gorilla tracking permit

2024 Mountain Gorilla Permit Prices in Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC

Having the most updated information on mountain gorilla permit prices for tracking mountain gorillas is key to making a comprehensive budget for your next trip to East Africa.

Gorilla tracking is an incomparable jungle adventure, not only because of the mountain gorilla’s poignant eyes but also because it presents a chance to be close to one of the few species that most closely resembles our own.  

Before you can experience this singular thrill of wading through such a verdant environment, chopping through underbrush before finally coming across these incredible animals, you need to plan. 

And that planning for your next mountain gorilla tracking adventure starts with choosing a country. For families looking forward to planning a trip with their kids, it’s worth remembering that the minimum age to do this adventure is 15. For a list of mountain gorilla facts to get you excited about your Uganda gorilla tracking adventure, check out our list here.

Now, when it comes to choosing where to indulge in this experience, there are only three countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Last updated: January 5, 2024

Gorilla Tracking or Gorilla Trekking

These two terms are often used interchangeably. Gorilla tracking refers to the idea that the rangers are tracking the gorilla families. As they are regularly moving through the forest to find fresh food, each gorilla tracking experience is different. 

Gorilla trekking can refer to the idea that we do a hike or trek to get to the gorilla families, as we need to find our way through the dense forest and the gorilla families are in regular movement. 

Still, because the gorilla families are in regular movement, we believe tourists are part of the tracking experience, too. 

Gorilla Tracking in Uganda

Uganda is one of only three global destinations where you can enjoy meeting mountain gorillas. In fact, Uganda has more than half of the existing population of mountain gorillas spread over two beautiful parks. Of the 18 known mountain gorilla families in Uganda, 17 are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and one in Mgahinga Forest

In Bwindi, there are four tracking sites: Ruhija, Buhoma, Nkuringo and Rushaga. Each site has several gorilla families, each identifiable by a unique family name.

Best season for gorilla tracking in Uganda

Bwindi is a compact rain forest that tends to be more difficult to navigate in the rainy season due to muddy, slippery slopes. Therefore, the best time to visit is the dry season between June and August and January to February

Permits and prices for tracking in Uganda

According to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a gorilla tracking permit in Uganda should cost you $700 per person. One hour entails tracking, viewing and photographing the fully habituated mountain gorilla families in either Bwindi forest or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

However, tourists that want to enjoy a more exclusive time in the company of the gorillas can opt for Gorilla Habituation permits that cost $1500 per person. In this case, tourists with desires to research or study the animals are grouped in groups of four to embark on the scintillating journey. 

The Gorilla Habituation permits are only done in Uganda and guarantee a day of tracking and three hours in the company of a wild mountain gorilla family in either Rushaga or Nkuringo in Bwindi Forest.

Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda

The immeasurable feeling of having the company of gorillas in the wild is quite a unique one. Most tourists who leave the escapades in Virunga Massif believe the experience to be life-changing. Rwanda has even bolstered its tourism campaign over the past 4 or 5 years with a well-structured team of experts to see you through your gorilla tracking trip.

Rwanda has at least 1,000 mountain gorillas, with 604 in Virunga Massif. There are 12 gorilla families staying in the Volcanoes National Park, fully habituated and a few others habituated for scientific research. Each group or family consists of at least one silverback and several females and younger ones.

COVID-19 prevention guidelines for tourists

All travelers arriving into the country must have a negative COVID-19 certificate after carrying out the SARS-CoV 2 Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction test 72 hours before departure. In addition, all travelers aged five and above must wear a mask while outside. Tourists must also fill out the guest registration and indemnity form and send it to the park electronically before the visit. 

Best season for gorilla tracking in Rwanda

The best season to go gorilla tracking in Rwanda is between June and September because it is peak season and the most prolonged dry spell. In addition, the season means easy movement to the parks, and hiking trails aren’t slippery or muddy. 

If you want a less crowded season with similar weather patterns, then book your trip between December and February with an extra incentive to catch the birding season.

Permits and prices for tracking in Rwanda

With only eight permits issued per family every day, an encounter with gorillas in Rwanda is intimate. However, there are only 96 permits issued every day and booking in advance either online or via a trusted tour company may be the best course of action.

A permit to track gorillas in Rwanda is processed depending on what you intend on doing. A traditional permit costs $1500 per person. Tourists are clustered in a group of eight members to track and spend one hour viewing and photographing a fully habituated mountain gorilla family in the Volcanoes National Park

The alternative is the exclusive experience for tourists looking for something relatively private. Here a tourist and their family to the acceptable number of 8 people to form the tracking group are permitted to track a particular gorilla group at the cost of $15,000. The amount includes private guiding services.

