Mountain gorillas come 11th of the most endangered world species which if not protected can suffer extinction. Its said about 780 gorillas still living in the Virunga mountains located along the northern border of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. Half of the total gorilla population lives in Uganda’s Bwindi national park. If you have your dream set on seeing the rarer mountain gorillas in Africa, you are looking at a safari tour to Uganda or Rwanda and the Congo to track gorillas.
Typical Gorilla trek and encountering the Gorillas
Encountering the gorillas is a special feeling and nothing can ever prepare you for that experience. The hike up the terrain is at a high altitude – Bwindi national park is about 1500 meters – 2000 while Volcanoes is over 25500 meters, which will leave you breathless, but the hope of finally meeting the gorillas will keep you climbing. Your guide will remind you “Pole Pole” which translates from Swahili to. “Slowly Slowly”. There is no rush. Your guide is in direct contact with your gorilla group’s set of trackers so you’ll get to them eventually. You should soak up every minute of this unique adventure.
After your briefing from a ranger guide at the park headquarters, make sure to hire a porter – a local Ugandan/Rwandan to carry your bags and help you up/down the slippery terrain as you hike. The cost of a porter ranges from 15-20 US dollars and you will totally be thankful for hiring one as you keep hiking. You enter the gorilla forest you will come across thick bamboo; a favorite and food of the mountain gorilla. The combination of thick bush as you follow your guide hacking through a path with their machete soon invokes the realization that this trip will be everything you’d always wished for from an African jungle adventure.
After a number of hours of trekking depending on the location of your gorilla group,please be aware that the time spent hiking for the gorillas depends on how far your gorilla family is, the hike can last from 1 to 5 hours, so make sure to have a packed snack with drinking water, also make sure to dress appropriately; long sleeves and long trousers are advised to fend off the many tiny forest inhabitants like insects, thorns
Once your group meets the mountain gorillas, you only get to spend an hour with them, with an opportunity to take lots of photos and video clips. This experience is truly moving and a must for anyone with an interest in wildlife. A top tip for your gorilla safari tour is; if a gorilla decides to charge at you, remain steady and calm, don’t scream or run away, make full eye contact.
Gorilla tracking is an experience which doesn’t come cheap, in Uganda a Permits goes for $600 and in low season &350, in Rwanda a permit goes for $750 year round once your at the park, you realize just how much work goes into protecting the gorilla parks, how many people are involved and how much the local community benefits, as well as the obvious contribution to conservation. So the money worth it!