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10 Common Questions About Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla Trekking is the main highlight of every visit to the Virunga Region. This popular adventure attracts lots of tourists. Here are the ten common questions about this adventure.

How strenuous is gorilla tracking?

Each gorilla trek is different as some of the gorilla families live in close proximity to the park’s entrances, while others live deep in the forest. You can anticipate between one and seven hours of hiking depending on which family you visit. Bwindi Park in Uganda has some steeper terrain than Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. You inform us of your physical fitness and desires, and then we can help you select the right viewing experience.

What is the difference between Lowland and Mountain Gorillas?

Gorillas as a species are never boring to see their conducts both in detention and also in the wild. Nevertheless, the species and subspecies might at times cause some mix-up, mainly as far as their scientific names are concerned. There are two classes of these great primates, Eastern and Western gorillas. Mountain gorillas constitute one of the two subspecies of Eastern gorilla species. Furthermore, there are twofold lowland subspecies encompassed in the two core species well-known as Eastern lowland gorilla and Western lowland gorilla.

Which country should i visit for gorilla tracking?

Bwindi’s gorillas in Uganda live in a high altitude rain forest, while the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda live in a bamboo forest. These habitats result in some behavioural differences and definitely result in different hiking and viewing differences. Budget issues often impact whether our guests visit both parks and only one. If time and budget permit, we recommend that our guests view in both parks.

What is the age limit for gorilla tracking?

The age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda is 15 years of age and democratic republic of Congo is 14 years.

When is the best time to track Gorillas?
Whereas gorilla tracking in both Uganda and Rwanda can be done throughout the year, the months of June, July, August and early September plus December, January and February are the most ideal as this is the dry season in most parts of East Africa. January is the driest month of all. So, one has to travel in a good air-conditioned car to avoid the dusty roads. It is also during this time that the gorilla food is very scarce hence leading to longer gorilla treks as visitors have to keep following the gorillas as they move in the jungles looking for their food.

How long is a Gorilla Trek?
Mountain gorilla trekking exercise can take from twenty minutes to three quarters of the day so one needs to prepare for both. This depends on several factors that include, mountain gorilla movements, where the gorillas stayed the previous night and the mood of the gorillas. It may also depend on the people in your group since the guides/rangers move following the slowest person in the group.

How much does it cost to see Gorillas?

A gorilla permit costs $600 in Uganda, $ 400 in Congo and $750 in Rwanda collected by Park Officials.

What should i pack for gorilla tracking?
You need to prepare very well for your gorilla trekking tour, we advise trousers, long sleeved shirts or blouses, long socks to enable you tack in your trousers, garden gloves, a hat, sun glasses, hiking boots, insect repellents and some energy giving foods. A full list of what to pack, please contact us for further clarifications.

How hard or difficult is Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda or Uganda?

To enjoy gorilla trekking, you must be physically strong and fit yet enthusiastic to trek in bumpy terrain and in whichever weather to see the Mountain Gorillas in the woodland. But on the other hand, numerous older people who do not take themselves as climbers can well tour the gorillas. Personal helpers may be employed to carry daypack and assist in difficult zones. The local escorts will make it easy to track and snapshot the Mountain Gorillas. AAB Tours and Travel has had several clients in 70’s plus but succeeded in reaching their assigned groups of Mountain Gorilla. Even though many people come back from gorilla trekking very exhausted, muddy punched and tired as a result of vigorous hiking, the whole experience is worth it. Some sicknesses according to the height above sea level are not regularly a problem nor are bush insects. During the tracking exercise, you may need a pair of gloves and outfit that shields your arms and legs against thorns and pesters.

How dangerous are the Mountain Gorillas?

All wild animals are best considered possibly perilous and are taken as such, but Mountain Gorillas are not hostile unless are angered by people. Lots of people are amazed that the Mountain Gorillas tend to ignore the tourists in their midst completely. You should not get in between a mother gorilla and a young one or tease them.They can then be dangerous.

How to Book Gorilla Permits for Uganda & Rwanda

Are you looking to planning a gorilla safari in Africa and travel independently? A gorilla permit is the single most important thing that determine your safari! Most guides establish that it is advisable to book gorilla permits at least 3 moths! However with the ever increasing requests for gorilla trekking permits, I can say that you should consider booking your gorilla permits at least 6 months before your trip. If you need gorilla permits in Uganda or Rwanda, you are requested to book at least several months in advance. This is because it’s on record that, Gorilla Permits are on high demand in Uganda and Rwanda, throughout the year. We always advise at least 5 months in advance or prior to your visit.

It’s advisable to pay the advance deposit for your permits in CASH to enable us acquire it for you. Gorilla trekking is guaranteed when you acquire a permit. Sometimes gorilla tracking permits get sold out four months in advance especially in peak season when the demand goes extreme.

A gorilla permit is a document issued by ORTPN in Rwanda or Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda to enable you trek mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest/ Mgahinga National Park respectively.

Only one hour is given to trekkers stay and view Gorillas but the trekking itself can take a minimum of 30 minutes or up to nine hours or full day looking for gorillas in the forest. Our Gorilla Permit Booking Information is aimed at providing you details to prepare well for your gorilla safari in Rwanda or Uganda.

In Uganda, a gorilla permit costs USD 600 per day per person. You can get the permits in Kampala (the capital of Uganda) at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) headquarters. We do organize and book gorilla permits for our clients at no extra costs provided you book a full safari with us.

In Rwanda you can get permits through the Rwanda Tourism Board offices (ORTPN) in Kigali or Ruhengeri (near the Volcanoes National Park) after paying $750.