Gorilla Tracking in the DRC 

Update as of 2022: Currently, mountain gorilla tracking is not available in DRC. Visit Virunga, the official tourism website of the Parc National des Virunga, has the following message:
“Gorilla and Nyiragongo treks are closed until further notice. If you’d like to make a booking for 2023, please contact visit@virunga.org.”
Though it remains closed, we know you may be planning a trip for late 2022 or early 2023, so we are including our original information below. Please keep in mind that you can check with Visit Virunga to confirm the current status of mountain gorilla tracking permits in DRC.

After years of tourist inactivity, Virunga National Park reopened to visitors about ten years ago. There, tourists can enjoy gorilla tracking and Nyiragongo volcano climbs when they visit the park. With gorilla tracking becoming one of the most sought-after tourist activities, Virunga presents a serene private experience like no other. 

The park is situated in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Traveling to the national park is quite challenging from most routes except Goma Town, which is just 32 km away. Therefore, many National Park tourists fly to Kigali International Airport before accessing it by road through Gisenyi Town before crossing to Goma using a dirt road. 

Tourists from the Ugandan route can access the Bunagana Border post in Kisoro and then take an hour’s drive to the Bukima mountain gorilla tracking starting point. The park also arranges private transport for tourists arriving by air at Goma Airport.

It is important to note that Virunga Massif extends into Uganda and Rwanda. And despite its enormous expanse, there aren’t as many gorillas here as its neighbors. However, those who have visited the park have left with affirmative tales of the Kabirizi gorilla family.

COVID-19 prevention guidelines for tourists

All travelers must present an up-to-date vaccination slip, and all travelers two and above must wear a well-fitting mask when outside.

Best season for gorilla tracking in DRC

Located along the equator, DRC is known for its desirable tropical climates. The best season of the year to go gorilla tracking is between May and September, given that this is the longest dry spell of the year.

Permits and prices for gorilla tracking in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Gorilla tracking permits in Congo are cheaper than in Uganda and Rwanda. A permit will cost you about $450 and can even go as low as $200 during the low season (Between March 15th and May 15th and then between October 15th and December 15th) for non-resident tourists. Tourists can hire a porter at around $25 per track to carry their property.

Beyond gorilla tracking, each of these countries offers a number of unique experiences. If you’re looking for a helping hand planning your next trip to East Africa, we encourage you to get in touch with our team of travel specialists at Kikooko Africa Safaris.

Introduction to Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Africa

Imagine embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, deep in the heart of Africa’s lush rainforests, where you have the incredible opportunity to encounter one of the world’s most fascinating creatures—the majestic gorillas. Gorilla trekking in Africa offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience that allows you to witness these gentle giants in their natural habitat, forming an indelible connection with the natural world.

What is Mountain Gorilla Trekking?

Gorilla trekking refers to the thrilling activity of venturing into the remote corners of Africa’s dense forests in search of habituated gorilla families. This immersive experience enables you to observe these captivating primates up close, witnessing their social interactions, behavior, and the intricate dynamics of their family groups. It’s a chance to witness their astounding strength, intelligence, and striking resemblance to our own species.

Why Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Africa?

Africa is home to two species of gorillas—the endangered mountain gorillas and the critically endangered western lowland gorillas. With populations dwindling due to habitat loss, poaching, and disease, gorilla trekking not only offers an unforgettable adventure but also serves as a vital means of conservation. By participating in gorilla trekking tours, you contribute directly to the protection of gorillas and the preservation of their habitats, ensuring their survival for future generations.

Where Can You Go Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Africa?

Gorilla trekking is primarily conducted in three countries within Africa: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Each destination provides a unique experience and different opportunities to encounter gorillas in their natural environment.

Uganda:

Known as the “Pearl of Africa,” Uganda boasts two national parks that offer gorilla trekking experiences: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These parks are home to almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population, making Uganda an ideal destination for those seeking an authentic and immersive gorilla encounter.

