Gorilla Trekking in Uganda or Rwanda

Thinking about gorilla trekking but wondering about where to go. Many visitors experience a problem in choosing to either go to Uganda or Rwanda for gorilla trekking! Today, experts answer this question by clearly giving a true picture about gorilla trekking in both countries.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GORILLA TRACKING IN UGANDA AND RWANDA.

Due to the terrain and altitude of the two parks, gorilla tracking in Bwindi National park is more strenuous due to the thick forest cover and high elevation of the park. Gorilla tracking in Bwindi National park involves deep penetration through shrubs.

On the other hand, gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National park Rwanda is less strenuous due to lesser elevation of the park’s nature and the vegetation which is largely bamboo covered.

In Uganda, the park is divided into three parts, Ruhiija, Rushaga, Buhoma and Nkuringo sectors with each sector having its own habituated gorilla groups, with each gorilla group having its own difficulty in tracking. On the other hand, in Rwanda, the park is central on one area with the same park headquarters where pre-gorilla tracking is done before ascending the forest for the allocated gorilla family tracking.

Gorilla tracking requires one to secure the gorilla tracking permit which costs USD600 currently with the months of April, May and November discounted to USD350 for foreign non residents. On the other hand, gorilla tracking in Rwanda requires securing gorilla tracking permit as well but it costs USD750 currently and this price is throughout the year with no discounted rates for foreign non residents.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda both require some level of fitness and the trek takes one to nine hours depending on the movement of the gorillas in their natural wild. However, the fitness level required for gorilla trekking in Uganda is more emphasized as there are no gorilla families with high chances of getting to the gorillas so easily unlike in Rwanda where there are gorilla families which are referred to low level, medium and high level trekking fitness because of the location of the gorilla families.

There are more gorillas in Uganda with the population of the gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga National park estimated to be over 430 gorillas now, which is almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. There are currently thirteen habituated gorilla families in Uganda with twelve groups in Bwindi National park and one in Mgahinga National park. On the other hand, Rwanda has an estimated total population at 360 with ten habituated gorilla families which implies.

Because of more number of gorillas in Bwindi national Park and being divided in different groups, the habituated gorillas still do not get exposed to human beings everyday and this has resulted to them being a bit shy than those in Rwanda which are visited by human beings which has made them more used to human beings. In addition, a gorilla safari in Uganda has been referred to most adventurous tourists to offer more adventure because of the process gone through during gorilla tracking which offers a great experience of searching for the beautiful apes in the thick forest cover which overwhelms them with joy after seeing the gorillas. On the other hand, in Rwanda gorilla tracking has been referred to more of gorilla viewing because of the little effort and energy spent on searching for these amazing animals.

Visiting the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda

Mountain gorilla are one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorillas. There are two populations of gorillas. One is found in the three national parks of Mgahinga in Uganda, Volcanoes in Rwanda and Virunga in Democratic republic of Congo, and the second one is found in Bwindi impenetrable national park in Uganda

Mountain gorillas are man’s closest relative. They live in the tropical rainforest of central Africa. They have thicker and longer furs which suits them in colder temperature. Adult males are called silver backs because of a saddle of silver colored hair which developed on their back due to old age. Silver defend the group from any attack or threat even with his own life. They are very aggressive especially when two groups meet, the two silver backs fight to near death. This aggression is minimal within the group, although they are aggressive, mountain gorillas also have great fear especially when they encounter with reptiles like crocodiles, snakes, chameleons and caterpillars. among others

Mountain gorillas are land-dwelling however the often climb on the tree branches to look for fruits. Like all apes apart from human, mountain gorillas have longer arms than their legs and this makes them to swing on top of tree branches without falling. They climb on fruiting trees that can support their weight.Mountain gorillas are most active between 6:00am to 6:00pm. They use their morning hours to look for food and late morning or mid-day to rest. Resting among mountain gorillas is very important has they use that time to create relationship among the group. After resting, in the afternoon, the gorillas go back to look for food before retiring to sleep at night.

