Where to see Mountain Gorillas : Have you ever imagined yourself in an unusual natural forest with dense foliage, a canopy above that lets in a few rays of sunlight, sounds only found in the jungle, and the purest air possible? At that point, you will be alongside MOUNTAIN GORILLAS in the midst of woods that have existed for over 25,000 year. The world’s last remaining mountain gorillas live in these forests. Please be advised that the gorillas you may have seen in zoos or other locations, such as West Africa, are lowland gorillas. Outside of their natural environments, mountain gorillas are not able to survive. The three African countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo offer the unique opportunity to witness these last remaining mountain gorillas in their native habitat.
When planning a trip to Africa, Uganda should be at the top of your list for a number of reasons, chief among them being that you will be seeing The Pearl of Africa a nation that is home to half of the world’s population of the last remaining mountain gorillas. These so-called Gentle Giants can be found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, with Bwindi having the highest concentration. 98% of the time, you can find gorillas in Uganda on a single visit because to their enormous population.
Mgahinga Gorillas Park only has one habituated family available for tracking, compared to 16 in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park. There can only be eight visitors per gorilla family per day. The four sectors of Bwindi are Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is working to prevent illness outbreaks and reduce habitat degradation for gorillas. These are just a few of the conservation initiatives they have undertaken.
Rwanda is also the gateway to the Mgahinga Gorilla Park and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. When making travel arrangements, take into account landing at Entebbe airport in Uganda or Kigali airport in Rwanda.
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is home to gorillas. The larger Virunga Volcano Conservation area, which includes Volcanoes National Park, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Volcano National Park in Rwanda, and Mgahinga Gorillas Park in Uganda, includes all the territories that share the Virunga Mountain ranges.
The 160 square kilometres of rugged woodland that make up Volcanoes National Park are home to golden monkeys, various species, including gorillas. Five of the Virunga Mountains’ eight volcanoes are located there. Ten habituated gorilla families are accessible for tracking in the park, with a daily maximum of eight visitors per family.
Rwanda has emerged as the top gorilla tracking destination out of the three thanks to an extensive marketing campaign by the Rwandan government. For the past three years or so, Rwanda’s high gorilla permit fee in comparison to the rest of the world has caused a rise in gorilla tourism in Uganda and the Congo. In Rwanda, a gorilla permit costs $1500; in Uganda, it costs $700; in the Congo, it costs $400. The low level of tourism in Congo is a result of political and environmental insecurity, even though permits are less expensive there.
See the Lowland Gorillas, Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and other wildlife that calls the 7800 square km Virunga National Park in Congo home. In addition to having a diverse range of plants and animals, Mount Nyiragongo, the only active volcano in the world with the largest lava lake, is another reason why Virunga National Park is highly regarded. Like Mgahinga Gorilla Park and Volcanoes National Park, Virunga Park is a component of the Virunga Conservation region. Visitors can track eight habituated groups of mountain gorillas there.
The Rwandan volcanoes, the Congolese Virunga Mountains, and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Parks were all designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of their remarkable biodiversity and, most importantly, because they are home to the critically endangered mountain gorillas.
What to Note
The distance between the four national parks for gorillas is 48 kilometres. Kigali foreign Airport will act as the hub for quicker connectivity to all four parks for a foreign visitor intending to see them all. Nevertheless, you can still go by car, beginning at Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport, and easily visit all of the parks.
The tracker has complete control over which park to follow the gorillas from. Among other things, one can pick a location with a less expensive permit, lots of gorillas, and easy access to additional experiences following the gorilla trek. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park is exceptional in light of all of these factors and more. But be aware that the experience tracking mountain gorillas through forests remains the same.
Although tracking gorillas is a year-round sport, it is recommended that trackers visit during the drier months when the treks are relatively manageable and less muddy. Make plans to go between December and February and between June and September.
Because gorilla permits are in such high demand, they frequently sell out quickly. It is necessary that you obtain a permit well in advance and via a reputable travel operator. Please get in touch with us if you need advice or additional direction. There are no additional classes during the day except for the morning gorilla trekking. Aim to arrive in the park one day ahead of the tracking date. Make sure you have a secure place to stay near the starting location of the walk, as it may be mentioned on your permit. Ask your tour agent for this information.
Being a tropical jungle, the weather in the forest is unpredictable; try to pack some rain clothing for when the rain starts. Since the nights and mornings are usually quite chilly, it is advisable that you pack more warm clothing than light. Although you can pay to rent hiking shoes (boots) at the individual park offices, it is strongly advised that you bring your own.
A certain level of physical fitness is required to successfully complete such hilly excursions. This shouldn’t stop you from fulfilling your ambition of seeing these apes up close, though; porters are available to help for a modest price. You should also know that the walk is not as difficult as any mountain walk you have ever done or can imagine.
Please abide by the rules if you plan to visit the jungle or interact with gorillas. Because to your contribution, the gorillas’ habitat will remain sustainable, extending their lifespan. Every morning before the walk begins, the trackers are informed of these requirements. The last and most crucial thing to be aware of is that anyone under the age of 15 is not permitted to go gorilla trekking.