In Uganda and DRC, Gorilla trekking is ranked number one tourist activity. The activity on their other hand is the most expensive at US$700 in Uganda, US$1500 in Rwanda and US$400 in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). For that case, gorilla trekking earns the country a lot of foreign exchange since majority of the trekkers are foreigners.
In both countries, gorilla trekking is a daily activity (basing on the availability). Starting in the morning, the end time for gorilla trekking is still un predictable. The time taken while searching for gorillas in their natural habitat is determined by the movement of Gorillas.
In DRC, gorilla trekking is done in Virunga National Park (Mountain Gorillas) and Kahuzi- Biega National Park (Low Land Gorillas). Of the two species, mountain Gorillas are highly demanded than lowland gorillas. In Uganda, gorilla trekking is done in Mgahinga National park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which are situated in western Uganda.
In Rwanda, gorilla trekking is done in Volcanoes National Park situated in northern region. The park offers the most expensive gorilla permit at US$1500. Guests on tight schedule find it easier to go on a gorilla trek in Rwanda than in Uganda and DRC. It’s 7-9hrs drive from Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National park. It’s 2hrs drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park and 1hr drive from Goma city to Virunga National Park.
What You need to Know before you Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and DRC
Know the level of fitness needed for a gorilla trekking safari. Study the terrain of the area you are hoping to trek from and practice hiking accordingly. Trek Gorillas in mountainous areas is more challenging than slightly gentle land.
You need to know the amount of Gorilla trekking. In Uganda, the cost is US$700 and US$400 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Compare the prices and choose where to trek from basing on your budget, schedule and interest. The Democratic Republic of Congo offers cheaper gorilla pass but has no direct flights to outside world like Europe, Asia, Australia etc.
Study about the current political atmosphere of any country you want to visit. Sometimes DRC experiences seasonal attacks which puts Gorilla tourism on stans still.
Know the local tour operators to deal with. You need advance contact to local tour operator to help organize your trip on the ground. They will guide you on when? Why? Where? And what?
Things to do on the day of Gorilla trekking
Ensure that you booked your gorilla permits in advance (2-3 months) before the actual date. If yes, carry all your receipts and Gorilla permits.
Be at the briefing point by 7:30am to prepare for the actual gorilla trekking exercise. Its wise to stay the previous night near the park to catch time. At the park headquarters, is where the briefing points are and the ranger guides take you through the briefing exercise for 30 minutes. During tracking, you will be equipped with Dos and Don’ts while on actual tracking.
After briefing, join groups and walk in the forests to search for Gorillas. The time taken while in the forest looking for Gorillas is determined by the movement of the Gorillas. Sometimes the duration is between 3-5hrs but occasionally takes a full day.
If you have a heavy luggage, hire a porter to help you carry your bags to and from the forest. The porters are readily available at the park headquarters. For weak, sick and old people, you can hire four porters to carry you on a stretcher.
Keep rules and regulations governing Gorilla trekking to avoid arm from Gorillas. Trekkers are expected to keep silent near the gorillas, do away with flash cameras, when gorillas charge please leave them, avoid damping in the forest and maintain a distance of 7 meters between you and Gorillas etc.
When you meet Gorillas, feel free to take photos/ films for remembrance. Stay for 1hr and thereafter, walk back to your respective accommodation.
After Gorilla trekking
- After Gorilla trekking, the participants are given certificates of completion.
- Guests go back to their respective accommodation to have lunch and refresh
- Some visitors decide to proceed to their next destination basing on their itinerary
- Tourists can decide to do afternoon activities like cultural tours, village walks, nature walks etc