When you talk about gorilla trekking, the first thing that comes at the back of many is the famous 1988 film- “Gorillas in the Mist.” This was based on Dian Fossey’s book that provided deep insight into the plight of mountain gorillas at the time. During Dian Fossey research study in the Virunga Volcanoes region, mountain gorillas were at risk of getting extinct because of habitat loss, poaching, gunshot as a result of crossfire during wars etc.
There were fewer than 604 mountain gorillas left in the world but due to commitment from conservationists, there is a positive progress in their population growth in the wild today. Currently, population of mountain gorillas according to the recently conducted census stands at 1063 individuals thriving in the jungles of D.R. Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Gorilla trekking is undoubtedly a bucket-list adventure experience most nature lovers come to enjoy in these 3 African states.
If you plan to visit Uganda, Rwanda or Congo for gorilla trekking, you require adequate preparation. This is why we have come up with important gorilla trekking tips to guide when planning your 2022 gorilla safari holiday.
Don’t forget to obtain a valid Gorilla Permit
Gorilla permits are a must to carry regardless of the gorilla trekking destination- Uganda, Congo or Rwanda. There are 4 National Parks to visit to see mountain gorillas and in each park, you must present a valid gorilla permit. These include Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda with gorilla permits costing travelers US $1500 per person.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda and gorilla permits are issued at US Dollars 700 per person (cost applying to foreign non-residents), foreign residents US Dollars 600 and if you are citizen within East African Community, expect to pay shs. 250,000.
The Congo gorilla permits are available for reservation at US Dollars 450 per person and permits are booked via a trusted tour operator on ground. All gorilla permits should be booked early before the actual date of visiting the park to trek mountain gorilla and we recommend that you do so 2-4 months earlier.
Be ready for any Weather Conditions
Uganda, Congo and Rwanda often enjoy favorable weather conditions all year-round making them the preferred mountain gorilla trekking destinations. Change in weather condition may occur considering the nature of the habitat where gorillas live- the tropical rain-forests. Your day weather conditions may be chilly, humid, hot and rainy, however, the dry season is the best time to travel to any of the 3 countries to track gorillas.
The dry months/season often starts from June till September, December to February. The weather conditions during the wet or rainy season are characterized by wet ground due to much rains etc. This is a season some gorilla trekkers tend to avoid as the ground can be slippery, muddy and the vegetation can be thick. The wetter months run from March to May, October till November.
When you think of gorilla trekking safari, first, know what essentials to have. This is not an ordinary wildlife experience and by nature, you need valid gorilla permits, rain-jacket or rain coat, long trousers, pants, insect repellents, bottled water, snacks, first aid kit, sweater, non-flash camera for photography, walking stick (get it at the park offices or request one from the place of stay), hat and more.
Gorilla trekking entirely involves hiking and hikes are strenuous as you tackle the steep slopes. Before taking a flight, prepare adequately, exercise and preferably, find the high elevation areas to get acclimatized with kind of altitude at the gorilla destination. On the other than, you can fly to your destination early enough and make the advantage of hilly areas of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
Consider Visiting During the Dry Season
There are two seasons for visitors to plan a gorilla trip that is dry and wet season. The dry season is notably the best time for nature lovers to enjoy the most of gorilla trekking adventure. It is during the dry season when the park is relatively drier and if does rain, it is for a short time and trekking to see gorillas can still resume. Therefore, the important drier months of the year run from June to September and December, January to February.
Always Respect Gorillas
One of the important rules and regulations for gorilla trekking is observing a distance of 8-10 meters from mountain gorilla group. Although these apes undergo habituation and notably non aggressive, humble and shy, it should be noted that they are wild animals.
These apes can turn aggressive if threatened and to avoid any kind of incidence, visitors are always reminded to observe a distance from them. All treks to view gorillas are done with lead of an experienced park guide. Other regulations include covering your mouth when coughing, nose when sneezing; use cameras free from flashlights, no touching gorillas, no visiting gorilla family when sick or ill.
Book Accommodation Early
A successful gorilla trip requires you to also book accommodation and all national parks have places for visitors to retire for the night. The parks have budget, mid-range and luxury accommodation offering a chance for all visitors to enjoy their gorilla treks.
Who is eligible to Go Trek gorillas?
The standard measure for all gorilla treks in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo require that for anyone to part of gorilla trekking, he or she should be above 15 years. Get in touch with your local tour operator to find out if you qualify to visit mountain gorillas.
Where to go Track Gorillas?
Trekking mountain gorillas is often referred to as a lifetime adventure and there are only 3 countries, 4 National Parks to visit to see these unique apes. They live only in the natural habitat and not in the zoo specifically in African states of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda. In Congo, travel to Virunga National Park, Rwanda it is done in Volcanoes National Park and while in Uganda, consider Mgahinga and Bwindi National Park a must-visit for magical encounters.