Visit Mountain Gorillas in Africa
Africa is the only continent in the whole world to inhabit the world’s great apes (mountain gorillas) and these apes are only found in two Africa’s sectors namely; eastern Africa and central Africa.
There are still only four national parks in Africa protecting these rare endangered mountain gorillas and they are found in three countries.
Two East African countries (Uganda and Rwanda) plus one central African country (Democratic Republic of Congo) are the only three countries in Africa and the whole World ideal for Mountain and lowland gorilla tours in Africa.
Mountain gorillas in Uganda:
Uganda is the most ideal country for gorilla tours in the whole world because it has two national parks keeping the mountain gorillas (Bwindi impenetrable forests national park and Mgahinga national park) out of the four-gorilla protecting national parks.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forests National Park:
The Park is found in the South-western parts of Uganda along the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. The Park can be accessed from Kampala to Kabale – Kanungu and then to Buhoma.
This journey takes around 5 to 6 hours, it can also be accessed from Kampala – Kabale to Nkuringo and it takes 6 to 7 hours. The third alternative is from Kampala – Ntungamo – Rukungiri to Kihihi and then to Buhoma, it takes 5 hours.
Bwindi protects almost 500 gorilla individuals which are almost half of the World’s population and gorilla trekking in this Park is done in four sectors namely; Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija and Nkuringo.
The Park has 14 habituated gorilla families which include Mubare, Rushegura, Habinyanja which are found in Buhoma sector plus Nshongi, Bweza, Busingye, Kahungye and Mishaya which are all found in Rushaga sector.
Rushaga also offers gorilla habituation to two other families which are going through training and these include Bikingi and Bushaho.
Other habituated gorilla families are further found in Nkuringo sector which include the Nkuringo gorilla family however Bushaho gorilla family at times crosses to the Nkuringo sector and in Ruhija sector there are also habituated gorilla families such as Kyaguliro family, Bitukura family and Oruzogo family.
Therefore, in Bwindi Forest National Park you can track the gorillas in any of the four sectors in the Park but expect to see different gorilla families in each sector however most trekkers prefer tracking from the Buhoma sector due to its favorable location and its easy accessibility plus the fact that it is near the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park thus having an advantage of viewing the amazing tree climbing lions which are usually seen from Ishasha.
The Park has got good accommodation where trekkers will stay in and reach in the Park earlier of which these include; Buhoma lodge, One and Only lodge, Engagi Lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Silver Back Lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Buhoma Community Banda’s, Bwindi Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge and Buhoma Haven Lodge among others.
Mountain gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park:
The Park is found in western Uganda and it is about 55 kilometers from Kabale town which is the largest town within the Park and 15 kilometers from Kisoro town.
It is among the three Parks in the Virunga massif which includes Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda plus Mgahinga national park itself.
The Park is a habitant to over 100 mountain gorillas and it has one habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi gorilla family. A gorilla permit for both of Uganda’s gorilla trekking parks costs the same price which is US$ 600.
The Park also consists of three of the eight Virunga Mountains and these include Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo. The Park is therefore situated on a high altitude and it consists of good accommodation including Mountain Gahinga lodge, Amajambere Iwacu community camp, Kisoro traveler rest hotel, Kisoro tourist hotel, Mucha hotel and others.
Mountain gorillas in D.R Congo:
Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the three blessed and lucky countries protecting the rare endangered Mountain gorillas and the country is found in Central Africa.
Gorilla tracking in Congo takes place in only one Park called Virunga national park which borders Volcanoes national park in Rwanda plus Mgahinga national park in Uganda.
Gorilla tracking in Virunga national park is mainly done in Bukima sector though some can also be tracked in Jomba and the Park consists of 8 habituated gorilla families including Bageni, Mapuwa, Rugendo, Munyaga, Lulengo, Nyakamwe, Kabirizi and Humba.
The Park is a haven to over 200 Mountain gorilla individuals and it is the oldest African national park to be gazetted (in 1925).
Its good accommodation is one of the things which attract many trekkers to visit the Park and some of its accommodation include Mikeno lodge, Tchegera Island tented camp, Bukima tented camp, Lulimbi tented camp, Nyiragongo volcano summit shelter and many more.
After a gorilla trek in the Park, you can go for a two-day hike of the Nyiragongo volcano and then to Lake Kivu for a holiday. A gorilla permit in Congo costs US$ 400 and US$ 200 during the low seasons of April to May and then mid – October to mid-November every year.
Mountain gorillas in Rwanda:
Gorilla tracking is strictly done in Volcanoes national Park and there are 11 habituated gorilla families in the Park which include Bwenge, Umubano, Titus, Karisimbi (Susa B), Susa A, Ugenda, Sabyinyo, Amahoro, Agashya, Kwitonda and Hirwa.
The Park is a two and half hour drive from Kigali city and it can be accessed through Musanze town on the tarmac road which link you direct to the Park and in all the four gorilla trekking national parks in the whole world, Volcanoes is the most ideal for trekkers who want to trek quickly due to its easy accessibility and the fact that it has good roads and too close to the capital of its country (Rwanda).
The Park consists of five volcanoes such as Bisoke, Gahinga, Muhabura, Karisimbi and Sabyinyo and other wildlife such as spotted hyena, bush pigs, bush bucks, black-fronted duiker, buffaloes and some elephants.
It protects over 200 Mountain gorillas and it consists of good accommodation such as Virunga lodge, Kwitonda lodge, Jack Hanna’s guest house, Bishops house, Mountain gorilla view lodge and others.
A gorilla permit in Rwanda costs US$ 1500 but it can be reduced to US$ 1050 if you are to visit another Park in Rwanda on addition to Volcanoes national park and it can also be reduced to US$ 1275 if you are to have a conference held in Rwanda and at the same time you visit Volcanoes national park.
In conclusion: Gorilla tracking in all the four gorilla tracking parks starts at 07:00am for the pre – gorilla briefings which are held at the Parks’ head offices and then the real tracking will start at 08:30am.
Gorilla tracking has some rules and regulations you will have to follow before tracking and during tracking; access the Parks earlier for the briefings, strictly spend one hour with the gorillas, maintain a distance of at least 8 meters while viewing them.
Do not smoke and eat from the Parks, do not litter in the Parks, ensure that you are in a stable condition before tracking, move with your immunization cards that show that you are okay, advance booking with the tour companies is also essential.