A Day in life of a gorilla ranger
Here is a day in life of a gorilla ranger; The presence of a ranger guide is the very reason why gorilla trekking or habituation is possible. Going into the ancient thick forest without an escorting ranger guide is terrifying even though you have paid money for the adventure of Gorilla trekking in Africa.
Gorilla tracking is one of the highlight activities in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R.Congo in the entire world. The chances of seeing gorillas in both countries is about over 99%. Mountain gorillas may be living in the wild like game but you are sure of seeing them. This is because this gorilla trekking exercise is highly organized by conservation bodies of the above countries.
Most Popular Gorilla Safaris
- 3 Day Uganda Gorilla Trekking
- 5 Day Gorilla and Chimp
- 8 Day Gorilla Tracking
- 2 Day Bwindi Gorilla Via Kigali
- 3 Day Uganda Gorilla Via Kigali
- 5 Day Chimp and Gorilla Habituation
- 3 Day Fly in Gorilla Habituation
- 3 Day Fly in Safari to Murchison Falls National Park
- 3 Day Bwindi Double trek via Kigali
- 5 Day Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
In Uganda, Uganda Wildlife Authority staff based in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Buhoma headquarters and Mgahinga National park at Ntebeko visitor center.
In Rwanda, Rwanda Tourism Board (RDB) has its head office for Volcanoes National Park at ORTPN. In D.R.Congo the Virunga National Park offices are at Institute Congolais Pour La conservation (ICCN) and Virunga Foundation for mountain gorillas.
These ranger guides go under training in there respective countries in order to equip them will skills of how to talk to visitors, defend wildlife and visitors, perform first Aid like CPR, learn about the wild animals and there way of life and so much more.
It should be noted that paying United States Dollars 700 in Uganda and USD1500 in Rwanda to buy a permit and you fail to see gorillas is the last thing you expect on an Africa gorilla trekking safari. Gorilla trekking is one of Africa’s dream come true safari experiences for most tourists.
In order to avoid not seeing the mountain gorillas, park authorities ensure each person who pays for a day’ gorilla permit gets that chance. It all comes down to the hard work by gorilla rangers.
What Is The Routine Of Gorilla Park Ranger Guides
A group of gorilla rangers on duty wakes up at dusk to start following the mountain gorillas are in the forest. They normally start this exercise at 5pm or 6pm to try and located where different gorilla families had there overnight. The ranger guides follow the trail where the gorilla were last seen feeding the previous day.
They do not normally nest far from there feeding ground. When the ranger guide finally find them, they will study if they are in good moods to be visited before communicating to the park headquarters.
The ranger guides that woke up earlier will not leave the forest until the group of tourists assigned to the gorilla family for that day joins them. This is because of the fact that mountain gorillas can be mobile and keep moving. The prevailing conditions in the forest may cause them to move deep into the forest or walk closer to the park headquarters.
In case the gorilla family gets into a fight with a wild group and they lose, they may go into hiding. In case the gorilla family gets a newborn, they are in happy moods. In case the family loses a member, they go in somber moods and much more.
In order to have upfront information about the gorilla trekking family assigned to a group of tourists, this advance group of ranges have to keep following. This team keeps communicating to headquarters about the prevailing situation of the mountain gorillas and their where about.
The ranger guides use radio call service to exchange information but this doesn’t mean they provide direction for the tourist to use in order to locate the mountain gorillas.
This explains why time of locating the mountain gorillas is unknown. Gorilla trekking take between two hours to about three quarters of the day. The gist of gorilla trekking is not to walk over to them like in the zoo but allow visitors to engage in search them.
Once tourists get to the gorillas, the advanced group will then step aside. They wait for the tourists to view and Photograph Mountain gorillas within the recommended one hour and then return back to the park headquarters with them.
The ranger guide who comes with the group keeps explaining in detail the history of the gorilla family visited. The tourists are expected to follow the rules of gorilla trekking given during briefing at the ranger station.
The task of leaving there beds early morning to spend almost an entire day in the forest with the mountain gorillas is heroic. This is not an easy task as these ranges have to leave their homes very early every day to spend almost the whole day in the forest.
Although not compulsory when they eventually come back, they expect some tip from tourists for motivation purposes. That’s why we normally encourage each client to tip at least 10 Dollars per person, which should be given to the lead guide who will in turn share it with the rangers.
Normally when they get such tips, they will drink a beer with their friends and save some to cater for their family. This is a token to encourage ranger guides protect the endangered mountain gorillas for the next generation to have a chance with them.
What Are Chances Of Seeing Gorillas During Gorilla Trekking Safari
Before coming to Uganda or Rwanda or D.R.Congo, you need to know that chances of you seeing gorillas depends very much on the organization of Rangers guides and Park wardens. There is about 99% chances of seeing the mountain gorillas in the wild not like game drives where you must have an open mind
The ranger guides walk the entire group of tourists through the forest to locate the mountain gorillas. They even try to take tourists to other locations with beautiful scenery along the way. They work so hard to create an impression on you so that you can remember every detail of your Africa safari.
