Gorilla trekking is one of the top things to do on many of traveller’s bucket list of primate safaris to take in Africa. This primate watching adventure is an incredibly beautiful thing to do within the jungles of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many travellers have embraced gorilla tourism and thus have visited the remnant population of the endangered mountain gorillas that thrive only within this region.
Tracking the endangered mountain gorillas is a captivating as well as little scary moment. Many travellers who have gone hiking within the tropical rainforests to see how human-like the mountain gorillas are have posted mixed reviews on various travel forums such as TripAdvisor.com and Fodors.com.
These gentle giants have brown eyes which hold a great deal of expression and you can’t imagine how it feels like to look into the impressive eyes of these gentle giants. The ears and fingers look just like for humans except the colour and amongst the great apes, the gorillas are close relatives of humans. Having the chance to visit gorillas in either Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or the Virungas, and watching them interact with each other is a rewarding and amazing experience. This is a truly magical once in a lifetime experience that is incomparable to no other adventure in the wild. Some people say they would rather go to the Zoo and watch gorillas from there; however the wilderness feel and experience is quite different. On a gorilla safari, you get to see how these human like giant apes behave just like man from just a few meters.
Planning a Gorilla Trek
If you are looking to taking a gorilla safari in Africa, you need to plan your safari as early as possible. There are a few gorilla permits available for gorilla viewing in Uganda and Rwanda. There are two most popular destinations for gorilla tracking; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. It is advisable to book your gorilla permits as early as possible though you can luckily find a last minute deal on gorilla tours within peak months.
If you are looking for a short tour, a gorilla trek in Rwanda is the best option given that days trips and 2 Days treks are possible to be made to Ruhengeri from Kigali, the capital of the country. If you are looking for a gorilla watching combined with other wildlife safaris, then a gorilla safari in Uganda is possible.
Requirements for a Gorilla Trek
For one to see the gorillas one needs a gorilla permit. A gorilla permit cost USD600 for Uganda and USD 750 for Rwanda. Gorilla permits can be purchased from a local tour operator or an organization that is involved with tourism; Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda and Rwanda Development Board for Rwanda.
Physical fitness is needed for those looking to watching the mountain gorillas in the wild. Gorilla hiking takes over two hours and is very possible for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness to go for the gorilla trek. During the trek, one can always hire a porter to help carry your back pack during the hike and to help you through tough terrain during the hike from the local village!
Get prepared for the experience of a lifetime; don’t forget to bring with you a good camera, the right clothing and gloves for the trek.
Be a Responsible Visitor
Follow the rules set to protect the mountain gorillas. During the trek, you will have a local guide who will guide you through the impenetrable forest and always follow their advice so that you can’t mess the mountain gorillas!
Whilst while in the region it is advisable to take an ecotour- a tour that will help the local communities get something out of tourism. You can get some time to visit the orphaned children’s performance, take a tour offered by the local community for example the Batwa Trail in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. For just $30 US you can take a visit to the Batwa village, the former forest dwellers that were relocated from forest after gorilla tourism was introduced in Bwindi.