Mountain gorillas are mainly herbivorous. They feed on leaves, steams, shoots and fruits and some time on barks, flowers, roots and invertebrates. For those looking to adventures in Africa, gorilla tracking safaris can be done in Bwindi impenetrable national park and in Mgahinga national park.Uganda safaris have half of the world population of mountain gorillas and Most of the tourists during their safaris in Uganda enjoy the adventure activity of tracking gorillas. Tracking the critically endangered mountain gorillas is one of the exciting experience tourists have in Uganda safari. While tracking the gorillas, tourists can also sight different species of birds and other primates. Therefore make your trip exciting and the most memorable by engaging in gorilla trekking safari

Handy Things to Know about Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla Trekking is one of the top adventurous things to do on a holiday in Africa. However a successful gorilla tour requires prior planning from booking a trip to the actual trek within the impenetrable forests of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga National Park, Volcanoes national park or Virunga National Park. Here are some of the informative tips about planning a gorilla trip in Africa;

Preparation

  • Fitness: If you can, try to make sure you’re fit enough to tackle some steep slopes and difficult terrain – expect the worst and then if it’s not that bad, long, muddy, then it’s a bonus
  • Hydration: take as much water as you (or your porter) can carry, and keep sipping throughout the day
  • Energy: snacks that will give you bursts of energy and ‘slow-release’ fuel are important – it’s also nice if you have something that you can share with the guide, porters and trackers – although they certainly don’t expect it, they do seem to appreciate it.
  • On the Day
  • Porters: we had two porters between a group of 6 – these guys were worth their weight in gold! Not only were they always there when you needed a helping hand, a shove, or a stinging nettle machetted to oblivion, they literally took a load off our shoulders. Don’t try to be a hero, get a porter and you will not regret it.
  • Camera gear: the last thing you want is to go all that way, pay all that money, and not be able to use your camera because it is bucketing down. We took a rugged, waterproof camera, and others in the group had black bin bags and ponchos to protect their SLR cameras.
  • Wet weather gear: as well as protecting your camera, you need the kit to keep yourselves dry and happy. You will enjoy the gorilla experience more if you’re not shivering to death. We had good quality rain jackets and trousers, and remained bone dry. These additional layers also help to protect from the stinging nettle that is everywhere, and can surprisingly penetrate walking trousers and long-sleeved tops.
  • Patience: expect to wait around a bit before you set off on your trek. There are dancers and singers to keep you entertained at Kingi headquarters, as well as a gift shop.
  • Lucky dip: you have no control over which gorilla family you will get assigned to – some families will be closer to your start point than others. We walked for 3.5 hours whereas other groups only trekked 1.5 hours. It’s all part of the adventure, so you just have to roll with what you get and remember how privileged you are to be there at all!
  • Being a responsible visitor

Visitor numbers to the Volcanoes National Park are limited to 80 permits per day, which may not seem like much, but it’s important to think about the footprint you’re leaving behind. Here are some tips to ensure that you’re a responsible visitor:

  • Everything you take onto the mountain, should come back from the mountain – this includes all rubbish
  • Ask first: not everyone wants to have their photo taken, and this includes local villagers, the porters and trackers – ask people first before you take their photo – and if they say no, then respect their wishes.
  • Village children:
  • Children from the local villages will be excited to see you, and it’s fine to wave, say hello and chat away to them. Some may ask for money, or items such as drink bottles, and although you might think it’s nothing to give away a few francs or sweets, those kids might then take to the mountain on a regular basis in hope of such rewards…….skipping school in the process. Remember too that 10% of your permit fee is being re-invested into these villages, so you are making a contribution in other ways.
  • Tipping: It’s common and decent to tip the guide, the porter/s and the trackers (who you will meet halfway up the mountain). These are the guys who stay with the gorilla families, protecting them from poachers’ snares (intended for other animals) and record key details for research purposes – they are also the reason why you don’t spend all day wandering over the mountains, as they locate the gorilla family and inform the guide as to the gorillas’ location. Make sure you tip these guys directly, and separate from the guide. For the porters, their going rate is $10 US, which is nothing when you realise the pain they have saved you from. They are also only allowed to be a porter once a week (many are farmers the rest of the time), so a 50% tip or more will go a long way.
  • Good behaviour: Visiting Mountain Gorillas is a privilege, not an entitlement – your guide will run you through what to do, but in general, remember not to use your flash when photographing the gorillas, don’t try to make noises like a gorilla (or any other animal for that matter), and take turns getting your perfect shot. We had 4 other very considerate visitors in our group, which made for a fun and enjoyable visit. Above all else, obey your guide – he or she knows what they’re doing, and are there to look out for you and the gorillas.