You need to mind about the gorilla permit you will be holding as it will determine the Region in which you will trek gorillas in Uganda. The permit determines whether you will trek Gorillas in Nkuringo sector, Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector or Rushaga sector but this depends on the availability. Please follow our Gorilla Permit Booking Information before confirming any accommodation property.

Please contact us with date/month and year when you want to trek gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda, we will check availability of gorilla permits and inform you as soon as possible.

As soon as we receive your money on to our account, we shall send your receipt and then after booking your gorilla permits, we will send you scanned copies of Gorilla permits. Please note that as of March 2017, the Rwanda Development Board is looking at phasing out issuing of gorilla permits and only receipts will be available to confirm your booking. This is the same situation with Uganda, where gorilla permits are confirmed by receipt and loaded onto pass cards. Travelers are issued with cards that are presented at the park headquarters at the time of gorilla tracking.

To help us do this, you need to send us your passport numbers, full names and country of residence which are needed by Uganda Wildlife Authority in order to print and issue your gorilla permits.

Gorilla Trekking in Congo

We carried out our gorilla trek adventure in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It began in the SUV ride up to the starting point, a rangers’ station in the mountains of the Virunga National Park outside the city of Goma.  Because the DRC is less traveled than neighboring Uganda and Rwanda, people (and gorillas) there don’t see as many Mzungu (foreigners). The tiny, very simple agrarian villages you’ll pass, and the people who run to the side of the road to wave at you, give you a glimpse of a way of life you’ve only read about.

We were told in advance that the length of the trek was entirely up to the gorillas — sometimes the guides could track them down in less than two hours, other times it took much longer. Mountain gorillas are nomadic, traveling the jungle in families and camping out just long enough to clear a wide area of all its fruit, have a nice sleep on nests of leaves, and move on. They don’t follow a clear path, either — so if you’re tracking them, you realize pretty quickly that these big suckers like to meander.

It took us six hours tramping through dense jungle, on a mat of vines that clung to our feet, to find the gorillas. There were no trails, just our guides clearing the way with machetes. We were on a path forged by gorillas, that much was clear. Our trail switched back and forth, uphill and down, at least once up a sheer cliff face that we had to scale, our hearts pounding, clinging to thick jungle vines. Deeper into the jungle, the sky had just opened up and released a good old-fashioned African jungle downpour when we heard the low gruntings ahead.

The first gorillas we saw were mothers holding their babies, with juvenile gorillas playing around them — a sight you would see in any playground in the United States — except these were gorillas instead of people. When we approached, the mamas climbed up some tall trees with their babies and generally stayed high up.

The younger ones came barreling over to us, stopped just a few feet away and started pounding their chests and hooting. Our guide told us they wanted us to play with them, and even though they were smaller gorillas, it was still intimidating. That feeling grew tenfold when a 500-pound silverback gorilla came galloping between us and them … not threatening, but definitely letting us know he was keeping an eye on the situation. The younger gorillas gave up trying to play with us and just played with each other — rolling, wrestling, swinging on vines, and pounding their chests, just like in the movies.

This was a big family, about 35 gorillas, and we only had an hour in their presence (wearing surgical masks to prevent any diseases being passed back and forth between our species). As we watched them, our guides were explaining the gorillas’ behavior  — which humans can easily interpret as menacing — and we came to realize they were not threatening and all, and just as curious about us as we were with them. The rangers were familiar to them, but Mzungu women were rare in this jungle. By the time the hour was up, most of my intimidation was gone, and I got my best photos.

Economic Importance of Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park (Virunga) is recognized globally as a uniquely rich site for wildlife, but it is much more than that. Virunga is also a vital resource to local residents living in and around Africa’s oldest national park.

Under present circumstances, Virunga’s estimated annual economic value is US$48.9 million. In a stable situation conducive to economic growth and tourism, the park’s value could be higher than US$1.1 billion per year and it could be the source of more than 45,000 jobs, including existing positions.

The Virunga National park is among the major tourist destinations in Democratic Republic of Congo. Therefore, it is a place where people go to refresh their minds. Activities done in the park include Gorilla Trekking, chimp tracking, Mountaineering among others.

Virunga national park has facilitated investment in DR. Congo. A large number of investors are now confidently investing their money in DR. Congo. Safari Lodges like Mikemo Lodge, Markets in Coma city, and super markets among others are cropping up due to presence of the park.

Virunga National Park act as pull factors to foreigners – Such foreigners provide market to the products produced in DR. Congo. Such foreigner brings in foreign currency in the country.

Virunga National park earns the country a lot of foreign exchanges. Tourists come with huge sums of dollars paid for Gorilla Trekking, Mountain climbing, Chimp trekking, payment for accommodation, food among others.

The park has widened government tax base- Safari Lodge, Rangers and guards pay taxes to the government.  Such taxes are used to develop the country in terms if social services like roads, schools, hospitals among others.

The park protects Mountain Gorillas, birds among other wildlife. Therefore, Virunga National park has helped in conserving and preserving wildlife.

Being among the world’s heritage sites, Virunga National park has made Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) known internationally.

Virunga National Park is an education centre where students go for field trips like Fieldwork excursions, research studies and so on. Therefore, the park has promoted education in DR. Congo and nearby areas.

Virunga National park has led to the development of infrastructures like roads, schools, hospitals, and safari Lodges among others. This is because; part of the income is offered to develop the nearby communities.

The park also hosts other important attractions like Mountain Nyiragongo, Mountain Nyamuragira, and Gorillas and so on. Such attractions are of great importance to DR. Congo and other countries.