Rwanda:

Rwanda, often referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” is renowned for its commitment to conservation and gorilla tourism. Volcanoes National Park, located in the Virunga Mountains, is Rwanda’s primary gorilla trekking destination. This extraordinary park provides a picturesque backdrop for your gorilla adventure, offering breathtaking views of volcanic peaks and lush landscapes.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC):

The DRC is a lesser-known gem for gorilla trekking, with Virunga National Park being the prime destination. While the country has faced political challenges, it remains a significant stronghold for gorilla conservation. Virunga National Park is home to both mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas, providing a unique opportunity to encounter two distinct species in one location.

Conservation Efforts for Gorillas in Africa

Gorilla trekking not only offers an enchanting encounter with these remarkable creatures but also plays a crucial role in their conservation. Across Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC, dedicated conservation organizations and park authorities work tirelessly to protect gorillas and their habitats. These efforts include anti-poaching initiatives, habitat restoration, community development projects, and education programs aimed at raising awareness about the importance of gorilla conservation.

Importance of Responsible Tourism in Gorilla Trekking

As visitors, it is essential to approach gorilla trekking with a sense of responsibility and respect for both the gorillas and their environment. Responsible tourism practices, such as following strict guidelines and regulations, maintaining a safe distance from the gorillas, and minimizing our ecological footprint, are imperative to ensure the long-term sustainability of gorilla tourism. By adhering to these principles, we can contribute to the preservation of these magnificent creatures and the fragile ecosystems they inhabit.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the planning process for your gorilla trekking adventure, including the best time to go, choosing the right destination, booking permits, necessary fitness requirements, and essential gear. We will also explore what to expect during your gorilla trekking experience, including the behavior and social structure of gorillas, potential challenges, and safety guidelines. Additionally, we will highlight other wildlife experiences and attractions in Africa, as well as sustainable tourism initiatives in gorilla trekking areas.

Prepare yourself for an unforgettable journey as we embark on an in-depth exploration of gorilla trekking in Africa—a truly transformative experience that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Planning Your Gorilla Trekking Adventure

Embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure requires careful planning to ensure a seamless and memorable experience. From choosing the right time to go and selecting the ideal destination to booking permits and arranging accommodations, each step plays a crucial role in shaping your gorilla encounter. In this section, we will delve into the essential factors to consider when planning your gorilla trekking adventure in Africa.

Best Time to Go Gorilla Trekking in Africa

The timing of your gorilla trekking expedition is essential, as it can greatly impact your overall experience. While gorilla trekking is possible throughout the year, certain seasons offer more favorable conditions for optimal sightings and trekking conditions.

The dry seasons, typically occurring from December to February and June to September, are considered the best times to go gorilla trekking. During these periods, rainfall is minimal, making the trails more accessible and increasing the chances of encountering gorillas.

How to Choose the Right Destination for Gorilla Trekking

Africa offers multiple destinations for gorilla trekking, each with its own unique advantages and characteristics. Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are the primary countries that provide gorilla trekking opportunities. When choosing your destination, consider factors such as the size of the gorilla population, trekking difficulty, availability of permits, cost, and the overall experience you desire.

Uganda, known as the “Pearl of Africa,” is home to almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are the two main parks in Uganda for gorilla trekking. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts a rich biodiversity and offers a more challenging trekking experience. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, situated in the Virunga Mountains, provides an opportunity to trek gorillas within a stunning volcanic landscape.

Rwanda, often referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” is renowned for its commitment to gorilla conservation. Volcanoes National Park, located in the Virunga Mountains, is Rwanda’s primary gorilla trekking destination. The park offers breathtaking views and a relatively easier trekking experience compared to other destinations.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a lesser-known but equally captivating destination for gorilla trekking. Virunga National Park in the eastern part of the country is home to both mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas. Unfortunately, it is not currently available for gorilla trekking tours.

When choosing your destination, consider factors such as accessibility, budget, and any specific preferences you may have, such as combining gorilla trekking with other wildlife experiences or cultural encounters.

Booking Permits for Gorilla Trekking

Obtaining permits is a crucial step in planning your gorilla trekking adventure. Permits are required to enter the national parks and spend a designated amount of time with the gorillas. Due to the limited number of permits issued each day to ensure the gorillas’ well-being, it is advisable to book your permits well in advance.

The process of securing permits varies depending on the country and park you choose. In Uganda, permits can be obtained through the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) or authorized tour operators. In Rwanda, permits are issued by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and in the DRC, permits can be obtained through the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) or authorized tour operators.

It is essential to be aware of the permit fees, which can vary between countries and even within different parks. These fees contribute to gorilla conservation efforts and the local communities surrounding the parks. By obtaining permits and paying the associated fees, you directly contribute to the long-term protection of gorillas and their habitats.

