Gorilla trekking myth and realities in Uganda and Rwanda
Lots of theories and myths about the mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda have been told worldwide but the actual truth lies in taking the gorilla trekking tour. You can now join the gorilla habituation experience too where you get to familiarize semi wild gorillas to the presence of humans.
When you meet the gorilla during the trek in Uganda and Rwanda only one hour is allowed to be in the presence of the gorillas. This is to allow them time to feed because they are generally vegetarian.
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Each day mountain gorillas feed on over 300 pounds of foliage to support there sheer bodies through night and day. Even with the presence of humans, it is difficult for the mountain gorillas to conceive.
In the entire world, the mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park D.R.Congo. At the moment only about 1000 mountain gorillas are surviving.
About Gorilla Trekking In Uganda and Rwanda
You need to reserve a gorilla trekking permit to participate. Each day only maximum of 8 gorilla trekking permits is allowed to meet a certain gorilla family. This is to reduce on the population of trekkers that may trample on the vegetation. When many people visit the park, they step on the vegetation and reduce on the amount of food that would support the survival of the mountain gorillas.
The mountain gorillas are generally vegetarian whose life is dependent on foliage like bamboo there delicacy, soft stems, leaves, fruits and at times supplement the diet with ants.
In nature, the mountain gorillas are shy animals despite there scaring physical appearance. They have sunken dark brown eyes with a body covered in black coat of far. Mountain gorillas use knuckle locomotion to go places. The silver backs have a greyish saddle of hair in the back that comes with age.
Mountain gorillas live in families under the leadership of the dominant male whose authority is autocratic. He has all the powers over the females in the family, he commands respect from all members including the males in the family. He is the only male who feels he has a right to mate with the females. He fights to the last dot to defend his autonomy and defend his family from attacking wild groups.
The mountain gorillas have a gestation period similar to humans and feed there infants on mammary gland for a period similar to humans.
Most silverbacks who succeeds and former dominant male at times kill there infants so that they can start there own lineage.
The mountain gorillas create nests in the evening where they spend there nights and de-nest at dawn to go about there day today activities.
At times the gorilla family operates a spy network of black backs in order maintain security amongst the mountain gorilla family.
How Aggressive Are Mountain Gorillas.
As mentioned above mountain gorillas are generally serene creatures despite there scaring looks. No one has ever been reported falling victim of the aggressiveness of the mountain gorillas.
This however doesn’t mean you provoke them during gorilla trekking. Every trekker pays for there gorilla trekking permit and would like to get value for money. When you agitate the mountain gorillas they may run into hiding which reduces on that expected one hour in the view of the mountain gorillas.
When angry, mountain gorillas normally thump there chests, pull grass around them, walk on one leg and hoot. They normally walk into hiding a way from anything suspicious in there presence.
During gorilla trekking, try to avoid staring into the dark eyes of the mountain gorillas because it agitates them. Surrounding the mountain gorillas may cause them to feel ambushed.
Since the forest is normally quiet with only voices of birds or monkeys that the gorillas are familiar with foreign noise is suspicious. Every trekker is advised to keep quiet or use a low tone in case you cannot keep mum when you find the mountain gorillas. When taking photographs, using a soundproof camera is advised and no Flash photography. This is to avoid making unfamiliar noise with the mountain gorillas.
After viewing the mountain gorillas, slowly retreat away without causing any irk with the gorilla trekking family members.
Where To Do Gorilla Trekking In Uganda And Rwanda
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the south Western side of Uganda. It is home to about 18 gorilla trekking families open for tourists’ visits. Locally Bwindi means Impenetrable and indeed this tropical rain forest is apt for this double meaning.
The mountain gorillas live with others primates like black and white colobus, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, L’Hoest’s, olive baboons, chimpanzees and others.
In Uganda, birding experiences cannot be complete without visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. more than 350 species live here including 23 species of about 24 species of Uganda Albertine endemics. Ruhijah area is the main birding destination of Bwindi impenetrable National park especially the Mubwindi swamp.
Gorilla trekking In Bwindi impenetrable National Park is rewarding when you book accommodation in the area or close to the area where your permit is booked.
Mgahinga National Park in Uganda is so far home to one gorilla trekking family called Nyakagezi. In the past, this gorilla family used to wonder into Rwanda, the mountain gorillas are free ranging primates with no knowledge of political boundaries. This is the reason why its gorilla permits were booked on ground based in availability of the mountain gorillas.
Mgahinga National park boats of its great views with three of the five Virunga ranges in its backdrop. The park is located on the northern slopes of Mountain Muhavura, Mountain Sabyinyo and Mountain Gahinga, which form a regional backdrop.
This park is home to Golden monkeys, black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, blue monkeys and others.
