Gorilla Trekking or Gorilla Safari.
Everyone should experience this once in their lifetime. Gorilla Trekking is probably not the first choice of many Travellers when they consider wildlife on account of the costs involved.
However as they say you get what you pay for and no where is it more applicable when it comes to experiencing the Gentle Giants in their natural habitat. A well planned Gorilla Trekking experience is something that you are not likely to ever forget.
As with every experiential journey, A Gorilla Safari or Gorilla Trekking needs to address Points
Why, What, Where and When
What to expect from your Gorilla Trekking?
There are fewer than 1000 mountain gorillas in existence and only two populations of mountain gorillas left in the world.
These can be found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, with the groups scattered between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The second population lives deep in Bwindi (also referred to Bwindi Impenetrable National park)
Since these animals live in extremely remote locations, in countries where the tourism infrastructure is still developing, This makes the logistics involved in a Gorilla trek a challenge.
The best way to experience a Gorilla Trek is by joining a Small group tour (8 Pax) as you get to split the cost of the expert guides to lead you through the Jungle. You can also go at it alone but it gets more expensive.
Fitness & Help
You should be reasonably fit as it does involve a hike through the forest, which can be tough going and challenging, but it is within reach if you are reasonably fit.
The guides will often have to machete a path through the ferns that clog the undergrowth and you will most likely get muddy and sweaty, as the humidity in the jungle is very high.
Carry a Canteen/Water Thermos (avoid Plastic) with you as you need it to stay hydrated.
A good option, If you are worried about the terrain, is to hire a local porter. This has 2 advantages, first you are providing local employment and second the porters are seasoned and familiar with the terrain.
Not only will they carry your bag, they will also help to navigate some of the steeper, or trickier sections of the trek. This will be recommended by your Guides as well, as this is a common practice by travellers of all ages and abilities.
A trek can take upto 4 hours one way (some have taken lesser time and some upto 4) but The Hike and the trek would suddenly be forgotten when you come across a gorilla family, peacefully playing in a forest clearing.
The trekking guides and rangers always prepare you on what to expect. You will be able to get pretty close to the Gorillas but there is no direct interaction with the gorillas (unless one moves past you, there have been cases when Gorillas have brushed past people).
Depending upon where you are you get between 45 minutes to an hour to just sit and observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
These 45 minutes to an hour are probably going to be one of the best experiences that you will never ever forget.
Where to go for Gorilla Safari?
Rwanda of the 2 is more expensive with the permit costing US$ 1500 and only 98 of these are issued for each day.
In Uganda on the other hand the cost of a permit is around US$ 600 and appx: 104 permits are issued for each day.
This makes Uganda main choice for many people as the permit cost is 60% cheaper. However one should note that the gorillas are farther and harder to reach in Uganda than in Rwanda.
Rwanda and Uganda in 2019 are safe, secure, stable, and friendly countries to visit. Neither country has security issues in their Gorilla Parks.
Gorilla Tourism is a Chief Source of Income for both countries. Gorilla Permits pay for the conservation and preservation of the park for both the Gorillas and visitors.
When to Go for Gorilla Safari?
The Geographic location of Rwanda and Uganda puts it just under the Equator and both are blessed with excellent weather.
Officially The best time of the year to Visit Uganda for Gorilla Trekking is June, July, August and September. January and February are also relatively okay.
If you plan well ahead you should be able to get the permit if not then you may end up gloing in the rainy season.
In the Rainy season from September to November and March to May the going can get tougher but you still get to experience the Trekking.
Rwanda and Uganda are not the do it yourself destinations and one should take the help of reliable tour Operators if you wish to travel to these places. Also both the destinations offer a lot more than just the Gorilla Trekking experience.
The other Safari’s are not as expensive as the Gorilla Trekking and to maximise your Spend, you should combine the Gorilla Safari with Other Safari options. (Kenya is a Good choice as well)
If you need any help in getting connected with an Operator who is trustworthy we are happy to recommend you one. Email the Recommended Operator
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