Facts about mountain gorillas.
A Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Uganda: Mountain gorillas are subspecies of eastern gorillas and have been listed as endangered by IUCN since 2018. Mountain gorillas can only be found in the Virunga conservation area which stretches between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. This region is famous for its favorable conditions that attract gorillas to thrive and support gorilla trekking safaris. There are four national parks that inhabit mountain gorillas; Uganda with Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla national parks, Rwanda is home to Volcanoes National Park and D.R. Congo is home to the famous Virunga national park.
Mountain gorillas, therefore, live in dense forests and in total, they are about 1063 gorilla individuals in the wild. Bwindi national park alone has over 500 gorilla individuals making it host almost half of the mountain gorillas in the world and home of popular gorilla tours in Uganda. This is the most visited national park with four sectors having about 19 habituated gorilla families one can trek while on a gorilla safari in Uganda.
Mountain gorillas live only in two areas.
Mountain gorillas live in two isolated areas – Virunga massif with Mgahinga, Virunga and Volcanoes national parks and another one being the Bwindi Impenetrable national park which connects to Sarambwe nature reserve in D.R. Congo. These are high altitude areas dotted with montane and bamboo forests.
They share 98% of their DNA with humans.
Another fact about mountain gorillas is that they share 98% of blood DNA with humans and this means that we humans are better than them by only 2%. They share the same illnesses with people like flu, cholera, and fever among others. That is the reason why people with such illnesses are not allowed to trek mountain gorillas since they are so susceptible to human diseases. In addition, they are intelligent just like humans as they can use different tools to perform different functions.
Mountain gorillas are strong.
Mountain gorillas are one of the biggest and most powerful living primates on earth, with the average male gorilla weighing up to 180kg and their height can go up to 170cm. They are called the great apes which are cannot be found anywhere apart from the listed areas above. They are interesting to watch but very shy while on the trek.
Mountain gorillas can eat all day long, they can eat for about a quarter of their day and they fed on leaves, shoots which means that they are vegetarians, but they feed on insects like ants and snails in case they want to change their diet.
Juvenile gorillas are in charge of climbing trees to collect leaves and fruits with the guidance of a giant silverback which heads the gorilla family.
They warm up at night.
Mountain gorillas normally sleep together at night hence warming themselves in the nests on the ground, unlike the chimpanzees that nest in the tree branches. Infants or young ones share nests with their mothers, offering them warmth and security. This relates to a human being who share their bed with their children.
Mountain gorillas have different calls.
Mountain gorillas have up to 16 different types of calls, including short barks when they are curious. They intimidate rivals, like the male gorillas strut with stiff legs beating their chests and shout by roaring or hooting. This is a sign of anger to a certain extent, but also to show strength.
Mountain gorillas live in groups, called families.
One of the facts about mountain gorillas, is that they live in unique localities known as gorilla families or gorilla groups. A gorilla family can include up to 10 individuals with a dominant silverback. This is the alpha male that heads the family and plays different roles such as mating all female gorillas in the group, offering protection to members, leading the group in search of food, among other roles.
They have a life span of up to 40 years.
Mountain gorillas can live for up to 40 years while in the wild, they are normally categorized as infants at the age of 3 to 4 years old. And they are classified as an adult at the age of 8 years and above, male gorillas aged 8 to 12 are considered black backs and from that age, they are called silverbacks since their hair on the back turn to silver.
Mountain gorillas are endangered primates.
These apes are under threat of extinction due to human activities and the main threat being destruction of their natural habitat. This is because of increasing human population and hence encroachment on forests that inhabit gorillas, due to the need for more land of agriculture. There is also another instance where people penetrate the forests to search for water and firewood hence destroying the homes of mountain gorillas.
Why is gorilla trekking expensive?
Gorilla trekking is the most sought after primate adventure while on an African safari. This is because they are not so common and being the biggest apes on earth makes them so enticing to visit. Mountain gorillas can only be found in Africa, in Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo, but many people still ask why is gorilla trekking expensive?
Mountain gorillas are the most sought after sub species of gorillas located primarily within the Virunga Mountains in East Africa.
Different national parks are located in this region and beyond, including Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks in Uganda, Virunga national park in D.R. Congo and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. This is where traveling can do gorilla trekking safaris. Numerous factors have enabled gorillas to survive and inhabit this area. Among others are the cold environment since they possess long and thick fur, they also derive their name from the mountainous areas which they inhabit.
