MOUNTAIN GORILLA TREKKING IN EAST AFRICA
Mountain gorilla trekking in east Africa is an interesting safari activity which is not offered by most of the tourist destinations in the Uganda, this amazing activity is only offered by mountainous thick forested areas hosting the endangered mountain gorillas. Tourist destinations offering the amazing mountain gorilla trekking are few in number which makes the four areas offering the activity to be exceptional from other tourist destinations in the world. Mountain gorilla trekking is offered in Uganda, Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo that is in Bwindi impenetrable national park of Uganda and the great Virunga conservation area. Virunga conservation area is a very mountainous area with 8 volcanoes that is Mountain Karisimbi, Mount sabyinyo, Mount bisoke, Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Nyamuragira, Mount muhabura, Mount mikeno and Mount gahinga. Three national parks that is Uganda’s mgahinga gorilla national park, Rwanda’s volcano national park and Congo’s Virunga national park do stretch over these volcanoes and on the higher forested altitudes is where the precious endangered mountain gorillas live.
Mountain gorillas are critically endangered animals which can only be found in densely forested areas on higher altitudes, mountain gorillas are fur covered animals which helps the live in the cold conditions on mountain tops. Because of activities of man like wars, poaching, kidnapping of young gorillas and clearing forests which are home to these gorillas, mountain gorilla are only left in a few numbers with an estimated population of 900 individuals in the world. Mountain gorilla a huge animals with male gorillas standing 1.4 to 1.8 m and weighing 36 to 195 kg, adult females weigh 68–113 kg and standing at a height of 1.25 to 1.5 m.
East Africa as a region consists of five countries that is Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and south Sudan which are wonderful tourist destinations but mountain gorilla trekking in East Africa takes place two countries that is Uganda and Rwanda. In these two countries the activity takes place in only three national parks of Bwindi impenetrable national park, mgahinga gorilla national park of Uganda and volcano national park of Rwanda.
MOUNTAIN GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA
The breath taking mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda is offered in Bwindi impenetrable national park and mgahinga gorilla national park. Mountain gorilla in Uganda first went through habituation process before they were open for trekking, habituation process involves train wild mountain gorillas to get used to human presence.
Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park is a UNESCO heritage site located in south western Uganda in kanungu district, Bwindi impenetrable national park stretching through the area of 321 square kilometers lies at the edge of Albertine rift valley in the western arm of eastern African rift valley, the park lieing at the altitude range of 1160m – 2607m above sea level is filled with montane rain forests where the mountain gorillas live.
Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park takes the tourist through the four gorilla sectors of the park where mountain gorilla families can be found on the trekking, mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park is open to tourists in possession of a gorilla trekking permit costing US$ 700. This gorilla trekking permit entitles a tourist to trek only one gorilla family and when you locate them you stay only one hour with them.
Habituated mountain gorilla families open for trekking in Bwindi impenetrable are found in the following sector
Buhoma sector is currently the most loved sector to trek by the tourists, buhoma sector opened in 1991 for trekking consists of 4 habituated gorilla families with are trekked.
- Katwe gorilla family
Katwe gorilla family is the newly habituated gorilla family consisting of 10 members, this group is headed by a dominant silverback Katwe and consists of 4 adult females, 2 infants and 3 black back.
- Mubare gorilla family
Mubare gorilla family is the first gorilla family to be habituated in Bwindi, the family led by Kanyonyi a dominant silverback consist of 11 members that is 6 adult females, 1 sub adult, 3 infants and one silverback.
- Habinyanja gorilla group
Habinyanja gorilla group is also one of the earlier habituated groups and the largest groups in Bwindi, the group led by a dominant silverback Makara consists of 17 members that is 5 adult females, 1 sub adult, 3 juveniles, 6 infants, 1 black back and 1 silver back.
- Rushegura gorilla family
Rushegura is also one the larger groups in the park consisting of 16 family individuals, the park is led by kabukojo a dominant silverback has 1 silverback, 4 blackbucks, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles, 4 infants.
Ruhija sector consist of 3 habituated gorilla families which are trekked
- Oruzogo family group
Oruzogo family group is a group of 17 individuals led by Bakwate a dominate silverback, the group has 2 silverbacks, 2 black backs, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 1 juvenile and 5 infants.
- Bitukura family group
Bitukura family group is a group of 13 family members led by a dominant silver back Ndahura, the group consists of 4 silverbacks, 4 adult females, 2 juveniles and 3 infants.
- Kyaguliro family group
Kyaguliro family group is the largest group of 20 family members, this group is divided into two that is group A-Rukara and group B-Mukiza. Group A-Rukara is made up of 10 individuals 1 silverback, 2 black backs, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants and group B Mukiza is also made up of 10 individuals that is 1 silverback, 4 adult females, 1 sub adult and 4 infants.
Rushanga gorilla sector consists of 5 habituated families which are open for trekking
- Kahungye Gorilla Group
Kahungye gorilla group is a family of 17 members consisting of 3 silverbacks, 3 black backs, 3 adult females, 3 sub-adult, 3 juveniles and two infants. This family is led by Rumanzi a dominant silverback.
