All you need to know about gorilla trekking
The praiseworthy rich biodiversity of the Albertine Rift extends beyond hosting the world’s endangered species, ‘the mountain gorillas. Their presence has facilitated this amazing gorilla trekking adventure, tailored to be done in the Virunga forests and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Gorilla trekking is considered the highlight of all of Africa’s adventures. For any traveler opting to reach the rich central African stretching ecosystem, which has presented itself for greater compromise.
Before setting out on a mountain gorilla trekking adventure, one should comprehensively understand all the dynamics involved in this kind of adventure. There is a lot of information one should ensure before setting out on adventures.
What about the gorilla experience?
Gorilla experience means entering the impenetrable forests and bamboos within the volcanic rolls and initiating a search for the gorillas. The mountain gorilla resides in the rift valley arrays, whose land is characterized by volcanic features. Well packed for a day trek and wearing your trekking suits, enter the forest under the lead of an experienced armed ranger guide, following the trekking orientation. The experience starts at 8 a.m. and can take about 30 minutes to 6 hours of searching for the giants before an encounter. This walk continues through a variety of muddy, slippery, moist, thorny, and thickly sloping forests and bamboos.
On finding the gorillas, you realize that this is once-in-a-lifetime experience that can’t be found elsewhere in the world. Before the gorillas, you have a limit of an hour to watch and enjoy a moment with the gorillas. At this moment of face-to-face interaction with the silverback, you realize that maybe they are communicating something. The toddlers will jump around you and entertain you under tree branches as the adults are enjoying the floor and lousily relaxing down. At this moment, you can take photographs for memory, and then, at the end of an hour, you will walk back to the starting point, where you will find your driver guide to drive you back to your lodge for refreshment.
Where to do a gorilla habituation experience
Gorilla habituation is about training the wild gorilla so that they become familiar with human presence in their natural habitat. Habituation is an activity done by researchers and park rangers on a newly discovered wild gorilla family. This activity starts as a follow-up exercise that continues for a period of less than 2 years until the gorillas are free at the sight of humans in the forest. Gorilla habituation is a tailored adventure that is only done in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable is known for being the capital of mountain gorillas, with the highest number of gorilla individuals. The recent census of 2019 indicated that Bwindi hosted over 450 gorilla individuals out of 1068 that were counted in the global mountain gorilla wild. Gorilla habituation experience remained only possible and available at Rushaga Sector, south of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The gorilla habituation experience is a full-day experience where trekkers and researchers spend a full day following the gorillas. During the following exercise, it becomes less about trekking and more about learning the individual behaviors of the gorillas in that particular family. Not like trekking, with habituation experience, it starts earlier at 6 a.m., when a limit of 4 trekkers join a group of researchers and rangers to do the activity. The follow-up starts from where the gorillas nested the previous night; follow them as they wander, feed, relax, and play. If trekkers feel they can’t take the whole day following the gorillas, when they are encountered, they can spend four hours in their presence and afterwards decide to leave the forest.
A permit for the gorilla habituation process is almost double that for gorilla trekking still at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. A permit costs $1,500, and there is only one gorilla family under habituation that is open for experience.
Cost of a gorilla trekking permit
Like other adventures in Africa, gorilla trekking is a bit more costly. The cost of trekking to gorillas varies depending on which country you are trekking from. A permit to trek in Uganda’s two gorilla parks, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, costs $700. To trek in Rwanda’s amusement park, Volcanoes National Park, a permit costs $1,500, almost double that of Uganda. And when hopping to trek from Virunga National Park, the DR Congo’s most famous park, a permit costs $400.
All mountain gorilla trekking parks and their experiences
Mountain gorillas converged in a single location at the edge of the central African forests within the arrays of the Albertine rift valley. However, the location is divided into two regions: the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Virunga Massif. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda acts as the mountain gorilla capital with the highest concentration. This gorilla hub accommodates over 460 gorillas. Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks make Uganda boast of being the only country in the world with two gorilla destinations (parks). Mgahinga, Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda, and Virunga National Park of DR Congo have the capacity to host the rest of the remaining half of the gorilla individuals in the wild.
What to wear when going on a gorilla trek
Gorilla trekking is a complete adventure that demands enough preparation. Because it involves walking through unmade paths, it needs to be well covered against any possible damage. Remember, gorilla trekking is a walk through muddy, slippery, moist, thorny, and rolling thick forests. Always remember to have yourself dressed in long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a sun cap, sun glasses, garden gloves, stronger jungle boots, and smeared with a body repellent. Then, in your backpack, you must have a raincoat in case it rains.
The best time to trek gorillas
There are two seasons experienced within the mountain gorilla region. There is both a sunny/dry season and a wet/rainy season; each of these two seasons doubles a year. The dry season happens in the months of December, January, and February, then doubles in the months of June, July, and August. The dry month is the traveling season in Uganda with the highest number of travelers (peak season). During the peak season, the demand to trek the gorilla exceeds the availability of permits almost on a daily basis.
Then, the wet months of March, April, and May double in September, October, and November. This is a low traveling season; the accommodation facilities are much more available, and permits to trek from anywhere are almost guaranteed to trek from anywhere you wish.