Apart from mountain gorillas, there is also another sub-species, the Eastern lowland gorillas that are primarily found in Kahuzi-Biega national park in D.R. Congo and other places in central Africa. These kind of gorillas are unique and different from the mountain gorillas in terms of size, appearance and weight. The lowland gorillas dwell within the lowland areas between the two mountains of Kahuzi and Biega in D.R. Congo. They are so interesting to watch and most tourists visiting DR Congo add Kahuzi-Biega national park on their travel plan to have a full gorilla trekking safari in Africa.
Gorilla trekking is an experience where visitors spend a maximum of one hour in the presence of gorillas while learning about their behaviors and characters but the overall experience can take between 2 to 5 hours while in the jungle but this basically depends on where the gorilla group trekked is located. Some gorilla families are located in far distant areas while others are located near the starting point briefing sessions take place.
Gorilla trekking permit fees differ depending on the country visited, with Rwanda being the most expensive gorilla trekking destination while D.R. Congo is the cheapest. Uganda which has half of the population of mountain gorillas gorilla permits go for USD 700, USD 600 and UGX 250,000 for foreign nonresidents, foreign residents and east African citizens respectively.
In Rwanda, a gorilla trekking permit goes for USD 1500 making it the most expensive gorilla destination and D.R. Congo gorilla permits go for USD 400 for foreigners and USD 200 for foreign nationals.
The price of gorilla permits is high but the demand for visiting gorillas is equally high and this implies that ‘the high the demand, the higher the price’, but also there is need for funding in order to protect and care for these primates.
Therefore, there is a lot to do in conservation in terms of research equipment, payment of workers like the rangers. In addition, gorilla permit prices are high because governments intend to limit and control the number of visitors such that these big apes’ can remain uninterrupted to achieve sustainable tourism. All the above reasons have made gorilla trekking so expensive, but still affordable for those intending to trek them.
Best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda and elsewhere.
Africa is a wonderful and amazing continent and gorilla safaris mainly take place in East Africa and D.R. Congo. These countries have favorable climate and therefore you can trek the gorillas any day of your choice. Each year has two rainy and dry seasons – that is from March to May and from October to November, as well July – October and December to February respectively.
Rainy seasons make the trails impassable due to mud than during dry seasons which happens from December to February and June to September. In the rainy seasons, gorillas tend not to move since they have abundant food and in the dry season, gorillas move a lot to distant areas as they search for food.
For the best gorilla trekking safaris, visit East Africa today and get ready to experience the best memorable gorilla safari of lifetime.
Gorilla flying safaris in Uganda
A gorilla safari in Uganda and Africa at large is the most sought after safari in the world that every tourist would wish to take part in, but Gorilla flying safaris in Uganda have emerged to be the best comfortable options for those travelers looking for comfort and hustle free safaris. There are few endangered mountain gorillas in the world and research says they are only about 1000 individuals world over and almost half of them live in Uganda, in her two national parks – Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park both located in southwestern Uganda.
Gorillas occupy part of the Virunga massif where the mountain gorillas inhabit due to different conditions that favor their survival such as cool temperatures and mountainous terrain.
Uganda is known as the pearl of Africa due to its diverse attractions, both man-made and natural, ranging from towering mountains, wildlife, water bodies, and hospitality of diverse cultures. It is located north of Tanzania and Rwanda, east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, south of South Sudan and west of Kenya. The good terms with her neighbors have favored growth and development of the country and in addition to peace that has for years been prevailing in the country.
Travelers interested in gorilla trekking tours and gorilla habituation experience in Uganda are advised to book their gorilla permits in advance like 3 to 6 months before trekking time to avoid disappointments at the last moment. This is because of the limited number of gorilla permits sold each day and high demand. For example, in Bwindi national park, only 19 habituated gorilla families can be trekked and only one gorilla family can be trekked in Mgahinga national park. There is only one gorilla family in the Rushaga sector – southern part of Bwindi National park that is set aside for gorilla habituation experience in Uganda.
Difference between gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation.
Gorilla trekking involves visitors meeting a given family of gorillas for only an hour while in their presence whereas gorilla habituation is an experience where visitors are introduced to a semi-habituated gorilla family for up to 4 hours.
