15 Frequently Asked Questions About Gorilla Trekking in Africa
15 Frequently asked Questions about gorilla trekking in Africa. Mountain Gorilla trekking is only found in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R.Congo in the entire world but despite this high demand only 8 gorilla permits are issued per family per day. The only remaining mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Volcanoes National park and Virunga National park.
Before gorilla trekking whether in Uganda or Rwanda or D.R.Congo briefing is vital to start searching in the forest. Ranger guides at the park headquarters in Buhoma, NKuringo, Ntebeko, ORTPN, Bukima Patrol take you through the dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking. Some gorilla trekking rules include no feeding the gorillas, keep a distance of about 8 meters from the gorillas, spend one hour with the gorillas when you locate them.
All this is done to protect the so far successful mountain gorilla conservation initiative after the number of gorilla had reached the verge of extinction about 250 mountain gorillas. Through gorilla trekking, International organizations like Gorilla fund, IUCN and the respective governments where the gorillas are found are trying to raise fund to support gorilla conservation. Currently the world population of mountain gorillas has increased to over 1000 gorillas.
What Is gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trekking is the practice of following a family of habituated mountain gorillas and stay with them for Just an hour (not a dictionary definition). Some of the reasons why gorillas were being poached was for trophies and sell them as souvenirs.
The mountain gorilla conservation group is still trying to include the local communities in gorilla conservation campaign by hiring them as rangers, porters or even support local projects like community walks. This is can only come to life from gorilla trekking funds accumulated after selling permits.
Each day tourists gather at the ranger station for briefing then a ranger guide leads a group of maximum 8 clients to the trail where the gorillas were seen the previous day. Early morning a team of rangers follows the gorillas and informs park authorities about the feeding point for each mountain gorilla family.
How To Buy a Gorilla Trekking Permit
In Uganda the gorilla trekking permits are sold at Uganda Wildlife Authority, In Rwanda gorilla permits are sold at Rwanda development Board while in D. R. Congo at Goma Virunga Park offices
Checking availability of gorilla permits is required before purchasing the gorilla permits because at times the permits get sold out. Although the service call numbers at sales offices that offer gorilla permit are busy, you need to keep trying.
Confirming gorilla permit availability doesn’t guarantee that the status quo will remain the same. Fully pay for your permit once you find availability as per your preferred gorilla trekking dates because first come first served basis is used. Someone may walk in and buy all for your date. No permit is reserved without payment.
At Encounter Africa Safaris we reserve gorilla permits on behave of our clients but you must state the date when you wish to do your gorilla trekking safari. We later require you to send us some personal detail like full names on the passport, passport expiry date, date of birth and nationality.
We use this information to issue a gorilla trekking card for you from Uganda wildlife Authority and after successful gorilla trekking, your certificate is issued with this information.
What Is The Cost of A gorilla trekking permit?
In Uganda the gorilla trekking permit costs $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents of East African and 250000shs for East African residents.
In Rwanda the Gorilla trekking permit costs $ 1500 for foreign nonresidents,
In D.R. Congo the gorilla trekking permit price is $450 for foreign nonresidents, $ 200 for SADC members, $150 for Congolese per person per trek
What is included In The gorilla Trekking Permit?
Whether trekking gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R.Congo conservation funding is the main reasons for selling the gorilla permits. The price includes park fees, medical care, ranger guide fees and local community support fees
Hiring a porter before gorilla trekking is excluded from the permit fees and tipping too.
What is the age limit for Gorilla trekking
Whether trekking gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo, the age limit for gorilla trekking is 15 years.
How many people are allowed to do gorilla trekking
Only 8 persons are allowed to do gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R.Congo.
What Is The Best Time To Do Gorilla Trekking?
The weather conditions affecting the gorilla trekking area (Virunga area) almost are similar across Uganda, Rwanda and D.R.Congo. Weather conditions are some of the factors affecting gorilla trekking booking time where rainy seasons cause the soft volcanic soils to appear soggy and boggy.
The severe rainy seasons are received during March to May and November but you can still do gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park.
The drier months June to September and December are favorable for gorilla trekking because the trails are more passable with less undergrowth blocking the way.
Which is the best Park for Gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking experience is a lifetime adventure on an Africa safari but you want to create memories too during this adventure. Choosing the best park option for gorilla trekking is on personal basis depending on what you want to achieve at the end of the day.
The Uganda gorilla trekking safari takes you to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which has almost half the number of the world total mountain gorilla population. The road trip from Entebbe Airport or Kampala city may take about 8 hours for a distance of about 540km. You need a minimum of 3 days gorilla trekking itinerary in Bwindi
The Uganda gorilla permit costs $700 person which is cheaper than Rwanda.
From gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest Uganda you can easily connect for incredible game drives, chimpanzees trekking, launch trips, birding and so much more
Rwanda gorilla trekking has the shortest number of days you can take on An African gorilla safari that is 2 days gorilla trekking itinerary. The Rwanda gorilla trekking permit however costs the highest price $1500 compared to other counterparts.
The drive from Kigali Airport to Volcanoes National Park is about 2 hours and a half for a distance of about making it most easily accessible.
D.R.Congo Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park has been disturbed by civil wars and unrest in the country. The Virunga conservation team is working hard to protect the gorillas from these attacks and so gorilla trekking is happening too.
The Virunga National park permit costs $450 and is the cheapest gorilla trekking permit amongst the three mountain gorilla homes. Kigali Airport is the shortest route to Virunga National Park.
Is Gorilla Trekking Worth Booking
Many travelers across the globe save there hard earned money to spend that one hours with the mountain gorillas but the Question is “is it worth the cost”.
Mountain gorillas are some of the lucky survivors of the ice age period and in the entire world, they remained in Bwindi Forest, Volcanoes National Park, Virunga National park and Mgahinga National park.
The feeling of locating the mountain gorillas is incomparable. Looking at that sheer size and into those dark brown eyes creates a cold chill in your body. Although this moment brings mixed feelings, knowing that mountain gorillas are harmless creatures is unbelievable.
The Virunga gorilla trekking area is a rich biosphere reserve where you have chance of locating a number of other primates like golden monkeys, blue monkeys, l’Hoest’, chimpanzees,
A rich birdlife is resident of this Virunga area that cuts across Uganda, Rwanda and D.R.Congo. even the Albertine endemics can surely be seen roaming this area like Shelley’s Crimsonwings, handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, white-bellied Robin-Chat, Blue Flycatcher, Lagden’s Bush shrikes to mention but a few.
How Many Times Can One Do Gorilla trekking?
Each gorilla permit bought is for one person per day per trek however depending on your budget and feeling you wish to encounter the mountain gorillas, you can do gorilla trekking as many times as you want.
Is Gorilla Trekking Safe
Safety measures during Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable National park and Volcanoes National Park are held with high regards. Virunga National Park in D.R.Congo may be disturbed by rebel activities but protection for tourists is taken with great concern.
Each morning, a group of armed rangers escorts tourists into the forest to start searching for the mountain gorillas. The rangers have a radio call that they often use to communicate with the park authorities at the head offices to make sure security of tourists is put first.
In case some unusual behavior is noticed in the forest which is very rare, the ranger call for backup but this has not happened in the recent years. Rwanda gorilla trekking is its foreign exchange jewel so security is paramount. Even in Uganda Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is under the watch of the defense forces.
How Difficult Is Gorilla Trekking
The gorilla trekking area has wide spread volcanic action and this counts for the variation in vegetation zones. Some of these vegetation zones are food centers like bamboo zone for the mountain gorilla.
During gorilla trekking, tourists hike the slopes to locate the mountain gorillas especially in the rainy seasons when they tend to feed from the slopes.
The vegetation cover is thick from the top but less under because of little sunray penetration. This makes following the trails clearer and the ranger guide always has a panga to cut creeping tendrils that protrude.
The level of fitness you have during gorilla trekking determines how fast or difficult you are to find gorilla trekking. A little exercise makes your muscles capable of withstanding the hike in the gorilla trekking areas.
How To Prepare For Gorilla Trekking
Booking the gorilla trekking permit in Uganda or Rwanda or D.R.Congo is the ultimate confirmation for any gorilla trekking trip. You need to know the dates you wish to do gorilla trekking and the number of people traveling with so that availability of a gorilla permit per your day is checked.
Do some physical fitness before gorilla trekking to enable you to hike the slopes of the ridges and plateaus on the way.
Have a list of your gorilla trekking gear so that you do not forget the most important ones. Usually, there is no time to buy some of the gears on the ground and shopping centers get scarce as you move deep into the countryside.
Book accommodation immediately after the gorilla permits especially in Uganda where gorilla permits are sold according to the area. You need to secure accommodation because gorilla trekking in one area and overnighting in another area is difficult, especially during peak seasons.
Encounter Africa safaris is one of the most trusted tour operators for the East African region. We have a team of office and field staff who will take care of your safari from planning to execution. We have a couple of reviews on trip advisor and Safari bookings for you to look at and for more information about 15 frequently asked questions about gorilla trekking in Africa, please contact us.