Accommodation Options for Gorilla Trekking Tours

Choosing the right accommodation is another critical aspect of planning your gorilla trekking adventure. Each destination offers a range of lodging options, from luxury lodges to budget-friendly accommodations, ensuring that there is something suitable for every traveler’s preferences and budget.

In Uganda, you can find a variety of accommodations near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, ranging from eco-lodges to luxury safari lodges. These accommodations provide comfortable amenities and often offer stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

In Rwanda, accommodations near Volcanoes National Park cater to different budgets and preferences. From luxurious lodges to charming guesthouses, you can find options that suit your needs while providing easy access to the park for your gorilla trekking adventures.

When selecting your accommodation, consider factors such as proximity to the park, amenities offered, customer reviews, and the overall experience you desire. It is advisable to book your accommodations well in advance, as availability can be limited during peak seasons.

Safety Guidelines and Regulations During Gorilla Trekking

Responsible tourism and safety guidelines are of utmost importance during gorilla trekking to ensure the well-being of both visitors and the gorillas. Here are some essential safety guidelines to adhere to:

  1. Follow Your Guide: Always listen to and follow the instructions of your experienced guide. They are well-versed in gorilla behavior and will ensure your safety throughout the trek.
  2. Maintain Distance: Respect the recommended distance between you and the gorillas. Keeping a minimum distance of 7 meters (23 feet) helps minimize stress and prevents the transmission of diseases.
  3. Don’t Touch the Gorillas: While it may be tempting, refrain from touching or making any physical contact with the gorillas. This helps maintain their wild behavior and prevents potential harm to both parties.
  4. Keep Quiet: Speak softly and avoid making sudden loud noises that could startle the gorillas. This helps maintain a calm and peaceful environment for the gorillas and allows you to observe their natural behavior.
  5. Do Not Eat or Drink Near the Gorillas: Eating or drinking in close proximity to the gorillas can provoke their curiosity and potentially create dangerous situations. It is essential to follow the guidelines provided by your guide regarding food and drinks.
  6. Do Not Litter: Respect the environment and ensure that you carry out all trash and waste. Leaving a clean and pristine environment helps preserve the natural habitat of the gorillas.

Cultural Sensitivity and Etiquette When Interacting with Gorillas

Respecting the local culture and observing proper etiquette when interacting with gorillas is essential. Here are some cultural sensitivity guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Dress Appropriately: Dress modestly and respectfully when visiting local communities near the gorilla trekking destinations. Follow any specific dress codes or guidelines provided by your guide.
  2. Ask Permission for Photography: If you wish to take photographs of local communities or individuals, always ask for permission first. Respect their privacy and cultural beliefs.
  3. Observe and Learn: Take the time to observe and learn about the local customs and traditions. Engage respectfully with the local communities, showing appreciation for their way of life.

By following these safety guidelines and cultural sensitivities, you can ensure a respectful and responsible gorilla trekking experience that benefits both the gorillas and the local communities.

The Gorilla Trekking Experience: What’s The Day Like?

The moment has arrived—the day you embark on a thrilling and unforgettable gorilla trekking experience. In this section, we will delve into what you can expect during your gorilla trekking day, including the different trekking routes and difficulty levels, the behavior and social structure of gorillas, potential challenges, and safety guidelines.

Gorilla Habituation vs. Gorilla Trekking: What’s the Difference?

Before we dive into the gorilla trekking experience, it’s essential to understand the distinction between gorilla habituation and gorilla trekking. Gorilla habituation involves spending an extended period with a gorilla family that is in the process of being habituated to human presence. This immersive experience allows researchers and conservationists to closely study and monitor gorilla behavior. Gorilla habituation experiences are usually longer and more expensive.

On the other hand, gorilla trekking involves visiting a habituated gorilla family that is accustomed to human presence. Treks typically last a few hours, allowing visitors to observe and photograph the gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking offers a unique opportunity to encounter these magnificent creatures up close, while still respecting their wild nature.

Gorilla Trekking Routes and Difficulty Levels

Gorilla trekking routes vary depending on the destination and the specific gorilla families being visited. Each trekking route offers a unique experience, from dense forests to open clearings, and varying levels of difficulty. Here are some examples of popular gorilla trekking routes:

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers several trekking routes, each providing a different experience. The routes include Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. Some routes involve steeper terrains and longer treks, while others offer more moderate options. The difficulty level will depend on the specific route chosen and the trekking conditions on the day of your visit.
  • Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda: Volcanoes National Park features several gorilla trekking routes, including Sabyinyo, Susa, Amahoro, Kwitonda, and Hirwa. The difficulty level of these routes can vary, with some treks involving steeper climbs and longer distances. The park authorities and guides will assess the fitness level of visitors and assign them to appropriate groups based on their capabilities.

