Select the Best Gorilla Safari Experience
A gorilla safari is a desired package to trek Mountain gorillas in the wild. These safaris are usually done in the Equatorial rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Mgahinga Gorilla national parks on a Uganda Gorilla trekking safaris, Virunga National park in D.R. Congo and Volcanoes National Park on Rwanda Gorilla tours. There are two types of Gorillas, that’s mountain and lowland gorillas as much described below but we will put much emphasis on mountain gorillas as they are endangered and were once on verge of extinction.
Uganda Gorilla Trekking safari
Uganda is argubly the best mountain Gorilla trekking destination compared to any other. There is more than a half of world’s remaining mountain gorillas living in the rainforests of Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national Park.
A Uganda gorilla trekking permit will cost you $ 700 on a Uganda safari.
On a Gorilla Safari – Mountain Gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Today over 900 mountain gorillas are left in the world found in Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC with half the remaining world’s primates in Uganda. Mountain gorillas are the largest living primates with massive chest, muscular arms, impressive brown eyes, broad hands, broad feet and the thick black hair to insulate them with warmth during cold weather conditions.
The lowland Gorillas are the smallest of all gorilla subspecies, the male Gorillas weigh over 160kilograms, with height of 5ft and 6 inches, and the females almost half the size of the male Gorillas. Lowland gorillas and Mountain gorillas can be distinguished with a difference in their nose. A lowland gorilla has a continuous heart shaped ridge around its nostrils, wider skull and shorter hairs on its body. Enjoy Lowland Gorilla on your Gorilla Safari Experience
Just like all Gorillas, the lowland gorillas spend their overnight on the ground in nests made out of tree branches and leaves. The lowland gorillas have small group sizes with not more than 5 individuals in each group usually overlapping home ranges. These kinds of primates are found in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, and Angola
Gorilla trekking Safaris vs. Gorilla tracking
Gorilla trekking refers to act of gorilla safari travelers going into the thick tropical rain forests of Bwindi, Mgahinga, Volcanoes and Virunga partially located in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Uganda to search for the rare primates with the presence of the expert ranger guides. Well as
Gorilla tracking refers to finding down specific Gorilla family and locating them based on their last known location and it’s usually done by skilled and expert ranger guides, park staff, and researchers. This activity is done for different reasons such as; research purposes, for census, and as a guarantee for visitors who come to see the Mountain Gorillas since there are always in locomotion.
Gorilla trekking involves hiking or trekking through the steep and mud grounds of the Bwindi impenetrable forest, Mgahinga, volcanoes and Virunga national parks to see these mountain Gorillas, however the hectic process of searching the gentle giants is normally conducted in the early morning with a gorilla trek briefing from the respective gorilla group headquarters, followed by a hike or walk in to the rain forest following the mountain gorilla trails, since the mountain gorillas take unpredictable time of search in the forest as they move differently in the park in search of food and once found, you are allowed one hour with the primates, as you have a great time with the primates taking photographs and scenic views from the magnificent forest. After the trek then return to the offices for certificates.
Gorilla Habituation Experience
Gorilla habituation experience refers to a new gorilla trekking experience in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park in Rushaga sector. The habituation experience was introduced in 2014 and brought forward to cater for gorilla tour clients who have less time but would like to spend more time with the mountain gorillas in the park, the gorilla habituation experience allows gorilla trekkers on their Uganda safari, a maximum of four hours only to utilize gorilla families under this process and are able to participate in gorilla friendly activities with the primates.
Gorilla Safari permits
A gorilla permit is a card guaranteeing opportunity to a tourist intending a Gorilla safari tour in Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo allowing a successful gorilla trekking experience. A gorilla permit is essential to any tourist on a gorilla safari tour intending for a gorilla trekking activity in any of the countries above
Gorilla permits are assigned and issued by the governing bodies of Tourism in a particular countries that is to say Uganda wildlife authority in Uganda, Rwanda Tourism Board in Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo Tourism Board.
