Gorilla Safaris?
Gorilla trekking is an extraordinary wild encounter, and to trek gorillas one must have a permit which cost differently from countries. No permit, no trekking gorillas. The fact about gorilla permits is that they are less than their demand, so, to secure a chance to trek gorillas one should have book a permit at least 3 month before the designed trekking date.
Permit in Uganda are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority, in Rwanda by Rwanda Development Board and in DRC by Virunga Tourism Office. The best way to reserve one or a number of them of permits is at least 3 month prior to the date.
- Trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park a permit costs US$1,500
- Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park a permit costs US$700
- DRC’s Virunga National Park a permit costs US$400
Planning for Gorilla Safaris
When opting for a gorilla safari, then should note that prior preparations are a must. Have to decide where to trek gorillas from and when after making this decision, then you’re good to go. It’s more advisable to use tour operators to help in arranging the rest of the ground tasks including booking a permit, arranging transportation which is probably a 4×4 safari vehicle, making accommodation reservation and advising where necessary.
All these are done at least 3 month before the trekking date, just know that in gorilla trekking is very competitive where the demand surpass supply and late planning can happen when permits are all already booked especially in peak seasons.
When is the best time to go for Gorilla Safaris?
Not like birding like bird species can migrate, mountain gorillas are static in their natural habituates. Gorilla trekking can be done at any time of one’s choice throughout the year, however, there seasons in around the gorilla zones low/rainy season and peak/sunny/ dry season.
The best season to trek is the peak season characterized by dry weather conditions with limited rain, and they happen twice annually including that of December to February and June to September, the dry season experience a great influx of trekkers that all trekking sectors at all parks are almost filled daily.
Wet season are so hectic to trek gorillas as they are characterized with heavy down powers. The forests are moist, muddy, and slippery and I don’t discourage to trek, it’s an extraordinary experience trekking gorillas amidst heavy showers. There is always a low turn-up of trekkers at all parks and if opting to trek with limited number of trekkers then the wet month of March to May and September to November are available.
Preparation for a Gorilla Trekking Safari
What to carry when heading for a gorilla safari is very important to meditate about, remember when trekking one has to make their own paths through the impenetrable. Walking through the intact, muddy, slippery and moist forests calls for enough preparations. After having your permit at hand, then must as well know what to carry in your packages enough drinking water, sugary simple eats, walking stick, sunscreen, insect repellent, Binoculars, Camera.
What to wear include; long pants and long sleeved shirt (green, Khaki, and dark colors that match with the forest), waterproof jacket, struggle jungle boots, long hiking sock, head socks, and gardening gloves.
What are the Gorilla Trekking Etiquette?
Before rolling into the forest to search for the gorillas, trekking briefing is done prior to info ready trekkers the set trekking etiquette to follow while in the forest, It’s done at least 30 minutes before trekking starts. The ranger guide doing a briefing is aiming at ensuring the trekkers are safe and comfortable by telling you how to behave on a search and at encountering the apes.
Gorilla are wild species known to be very shy and their reactions are unpredictable on any kind of threat, however, gorillas as well are very aggressive towards any kind of threat. Note the follow;
- A group of eight trekkers trek one habituated gorilla family a daily under the lead of an armed ranger guide
- When searching for the gorillas you don’t shout, don’t through any litter.
- On finding the gorillas no eating, no smoking, no shouting
- When watching the gorillas keep 7m away from the gorillas, trekking during the Covid-19 you keep 10m
- Don’t allow a direct eye contact with the gorillas or start an interaction with the gorillas
- At finding the gorillas you have exactly 1 hour before the apes
- Taking photographs the camera flashlight must off
A walk to search for the mountain gorillas
Not like other wild adventures, gorilla trekking is not for the faint, but the heartedly travelers. Traversing through the unspoiled slops of bamboos valleys and the thick hikes is a great energetic undertaking and one must be prepared and ready enough.
A walk to look for the giant starts after a briefing with all your day bag package at the bag, under the lead of an armed ranger guide you face the impenetrable and the thickness of the jungle. Nature calls for nature, remember you have to find your designated habituated gorilla family. The trek can take about 30 minutes to about 6 hour before finding the gorillas it’s a great hectic day.
During the search, it starts by looking for the flash dung, forage breaks, and sounds of the apes as the guide will try to mimic them in search for their direction. Everything on gorilla trekking is natural and very exciting, after a short or long hours of searching then the gorillas are here for you. The chances of finding the gorillas are 99% and the remaining will only be your cause.
On finding the creatures, you know the rules, take out your cameras, in a silent manner creator memories. Gorilla on watching humans they are ready to offer those uncirculated moments as the young ones are seen entertaining in tree branches, jumping around, the silverback the amazement of the hour lousily gazing at the visitor as they can make their awkward roars and beating their just to show their mightier.
All these happen within the limited period of strictly 1hour, it’s a moment with the Gorillas. Then have to understand from the journal mountain gorillas are good neighbors, have to walk back to the starting point.
The other side of Gorilla Habituation Experience
Gorilla Habituation Experience, wow, it’s a new experience available to offer trekkers enough of their time to study and understand the in-depth of the gorilla. Gorilla habituation is simply meaning to train gorillas that they become used to human presence, gorillas are wild animals and very shy, on watch human they can hide away. So, to make them used to human presence for such a special close-up encounter gorillas a newly discovered gorilla family is taken through habituation process. Gorilla habituation process can happen in the period of not less than 2 years.
Uganda offers opportunities to trekkers who opting to spend almost a full day with the gorillas to take part in gorilla habituation. A limited group of 4 trekker joins research to spend almost a full day with the gorillas. Many activities are done during habituation process and taking on the experience it means to take part in the activities which include naming the gorillas and the family, studying their behaviors, following the gorillas whenever they go.
Gorilla habituation is only done in Uganda only at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park at Rushaga with only one gorilla family under study. Gorilla habituation experience costs US$1,500 for a daily experience.
Comparing gorilla trekking safaris and Gorilla Habituation Experience
Though both involve embarking into the rolling terrain of thick forests but gorilla trekking can’t be compared to gorilla habituation experience. There nothing empowers for any adventure than getting to undertake the full daily routine of the giants, follow them and even engage in crucial undertakings including gorilla naming, behavioral study which are part of gorilla habituation.
With gorilla trekking finding the gorilla trekkers have a limit of strictly 1hour before the giants and for gorilla habituation experience trekkers have over 4 hours before the gorillas.
Gorilla trekking goes at US$700 and gorilla habituation experience is for US$1,500.
Gorilla trekking is done in all mountain gorilla parks and countries but gorilla habituation experience only remained for Uganda at ONLY Bwindi Impenetrable National park at Rushaga trekking sector.
What Next after Gorilla trekking safaris
When planning for a gorilla safari, there a number of other consideration which can accompany a gorilla trekking and to make a compete safari irrespective of where one has trekked from. And at the end it’s a compilation of memories to make your own travel journey on gorilla trekking safari. And don’t even forget to a write a review on the experience.
Keep knowing that gorilla safaris highlights all the other adventure safaris done in Africa. Don’t hesitate to spare some good days to have a moment with the wild largest primate species.