Today there are just 1000 remaining mountain gorillas left in the whole world. The dwindling habitat for the gorillas has pushed them to be declared as threatened apes. Surprisingly these great apes are left in 10 African countries. Gorilla safaris are apparently conducted in 5 distinct destinations in East Africa in the countries of Uganda (Bwindi impenetrable National Park & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park), Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park & Kahuzi Biega National Park).
The Gorilla Trekking Experience
Gorilla tracking experience is one of a lifetime experience for every tourist traveling to Africa. These gorillas can be found in the wild, in their natural habitat. They have been well habituated/groomed to accommodate the time to time visits by tourists from all over the world.
Here are the best places where you can enjoy gorilla tracking while on safari in Africa.
The Virunga Mountains
Of the 1000 mountain gorillas, half of them live in the Virunga Mountains of Central Africa, a trans-boundary region located at the intersection of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The volcanic slopes here are lush with tropical forests and diverse mammal, bird, and reptile species but they are also at the heart of a region in crisis.”
For Rwanda gorilla safaris, gorilla trekking is done in Volcanoes National park which part of the Virunga ranges shared with Uganda and DRC. The Volcanoes National park has received visitors from all over the world for various activities that include golden monkey trekking, Hiking safaris to Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke, hike to the Dian Fossey grave for whom her conservation work is credited for the continued survival of the gorillas in this region and above all the most sought after gorilla trekking experience. Volcanoes National park in Rwanda is among the top gorilla safari destinations. The volcanoes national park has 10 habituated mountain gorilla families for tourist visits accommodating up to 8 tourists per family per day. The Rwanda Gorilla tracking permit can be purchased at a cost of $750 or buy a full Rwanda gorilla trekking safari.
In Uganda, probably the biggest mountain gorilla sanctuary in Africa gorilla safaris are undertaken in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. It is regarded as the biggest mountain gorilla sanctuary because there are over 36 gorilla families in this gorilla destination with 13 families habituated for Uganda gorilla trekking safaris. Bwindi impenetrable National park is further subdivided into Rushaga sector (5 gorilla families) in the south, Buhoma Sector (3 gorilla families) in the northern part of Bwindi, Ruhija (3 gorilla families) central in Bwindi Forest and Nkuringo sector (1 gorilla family) also in the southern part of the park. The other gorilla destination in Uganda, Mgahinga gorilla national park has 1 gorilla family. Both Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla national parks are not only gorilla habitats but also rich in other fauna and flora. The gorilla tracking permits in Uganda go for $600 per entry permit but a promotion is apparently running for discounted Uganda Gorilla safaris in the months of April, May and November or organize a Uganda gorilla safari with a local tour operator.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Quite unique, the DRC is a destination for both Mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park and Lowland gorillas in the Kahuzi Biega National park. For quite some time the DRC has been unstable politically but when stable which apparently is the case, is a very exciting gorilla destination. Both of these destinations can be accessed from either Kigali in Rwanda or Kisoro in Uganda through Goma and Bukavu in DRC respectively. The gorilla tracking experiences in both destinations is not any different despite the differing terrain. Virunga national park has 6 habituated gorilla families for gorilla safaris and Kahuzi Biega has 2 habituated gorilla families. The gorilla tracking permits can organized at a cost of $400 per permit.
The Eastern Lowland gorillas are also threatened! These great apes that are a subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla are found in two national parks; Kahuzi Biega National Park and Maiko National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. You can see the Eastern lowland gorillas only in Kahuzi Biega National park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are possibilities to see these great apes in Maiko National Park.
With all the above gorilla destinations, when planning your gorilla safari to the respective country, check your visa requirements, certain vaccination requirements and bear in mind that gorilla permits are sold on first come first serve basis- you have to book your gorilla safari in advance to help you secure your gorilla tracking permit, accommodation space and other safari services. Tourist can also ask us about gorilla permits discounts especially on Uganda Gorilla Trekking permits in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Gahinga gorilla National park.
It is very important to note that the money tourists pay for gorilla safaris not only play a big part in keeping these conservation areas intact but has also enriched the communities around the destinations- they are the immediate beneficiaries in one way or the other. This is manifested by the developmental projects and programs that have taken root in these areas like settlement of the Batwa/pygmies who are the indigenous people that used to share the habitat with gorillas. The Batwa/pygmy experience one of the exciting and entertaining experiences that tourists enjoy in these gorilla destinations. They showcase their culture and tradition through dances and singing and plays in representation of how they used to survive in the forests alongside the gorillas.
These destinations have other exciting activities that range from mountain hiking, cultural experiences, other primates tracking, community tours, forest tours among others that are always options after your gorilla safari adventures and can be done with other destinations for wildlife tours, mountaineering, birding safaris, other primates tracking, cultural tours, safari tours and other safari adventures in the respective East African Countries.