Gorilla Trekking in Africa
Gorilla trekking in Africa is an adventurous trip in the jungle, it refers to going on a long vigorous journey in the forests in search for mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. Mountain gorilla trekking in Africa involves only use of feet as a mode of transport by tourist led by a trained guide. Mountain gorillas are critically endangered species with only 1004 gorillas in the world as estimated in 2018.
In Africa mountain gorillas are found in the tropical forests of the central region that is in Bwindi impenetrable national park (Uganda) and the Virunga mountains region which comprises of 3 national parks. These include Uganda’s Mgahinga national park, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park of democratic republic of Congo. Bwindi impenetrable national park harbors the largest population percentage of mountain gorillas with approximately 600 gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are fur covered animals which help them withstand the cold weather at the higher altitudes of the mountains. They are very strong, powerful primates and shy in nature. However, they can become very aggressive in times of threat or attacks and they are very short with a height of 168 cm and have 195 kg of weight to males, 100 kg of weight and 140 cm of height to females. Mountain gorillas are non–territorial animals who live in groups were adult gorillas play different roles for example male adults the silverbacks are the head of the group as rulers, defends the group amidst attacks and female adult mountain gorillas are tasked with nurturing the young gorillas.
Mountain gorillas spend most of their time creating strong bounds amongst themselves in the group, so as to keep their bonds strong. Misunderstandings amongst themselves are always immediately solved before they escalate into fights which at times lead to severe injuries and death. Mountain gorillas are herbivorous animals who spend most of their day time feeding on leaves, roots, and berries.
Mountain gorilla trekking is a fun rewarding activity that is led by a professional tour guide as you look for mountain gorillas in their habituated groups. In Africa there is several habituated gorilla groups which include 12 groups in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable national park
- In buhoma with 3 habituated gorilla families that is Mubare with 11 gorillas, Habinyanja with 17 gorillas & Rushegura with 16 members
- Ruhija has 3 habituated gorilla families that is Oruzongo with 17 gorillas, Bitukura with 13 gorillas and Kyaguriliro with 20 gorillas.
- Rushaga with 5 habituated families that is Nshongi with 7 gorillas, Mishaya with 12 gorillas, kahungye with 17 gorillas, Busingye with 9 gorillas, Bweza with 12 gorillas and Nkurigo with 12 gorillas.
- In Mgahinga national park there is one habituated gorilla group that is Nyakagezi group which consists of 12 gorillas.
In Rwanda there is 10 habituated gorilla families in volcano national park which include;
- Susa group found along river Susa currently with 28 members
- Karisimbi group found on the lower levels of mountain karisimbi with 15 members
- Sabyinyo group found on the gentle slopes of mountain sabyinyo and gahinga
- Amahoro gorilla group at the slopes of mountain visoke with 17 members
- Agashya gorilla group of 13 members found at the slopes of mountain sabyinyo and gahinga
- Umubano group with 11 members
- Kwitonda group of 17 members at the slopes of mountain muhabura
- Hirwa group of 9 members at slopes of mountain sabyinyo on mountain gahinga side.
- Uganda gorilla group with 11 members and its found at the slopes of mountain bisoke
- Bwengye on the slopes of Karisoke volcano
There are 8 habituated mountain gorilla groups in Virunga national park of democratic republic of Congo which include;
- Kabirizi group of 19 members
- Humba group in bukima sector with 9 members
- Rugendo gorilla group of 9 members
- Mapuwa gorilla group found in jomba near bunagana with 22 members
- Lulego gorilla group of 9 gorillas in jomba area of Virunga near Congo and Uganda boarder
- Munyaga gorilla group in bukima sector with 7 members
- Nyakamwe group of 11 members
- Bageni gorilla group the largest habituated group with 26 members.
To carryout gorilla trekking requires tourists to be in possession of a mountain gorilla trekking permit which are purchased at Uganda wildlife in Uganda if you intend to do gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park and mgahinga national park. In the democratic republic of Congo, permits are bought at the Virunga national park offices located in the park and Rwanda gorilla trekking permits are bought at Rwanda Development Board offices (ORTPN) in Kigali or Ruhengeri.
Currently for tourists interested in gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable and mgahinga national park, permits cost USD 600 for foreign non –residents, USD 500 for foreign residents and UGX 2,500,000 for East African citizens (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and south Sudan). In Rwanda a permit costs USD 1,500 and in democratic republic of Congo permit cost USD 400 on pick seasons and USD 200 in low season. These costs are only for one person for one hour with gorillas.
For the a sustainable conservation of mountain gorilla regulations were drafted to control and regulate human behavior and conduction while in the habituated areas of gorillas. A group going for trekking should not exceed 8 members and tourists should never ran while in the forest or mimic any mountain gorillas’ actions it’s really dangerous because you can tell what they mean.
Gorilla Trekking in Africa is a very breathtaking and for one to enjoy it fully as a tourist you need to have a porter to help you carry your bag as you navigate through the muddy and slippery trails of the forest. Tourists also require a pack of gorilla trekking essentials which include strong trekking boots, long sleeved shirts and hard trousers like jeans as coming into contact with scratching plants is unavoidable during the trek. A walking stick, gloves and rainy jackets are also important.
Due to conducive climatic conditions in central Africa with clear skies because of its tropical forests and its closeness to the equator, mountain gorilla trekking happens throughout the year in Bwindi impenetrable national park, mgahinga national park, Virunga national park and volcanoes national park. The best time to go trekking is from May to September to February and these months receive little rain. During these months trails are less slippery and muddy which makes it easier to navigate through the forest while looking for mountain gorillas.