Gorilla trekking to many seems like breaking into a thick forest in the middle of nowhere. Yes Bwindi Impenetrable National Park forest or Volcanoes National park forest are some of the refugia that survived the ice age period so far surviving over 25000years.
A number of creatures were saved by these heroic forests including the mountain gorillas that only live in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R.Congo in the entire world.
When the mountain gorillas were at the rim of extinction, another hero fell deep in love with them. She was an American Doctor called Dianne Fossey. She based her work in Volcanoes National park Rwanda at Karisoke Research Center.
Dr Dianne Fossey was passionate about studying the giant mountain gorillas but to her dismay poaching, human encroachment, cattle keeping and so many atrocities were affecting the gorillas. Through research, she realized that humans need to get involved in the lives of the mountain gorillas in order for them to survive. She gave birth to gorilla habituation which led to gorilla trekking in Africa.
In 1985, she was gruesomely massacred by unknown assassins and later buried amongst the mountain gorillas. Every time gorilla trekking is done its like walking in the steps of a heroic conservationist. Its one of the ways of emulating her amidst fun.
Know The Tentative Gorilla Trekking Dates
Having the possible dates when you wish to do gorilla trekking is key in starting your gorilla trekking safari booking. Although the number of gorilla trekking permits released to the public is limited to 8 permits per gorilla family, they are based on per day.
The only way to get availability of the gorilla permits is by having a time frame for your Africa safari. The number of persons travelling with is so important too in case you expect group gorilla trekking. This assist in determining even the accommodation space to book that is say number of rooms to book.
Gorilla Trekking Permit Booking
Securing your gorilla trekking permit is a wise decision after confirming availability as per your safari date of preference. The no payment no gorilla permit policy is used to acquire gorilla permits. All gorilla permits are first come first served basis.
Even when you are sure of availability but offer no payment at that moment, you may find no availability of the gorilla permits the next hour or so because of high demands all over the world.
In Uganda the Uganda Wildlife Authority and in Rwanda the Rwanda Development Board are responsible for selling gorilla trekking permits. There sales call lines normally have long que of calls but we keep calling until we get our chance. This is why our turnaround time is 24 hours.
Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda are sold according to area of trekking yet in Rwanda gorilla permits are sold according to family.
Secure Accommodation For Gorilla trekking
Accommodation to use for gorilla trekking is part of the must steps to confirm your gorilla trekking safari. A variety of accommodation plans that is luxury, Midrange or budget are available in Uganda and Rwanda but finding one with your specifications may be challenging. The Peak Seasons that is June to September and December to January have high demand for where to overnight. Securing accommodation in time saves you last minute panic for where to stay.
In case you are travelling as a group for gorilla trekking sharing accommodation under one roof makes the trip more memorable but if some overnight in another facility it’s quite disturbing.
For Accommodation in Bwindi impenetrable national park, you need to know which area your permit was booked. Overnighting in one part of Bwindi forest and trek gorillas in another is challenging in terms of catching up with briefing time early morning.
Gorilla trekking area topography is main volcanic composed of steep ridge, plateaus and other highlands. In case you are an active participant, some level of fitness helps your muscles to maneuver tough hikes.
During the severe rain seasons the gorillas feed mainly from the slopes so you need to hike to locate them.
You do not need vigorous gym experience for gorilla trekking fitness but even walks in your compound just to stretch your muscles.
Immunise For Corona Virus or have authentic PCR test with negative results 72 hours prior to gorilla trekking
After the world was hit by Covid-19 pandemic, even the rules of gorilla trekking were tightened. This is because gorillas have about 98% human DNA making them susceptible to human infection.
You need to be communicable disease free including flue, diarrhea, Coronavirus because these have been confirmed to catch the gorillas. The mountain gorilla conservation road has been long and tough so losing all this effort is frustrating.
Attend Briefing For Gorilla Trekking
Attending briefing for gorilla trekking is never an option no matter how many times you may have done gorilla trekking. Its because of the ever changing moods of the gorillas and other forest occupants.
You need to understand the rules of gorilla trekking even when you have read them from the internet or brochures. Just like humans, the mountain gorillas get mood swings depending on the conditions in the forest.
If the mountain gorillas have a new born, they are happy and excited, if a fight has happened with in our out of the family they have another mood, if they have lost feeding ground its another mood and so much more.
This explains the reason why a group of ranger guides wakes up earlier than the rest to monitor the gorillas every morning and give report to the headquarters before tourists arrival.
After briefing, the ranger guide leads the way into the forest to start gorilla trekking. You area grouped into maximum 8 persons per gorilla family. Do not forget to carry your gorilla trekking gears and hire a porter in case you may need one. The ranger guide follow the trail where the gorillas were last seen the previous day because they do not feed far from there the next day.
