Planning a gorilla safari to Africa but you are not sure of which destination to visit? Well, with many gorilla species that exist in Africa, choosing which destination to visit and which gorilla species to catch a glimpse at times become more challenging. For starters, gorilla trekking in Africa is undoubtedly a life changing primate experience and remarkably, the most sought after adventure by most visitors on African safari. Depending on what your travel needs are, if it is mountain gorillas that you have always wished to catch a glimpse then you have only 3 options and nowhere else except only Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) should be a must on your travel plan. A trek to see mountain gorillas is remarkably a life changing experience as you have a chance to come close to our close relatives while in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking in Africa entirely takes you through the dense vegetation and steep slopes.
Where to go for gorilla trekking
This is one of Africa’s leading gorilla destinations where you can find mountain gorillas. In Uganda, you can trek them in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in southwestern side of the country just at the border between Rwanda and the DR Congo. To track these amazing primates in Uganda, there are 4 main trailheads and they include Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga where treks normally start from and each of them have habituated families. These sectors are found in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park while Mgahinga national park has only one habituated family. Besides, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park also comprises of over 200 butterfly species, 350 bird species and others. Gorilla permits are obtainable at $600 per person and you can book one through a ground tour operator or through a reservationist at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
How to get to Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are accessible both by road and by air. By road, there are many routes that take you up to these parks and you will spend about 8-10 hours’ drive. For excellent safaris, you need a 4 wheel drive safari vehicle to help navigate through the remote routes in western part of Uganda. The other alternative is by taking a flight from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi airfield and you land into Kisoro airstrip then you can easily connect to park of your choice by car.
This is another most popular destination in Africa when it comes to gorilla safaris. Treks to see mountain gorillas in this magical are conducted in Volcanoes National Park. This park lies in northwestern Rwanda and it is famous as the most accessible of all the gorilla destinations in Africa with only 2 to 3 hours’ drive from Kigali. On your gorilla tour in this remarkable country, don’t miss to pay a visit to the Dian Fossey tomb site to learn more about her conservation legacy. For any plans to track mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, the dry season is preferably the best season for you to have the best of this lovely primate adventure. Gorilla permits in Rwanda cost $1500 per visitor and equally, you can obtain one through a trust worthy and reliable local tour operator or reservationist at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
The Democratic Republic of Congo
In the DR Congo, you trek mountain gorillas only in the Virunga National Park. This park is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it straddles within the eastern side of DR Congo. About 250 mountain gorillas call this park their home however, it is the least explored destination the fact that DRC is still recovering from insecurities. Permits in Congo still go at $400 per person making it a relatively affordable gorilla destination. There are about 8 groups that have been habituated and set for tourism in Virunga National Park. Besides mountain gorillas, you can as well embark on eastern lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Getting to DRC for gorilla trekking
DR Congo is reachable through Gisenyi from Rwanda side where you cross the border area to Goma. However, visas are needed and can be obtained within 48 hours earlier. They cost $100 each person and you can download the application form then you fill it and send it back, copy of up to date yellow fever certificate is needed, copy of your travel plan or hotel booking and others.
Packing list for gorilla trekking in Africa
To get the best of gorilla trekking in Africa, you need to pack appropriately starting with essential items first. The key items not to miss in your packing list include waterproof hiking boots, long sleeved shirt, trousers, long pants, socks, energy giving snacks, bottled water, camera without flash light, insect repellent, gardening gloves and others.
For visitor overnight stay in the Virunga National Park, the available accommodation options include Mikeno Lodge, Bukima Lodge, Lac Kivu Lodge, Ihusi hotel, Hotel Cap Kivu and others.