During gorilla trekking safari in Africa, there is a certain way you are expected to behave in order to enjoy the entire experience. Although guarantee of seeing mountain gorillas during gorilla trekking is about 99%, you must be at your best behavior.
The gorillas have a DNA of close to 96% to that of humans and so they display some mannerism similar to that of humans. They have mood swings and enjoy having a good time where necessary.
As you trek to locate the mountain gorillas, you have to behave in a certain way , when you are with them and as you depart from them. They are sensitive primates that guard there territory jealously. They also have spy network just in case an intruders wants to disrupt there peace.
What To Do Before Locating The Mountain Gorillas
Keep your voices low while on the way gives you the chance to locate the mountain gorillas without much struggle. Mountain gorillas may be huge in size but are always scared of unfamiliar noise in there vicinity. The most common voices in the forest are from birds and monkeys but forest is usually quite as so unknown loud voices may cause alarm.
Dumping garbage in the forest is one of the ways of spoiling this pristine environment. The forest is the lifeblood for the survival of mountain gorillas .The foliage especially bamboo, soft stems, leaves all are the only source of food for the mountain gorillas. Once the environments where they thrive is tampered with, it slowly diminishes and so with time gorillas will have nothing to feed on.
Spiting on the vegetation may cause spreading of human infections to the mountain gorillas. Its not allowed. The mountain gorillas may pick on the leaves that are contaminated and eat them. In case the leaves are infected, human germs may cause a pandemic in the mountain gorillas. This may lead to massive death of the mountain gorillas so keep the forest as natural as you found it.
Burry all human faeces in a hole at least 30 meters deep and cover beyond recognition. This prevents mountain gorillas from exhuming the waste, which is very unhealthy to them and the people who go gorilla trekking.
Hire a porter to carry your belonging because the jungle gets tiresome at times. You need to be free when with the mountain gorillas and not be disturbed by bags. Its one way of directly supporting the community.
Wait for the ranger guide to establish the mood of the mountain gorillas prevailing at the moment. Although a team of ranger guides rises up early to follow the mountain gorillas to be trekked that day and provide feedback, there mood may change. So before doing anything when you locate the mountain gorillas, the ranger guide must first observe what is going on with the gorilla family.
Use flash-less cameras to take photos of the mountain gorillas because they are sensitive to unfamiliar flashlights. They may go into hiding when they realize that different uncommon lights are in there environment. This may deprive you the chance of spending that paid for time with the mountain gorillas.
No smoking or eating while inform of the mountain gorillas. They may be forced to grab what you are eating which may not go well with there health. They are wild animals that must look for there own food so feeding them may cause them to depend on humans providing. This is very dangerous behavior.
Avoid surrounding the mountain gorillas but stay in a tight group because they may feel ambushed. Despite the fact that the mountain gorillas are habituated to be infront of humans for an hour, there natural behavior is not changed. When you surround them, they become very suspicious and this may cause them to go into hiding.
In case you have to cough or sneeze, do it away from the mountain gorillas to prevent any chances of spreading any harmful germs to the mountain gorillas.
Keep a distance of about 8 meters from the mountain gorillas to prevent chances of passing any infectious disease to these gentle giants. Sometimes the gorillas may walk over touch you or your gargets but try to treat backwards slowly without them realizing. Do not scream because this frightens and may through the entire forest into a rampage.
Only one hour is allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate them so use it maximum. Take as many photos as you can that will remind you of your moment with the mountain gorillas.
What To Do After Gorilla Trekking
Slowly retreat as instructed by the ranger guides during briefing. The behavior of the mountain gorillas especially the dominant silverback is that is a despotic leader who wants his authority to be recognized all the time. Even when leaving, you must show that you are still in respect of him and not just run away.
Do not pick anything from the forest not even fallen hairs of the mountain gorillas because in case the dominant silverback or spies trace you, they may rage. Take only memories of your gorilla trekking experience in Africa and leave nothing but footprints.
Tour Local communities in case you are not so tired. This is one of the ways of supporting communities surrounding the mountain gorillas. Some of them are reformed poachers like Gorilla Guardian Village in volcanoes National park owned by for poachers, Buhoma community walk, Nkuringo Community walk, Batwa and Garama cave visit. Through these communities, they get to appreciate the presence of the mountain gorillas and even devise ways of participating in conserving the.
What Time Do You Locate The Mountain Gorillas
Finding the mountain gorillas depends on many factors but time of locating them many take from 2 hours after starting to about three quarters of the day. The proximity of there food, forest mood, death of a family member, attacks from wild mountain gorillas and others determine how far they move.
From there overnight location, the mountain gorillas rarely move very far so when you locate where they might have constructed there nests, it means you are getting closer to them.
You are advised to be patient and open minded to see other interesting primates and birds in the forest.
