The forested mountains of southwestern Uganda, northwestern Rwanda and southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo are habitants of the remaining populations of the greatly endangered primates and the biggest of the apes – the mountain gorillas. These forested mountains lie in real remote Africa and being there makes you like you are at the end of the earth yet you are in the central Africa.
gorilla trekking Africa
The forested mountains are among the less disturbed environments and it maybe the reason why these giant apes (mountain gorillas) choose to stay up there. Today, tourists from different parts of the world choose to go to Uganda, Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo and proceed to the forested mountains on a quest to search for these incredible animals in their natural homes.
Journeys to visit gorillas in Africa usually start from the respective national park headquarters where tourists ready to hike first gather for a briefing where they are told how to behave while in the jungles and when they encounter the mountain gorillas. Major emphasis is put on; avoiding moving a way from the trekking groups, keeping a reasonable distance away from the mountain gorillas, avoiding a direct eye contact with the mountain gorillas, minimizing noise while in the forest and in presence of the gorillas, avoiding the use of flash photography, not touching a juvenile or young mountain gorilla as it may trigger attack, leaving way for them especially if they come towards your way and above all following the guides instructions while in the forest.
Soon after the briefing, the different tourist groups are allocated to their guides for the day who take the lead to the forests heading to the areas where the gorillas are expected to be. The mountain gorillas are first tracked to know the exact direction where they are and then guides are thus told of the direction to follow until they get to them. The trek takes several hours (even up to 8 hours) however if you are lucky you can get to the gorillas in an hour or two. When you get to the mountain gorillas, you are given one hour to look, take photographs and interact with them and soon it elapses, you told that your time is up.
You maybe wondering why just an hour, yet some tourists travel thousands of kilometers from their home countries to view these mysterious animals. The only hour is intended to reduce chances of taking away the authenticity of the whole experience and also minimize chances of disease spread because mountain gorillas have about 98% of their DNA similar to human beings.
The one hour though is very exciting as tourists discover more about one of their closest relatives by viewing them feed, relax or play around while in the forested mountains. Even before you get to the mountain gorillas there are always sightings of wildlife species in the forests and seeing birds and a variety of trees is definitely a must.
When To Go On A Mountain Gorilla Safari
All those interested in viewing the gorillas with minimal disturbances should go during the dry seasons (from June to august and from December to February). These are the best mountain gorilla trekking times because tourists easily move across the slopes and through the thick vegetation.
The gorillas can also be trekked in the rainy season but it maybe a little harder since some places become slippery and sometimes rain can hinder tourists from going ahead with the activity.
What To Wear
Long sleeved shirts, pants and good hiking shoes are highly recommended. Towards the end of the dry season and in the rainy season a water proof jacket and pant must not be left behind because during these times its hard to predict whether it will rain or not.
Mountain gorilla trekking permits are sold at only $750 in Rwanda, $600 in Uganda and $500.