Which countries in Africa have mountain gorillas, and why
Mountain gorillas are some of the endangered primates in Africa, living in only three countries Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R.Congo.
To watch the mountain gorillas, you need to acquire a gorilla trekking or habituation permit from the authorities responsible
In Uganda, Uganda Wildlife Authority is mandated to control mountain gorilla activities. On the other hand, the Rwanda development board deals with all Mountain gorilla activities in Rwanda.
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The mountain gorillas were at the rim of extinction by the 1980s, according to the census carried out by the team of American primatologist Diane Fossey. The census results showed that about 250 mountain gorillas existed then. This brought them to the list of highly endangered primates, so conservation took precedence.
So far, about 1000 mountain gorillas are believed to be living in the world according to a recent census. This is attributed to the vigilance of the mountain gorilla conservation teams, both local and international bodies.
Where To Find The mountain Gorillas In Africa
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This Park lies in the Southwestern part of Uganda. It was gazette as a National park in 1992 and declared a world heritage site in 1994. The Park covers about 327 square kilometers covered in tangled vegetation that has culminated over time. The topography of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is ragged due to volcanic action in this area.
The vegetation of this forest is tangled and drapes over deeply fissured landscapes, slippery valleys, and high draughty ridges. The flora of Bwindi forest has weaved over time and is believed to be over 25000 years. More than 200 natural tree species are believed to be in this wild forest.
A huge amount of fauna composed of over 10 primates species, including the mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, blue monkeys, grey checked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, L’Hoests’ and others enjoy the freebies of this Natural forest,
Other forest occupants include more than 310 butterfly species, 88 months, 51 reptiles, and others. Bwindi is a prime birding Uganda destination with more than 350 bird species counted, but the list is still expanding. There are also Albertine rift endemics whereby about 23 species of the 24 species known to be living in Uganda may be traced in this Park.
Where To Do Gorilla Trekking In Bwindi
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has four gorilla trekking areas: the Rushaga area, the Buhoma area, the Ruhija area, and the Nkuringo area. This National park was divided into areas for easy administration as it has a vast area.
Each of these areas has gorilla families that have been opened for the public to book. So far, about 18 gorilla families are fully habituated and listed on the Uganda Wildlife Authority gorilla permit list.
Accommodation To Book For Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national Park
You need to book gorilla trekking accommodations close to the areas where your permit is booked so you do not have to wake up early to catch up with the briefing.
Some of the accommodations for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include
Gorilla safari lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge, Engage Lodge, Mahogany Spring, Trekker’s Tarven, Cameleon Hill Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, and others.
Mgahinga National Park
This is the smallest National Park in Uganda, covering about 33.7 square kilometers. This Park is home to a number of primates, but the mountain gorillas are the most outstanding. So far, only one gorilla family in this Park, the Nyakagezi family, has been habituated. This gorilla family is known for meandering into Rwanda, but it has steadily been living in Uganda.
Apart from the mountain gorillas, this Park is home to other primates like olive baboons, golden monkeys, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, black and white colobus, and others.
Its beautiful views have a background of three distinctive Volcanoes: Mountain Muhavura, Mountain Gahinga, and Mountain Sabyinyo. By taking a day’s hike to the top of these highlands, you enjoy varied vegetation zones like Montane woodland, a bamboo zone, a Montane forest, and an Ericaceous zone.
Even when you hike to the top of Sabyinyo Mountain, you get a 360 degrees view of Uganda, Rwanda, and the D.R. Congo Border.
For a great birding experience in Uganda, Mgahinga National Park hosts about 115 bird species, some of which are Albertine rift endemics. A few of the birds you may spot include the Malachite Sunbird, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Alpine Chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, Rwenzori Turaco, and others.
How Many Gorilla Trekking Families Live in Mgahinga National Park
Only one gorilla family so far has been habituated in Mgahinga National Park, but in the past, it was so mobile. It is called the Nyakagezi gorilla family. The gorilla permits for this Park was initially sold according to the availability of the mountain gorillas.
You can now book the gorilla permits of Mgahinga National Park anytime because the mountain gorillas are steadily present in the Park.
This is one of the virgin parks in Uganda because it is less visited. But full of beautiful sceneries that
You can watch during the hike on one of the mountains that make up this Park
Which accommodations to book for Gorilla trekking In Uganda
Mgahinga National Park has limited accommodations, but you can also spend the night in Kisoro town, which is about 14 kilometers taking approximately 30 minutes to drive.
Gahinga Lodge is one of the lodges you can book.
Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is the only habitat for mountain gorillas in Rwanda. The Park lies in Northwestern Rwanda with a backdrop of five volcanoes: Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Sabyinyo, Mountain Karisimbi, Mountain Muhabura, and Mountain Bisoke. Unfortunately, only 12 gorilla families have been opened for tourist viewing in this Park.
A number of other primates also live in this Park, including golden monkeys, olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboons, blue monkeys, and others.
You can also take the Dian Fossey hike to where the remains of the fallen Mountain gorilla hero lay. She is one of the reasons why mountain gorillas are still existing. She fought for them to her last breath to let the world know about their existence and how to conserve them. The current research on mountain gorillas is based on her finding.
