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All About Mountain Gorilla Trekking – Guide, Tips To Trek Gorillas

All About Mountain Gorilla Trekking – Guide, Tips To Trek Gorillas
Written by editor

Nowadays treks to see mountain gorillas have undeniable become the world’s most done tourist adventure, a dream come true and a top bucket list for a high number of travelers to East and Central Africa.  Each day, hundreds of travelers check into gorilla destinations for a close encounter with endangered gorillas that were once at the verge of extinction. For those who have done it before, gorilla trekking is a life changing and magical experience that no traveler should miss out.  Mountain gorillas share over 90% of human genes, which make them our closest relatives.  The human like characters of gorillas, seeing adult females nurse babies and silverback guard a family like human fathers in a home is incredible.

Where do Mountain gorillas live?

The endangered gorillas survive in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park and the Virunga conservation area comprised of Mgahinga gorilla, Volcanoes and Virunga gorilla national parks in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Any one intending to do gorilla tours  must therefore travel to any of the three countries to enjoy this memorable experience. Mountain gorillas have been habituated into groups 18 in Uganda, 10 in Rwanda and 8 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each gorilla family is visited by a group of eight travelers for an hour.

Gorilla permits

A gorilla permit is a must have for anyone visiting to see mountain gorillas. It’s a pass that allows you spend an hour with the endangered gorilla family in their natural habitat. In other words, any one without a permit will not be allowed to trek gorillas. A single permit costs $1500 in Rwanda, $600 to be increased to $700 starting with 1st July 2010 in Uganda and $450 in Congo. Gorilla permit booking is recommended as early as 6 months in advance due to high demand for gorilla safaris in all the three countries. For customized gorilla safaris, Africa Adventure Safaris is your ultimate and reliable travel operator.

How to prepare for a gorilla trek

Well, proper and timely planning is essential for a successful gorilla trek in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Contact your desired travel agent as early as 6 months before the trekking date to confirm the availability of gorilla permits on your desired date. Deposit for the permit and reserve it.  Reserving a gorilla permit is a first assurance that you will trek and see mountain gorillas without any disturbance.  More still, endeavor to do physical exercises to ensure you are physically fit. Gorilla trekking is undeniably a strenuous adventure, which involve hiking up and down hill with slippery muddy forest grounds.  The fitness exercises you need to prepare for gorilla trekking include among others:

  • Walking
  • Stretching
  • Gyming
  • Hiking
  • Jogging
  • Take the stairs
  • Watch your diet

These will put you into shape lessening difficulties in gorilla trekking.

What to expect on a gorilla trekking tour

Well, you must be mentally and physically prepared for the gorilla trekking adventure.  Trekking to meet gorillas is an exhausting but thrilling adventure. Expect to hike up and down hill though thick and bushy jungle forests. Its certain that you will slide, fall and get stings by nettles but the magical feeling of facing mountain gorillas at a close range will last forever.  The actual time to spend in the jungle before meeting gorillas also varies depending on where gorillas are located that day and their speed of movement.  The thickness or lightness  of the vegetation cover s also determines the speed of travelers movements.

About gorilla treks

In all gorilla destinations (Uganda and Rwanda), Gorilla treks are categorized into short treks, medium treks and long treks depending on the ease and difficulty of finding a gorilla family. A 3 Days gorilla trek in Uganda, Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo is a perfect package for you to meet and has fun wit these endangered species. Some gorilla families live in low altitude areas and hence easy to trek while other live in hilly and high altitude areas hence hard to trek. The allocation of gorilla trek sin Uganda and Rwanda depends on the hiking ability of a traveler, age and interest. You and energetic travelers are usually given hard to trek gorilla families while the physically challenged and aged are given   short gorilla treks.

What to pack for gorilla trekking

In addition to physical fitness, you must pack right essentials to help you in your gorilla tracking adventure. Having a fully equipped packing list to trek gorillas is one of the key features that guarantee a successful and stress free gorilla watching experience.  Among the things that you should pack for gorilla trekking include:

  • Walking/hiking boots: These ease movements through the muddy and slippery grounds of these jungle forests/. You can hire hiking bots from the park headquarters and come with your own walking shoes.
  • Gardening gloves: These protect your hands from touching hard and stretches by stinging nettles. At some time, you will touch the ground for support and your hands will be save with the gloves
  • Rain jacket: Rainfall in mountain gorilla habits is unpredictable. Actually rain is expected each day despite the season. You must therefore be ready for rains everyday. Pack your rain jacket, be with it all times  to be on a safer side.
  • Ponchos/sweaters: whether raining or not, gorilla forests are generally cold. Endeavor to carry ponchos to keep you warm in the jungle forests.
  • Sun glasses to protect your eyes from direct sun
  • Headband or hat to protect your head
  • Long stockings for your legs
  • Long sleeved shirts/blouses to protect your arms
  • Long pants tacked into stockings
  • Insect repellants
  • First aid kit for any emergency
  • Energy giving snacks to keep you strong throughout hiking
  • Pair of binoculars
  • Extra batteries for your batteries

Do’s and don’ts of gorilla trekking

Gorilla trekking experience has the rules and regulations put by respective tourism government bodies to ensure safety of gorillas and travelers in the jungle.  Travelers are introduced to the dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking during the pre gorilla trekking briefing at the start of each trekking date.  The rules and regulations of gorilla trekking include:

  • Do not trek gorillas when sick: Gorillas are susceptible to human diseases
  • Do not slit from your groups, walking alone in the jungle is not safe
  • Speak at a low tone
  • Keep a distance of seven meters a way from gorillas
  • Do not use flash light cameras
  • Do not look direct into the eyes of mountain gorillas
  • Do not ouch or feed gorillas in any way
  • Do not litter in gorilla parks
  • Maximum group of eight people
  • Turn off your back when sneezing o coughing
  • Children below 15 years are not allowed to trek
  • Do not run when a gorilla charges

How difficult is gorilla trekking

The ease or difficult of gorilla trekking has been and is s till a concern for most is not all travelers to Rwanda.  However, there is no actual answer for this question. How easy or difficulty a trek to see gorillas varies between different travelers.   How difficult is gorilla trekking in Rwanda is one of the frequently asked gorilla trekking questions.  Its not surprising that what seems difficult for one traveler turn out to be fun for the other one. So the whole experience is all about individual travelers’ expectations.

In general, gorilla trekking remains the leading wildlife experience in the world. Book a gorilla safari to Uganda, Rwanda or Congo, meet face to face with the endangered gorillas in the jungle and enjoy this magical gorilla encounter with Africa Adventure Safaris.


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About the author


Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.