A gorilla permit can be bought online or on ground depending the one preferable. A gorilla permit costs $700 in Uganda, $1500 for Rwanda and $400 in DRC and they can only be used once irrespective of the national park to trek.
A gorilla habituation permit costs USD1500 with a maximum of four hours with the mountain gorillas and only four people do access the gorilla family at time.
Popular Gorilla Safaris Packages
Mountain Gorilla Safari groups
Gorillas tend to live in families usually refferd to as gorilla groups. Uganda today has eleven habituated gorilla families and one group is allowed for research, Embarking on a gorilla safari on your safari tour helps you discover a few facts about various incredible creatures and different gorilla families, not forgetting that the mountain gorillas are wild animals and details such as the group size, location in the forest and leading silverback might change without notice
Gorilla families/groups in Uganda include Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Nkuringo, Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Bweza, Busingye, Nyakagezi and the research group Kyaguriro
- Mubare Gorilla Family, this family is located in Buhoma with 8 individuals including 1 silverback. This gorilla family is the oldest habituated gorilla family in Uganda opened in 1993 for tourism; the family derives its name from Mubare Hill deep in Bwindi Impenetrable forest where the primates were first sighted
- Habinyanja Gorilla Family, this family is located in 1997 and first visited in 1999, its name comes from Rukiga word ‘Nyanja’ meaning a place with water.
- Rushegura Gorilla Family, this gorilla family is located in Buhoma with 19 individuals including 1 silverback, its name is from the place where the separation of this group from the big family of Habinyanja took place in February 2002.
- Bitukura Gorilla Family, this family has 14 individuals including 4 silverbacks located in Ruhija; this family was named after a river that bears the same name, where it was sighted first. This family was opened for tourism in October 2008 and its habituation started in 2007.
- Oruzogo Gorilla Family, located in Ruhija with 25 individuals including 2 silverbacks, it is the second habituated gorilla family living in the Ruhija area. The group consists of 23 individuals and is led by silverback Tibirikwata which was opened for tourism in mid 2011
- Nkuringo Gorilla Family, located in Nkuringo with 19 individuals including 2 silverbacks, habituation process was in 2004. Its name means round hill in Rukiga. This gorilla group was first sighted around the hill
- Nshongi Gorilla Family, located in Rushaga with 26 individuals including 4 silverbacks, the named derives from the river close to where the family was first seen. It was opened for tourism in September 2009. This was the largest gorilla group ever habituated with 36 individuals, including 3 silverbacks, seven black backs
- Mishaya Gorilla family, located in Rushaga with 12 individuals including 3 silverbacks, this group most recent habituated among habituated gorilla families in Bwindi National Park. This family was opened for tourism in April 2011
- Kahungye Gorilla Family, located in Rushaga with 13 individuals including 3 silverbacks opened up for tourism in October 2011 but in a less year it split up to create a new family which is Busingye
- Bweza Gorilla Family, located in Rushaga with 9 individuals including 1 silverback, this group was the ever largest group ever habituated, but in July 2010 silverback Mishaya decide to start his own family, two years later also the gorilla Bweza, another silverback preferred himself from the rest of the group
- Busingye Gorilla Family, located in Rushaga with 9 individuals including 1 silverback, Busingye means ‘peace’ which is quite surprising since this ambitious silverback is known for its legendary fights with other silverbacks from other gorilla families
- Nyakagezi Gorilla Family, located in Mgahinga National Park with 10 individuals including 3 silverbacks, this group is led by Mark the dominant silverback who keeps on crossing borders between DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda
- Kyaguriro Gorilla Family, located in Ruhija with 15 individuals including 2 silverbacks, this group is for habituation however it has been visited by tourists until now. This group is mainly for research.
