Gorilla trekking requires you to have some level of fitness because of the nature of the topography of the Virunga Area. The Virunga area, which is made up of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park, is generally volcanic.
During gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation, expect to hike some ridges and plateaus in order to get to where the mountain gorillas may be lounging or feeding.
Even the vegetation cover is thick and tangled from the so many years of existence as this is a pristine forested area that is believed to have survived the ice age period between 12000 to 18000years.
You do not need to be in the gym all day when preparing to do gorilla trekking or habituation but start by stretching your muscles a little more than usually. You can keep improving on your body exercises as time goes on. This is in preparation for the trek to locate the mountain gorillas.
Some of the national parks in Africa where mountain gorillas live are located at the bottom of mountains. Volcanoes National park has five mountains as part of its topography. These mountains include Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Bisoke, Mountain Muhavura, Mountain Sabyinyo and Mountain Karisimbi.
Mgahinga National Park is located on the northern side of three volcanoes that is mountain Gahinga, Mountain Muhabura and Mountain Sabyinyo.
Gorilla trekking is the adventure that takes you where a fully habituated gorilla family is while gorilla habituation experience is following a semi habituated gorilla family to get them familiar to human presence without altering there nature.
One hour is allowed to be in the presence of the mountain gorillas during gorilla trekking while 4 hours are allowed with mountain gorillas during gorilla habituation
Maximum 8 tourists are allowed to be with the mountain gorillas during gorilla trekking while Maximum 4 tourists are allowed to do gorilla habituation.
Can physically Impaired person Do Gorilla Trekking and How?
Gorilla trekking is open for all people but in case you are physical impaired, Sedan chairs or a traditional stretcher is available. You need to hire porters to carry you to where the mountain gorillas may be feeding or lounging.
Porter are people from the local community you can hires to assist carry you and your gorilla trekking gears into the wilderness.
The cost of each porter varies with the duty they are to perform for the tourist. This is one of the ways to directly give back the local community during gorilla trekking.
How Difficult Is gorilla Trekking Safari?
The gorilla trekking safari is challenging and difficult at times. The how quick or long is gorilla trekking tour is answered with the location where the mountain gorillas may be spending there day time.
Wearing the correct gorilla trekking boots protects your feet from sharp surfaces that may harm you. The ground is slippery at times especially during severe rainy season so you need to move at a slow pace.
The ranger guide uses a machete to cut creepers in case it’s the only path to use to get to the mountain gorillas.
The trails to use when searching for the mountain gorillas tend to remain slippery because of limited sunrays that penetrate to the ground. Bwindi forest has a dense canopy that lets in limited sunlight.
Is Gorilla Trekking Safari safe?
The gorilla trekking destinations of Uganda and Rwanda are safe for trekking. Range guides coordinate with the security organs of each country to maintain law and order.
You must pay attention to personal security by staying closer to the group you are trekking gorillas with. This is to prevent getting lost in the wilderness.
Pack and wear the right gorilla trekking gears on the booked date. This is to give protection to your body from the harsh conditions of the wilderness.
Swallow some antimalarial because Gorilla trekking adventure is done in tropical country where mosquitos are common.
How long Is Gorilla Trekking In The Forest?
The time you take to locate the mountain gorillas unknown because of there free movement in the forest. The proximity of the gorilla food makes locating them easy or hard during gorilla trekking. When the gorilla family relocates to a new feeding ground tracing them may be challenging too.
In case of a fight in the forest, the losing gorilla family may be forced to relocate. This confusion of where the gorilla family may have relocated too causes delay when doing gorilla trekking.
The pace other trekkers have when doing gorilla trekking determines how long you take to locate the mountain gorillas. When the group is slow, the time of locating the mountain gorillas may be delayed too.
Ranger guide follow the pace of the slowest gorilla trekker so that no person is forgotten in the wilderness. The Virunga area forests are thick and tracing your exit point when lost is a challenge. You may be lost in the wilderness because there are no sign posts. There is no internet connection when you enter the wilderness and poor telecommunication.
You must have some patience when you wish to do gorilla trekking successfully.
Are Mountain Gorillas Dangerous?
The mountain gorillas are calm primates that live peacefully in the wilderness despite there sheer size. Physically, the mountain gorillas have a huge body structure, dark furred body, walk by knuckle locomotion, dark brown eyes and at a glance they are scaring. You need to follow carefully the rules of gorilla trekking so as not to agitate the gorillas
Surrounding the mountain gorillas when you find them causes them to get irritated because they get agitated.
Touching infant gorillas is not a great idea despite there adorable look. Dominant silverback is always on the watch for any error intruders may cause.
When mountain gorillas get angry, they may retreat into the wilderness or thump there chests, hoot, walk on one leg and others.
Try not to stare into the mountain gorilla eyes because they are shy primates and this may seem suspicious.