Another difference comes in the number of people permitted to visit the gorillas. For gorilla trekking, up to eight visitors are permitted to take the gorilla experience whereas, for gorilla habituation, only 4 visitors are allowed to visit each semi-habituated family.
Any tourist who would like to take this safari can opt either to use road transport or air transport but for the case of road, travelers can drive from Entebbe or Kampala to Bwindi or Mgahinga national park, a journey that takes about 9 – 10 hours.
Travelers can also opt to fly from Kajjansi in Entebbe to Kihiihi or Kisoro airstrips and then connect to Bwindi or Mgahinga by road. A flight from Kampala / Entebbe to any of the gorilla parks takes about one and a half hours.
Visitors who opt for scheduled daily flights are requested to book in advance to fit in the booking demand of the plane. This can be done by contacting our reservation team to book your seat in advance because they are willing and always ready.
Visitors opt to take Gorilla Flying Safaris in Uganda for convenience, safety and to save time. Because instead of taking a 3 days Uganda gorilla safari, they end up taking a 2 days gorilla safari as most time is saved by cutting off the lengthy drives from Entebbe / Kampala to Bwindi impenetrable national park / Mgahinga Gorilla National park. This, therefore, suits people with busy schedule who would come to Uganda for a business meeting in Kampala or Entebbe and they are interested in taking a quick gorilla safari.
Gorilla flying safaris in Uganda will not only take you to the home of gorillas but you also have a great time discovering some of the unique cultures around these conservation areas – Batwa pygmies, Bakiga who will offer visitors an extraordinary adventure of enjoying traditional dances and music, hand-made crafts, story tales, traditional meal tasting and so much more.
For the best gorilla flying safaris in Uganda, organize your trek today and turn your worries into great memories.
Gorilla trekking equipment.
Gorilla trekking is one of the popular tourist activities in Africa and on earth. This calls for anyone planning to participate in a gorilla trekking tour to plan carefully and carry the right gorilla trekking equipment to enhance their safari. Here we take a look at some of the essentials and gorilla trekking packing during a gorilla trekking safari in Africa.
Gorilla trekking takes place in the heart of dense tropical rain forests cuddling the slopes of rugged mountains. This is characterized by quite challenging terrain and muddy trails leading to where gorillas stay. Having sturdy but lightweight and waterproof hiking boots will greatly help as you maneuver within the thickets and bushes through unmarked trails.
A waterproof jacket is a must to carry even when you planning to trek in the dry season. This is because mountain gorillas dwell in the tropical rain forests and rain cannot be ruled out in the dry season. Though it has lower chances here. Most trekkers opt to travel in the dry season of June through August. This is to avert the rainy months of March to May.
When choosing what to pack for gorilla trekking in any gorilla trekking destination a rain jacket should be one of the first things to pack.
The tropical rain forests are greatly different from the savannah plains as they will make you march through thick bush and thickets. To protect your skin from scratches and insect bites, a long-sleeved outdoor shirt should not miss on the list of gorilla trekking essentials.
Hiking pants or trousers.
The next thing on your gorilla trekking equipment list is good hiking pants preferably made of polyesters. These are more breathable and allow your sweat to evaporate faster keeping you comfortable. It’s outrightly not advised to trek mountain gorillas while in shorts or skirts, to protect yourself from thorny thickets that can scratch your skin and bugs that may crawl up in your shorts. Trousers guarantee that your skin is at least more protected on the trek.
Energy giving snacks.
A gorilla trekking tour can go for 30 minutes to more than eight or more hours depending on the movement of the gorilla group being trekked. This is the reason why some degree of fitness is required before setting off for this adventure. In addition, it’s recommended for trekkers to carry energy-providing snacks to provide additional strength during the trek.
You can always plan to add your energy-giving snacks as you pack your lunch before leaving the lodge. Don’t forget to carry lots of drinking water as you can never be certain at what time this gorilla adventure will end.
Cameras and extra batteries.
Photography is an important element of your gorilla adventure. It captures moments and memories you will look back to after leaving the gorillas. Therefore endeavor to have a well charged camera ready to capture any memorable event while on the trek.
Even if you have fully charged your batteries, it’s advisable to carry extra batteries as you will be taking countless snapshots on your way through the jungle and when you finally meet the gorillas
Light waterproof backpack.