When choosing your trekking route, it is important to consider your fitness level, preferences, and any physical limitations. Communicate openly with your tour operator or guide, who will help you select a route that suits your capabilities and desires.

What to Expect During a Gorilla Trekking Day

On the day of your gorilla trek, you will rise early in anticipation of the adventure ahead. After a hearty breakfast, you will meet your guide and fellow trekkers and receive a briefing on the rules and regulations to ensure a safe and respectful experience. The guide will provide information about the specific gorilla family you will be visiting, their behavior, and any particular guidelines for the trek.

Once the briefing is complete, you will embark on your trek into the heart of the forest. The duration of the trek can vary, ranging from one to several hours, depending on the location of the gorilla family and the terrain. As you make your way through the lush vegetation, your guide will lead you along narrow trails, pointing out interesting flora and fauna along the way.

When you approach the gorilla family’s location, you will leave your backpacks and any unnecessary gear behind and proceed quietly and cautiously. The moment you encounter the gorillas face-to-face is truly awe-inspiring. You will have a designated amount of time to observe, photograph, and immerse yourself in the mesmerizing presence of these gentle giants.

During this time, you will witness the gorillas’ social interactions, observing their behavior and the dynamics within the family. You may see the dominant silverback, the protective mothers, playful juveniles, and perhaps even witness the intriguing communication between them. It is important to follow the guidelines provided by your guide, maintaining a respectful distance and refraining from any sudden movements or loud noises.

The encounter with the gorillas is usually limited to a maximum of one hour to minimize disturbance and ensure the gorillas’ well-being. After this incredible experience, you will slowly trek back to the starting point, reflecting on the profound connection you’ve established with these remarkable creatures.

Interacting with Gorillas: Behavior, Communication, and Social Structure

One of the most captivating aspects of gorilla trekking is observing the behavior, communication, and social structure of these magnificent creatures. Gorillas share many similarities with humans, exhibiting complex social interactions and emotional bonds within their family groups.

Gorillas live in stable family units called troops or groups, led by a dominant silverback—the adult male in charge. The silverback plays a vital role in protecting the family and making important decisions. Female gorillas, called adult females or mothers, are responsible for nurturing and raising their offspring. The young gorillas, known as juveniles, engage in playful activities that help them develop important social and survival skills.

Gorillas communicate using a variety of vocalizations, body language, and facial expressions. The most recognizable vocalization is the deep chest-beating sound made by the silverback, which serves as a display of dominance and a warning to potential rivals. Other vocalizations include grunts, barks, roars, and hoots, each carrying different meanings within the gorilla communication system.

Gorillas also rely on non-verbal communication through body postures and facial expressions. They use gestures such as arm movements, chest beating, and head nods to convey messages, establish dominance, or express submission. Observing and interpreting these behaviors during your gorilla trekking experience adds a deeper level of understanding and appreciation for these incredible creatures.

Potential Challenges and Risks During Gorilla Trekking

While gorilla trekking is an extraordinary experience, it is essential to be aware of potential challenges and risks that may arise during the trek. These challenges can include:

  • Difficult Terrain: Gorilla trekking often involves navigating through dense forests, steep slopes, and sometimes muddy or slippery terrain. It is important to be prepared physically and mentally for these challenges and to follow the guidance of your guide.
  • Altitude and Weather: Some gorilla trekking destinations are located at higher altitudes, which may cause altitude-related symptoms such as shortness of breath or fatigue. Additionally, weather conditions can change rapidly, and it is important to be prepared for rain or cooler temperatures.
  • Encounters with Other Wildlife: While gorillas are the main attraction, it is common to encounter other wildlife during the trek, such as monkeys, birds, and various insect species. Your guide will provide guidance on how to interact with these animals respectfully and safely.
  • Unpredictable Gorilla Behavior: Gorillas are wild animals, and their behavior can be unpredictable. While habituated gorillas are accustomed to human presence, it is important to always follow the guidelines provided by your guide and maintain a respectful distance to ensure the safety of both visitors and gorillas.
  • Physical Fitness and Stamina: Gorilla trekking can be physically demanding, requiring stamina and endurance to navigate through challenging terrain. It is important to assess your fitness level and prepare accordingly to ensure an enjoyable experience.