Gorilla Tracking in Uganda

Within Uganda, Gorilla tracking is mostly conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and in Mgahinga National Park. Both parks are located in the Southwestern part of Uganda along the rim of the Rift Valley and at the corner of the country respectively. They offer the greatest experience of gorilla tracking with the hillsides sheltered by one of the ancient rain forests and they are habitat to more than half of the world’s population of the Mountain Gorillas and approximately 320 mountain Gorilla groups that can be tracked by visitors.

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is the highlight of all visits in Uganda and certainly the major reason for visiting Uganda. Tracking mountain Gorillas is preferably done between June and September and also from December to February and the low season calls for cheaper Gorilla permit price. You can get Gorilla permits at US$600. On a single day nearly 72 people travel to Bwindi and Mgahinga to track Gorillas but 8 people are allowed to see a Gorilla family. Before you go for tracking you, you are advised to wear good quality walking boots, warm layers of clothes that are the long sleeved shirts, carry a rain jacket, enough water and food, walking sticks and insect repellants.

Gorillas are divided into the Mountain Gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and the lowland Gorillas along with other sub-species and they are mainly found in the Democratic Republic of Congo these parks can easily be accessed, they are growing in number because of the protection they are offered from the Government of Uganda. The difference between the lowland and the Mountain Gorillas is that the lowland are generally smaller and have brownish-grey far coats and a distinct brow ridge while the mountain Gorillas are larger with darker black coats and they are the most uncommon in the entire world. Usually the males are two times the size of the females and grow 6ft, weigh 350-500 pounds, with long arms and muscular and these are referred to as the Silverback and the head of the family. Mountain Gorillas mainly live on the ground although they will climb a tree occasionally if they can support them especially the young ones.

Mountain Gorillas move up on the high altitudes of Mgahinga Gorilla Park and feed on some of the afro-montane vegetation. Mountain Gorillas generally eat large quantities of flowers, leaves, fruits, roots, bamboo and shoots in season. A typical day for a mountain Gorilla starts at 6:00am to 6:00Pm, they move every day to different locations where they make comfortable nests with leaves and spend the night.

Although the Mountain Gorillas ate dominant and very strong, they are gentle as well as shy therefore they are friendly to people but if threatened they can attack so as to protect themselves. When different mountain Gorilla groups meet, they fight between the leaders silverbacks to death. Mountain gorillas exist in groups which differ in size from 2 – 30 or 40, however commonly in groups of 10.  There is no specific mating season while babies are born through the year.  The Males begin breeding at around 15 years while the females start giving birth between 10 and 12 years.  Females can give birth after every 2 to 3 years giving birth to 4 – 6 offspring through their lifetime. Males leave their group at about 11 years of age, while a little over half of the females will leave their group. Mountain gorillas communicate through sounds like roars, grunts and shouts, and 25 sounds currently have been documented by researchers

No person ever complains after spending some time with these very fascinating Mountain Gorillas in Uganda within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National park, which is among the most stunning rainforest anyone will ever come across. You can never go wrong tracking gorillas because they leave you with a fascinating and unforgettable experience of meeting and interacting with them.

Gorilla Trekking, A vacation to See The Mountain Gorillas

With Africa learning to be a regular destination for tourists from different countries, you will find there’s constant look for new attractions along with the best holiday ideas. It’s true that every safari destination will pride itself of great number of attractions and animals so as to attract the discerning traveler. The questions usually asked are whether the trip will probably be rewarding and price the cash.

When you decide on a gorilla safari, you’ll never get it wrong! The reason being this activity lets you begin to see the mountain gorillas of Africa located in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Virunga National Park in Congo and Parc Des Volcanoes in Rwanda. This sightseeing activity can last for an hour however it involves searching for the gorilla family in which it absolutely was last seen.