- Busingye gorilla group
Busingye gorilla group is a family 9 members which broke away from kahungye gorilla group.
- Bweza gorilla family
Bweza gorilla family is a big group of 12 members under the leadership of silverback kakono, this group consists of 2 silverbacks, 4 black backs, 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult and 2 infants.
- Nshongi gorilla family
Nshongi gorilla family is a group of 7 members under the leadership of a dominant silverback Bweza, the family consists of 1 silverback, 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult, 1 infant and 1 juvenile.
- Mishaya gorilla family
Mishaya gorilla family is relatively a big family of 12 members, this family is under the leadership of Mishaya the fighter.
Nkuringo gorilla sector is one of the toughest sectors to trek in Bwindi impenetrable national park, the sector only has two habituated gorilla families in the names of
- Nkuringo gorilla family with 12 gorilla individuals. The group is led by a silverback Rafiki and has 2 silverbacks, 1 blackback, 2 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 3 juveniles and two infants.
- Christmas gorilla family
This is a newly habituated gorilla family in Bwindi forest impenetrable national park together with Katwe, this family lead by a dominant silverback Christmas consists of 9 family members but on 6 are regularly seen. Family members which are often seen are 1 blackback, 3 females and 1 baby.
Mountain gorilla trekking in mgahinga gorilla national park
Mgahinga national park located in south western Uganda is another amazing home of mountain gorillas in Uganda, this park stretching over an area of 33.7 square kilometers is one the smallest national parks in Uganda and one of the parks situated on high altitudes. Mgahinga gorilla national park lies at the altitude range of 2,227m and 4,127m, the park belongs to the Virunga conservation area lieing of mount gahinga, mount sabyinyo and mount muhabura where the precious mountain gorillas live.
Mountain gorilla trekking in mgahinga gorilla national park take you only one habituated gorilla family which lives in the deep forested areas of this park.
- Nyakagezi gorilla group.
Nyakagezi gorilla group is a group of 10 individuals under the leadership of a dominant silverback mark with 5 silverbacks, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles, and 1 infant. This group has tendencies of migrating to Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo.
Mountain gorilla trekking in mgahinga gorilla national park requires you to be in possession of a mountain gorilla trekking permit purchased a t the offices of Uganda wildlife authority, it costs US $ 700.
Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Mountain gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda the land a thousand hills takes place only in volcanoes national park. Volcano national park located in the northwestern region of Rwanda also lies in the Virunga conservation area as it stretches through five volcanoes that is Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabyinyo covering an area of 160 square kilometers. Volcanoes national park also known as Parc National des Volcans in French and Pariki y’Igihugu y’Ibirunga in native Kinyarwanda is a home to 10 habituated gorilla families which are open to trekking, these families include
- Susa family
Susa family is group of 28 gorilla individuals with 3 silverbacks.
- Sabyinyo family
Sabyinyo family named after sabyinyo volcano is a group of 12 members with 2 silverbacks.
- Amahoro family
Amahoro family named from a Kinyarwanda word meaning peace is a group 17 gorilla individuals with 2 silverbacks.
- Agashya family
Agashya family is a large group of 25 members with 2 silverbacks
- Umubano family
Umubano family named from a Kinyarwanda word meaning live together is a family of 11 members with only one silverback.
- Kwitonda family
Kwitonda family meaning humble one is a family of 18 members with 2 silverbacks.
- Hirwa family
Hirwa family named after a Kinyarwanda word meaning the lucky one is a group of 12 members with only 1 silverback.
- Karisimbi family
Karisimbi family is a group of 15 members with 3 silverbacks.
- Ugenda family
Ugenda family named after a Kinyarwanda word meaning departure is a group of 11 members with 1 silverback.
- Bwenge family
Bwenge family named after Kinyarwanda word meaning wisdom is a group of 11 members lead by a dominant silverback Bwenge.
- Titus family
Titus family was named after a silverback Titus which was born during the period when Dian Fossey was doing her research at the karisimbi research centre. The group consists of 28 members led by
To participate in mountain gorilla trekking experience you need a mountain gorilla trekking permit which consists US$ 1400.
While going for mountain gorilla trekking experience there are a set of rules and regulations which are followed by tourists while in the presence of mountain gorillas. These include
- A gorilla trekking permit gives you a chance to visit only one gorilla family only for one hour with the gorillas
- When going for trekking, 8 people are allowed in each group
- Stay 7 meters away from mountain gorillas when you are in there presence
- Follow the orders of the guide
- While taking pictures do not use a camera with flash on
- Do not make unnecessary noise while in presence of the gorillas
- Do not touch the gorillas or mimic their actions as you do not know what they mean.
- Ill tourists are not allowed to participate in the trekking and many more
When planning to go for mountain gorilla trekking experience it is better to know that though the experience is offered throughout the year, the best experience is got in the dry months of December to March and June to October as the routes are dry and passable.