The bird list of Mgahinga National Park is exceptional with over 115 species of birds so far recorded and still expanding. Some of the birds you may get to spot include Rwenzori Turaco, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Dusky Tutle Dove, Alpine Chat, Malachites Sunbird, Montane Double-Collared Sunbird and others.
Volcanoes National Park is Rwanda’s gorilla trekking destination with about 13 gorilla families recorded so far. The park has Five of the Virunga volcanoes that is Mountain Bisoke, Mountain Karisimbi, Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Muhabura and Mountain Sabyinyo
To get a gorilla trekking permit for Rwanda, can buy it from Rwanda Development Boards ( RDB) and wake up for gorilla trekking briefing to ORTPN in Volcanoes National Park.
A part from gorilla trekking, Volcanoes National Park is home to the golden monkeys. These are a unique primates specie with a larger body compared to normal monkeys. They have golden brown hairs at the stomach, bottom and middle and lower back. They are very fast and exciting to watch in the wilderness and keep you on your toes.
Other primates in Volcanoes National Park include blue monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus, olive baboons and others.
How Much is Gorilla Trekking Safari In Uganda And Rwanda
The gorilla trekking safari cost depends on a number of factors like the cost of gorilla trekking permits which in Uganda is $800 per person per trek, in Rwanda the price for gorilla permit in $1500 per person.
The number of days you hope to be on safari that is to say in Uganda 3 days gorilla trekking is the minimum number of days expected on safari. In Rwanda at least 2 days gorilla trekking tour is expected to be the minimum number of days to be on safari.
In case you have a combo of gorilla trekking with other activities like game drives, chimpanzee trekking, white water rafting, birding and others, the cost is different too.
The number of people accompanying you during gorilla trekking also contribute to the cost of gorilla trekking. The less the party the more the cost and the more the people the less the cost of gorilla trekking safari per person.
The season you book your gorilla trekking safari at times contributes to its cost. The peak seasons normally attract high costs on safari components like accommodations, vehicles, ranger guides and others. There is high demand for gorilla trekking during peak season and low seasons may at times attract discounted costs on the gorilla trekking package components.
The kind of package you choose for gorilla trekking that is luxury, midrange or budgets also contributes to the total expenditure on your gorilla trekking tour. These packages have a number of inclusions and exclusions that make up these packages.
When Is The best Time To Book A Gorilla Trekking Safari
All year round gorilla trekking tours are open but the drier months attract more tourists. June to September and December to January attract more people to visit the mountain gorillas.
The festive season is a gorilla trekking peak season as many have chance to use these holidays. In case you wish to do gorilla trekking this period, you need to book at least 6 month in advance. Some even book a year in advance.
The Virunga area may also receive less rain during this period allowing tourists to have a smooth trek. This region is known for receiving untimely rains that may last an entire day.
Trekkers are advised to carry a raincoat or poncho to protect them from circumstances like this. Even during the dry season, you have to pack these because in this area it rains without warning. Packing some warm attires for the extremely cold mornings and evenings is very important.
The low seasons however that is March to May and November receive less tourists so less chances of obstructing when you from capturing the best shots of mountain gorillas. There is less completion for services at the lodges, may attract discounted prices on gorilla trekking packages and others.
How Difficult Is Gorilla Trekking In Uganda And Rwanda
The gorilla trekking adventure is done in a challenging environment so you need have some level of fitness. This being a volcanic area, the soils are soft yet rains fall often. The area has a dense network of rivers that flood at times creating a boggy ground. When walking you need to wear the right gorilla trekking boots to protect your feet from pricking surfaces.
Some level of fitness is necessary for you to enjoy the entire experience. Before gorilla trekking, you need to do some simple exercises to avoid muscle pools. Since the time of locating the mountain gorillas is unknown, you need to have some patience before finding the mountain gorillas.
What To pack for Gorilla Trekking In Uganda And Rwanda
- Packing light for your African safari is very helpful and you do not have to worry about who is to help you carry your bags.
- Some of the items to include on the gorilla trekking safari packing list are
- Safari boots to wear in the wilderness because there are sharp surfaces that can prick you.
- A larger brim foldable safari hat to cover your hair from dripping water off the leaves.
- Insect repellant so smear your body and keep away stinging insects in the wilderness.
- Toiletries to use in case the lodge doesn’t provide.
- A pair of binoculars to get a clearer view of far ranging creatures.
- The camera which is flash-less to keep memories of you meeting with the mountain gorillas.
- A water- proof backpack to carry with your belongings so that they do not get wet or lost when you fall.
- A pair of pajamas to wear in the night when it gets too cold.
- Garden gloves to protect your hands from pikes and slippery creepers that you land your palms on to catch a tighter grip.
- A torch to use when lights go out in the night because solar is the main source of energy used.
- An extra battery to exchange with in case one runs low
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