The moment you are with the mountain gorillas makes you forget whether you are in Uganda or Rwanda. You may get that difference between gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda when visit both countries.
Volcanoes National Park is the Rwanda gorilla trekking destination. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park are the gorilla trekking safari destinations for Uganda.
The difference of which country is best for gorilla trekking either Uganda or Rwanda can be determined with;
The gorilla permit cost of Uganda or Rwanda
The Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1500 per person per trek while Uganda gorilla permit costs $700 per person per day.
Number of gorilla families
Uganda has so far 19 gorilla families meaning 152 gorilla permits are open for tourist booking while so far 12 gorilla families are open for Rwanda tourism 96 gorilla permits are available in Rwanda.
The Drive Time from the Airport to Gorilla trekking Destinations
The drive time from Kigali Airport to Volcanoes National Park is about 3 hours while the drive from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is about 8 hour to 9 hours. You can drive from Kigali airport to Bwindi impenetrable National Park for 6 hours to 7 hours.
Alternative Activities to combine with Gorilla trekking Safari
Uganda has more activities to combine with gorilla trekking like chimpanzee trekking, launch trips, water rafting, visit source of River Nile, game drivers Check More
Rwanda is limited with options of activities to combine with gorilla trekking. Rwanda alternative activities include game drives, boat trips, genocide memorial visit, birding, cultural experience
Accommodations options to Book For Gorilla Trekking
Uganda Bwindi Impenetrable National Park provides a variety of accommodation options to book for gorilla trekking while Volcanoes national Park is limited with accommodation facilities.
How dangerous are Mountain Gorillas?
In nature mountain gorillas are serene primates that physically look scaring. They have dark fur covering there entire bodies, dark brown sunken eyes and walk by knuckle locomotion. Mountain gorillas are shy and when agitated may retreat into the deeper ends of the forest.
When angry, mountain gorillas thump there chests, hoot, walk on one foots, my pull the grass around them and so much more.
Although in the history of gorilla trekking no one has ever been attacked by the mountain gorillas, try not to provoke them. Keep away from there infants and stay close to the people you are trekking with so that they don’t feel ambushed.
What Is The Packing List For Gorilla Trekking Tour
Two clean face masks
After the Covid-19 pandemic, every one going for gorilla trekking is required to wear a clean mask before meeting the mountain gorillas. Even your shoes are sanitized before stepping to the starting point of gorilla trekking.
They must be able to climb slippery slopes and walk for a long distance without getting worn out.
To protect your palms from dangerous surfaces you may land on when you slip and fall while in the jungle.
Most of the day in the Virunga area is cold you need to keep warm. Temperature of this area may drop even up to 7 degrees centigrade.
Long trousers and long sleeved shirt to protect your body from the rough conditions in the wilderness. They must be in dirt friendly colors like Khaki or tan and not camouflage as this is illegal in both Uganda and Rwanda. Bright colors may attract stinging insects that may hurt you.
To keep away insects that may harm your skin.
In case power runs down because solar energy is the main source of power used in this area and yet less sunlight is also received at times.
Not all accommodation facilities offer toiletries and some tourist have sensitive skin texture too. Carry your own to be safe from chances of skin eczema.
A spare fully charge batteries
In case one runs low, you can change with another and not miss out on the photos of your gorilla trekking experience.
Foldable safari hat
To protect your hair from water dripping from the trees, you may use a safari hat. Even the buzzing insects in the wilderness can be kept away from creeping into your hair.
Travel adapter and charger
You need to carry your own charger in case you require to have some
They must be warm too keep you from feeling cold in the night. Some lodges may provide fire places but the warmth may not cover all the rooms.
First aid kit
Include emergency items just in case you get hurt while in the wilderness. Pack even copies of your medical treatment in case you require assistance.
Some hard cash
Carry some cash to exchange into local currency in case you need to do on ground purchase. Credit cards are rarely used as a form of exchange in Africa because of the lengthy procedure of collecting money from them.
Rain proof gears
It rains in this area anytime without warning. You need to have rain proof gears to protect yourself from getting wet. The rainfalls any time without warning so in order not to get cold you need some rain coat or poncho.
A rainproof back pack
To carry your gorilla trekking gears with and make it easy for porters to assist you carry.
The camera for taking photos and protects memories of your encounter with the mountain gorillas. You are advised to take nothing from the forest and leave nothing apart from footprints. You can only protect gorilla trekking memories in photos.
Apply sunscreen on your skin because the Virunga area is in the tropical region. Although, this area receives limited sun shine, the drive from the Airport to the gorilla trekking destinations is through hot areas.
A pair of stockings
Stockings to tack in your clothes and prevent stinging insects from penetrating through.
Duffel Bag Pack in a bag that you can lift by yourself in case you get no assistance