Precisely what is actually exciting is that you simply wonder that’s watching who when you stare from the gentle eyes of the gorillas. These mountain gorillas relocate families headed from the might Silverback gorilla, the only real adult male inside a group of usually greater than five females. These gorillas are said to become endangered and about only 800 of these exist. By going for a gorilla trek, you are directly contributing to the conservation efforts of those apes.

Booking your gorilla tour or safari is quite easy once carried out by an acknowledged safari tour company in Uganda or Rwanda. A gorilla permit costs 500 dollars per trek per person. You’ll want to book your gorilla permit at least 3 months prior to the actual trekking date or else you might find how the permits aren’t available when you need them most.

There are various gorilla trekking companies in Uganda and Rwanda offering gorilla tours and wildlife safaris across Africa. Make sure to book your safari which has a recognized safari agent to avoid disappointment. You can also sign in Google for gorilla safari discounts. In order to trek the gorillas cheaply, it is possible to join a group tour to be able to save. You’ll want to book relatively cheap accommodation if you have limited levels of money to spend.

Uganda like a home for the mountain gorillas has other stunning wildlife parks such as Queen Elizabeth National Park from where you will see the tree climbing lions, elephants and other wildlife animals. Other National parks include Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo, Kibale and a whole lot.

Visiting Rwanda will mean touring the genocide memorial, Nyungwe National Park along with other tourist spots on this rather small country.

For your next African safari tour, consider coming to the mountain gorillas in both Uganda or Rwanda.

For more info more info

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Africa

The gorilla trekking experience is one of the most stunning activity which would not be missed by any traveler to Africa. The mountain gorillas are among the rare primates that travelers look for on their holiday in Africa. Mountain gorillas are found in three African countries i.e. Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo (former Zaire). Within these countries, thee are several habituated gorilla groups that permit tourist visits. In all these countries there are uniform rules and regulations that are followed by tourists taking gorilla trekking expeditions such as

  • There are few habituated groups to be visited by tourists.
  • Only 8 clients are allowed to visit a particular group a day.
  • Travelers with communicable diseases are not allowed to visit the gorillas.
  • Tourists should keep a distance of at least 8 metres.

For a traveler to enjoy this adventure, there are three important factors (accommodation, booking agent and guide services) that should be in your minds. While planning your gorilla safaris to any of the gorilla parks, it is advisable to plan in time given that the gorilla permits are always prebooked in time. In some parks such as Volcanoes National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable national park, it is advisable to book gorilla permits atleast 3 months to your tracking date most especially if you are looking to take your trip during the peak months of June – September.

Most gorilla tours offered by tour operators are tailor made safaris guided by professional guides within spacious trucks. For indeoendent travelers it is advisable to arrange for your accommodation through a local travel agency. There are several safari lodges within the perfect locations that offer travelers overnight accommodation. These lodges are found in strategic sectors near the different habituated gorilla groups to trek the gorillas.

The D-Day for Gorilla Trekking

The typical day for gorilla trekking begins walk to the briefing point where the park officials will instruct you what to do and don’ts while in the mist with or not yet with apes and later with your guide follow the trail to search for the group allocated too.

Tips for Trekkers / Hikers

  • On your trek carry the packed lunch and bottled mineral water, sun screen, hut, insect repellent and rain gear. Some hikers come with socks for both legs and hands.
  • when you meet the gorillas you calm down as you spend your allowed one hour with the apes.
  • You can have your lunch but not in the provoking way to the gorillas.
  • Feel free to ask the guide all your questions concerning the primates.

After this tiresome activity return to the lodge and welcoming and friendly staffs will be at your service as you wait for African cuisine dinner and stunning overnight in the African setting camps which blends with nature.

After your long and strenuous adventure day Bwindi provides other perfect activities eligible to adventurous travelers like the community walk which leads you to the local healer, pygmy/Batwa cultural performances local villagers making banana wine, craft shops or take the Nkuringo walk or visit the Manyanga River falls. Therefore we recommend our visitors to stay more days longer and do the gorilla tracking, nature walks or Community Walk which are much fun and educational conservation criteria, through benefit sharing hence protecting the habitats of mountain gorilla.