Look out for other primates like olive baboons, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus, pottos monkeys and so many others. The rich birdlife including Albertine endemics enjoy the parks. Look out for birds like shelley’s Crimmsonwind, Barred long-tailed cuckoo, white-bellied Robin, Blue flycatcher and so many others.
When you locate the mountain gorillas, give a distance of about 8 meters away from them and wear a clean mask too. The gorillas may walk over to you but try not to touch them. Watch the family go about there activities like mothers grooming the infants, silverback watch from a distance, juveniles always playful.
Take as many photos as you can for memories of gorilla trekking experience in Africa. Slowly retreat back to your lodge taking photos and memories of your gorilla trekking experience and leave nothing but foot prints.
What Is Age Limit For Gorilla trekking
15 years is the age limit for gorilla trekking. This is because of the nature of topography of the area because at times the slopes a tough for hikers below this age. With standing the conditions of the forest by people below this area may be quite hard
The first glance at the mountain gorillas stimulates some adrenaline which may be hard to with stand for people below this age. They may get a hysterical panic attack and make noise which is not good for gorillas. Noise scares them and pushes them into hiding.
When is the best Time For Gorilla trekking
Anytime is gorilla trekking time but drier months are more friendly. The ground is less drained by water even the water levels of the rivers within the forest is not so high. June to September and December to January the gorillas feed closer to the ground.
The shoulder seasons that is March to May and November have less gorilla permit competition and accommodations sometimes offer discounted costs too. More infant gorillas are born during the shoulder seasons too.
How safe Is Gorilla Trekking
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda is safe. The security bodies of either Uganda or Rwanda are involved in maintenance of the stability of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Volcanoes National Park.
The mountain gorillas may look tough and scary creatures but they are generally peaceful. They are shy in nature and have no reason to pick a fight with humans unless provoked.
Stay closer to your gorilla trekking group because you are not familiar with the vast forest. Getting lost is so easy which may ruin your adventure safari to the mountain gorillas in Africa.
Can You Touch A Gorilla During Gorilla Trekking
Mountain gorillas are wild animals that need to live in the wild. Touching them is not acceptable because they may pass an infection disease from the wild to you. Also when the mountain gorillas are habituated, they do not loose there wildness. You need to respect there nature too.
When you touch an infant, you may throw the entire gorilla family into a rampage because they protect there babies so much. The dominant silverback is always looking out for its off springs
Sometimes the juveniles may try to tease you by walking over to you, try to keep calm but in a respectful manner.
Gorilla trekking safari cost has a constant permit price of $700 per person in Uganda, $1500 per person in Rwanda. This is none negotiable and it cuts across all budgets. Depending on the package you choose for gorilla trekking that is Luxury package, Moderate package or Budget package you can make a choice of how much you want to spend.
How many Days Are Best For Gorilla Trekking Safari In Africa
To enjoy the entire gorilla trekking experience in Africa, you need at least 3 days gorilla trekking in Uganda or at least 2 days gorilla trekking in Rwanda. These minimum days do not include other activities.
If you want to add more activities on your Africa safari with gorilla trekking, you need extra days. This is because the time for locating the gorillas is unknown yet it starts very early morning with unknown time for locating the mountain gorillas. Additional activities are hard to plan for on the actual day of gorilla trekking.
What To Wear For Gorilla Trekking in Africa
Gorilla trekking is a jungle activity and therefore you need to pack the right gears to enjoy it.
A pair of sun glasses to protect your eyes from insects that may fly into them.
Tracking boots that can with stand slipper slopes and boggy ground.
Garden gloves to protect your palms when you fall or when you grab some creepers for extra support
Insect repellent to protect your delicate skin from stinging insects.
Long trousers and shirt to protect your body from the rough forest conditions in the forest.
Water bottle to carry water to quench thirst while in the wilderness.
Sweet snacks to give you more energy when hungry
Rain coat or poncho to wear when it rains because at times the rains fall without warning.
Toiletries just in case your lodge doesn’t provide any.
Gorilla Trekking Rules
No feeding the mountain gorillas
Only one hours is allowed to be with the mountain gorillas when you locate them.
If you have any communicable infections, volunteer to stay behind because this may be infectious to the mountain gorillas causing there massive death.
No eating or smoking when in front of the mountain gorillas.
Stand at a distance of about 8 meters away from the mountain gorillas when you meet them.
In case you wish to ease yourself, ask the ranger guide to dig atleast 30 meters deep and cover beyond recognition
The age limit for gorilla trekking is 15 years and above No spitting on the vegetation because its food for the mountain gorillas.