By being aware of these potential challenges and risks and preparing adequately, you can minimize any potential difficulties and fully embrace the extraordinary adventure of gorilla trekking.

Other Wildlife Experiences and Attractions in Africa

While gorilla trekking is undoubtedly the highlight of any trip to Africa, the continent offers a wealth of other wildlife experiences and attractions that can complement your gorilla adventure. From encountering diverse wildlife species to exploring stunning national parks and engaging with local communities, Africa has something to offer every nature enthusiast. In this section, we will explore some of the additional wildlife experiences and attractions you can enjoy beyond gorilla trekking.

Additional Wildlife Encounters in Africa

Africa is renowned for its incredible biodiversity and the opportunity to witness a wide array of wildlife species in their natural habitats. Here are some remarkable wildlife encounters you can experience:

Big Five Safaris:

Embark on a thrilling Big Five safari to spot Africa’s most iconic and majestic animals—elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos, and rhinos. Several national parks and reserves in Africa, such as the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, offer exceptional opportunities for Big Five sightings. This is also possible in Uganda and Rwanda.

Primate Encounters:

In addition to gorillas, Africa is home to various primate species. Embark on primate tracking experiences to encounter chimpanzees, golden monkeys, baboons, and colobus monkeys. Destinations such as Kibale Forest National Park in Uganda, Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda, and Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania offer unique primate encounters.

Safari Walks and Game Drives:

Explore the African wilderness on foot during guided safari walks, allowing you to discover the smaller details of the ecosystem and learn about the flora and fauna from knowledgeable guides. Alternatively, embark on thrilling game drives in open safari vehicles, providing excellent opportunities to spot a wide range of wildlife.

Bird Watching:

Africa boasts an incredible diversity of bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. From vibrant African sunbirds to majestic raptors and iconic species like the African grey parrot, birdwatching enthusiasts can enjoy sightings in various habitats, including wetlands, savannas, and rainforests.

Cultural Experiences and Local Communities in Gorilla Trekking Destinations

Beyond wildlife encounters, Africa is rich in diverse cultures and vibrant local communities. Engaging with these communities can provide a deeper understanding of the region’s history, traditions, and way of life. Here are some cultural experiences to consider:

Village Visits:

Participate in village visits to learn about the local communities and their traditional practices. Interact with community members, witness traditional dances, and experience their daily lives. This provides an opportunity to support local economies and gain valuable insights into their unique cultures.

Cultural Festivals:

Attend cultural festivals celebrated by local communities, where you can witness traditional ceremonies, music, dance performances, and colorful displays of traditional attire. These festivals often highlight the rich heritage and customs of the communities.

Crafts and Art:

Explore local markets and workshops to discover traditional crafts and art forms. From intricate wood carvings to vibrant textiles and beadwork, these creations showcase the skill and creativity of local artisans.

Homestays:

Consider staying with a local family for a more immersive cultural experience. This allows you to engage directly with community members, learn about their customs, and contribute to the local economy.

By engaging in cultural experiences and supporting local communities, you not only gain a deeper appreciation for the region but also contribute to their sustainable development and preservation of their traditions.

Sustainable Tourism Initiatives in Gorilla Trekking Areas

Sustainable tourism is crucial for the long-term conservation of gorillas and their habitats. Many organizations and initiatives in gorilla trekking areas are dedicated to sustainable development, conservation, and community empowerment. Here are some examples of sustainable tourism initiatives in gorilla trekking destinations:

Community-Based Tourism Projects:

Several community-based tourism projects have been established to benefit local communities living near gorilla habitats. These initiatives provide alternative livelihood opportunities through activities such as cultural tourism, handicraft production, and guesthouse operations. By engaging in community-based tourism, you directly support local communities, contributing to their economic empowerment and reducing their reliance on activities that may harm gorillas and their habitats.

Conservation Education and Research:

Conservation organizations and research institutions conduct educational programs and research initiatives to raise awareness about gorilla conservation. These initiatives focus on educating local communities, visitors, and future generations about the importance of conservation and sustainable tourism practices.

Anti-Poaching and Wildlife Protection:

Efforts to combat poaching and protect gorillas and other wildlife are crucial for their survival. Many organizations collaborate with local communities and governments to implement anti-poaching measures, conduct patrols, and provide training and equipment to park rangers. These efforts help safeguard the gorilla populations and their habitats.

