One of the most incredible wildlife encounters is the chance to see mountain gorillas in the wild in the lush jungles of Eastern Africa’s mountains. Seeing these gorillas, with whom we share 98% of our DNA, perform is mesmerizing and incredibly touching. While they were once nearly wiped out by human hunting, the mountain gorilla population has been steadily increasing thanks to an uptick in tourist interest in seeing the critically endangered animal. The Virunga massif in Africa is home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla. The region’s volcanic peaks extend beyond the borders of Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park), Uganda (Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (Virunga National Park). Here is a Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking.
Booking Gorilla Trekking Permits
Gorilla permits are essential for Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo gorilla safaris. Gorilla viewing requires a permit. Gorilla permits are in high demand due to rising tourism to Africa. To guarantee a gorilla permit, travelers need book six months in advance.
Rwanda’s Rwanda Development Board (RDB) offers gorilla permits to authorized tour companies. Non-residents pay $750, East African residents with work licenses $450, and locals $250 for Rwanda gorilla permits.
Non-residents pay $600, East African residents with work permits $450, and residents $100 for a Uganda gorilla permit.
In April, May, and November, Uganda offers low-season gorilla licenses for $450 for non-residents, $300 for East Africa foreign residents with supporting work permits, and $50 for residents.
Congo’s Virunga National Park gorilla permits are $450 for non-residents and $300 for East African foreign residents with work permits. Congo gorillas require a $100 single-entry visa.
When Is the Best Time to Go Gorilla Trekking?
The gorillas are open all through the year for tourists to see. With a tropical environment, rain is possible at any time of year, but the months of December through March and June through October see very little rainfall, making them ideal times to visit. When it rains, especially in April, May, and October, the ground becomes slick, making it difficult to get to the gorillas.
Is it safe to go on a gorilla safari?
Mountain gorillas have a bad record because of their stature, but they are actually rather harmless. Expert ranger guides who spend most of their time with the mountain gorillas accompany all gorilla trekking expeditions. Only gorilla groups that have been acclimated to the presence of humans, meaning that the gorillas are accustomed to humans and know they pose no threat, are open to visitors.
Gorillas are often reticent and shy animals that spend most of their time in the company of their families. But if they feel threatened, especially around their young, they can become defensive. Your guide will be aware of the warning signs, which may include “mock charging,” aggressively thumping their chests, and grunting. Never stray from your guide’s instructions, but if a hostile gorilla approaches, crouch low, divert the gorilla’s attention, and act casual. During the trek’s pre-departure briefing, your guide will give you additional guidance.
How difficult is going on a gorilla trek?
Trekking in the wild in search of gorillas may be strenuous on the body. You should come physically and emotionally prepared for muddy trails, lush rainforests, and thick foliage. Because of the fog and the persistent rain, trails might be wet and muddy during treks.
Your ranger guides will do their best to ease your burden and you can hire porters to carry your daypacks and photographic gear. You shouldn’t have any trouble with altitude sickness if you let yourself a day to acclimate before setting off on your gorilla adventure. Drink plenty of water, though, to avoid that high altitude headache.
It’s likely that you’ll spend at least five of those hours on your feet. If you’re in good shape and you’ve been sent to visit a family of gorillas in the wild, you may spend the entire day trekking.
Because you may have been traveling the day before, today will begin early. Keep in mind that the altitude will make you feel tired quicker.
Don’t book your trip until you’ve talked to a doctor about your respiratory condition, and if you do, don’t forget to pack your prescription.
Gorilla trekking is enjoyed by individuals of all ages, and it is not unusual for those in their seventies and older to take part. Porters and rangers have been assisting tourists through the jungle for years. Further, enterprising locals provide sedan-type chairs (often referred to as “stretchers” in Uganda) for transporting elderly or crippled tourists in the mountains. This is an expensive service, so save it for when you really need it.
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