Meeting the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is one of the best wildlife experience one can ever encounter. The mountain gorillas are captivating and they share 98% of human’s DNA. They are among the critically endangered species whose numbers are progressively growing with the increase in gorilla tourism and conservation. For it to be a success, planning a gorilla trekking safari must be done with care and caution.

Mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi impenetrable forest and the entire Virunga massif region. This region is known with volcanic peaks stretching to cover borders of Uganda (Mgahinga gorilla national park) and Rwanda (Volcanoes national park) as well as Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga national park).

Traveler numbers to visit these mountain gorillas in their natural habitats are controlled in order to protect their growing population and so prior booking is required for any visitors intending to take part.

Gorilla permits

Gorilla permits are very important while planning for a gorilla safari in Rwanda, Uganda or D.R. Congo. The permit allows you to meet the gorillas in their natural habitats for a maximum of 1 hour. Since the mountain gorillas are only found in Africa, the number of guests going for gorilla trekking has been increasing. This has made the permits to be on extremely high demand. Therefore, the gorilla permit should be booked in advance.

Gorilla trekking can be experienced all year round since the destinations that host mountain gorillas have tropical climate and it can be rain any time of the year. However, the dry seasons from December-March and June-October with little rain is the best time to do a gorilla tour. During the rainy season, trekking becomes challenging because the terrain is slippery and makes hiking in the impenetrable jungles so tough.

Pre-briefing session

On the D – day of trekking, visitors have to be at the park headquarters at 7:00am for briefing with their passports and gorilla permits. The briefing session begins at 7:30am, to tell you about what to expect during the trek and how to conduct yourself during the trek and while with the gorillas. At the end of the briefing, travelers are given different groups to trek so it is upon the traveler to choose from simple, medium and tough hike. The visitors are divided into a group of 8 people and each appointed a gorilla family.

Visitors are then transferred to their respective group starting points. Guides and guards are then allocated and they are accompanied to hire porters who will help to carry their belongings during the trek. Gorilla trekking duration depends on the time travelers sight the gorillas; however it may last for up to 6 of 7 hours because the gorillas are migratory animals. And after they are sighted, visitors are only allowed to stay with them for maximum of one hour.

On the trail…

During the briefing session, the rules and regulations to adhere to will be read out loud. And sometimes also during the trek, a ranger will repeat some rules as a reminder. At the time of booking, endeavor to ask your agent for a copy of gorilla trekking safari rules and guidelines.

Once the gorillas are spotted, the visitors are supposed to remain at least seven meters away from them; this is to limit the possible infections that may be transmitted by the visitors to the mountain gorillas.

And visitors are also supposed to avoid direct eye contact with mountain gorillas. And also during the moment of taking pictures or videos, the camera flash must be turned off.

Be among the few in the world and undertake a gorilla safari to Uganda, Rwanda or D. R. Congo to experience one of the finest wildlife encounters the world has ever seen.

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