These should be appreciated by offering a tip, which keeps them going. In order to make their life simple, we also caution you that gorilla tracking can be strenuous and a certain level of fitness may be required.
The ranger guide follow the pace of the slowest tourists so that no one if left in the forest. In order not to delay others, please do some physical exercises before planning to come for gorilla trekking in Uganda.
As you walk to see the mountain gorillas, the ranger guide may use a machete to clear the way for you in case there are many creepers. In case you wish to ease yourself, you request the ranger guide to dig a hole for you about 30 meters deep and afterwards you cover beyond recognition.
In case you are a keen birder, only the ranger guides have a clue of where to locate the birds in the forest during certain periods of the year.
Even when allocating tourists to different gorilla families, once you inform the rangers about what you wish to enjoy in the forest apart from the gorillas, they put you in the group that may have access to it.
In Uganda, the Ruhijah gorilla trekking area is the key birding sector In Bwindi Impenetrable National park. By following the ridge-top route into the deep valleys where undisturbed forest is present, you get to spot a number of birds that enjoy the Mubwindi Swamp. You have high chance of spotting some species of Albertine endemics on the red list of IUCN.
You climb through bamboo zone to find Afromontane vegetation where a number of birds love spending there day. Here you enjoy the beautiful view of Lake Bunyonyi and Mafuga Forest.
The gorilla rangers or ranger guides may point out other primates for you like black and white colobus, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, bush babies and others that you may not be familiar with.
Characteristics Of A Good Ranger Guide
A good ranger guide is knowledgeable about the park and its history is at his or her fingertips. Even the details about wildlife in the park and there characteristics are well known to him or her. In case he or she is handed a group of tourist, that ability to lead a the group throughout the gorilla search while pointing out interesting features in the forest along the way makes the trip unforgettable.
Must be ready to help in searching and rescuing the wild animals especially those that go astray into the community or help in offsetting those on snares. Although mountain gorillas are wild animals that must look for own cure, at times they fail to locate the right medication.
The ranger guide must be in position to detect a gorilla that needs human assistance. He or she must be ready to help in performing animal care like dressing the wounds, tranquilizing the sick animal, removing animal carcasses and others.
The ranger guide must be ready to protect all that is within the gorilla trekking parks. Be flexible on duties performed with the park like chasing poachers, escort gorilla doctors on duty and help administer treatment to severely injured mountain gorillas, report cases of injured mountain gorillas to authorities concerned and much more.
Be ready to perform basic emergency treatment to a hurt tourist like performing first aid like CPR in case one of the clients gets injured. This first aid skill can be followed by communication to headquarters to ask for backup. Such a good act makes the trip even more exciting to the rest of the tourists.
Have strong communication skills and ready to invest time in researching about the mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers beyond what is taught. This makes him or her an exceptional group leader for the tourists under his command during gorilla trekking. Must have the ability to solve differences that arise amongst tourists during the trek without sidelining with any one.
His or her must be physically fit enough for the outdoors. The walk through the jungles searching for the gorillas every day is not for the faint hearted. This is because you need to hike to the slopes at times, in order to locate the mountain gorillas.
Ready to educate the community about the importance of mountain gorilla conservations. The ranger guides come from the community and some of them were former poachers.
A ranger guide must be ready to face the community and take them though the conservation relevance. The communities around the park annually receives about 20% of the total profit got from gorilla trekking.
This helps them manage community needs like schools, medical care, roads and others. Even opportunities like becoming porters can be passed to the community and those interested given chance by the ranger guide to work for some money in order to support their families.
A good ranger guide must be ready to step in in case need arises like work on days that he or she is off duty. Sometimes the park needs extra staff so even when on holiday and he or she is called upon. He or she must be ready to help.
A good ranger guide must be ready to enforce the rules of gorilla trekking to the tourists. Sometimes tourists wish to bend some of the rules and may violet them too. As a ranger guide on duty, you must be ready to administer the rules of gorilla conservation without fear or favor.
In case need arises for checking and maintaining trails, preparing the park for season especially peak season which is June to September and December to January.
The ranger guide must be ready to give assistance without resistance. This is where everyone in the National Park works and so he or she needs to keep the park in good condition. This is one way to attract more visitors and researchers to the national park.
We at Encounter Africa Safaris encourage you to come for gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as well as Mgahinga National Park and we will arrange your gorilla permits, book accommodation for you depending on the region you will be trekking gorillas plus transport and driver guide.
You can combine your gorilla trek with other national parks such as Kibale National Park for chimpanzee trekking or Queen Elizabeth National Park for game drives and boat cruises.
Contact us for more information and to book your safari with us.