Some other primates you may get to see include blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, black and white colobus, olive baboons, L’Hoests’ and others.
Which Is The Best Park For Gorilla Trekking in Africa Bwindi or Volcanoes National Park
In general, gorilla trekking is one of the best Africa primate experiences. Knowing that you are standing before some of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world is phenomenal. No matter where you choose to do gorilla trekking, the moment you encounter the gorillas takes away all the hassle you have been through to find them
In Volcanoes National park, Rwanda, the mountain gorillas live in steeper area because the topography of the country is generally mountainous. This is why Rwanda is called the land of a thousand hills. In Bwindi impenetrable National park, the topography is fairly steep and locating the mountain gorillas is not as tedious
The gorilla trekking permit for Bwindi Impenetrable national park is cheaper costing $700 per person whereas the Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1500 per person per trek.
To get to volcanoes National park, you need about 3 hours from Kigali city or Airport where as to get to Bwindi Impenetrable national park from Kampala or Entebbe Airport you need about 8 to 9 hours on the road. You may opt to do fly-in gorilla trekking where you can be booked on a daily domestic flight from Kajjansi or Entebbe Airport to Kihihi airstrip. This takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes but you need a transfer vehicle to your lodge.
In Bwindi Impenetrable National park, there about 18 gorilla trekking families open for tourist viewing while Volcanoes National Park hosts about 13 gorilla trekking families. In case you have many people travelling with, you need to book in advance so that you are not distributed in different gorilla trekking families yet you would wish to experience this together.
The history of gorilla trekking is more pronounced in Volcanoes National park where the mother of protecting mountain gorillas Dian Fossey was buried in 1985 and most details about gorilla research is in Rwanda. The gorilla trekking adventure in Bwindi National Park has its history best known to start in the 1990s
Although some level of fitness is required during gorillas trekking, you do not need to be full time in the gym to prepare for gorilla trekking.
When hiking to locate the mountain gorillas, you need to wear the right boots that can help you walk through the soggy and boggy jungle. The shoe treads must be comfortable enough.
At times you may be required to hike in order to locate the mountain gorillas. During the extreme wet seasons. The ground gets soft and soggy making its quite slippery to get to where the gorillas are feeding from. They also desert the ground during severe rains because there food is submerged into the over flowing water.
Walking through creepers is quite a challenge during the wet seasons in this park as they get you wet with water dripping off there stems.
In case you are affected by altitude, the Virunga area is mountainous so take some medication that can assist you with stand high altitudes.
Despite all the above, locating the mountain gorillas makes you forget all the challenges you go through to find them. just standing a few meters from the mountain gorillas is therapy to a tired mind.
You can hire a porter to carry you baggage so that you are left to move freely in the forest without the disturbance of heavy loads.
Are Mountain gorillas dangerous
The sheer size of the mountain gorillas and tough dark look at a glance makes them appear fears animals. This is however the opposite as mountain gorillas are known to be serene in nature. No record of there violence has been noted towards humans. They normally beat there chests, scratch vegetation close to them, walk on one foot to display there discrepancy.
They are generally shy primates that hold there peace and love family bonding. Paying elegancy to the dominant silverback is a must by all family members. He has the mandate to all female in the family especially during mating seasons. No other male is allowed to mate with females in the family because he want to father only his offspring. Other members are never allowed access to the females and if you are got, you may be chased away from the family.
Sometimes wild gorilla families attack the habituated gorillas and the silverback is supposed to defend his members. He fights to the last drop and incase his family is victorious, they celebrate and in case he losses or dies, they go into somber mood.
Mountain gorillas are generally vegetarian so do not expect to be grabbed and preyed on. There delicacy is bamboo but can feed on soft stems, leaves, fruits and if chanced ants may supplement there diet. They eat about 200 pounds of foliage a day to support there bodies throughout the night and day.
Community Visit after gorilla trekking
Taking a walk to the local communities around the park gives them chance to appreciate the importance of co-existing with the mountain gorillas. Batwa Trail and Garama Cave in Mgahinga National Park, Nkuringo community, Buhoma community and others are some of the projects conducted by the local people. Its one way to involve the community in the conservation campaign for these once endangered primates.
Game drives and launch trips
Heading for game drives in parks like Queen Elizabeth National park, Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and others. With a launch trip or boat trip, you get a better picture of the parks’ beauties from a closer and wider range that you may miss out while on land. Some of the animals you may get to see include lions, elephants, waterbucks, bushbucks, leopards buffaloes, giraffes, hyenas and others.
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park is one of the most interesting in Africa. You get to encounter the largest population of habituated chimpanzees in Africa. You need to reserve a chimpanzee trekking permit. Either for the morning or afternoon segment of chimpanzee trekking in Uganda.