Responsible Tourism Practices:

Tour operators and lodges in gorilla trekking destinations play a vital role in promoting responsible tourism practices. They adhere to strict guidelines to minimize the impact on gorillas and their habitats. These guidelines include limiting the number of visitors, maintaining a safe distance from gorillas, and ensuring proper waste management and sustainability practices.

By supporting these sustainable tourism initiatives, you contribute to the long-term conservation of gorillas and their habitats, while also helping to improve the livelihoods of local communities.

In the next section, we will provide tips for extending your trip and exploring Africa further, allowing you to make the most of your visit to this remarkable continent.

Book Your Mountain Gorilla Trekking Tour With Kikooko Africa Safaris

Want to learn more about mountain gorilla trekking? Feel free to contact the team at Kikooko Africa Safaris to get a suggested itinerary, check about permit availability, and more!

Best Place to See Mountain Gorillas in the Wild

Gorillas, our majestic and intelligent primate cousins, have captivated the hearts and minds of people around the globe. These incredible creatures not only share a striking resemblance to us but also exhibit a complex social structure that is both fascinating and awe-inspiring.

While some gorillas can be found in zoos and sanctuaries, witnessing them in their natural habitat is a truly unparalleled experience. Plus, for others, like the mountain gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda, it is only possible to visit them in the wild.

In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the world of gorilla trekking and explore the best places to see gorillas in the wild.

Understanding Gorillas

Before we embark on our journey to discover the best locations for gorilla trekking, it is essential to gain a deeper understanding of these magnificent creatures. Gorillas are divided into two species: the Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei) and the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla).

Each species is further classified into subspecies, including the critically endangered mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) and the endangered western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla).

Gorillas primarily inhabit the dense forests of central and eastern Africa. From the misty mountains of Virunga National Park to the impenetrable jungles of Bwindi, these primates have carved out their territories in some of the most remote and breathtaking locations on the planet. Their social structure revolves around cohesive family units led by a dominant silverback male, with females and their offspring forming the core of the group.

Sadly, gorillas face numerous threats to their survival, including habitat loss, poaching, and disease. Conservation efforts have been instrumental in protecting these remarkable creatures, but our responsibility to ensure their existence in the wild remains crucial.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Place to See Gorillas

When planning a gorilla trekking adventure, several factors come into play. The choice of the destination plays a vital role in determining the quality of your experience. Considerations such as geographic location, accessibility, cost, permits and regulations, group size, trekking difficulty, safety, and climate should all be taken into account.

Geographic location and accessibility are important factors to consider when choosing a destination for gorilla trekking. The proximity to major cities, availability of transportation options, and ease of access to the gorilla habitats can significantly impact your overall experience. Some locations may require long and arduous journeys, while others may offer more convenient access.

Additionally, budget considerations play a role in determining the best place to see gorillas in the wild. Costs associated with permits, accommodations, transportation, and other expenses can vary depending on the destination. It is essential to research and plan accordingly to ensure that your trip fits within your financial means.

Permits and regulations are crucial aspects of gorilla trekking. Due to the fragile nature of gorilla populations, permits are typically required to visit them in their natural habitat. These permits help regulate the number of visitors and contribute to conservation efforts. It is important to understand the permit application process, availability, and any specific regulations associated with each destination.

Group size and trekking difficulty are factors that can greatly impact your gorilla trekking experience. Some destinations limit the number of visitors per gorilla family, ensuring a more intimate encounter. Additionally, the terrain and hiking conditions can vary, ranging from relatively easy to strenuous. Considering your physical fitness level and preferences is important when choosing the best place to see gorillas.

Safety is paramount when venturing into the wild to see gorillas. It is crucial to select destinations that prioritize visitor safety and have established protocols in place. Local guides and trackers with extensive knowledge of gorilla behavior and the surrounding environment play a vital role in ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.

Lastly, climate and weather conditions are factors to be mindful of when planning your gorilla trekking adventure. Understanding the seasonality, rainfall patterns, and temperature variations can help you make informed decisions on the best time to visit and what to pack for your trip.

In the next sections, we will explore three of the top destinations for gorilla trekking: Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each location offers a unique experience, and understanding the specific characteristics of these destinations will aid in making an informed choice for your gorilla trekking adventure.