You will automatically require something to hold all your gorilla trekking equipment together. A light backpack will come in handy by holding all your gear during trekking while also keeping them safe from water leakage in case it rains on the trek.
The park is also a conducive habitat for different bugs and insects that can inflict serious discomfort when trekking. To avert the bugs away on exposed parts of your body it’s recommended you use insect repellent and have a bug-free adventure.
Pair of Binoculars.
A gorilla trekking adventure at least doesn’t differ so much from savanna safaris when it comes to game viewing. The guest would love to have clear views of the action when on the trek. In addition, most of the gorilla destinations are home to other wildlife including over 300 bird species, chimpanzees, monkeys, forest elephants, and buffaloes among other species. On your gorilla trekking expedition, you might be lucky to encounter some of these creatures roaming the forests.
All the gorilla trekking equipment and packing list and so much more are some of what you need to bring along when you finally make it to any gorilla trekking destination, either Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo. Plan a gorilla safari in advance by carrying the right equipment to ensure a smooth primate experience.
Gorilla trekking for the disabled.
Gorilla trekking for the disabled and elderly is an activity done in only four African national parks and visitors are granted an average of an hour while in the presence of these giant primates. Gorilla trekking can be done by any person as long as they are physically fit and they have 15 years of age or above. Therefore, gorilla trekking for the disabled or gorilla trekking for the elderly can also be done the same way apart from allocating the visitors a gorilla group that is nearer to the park offices, while being on a sedan chair.
In case of the elderly and disabled visitors who are unable to walk, then they can choose to hire porters to carry them on sedan chairs up to where a family of gorillas is located inside the forest. Note that mountain gorillas are the most endangered apes on planet earth, which has made every tourist who visits Africa to have a short visit to one of the destinations where they are located. The gorillas only live in the highland forests of East Africa and cannot be found in the zoos like their counterparts, the eastern lowland gorillas.
In order to do a gorilla trekking tour, travelers need to fly straight to Africa – in Rwanda, Uganda and D.R. Congo within the Virunga conservation area and Bwindi impenetrable national park. This volcanic massif runs across borders of these beautiful countries to visit one of the gorilla families in any of the gorilla national parks. A gorilla safari is considered to be the ultimate wildlife experience in Africa, making gorilla permits to be so expensive.
Most of the articles say that gorilla trekking can be done by someone who is young and energetic to be able to move long distances but you need to know that, you can go for this experience even when you are an elder or have physical limitations. Therefore as long as you are allowed on a flight to Africa, then this experience is possible.
You are advised to book your gorilla trekking permit at least 3 months before the trekking day in case you are an elder and this will grant you a chance to be allocated to a near gorilla family. Also, in case you want a double gorilla trekking tour, you will be allocated to another gorilla family on a different day. Gorilla trekking allows only 8 visitors per group and each should pose a valid gorilla trekking permit. This protects the apes to remain wild and safe from human infectious diseases.
Gorilla trekkers with disabilities are carried on sedan chairs, the most comfortable way to sit and be taken into the forest for gorilla trekking. The porters will carry you comfortably into the forest and on locating a gorilla family trekked, you will be put down for photography and after taken back to the office where you left your vehicle. The sedan chair which is used during gorilla trekking for the disabled costs between $400 and $500 depending on the weight of a client. This includes porters’ fees and hiring fees for the chair.
Note that, gorilla trekking for the disabled is possible and can easily be carried out in Bwindi National Park in Uganda, because it is less mountainous and easy to navigate than other gorilla destinations. Most trails are relatively flat since the park is situated in the lower ends of Virunga Mountains than Mgahinga and Volcanoes national parks which are located in the highland areas.
Bwindi impenetrable National Park has got the most number of gorillas with over 19 habituated gorilla families, hence creates uncountable chances of seeing and interacting with these great apes in their natural habitat. The best and easiest sector is the Buhoma gorilla sector which has opportunities to trek and reach gorilla families east and in a short time though this is not always guaranteed. On a good day, you may spend only 30 minutes to meet a gorilla family in this sector.
Are you disabled and you are worried about gorilla trekking in Uganda? Don’t worry anymore as there is now an opportunity of trekking these endangered great apes on sedan chairs.
Read more information about Uganda on Uganda Travel Guide