Rwanda has 10 habituated gorilla families/ groups which include;
- Susa Group, this group is located in volcanoes national park with 33 individuals and 2 silverbacks, this the biggest gorilla group in the park
- Sabyinyo gorilla Family, found in volcanoes national park with 13 members including 2 silverbacks, one of which is the largest of all the silverbacks in the park
- Amahoro Gorilla Group, this group is located on the slopes of mountain Visoke, with18 individuals including 2 silverbacks
- Agashya gorilla Group, the group was recently called the 13 and changed its name to Agashya and comprises of 27 individuals including 1 silverback and was the first one to be habituated with 13 members
- Umubano gorilla group, it comprises of 13 members with 2 silverbacks, the group was formed by the Amahoro family
- Kwitonda Gorilla Group, it leaves in the lower slopes of Mountain Muhabura and has 23 individuals with 4 silverbacks and was named after the dominant silverback
- Hirwa gorilla group, it has 16 members with 1 silverback which was formed from two different families, group 13 and Sabyinyo
- Karisimbi gorilla group, located on mountain Karisimbi in volcanoes national park with 16 individuals including 2 silverbacks.
- Ugenda gorilla group, the group comprises of 11 members including 2 silverbacks. The name means mobile
- Bwenge gorilla group, it has 11 members including 1 silverback, the name means wisdom. This group is located around Mt. Bisoke and the hiking is so easy
All the Rwanda habituated gorilla on your Gorilla Safari trek tour why not enjoy them.
People accompanied to Gorilla trekking safaris
The ministry concerned with the national parks such as the Uganda wildlife association in Uganda and Rwanda national Board in Rwanda among others is very curious about the age limit for gorilla tracking and golden monkey trekking with a minimum of 15 years older.
The minimum age is 12 years older for chimpanzee trekking with children of 10 years for golden monkey tracking in Rwanda accompanied by an adult.
Number of people allowed for gorillas
Trekking of mountain gorillas on a gorilla safari tour is only to a maximum of 8 people per gorilla family group in Mgahinga, Bwindi, and Volcanoes National park. Bwindi is the largest park with mountain gorillas of about 14 habituated gorilla families; each allowed only 8 people per day per hour to trek. Gorilla habituation is done in the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park with maximum of 4 hours by only four people to spend a great time with the mountain gorillas
Guidelines and rules for gorilla trekking safari
- A number of 8 people allowed visiting habituated mountain gorilla group
- Washing hands before approaching the gorillas
- No littering in the park. Whatever you carry into the forest has to be carried back.
- Always remember to keep a low voice, as you will be in a position to watch the different bird species and other primates in the park
- Following the gorilla trails in the park, you will be in a position to see where the guides or rangers observed the gorillas the previous day.
- You will get brief information about the mountain gorillas from the skilled guides
- Do not touch the Mountain Gorillas
- Do not separate from your group when trekking
- Do not smoke, drink, eat, when you are with the primates
- Only one hour is allowed with the gorillas
- Be calm as you interact with the gorillas
- Flash cameras are not allowed
What to come with on your Gorilla tracking safari
- Comfortable hiking boots
- Drinking water plus packed lunch
- Rain gears and jackets
- Insect repellent
- Long sleeved shirts and trousers.
- Lens cameras
- Waterproof bags
Other activities done on Gorilla trek Safari
Tourists on their gorilla safaris tour can do several activities alongside Gorilla tracking. Such as
Nature walk and forest walk, this activity explores you to magnificent scenic views of mammal species like chimpanzees, LHoest’s monkey, and blue monkey baboon, black and white Colobus monkeys including the broad biodiversity in reptiles, moths, tree species, and bamboo forest
Bird watching, hiking through the localized forest Albertine Rift endemics introduces you to several bird species like white starred robin, grey cuckoo shrike, strange weaver, banded prinia, brown chested Alethe, slender billed Greenbul, and yellow streaked Greenbul among others
Cultural encounters and village walk, this activity introduces you to the cultural behaviors of the community and way of living however the activity is done in guidance of a skilled Guide. The places to visit depend on the location of such schools, gardens, traditional healers, local community, orphanage and other community performances in the Ugandan and Rwandan cultural.
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