For Rwanda’s birding experience, volcanoes National Park is the prime destination. The Park hosts about 200 bird species, including Albertine rift endemics. Some birds you may get to identify include Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Kivu Ground Thrush, Malachite Sunbird, Dusky Turtle Dove, Rwenzori Turaco, and others.
Accommodation To Book For Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park
Various accommodations make up Volcanoes National Park, which ranges according to Luxury, Mid-range, and Budget facilities.
Some of the Rwanda gorilla trekking safari accommodations include:
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Kinigi Guest House, Hotel La Palme, and others. You can also overnight in Kigali city, about 2 hours and a half from Volcanoes National Park. You have to rise very early to drive to the briefing point.
Virunga National Park
This is the only home of the Mountain gorillas in D.R.Congo. The Park occupies an area of 7800 square kilometers. 6 gorilla families make up this Park: Munyaga, Humba, Mpuwa, Lulengo, and others.
Why Are There Mountain Gorillas In Uganda, Rwanda, And D.R.Congo
The Virunga area is one of the refugia forested areas that survived the ice age period that hit Africa between 1200 to 1800 years ago. This area became a refuge for various fauna and flora, and even the mountain gorillas are believed to be part of the survivors.
The mountain gorillas are naturally vegetarian, and throughout the day, they may feed on over 70 pounds of foliage to support their sheer bodies through the day and night. The mountain gorilla delicacy is bamboo, soft stems, leaves, fruits, tubers, and much more. When they conquer an area, they feed from it as a family until the food supply is cut short. Then, the dominant silverback is mandated to seek a new feeding ground for the family and defend it.
The nature of mountain gorillas is they hike to the slopes sometimes to find food, so you need to follow them in case you are allocated to this family.
The mountain gorillas are believed to only survive in their habitat, the Virunga area composed of Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Bwindi National Park, and Virunga National Park.
When Is The Best Time To Book Gorilla Trekking Safari in Africa
You will surely locate the mountain gorillas in the forest whenever you visit Africa because they live in families that rarely move without reason. Some tourists, however, prefer to use the dry season for booking gorilla trekking safaris because the gorillas are more active then.
Even other forest dwellers are lively like the monkeys, butterflies, birds, and others are more active.
The trails in the forest are usually soggy and slippery because of the regular rains that fall, yet limited sunrays penetrate the ground. During the drier months, the forest receives less rainfall, reducing the humidity of the woods. Even the rivers flow within their course.
When taking photos in the dry season, you are not so afraid of water dripping into your camera.
The wet season which is also the low season of March to May, receives limited clients, and chances of being unprepared for exclusive gorilla trekking adventure are high.
If you have a limited budget, the low season is the most comfortable, where chances of catching discounted prices from service providers are high.
If you wish to have limited disturbance during gorilla trekking, the low season is the most outstanding because few people accompany you to go gorilla trekking. It is very interesting to have no one obstructing you when watching the mountain gorillas.
Which country of Uganda, Rwanda, And D.R.Congo is Best For Gorilla Trekking in Africa
That moment you meet the mountain gorillas is unmatched and compared to nothing. You feel the power of looking at the sheer size of the mountain gorillas. You feel the chills all over. Some people say they forgot about all they may have gone through for that moment when they were standing before the huge mountain gorillas.
Other factors also contribute to the feeling people get after meeting the mountain gorillas and get the difference between the three habitat countries.
The difference in the cost of the gorilla trekking permits
The cost of a Rwanda gorilla trekking permit is currently $1500 per person per trek, whereas the Uganda gorilla permit costs $700 per person per trek and $450 gorilla permits for D.R.Congo.
Uganda has 19 gorilla trekking families open for tourism, while Rwanda has about 12 gorilla families, and D.R.Congo has six gorilla families so far.
The drive time from Kigali Airport to Volcanoes National Park is 3 hours, while from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park is about 8 to 9 hours. Therefore, to get to Virunga National Park and D.R.Congo, you may need about two days, depending on where you come from.
Uganda has excellent chances of combining gorilla trekking with other activities like game drives, visiting the source of the River Nile, chimpanzee trekking, nature walks, and others. On the other hand, Rwanda has limited options for gorilla trekking, like visiting Kigali city, chimpanzee trekking, game drives, and others.
Rwanda has a well-set briefing point for mountain gorilla trekking, whereas Uganda and D.R.Congo briefing points are averagely set up.
Rwanda can do gorilla trekking in 2 days, whereas Uganda and D.R.Congo take over 3 days of gorilla trekking minimum.
What are the Rules Of Gorilla Trekking In Uganda
- If you catch an infectious disease like cough, flu, or cholera, volunteer to stay behind.
- Spitting on the ground is forbidden.
- When you locate them, keep a gap of about 8 meters from the mountain gorillas.
- Only children aged 15 years and above are allowed to do gorilla trekking.
- Wearing a mask before meeting the mountain gorillas is a must.
- In case you need to feed or smoke, do it at least 200 meters from the mountain gorillas
- Only one hour is allowed with the mountain gorillas.
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