Gorilla trekking in Uganda & Rwanda – Mountain Gorilla Families in Uganda & Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda Rwanda: Gorilla trekking is the act to search for mountain gorillas in the wild. Mountain gorilla trekking is done in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park in Uganda.
Gorilla trekking involves travelers on an African gorilla safari entering into the thick tropical rain forests of Bwindi impenetrable forest, Mgahinga and volcanoes to search for the mountain gorillas in the presence of an armed and expert game ranger guides.
GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA (UGANDA GORILLA SAFARI)
The ancient tropical rain forest is one of the forests on the African Continent to have flourished and a home to the half of the world’s remaining population of endangered mountain Gorillas.
Mountain Gorilla trekking can be done in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. 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.
WHERE TO TREK MOUNTAIN GORILLAS ON A UGANDA GORILLA SAFARI
Gorilla trekking can be done in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park on your Uganda gorilla safari.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is situated in southwestern part of Uganda at the edge of the Great western Rift Valley. The park is home to half the remaining world’s mountain gorillas including a variety of wildlife like Elephants, Baboons, Antelopes and different bird species like rare shoebills, kingfishers among others.
Mgahinga Gorilla national park is located in the south part of Bwindi forest in Kisoro district. The park is one of the Uganda’s gorilla safari destinations. Mgahinga is wealthy to Uganda since it also attributes to half the remaining world’s mountain gorillas alongside the Bwindi forest.
Mgahinga Park is also a spot to a large variety of wildlife like the threatened Golden Monkeys, elephants, and bush bucks among others, a lot of wildlife including a different bird species can be sighted through the forest as you continue following the mountain gorilla trails on any Uganda gorilla safari package
GORILLA TREKKING IN RWANDA (RWANDA GORILLA SAFARI)
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda is a unique Rwanda safari tour exploring you to volcanoes national park for Mountain gorilla trekking and golden monkey trekking activities. The park is a home to Mountain gorillas roaming in the Virunga conservation area.
The conservation area is shared by Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in DRCongo
Besides Rwanda gorilla safaris to volcanoes national park, Rwanda is endowed with a variety of attractions and activities such as Akagera National park for wildlife safaris, Nyungwe forest national park for chimpanzee trekking activities.
In addition to attractions and activities, Rwanda safari introduces you to a Kigali city tour. As you explore Rwanda, you will visit places like Genocide memorial monuments, Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, Lake Kivu, Gisenyi trails, Caplaki Crafts Village, local markets, and Hotel des Mille Collines among others.
Besides Rwanda’s tourism and being a landlocked country, Rwanda is rich in culture, hills, mountains, numerous rivers and empowered with a conducive peaceful and organized quiet Environment.
MOUNTAIN GORILLA GROUPS IN RWANDA AND UGANDA
Uganda today has 14 habituated gorilla families and the one group is allowed for research, Embarking on a gorilla safari in Africa 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 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 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 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 spilt 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 o 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
Hirwa gorilla family is one of the gorilla groups that roam around the Virunga conservation area, the conservation area is shared by Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Virunga national park in DRC and Mgahinga national park.
Hirwa means “the Lucky one” in the native Kinyarwanda however the family came into existences when Munyinga the dominant silverback got some miss-understandings with Susa family (gorilla family in Rwanda), for over mating the females in the family. He then decided to leave the family with two females and he inhabited Mt. Sabyinyo collecting other females, initially the group is regarded the lucky one as its first birth resulted into a set of twins making it one of the few mountain gorilla groups with twins.
The gorilla group has been observed crossing borders, it originally migrated from Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo and settled in volcanoes national park around the slopes of Mt. Gahinga regions in Rwanda. In October 2019, it shifted to Uganda and settled in Mgahinga gorilla national park around the slopes of Mt. Gahinga regions where it has been observed update.
Gorilla Groups in Rwanda
Rwanda has 9 habituated mountain Gorilla 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
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
PRICE OF GORILLA TREKKING PERMIT IN UGANDA AND RWANDA
Mountain Gorilla trekking is done with a varied gorilla trekking permit, this permit allows each traveler to trek one gorilla group out of the many in either Uganda or Rwanda. The gorilla permit also allows you a maximum of an hour with the giant apes for interaction and photographs
Today gorilla trekking permit cost $600 in Uganda, $1500 in Rwanda, Uganda gorilla permits are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda permits are issued by Rwanda Development Board. However with effect from July 2020, the cost of Uganda gorilla permits is expected to change from $600 to $700.
The increase is mainly to ensure effective conservation and preservation of the neighboring communities around the national parks.
BEST TIME FOR GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA AND RWANDA
The best and busiest time of the year to do gorilla trekking is mid-June, early October, mid-December, March, the best times of the year for Gorilla tracking activity are the dry seasons at the same time it’s the High-seasons, however you also trek mountain gorillas all year long in either countries as there are no seasonal closures of national parks for gorilla trekking activities.
Additional note, for many, the best time for mountain gorilla trekking are April to May and November to December, in these two seasons there highly very rains, in this case there few travelers for gorilla trekking thus more gorilla permits are available and more luxury lodges are discounted
Although gorilla trekking is done year around in either countries, most travelers prefer doing gorilla trekking in June to September and December to February.
WHAT IS THE BEST COUNTRY TO SEE MOUNTAIN GORILLA?
Considering wildlife, Uganda has more wildlife creatures and many national parks compared to Rwanda. However you can do gorilla trekking in either country since almost these giant Apes live in the same conservation area.
In Uganda besides mountain gorillas, one can do chimpanzee trekking, golden monkey trekking among others. Gorilla permits in Uganda are cheaper than gorilla permits in Rwanda with a difference of $900.
HOW DO MOUNTAIN GORILLAS LOOK LIKE?
The Male gorillas which are the silverbacks are twice the size of the female gorillas. These silverbacks grow to 6ft and weigh 350-500 pounds with long arms to almost 7ft, strong and muscular compared to female gorillas. The males were named silverback because as they grow their hairs turn somehow silver.
These gorillas poses dark longer hair compared to lowland gorillas in the western part of Africa. Mountain gorillas always move and stay on the ground although the juveniles climb and play on the trees. Mountain gorillas have a close relationship with humans and share a 98% of the genetics with the humans.
HOW DO MOUNTAIN GORILLAS FEED?
Mountain Gorillas feed on the afro-montane vegetation which involves quantities of leaves, fruits, stems, flowers, bamboo, roots, and shoots in all seasons of the year. The silverback consumes almost to 75 pounds every day.
Mountain Gorillas start moving at exactly 6 am to 6 pm with a snooze around lunch time. During the day mountain Gorillas move in various locations in the Virunga conservation area. These Gorillas move and sleep in different locations where they make nests from twigs and leaves.
NUMBER OF PEOPLE ALLOWED FOR GORILLA TREKKING IN UGANDA AND RWANDA
Mountain gorilla trekking 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 southern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park with maximum of 4 hours by only four people to spend the great time with the mountain gorillas
GUIDELINES AND RULES FOR GORILLA TREKKING
- 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 position to watch the different bird species and other primates in the park
- Following the gorilla trails in the park, you will be in position to see where the guides or rangers observed the gorillas he 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 SAFARI
- Comfortable hiking boots
- Drinking water plus packed lunch
- Rain gears and jackets
- Insect repellent
- Long sleeved shirts and trouser
- Lens cameras
- Water proof bags
OTHER ACTIVITIES AROUND TRACKING AREAS
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 Columbus 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 such schools, gardens, traditional healers, local community, orphanage and other community performances in the Ugandan and Rwanda cultural.