Top Destinations for Gorilla Trekking

When it comes to gorilla trekking, there are a few standout destinations that offer incredible opportunities to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Each destination has its own unique characteristics, from the lush landscapes of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to the dense jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and the rugged terrain of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Let’s explore these top destinations in detail:

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Located in the Virunga Mountains, Volcanoes National Park is a haven for the critically endangered mountain gorillas. The park covers an area of approximately 160 square kilometers and is home to ten habituated gorilla families. The lush volcanic landscape, characterized by mist-shrouded peaks, dense bamboo forests, and vibrant flora, sets the stage for an unforgettable gorilla trekking experience.

One of the key advantages of visiting Volcanoes National Park is its proximity to the capital city of Kigali. This makes it easily accessible for travelers and reduces travel time. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by the warm hospitality of the Rwandan people and can immerse themselves in the vibrant local culture.

Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is a well-regulated activity, with strict guidelines in place to ensure the safety and well-being of both the gorillas and visitors. Each day, a limited number of permits are issued, allowing for a small group of visitors to embark on the trek to see a specific gorilla family. This ensures an intimate and immersive experience, where you can observe the gorillas in their natural habitat without feeling crowded or rushed.

The trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park can vary in duration and difficulty, depending on the location of the gorilla family being visited. Treks can range from a few hours to a full day, and the terrain can be steep and challenging at times. However, the reward of encountering these gentle giants up close is well worth the effort.

After an exhilarating day of gorilla trekking, visitors can retreat to one of the many lodges and accommodations available near the park. These accommodations range from luxury lodges to more budget-friendly options, ensuring there is something for every traveler’s preferences and budget.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Nestled amidst the mist-covered hills of southwestern Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population. The park spans an area of approximately 331 square kilometers and is renowned for its incredible biodiversity, encompassing dense forests, cascading waterfalls, and a rich variety of plant and animal species.

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi offers a truly immersive experience, as visitors navigate through the dense undergrowth and rugged terrain in search of the habituated gorilla families. The park is divided into different sectors, each offering a unique trekking experience. The sectors include Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo, each with its own set of gorilla families available for visitation.

One of the key advantages of visiting Bwindi is the opportunity to combine gorilla trekking with cultural interactions. The park is surrounded by local communities, and visitors can engage in community-based activities such as village walks, cultural performances, and craft workshops. This not only adds depth to the overall experience but also contributes to the sustainable development of the local communities.

As with Volcanoes National Park, permits are required to undertake gorilla trekking in Bwindi. The permits are limited in number to ensure the conservation of the gorillas and their habitat. It is advisable to book permits well in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly, especially during peak seasons.

Accommodation options in Bwindi range from luxury lodges to eco-friendly and budget-friendly lodges, ensuring there is something to suit every traveler’s preferences. Many of these lodges offer stunning views of the surrounding forest and provide a comfortable base for relaxation after an exhilarating day of gorilla trekking.

Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo

Virunga National Park, located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is Africa’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spanning an area of approximately 7,800 square kilometers, the park is renowned for its diverse ecosystems, including volcanic mountains, dense forests, savannahs, and the iconic Lake Edward.

Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park offers a truly adventurous experience, as visitors traverse through rugged terrain and dense vegetation in search of the charismatic mountain gorillas. The park is home to several habituated gorilla families, each with its own unique dynamics and behaviors.

One of the unique aspects of gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park is the opportunity to combine it with other exciting activities. Visitors can embark on volcano hikes to summit Mount Nyiragongo, an active volcano known for its lava lake, or go on a thrilling wildlife safari to spot other incredible species such as chimpanzees, elephants, and hippos.

The park rangers and staff work tirelessly to ensure the well-being of the gorillas and the safety of visitors. However, it is important to stay updated on the current situation and any travel advisories before planning a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Currently mountain gorilla trekking is not permitted for tourists here.


Planning and Preparing for Gorilla Trekking

Embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. From booking your trip to obtaining permits and visas, taking care of your physical fitness, and knowing what to pack, there are several important aspects to consider. In this section, we will guide you through the essential steps to help you plan and prepare for your gorilla trekking adventure.

Booking Your Trip

When it comes to booking your gorilla trekking trip, it is advisable to plan well in advance. Gorilla permits, which grant you access to visit the habituated gorilla families, are limited in number and can sell out quickly, especially during peak seasons. It is recommended to book your permits several months in advance to secure your spot.

To book your trip, you can either reach out to tour operators specializing in gorilla trekking or directly contact the national park authorities responsible for issuing the permits. It is important to research reputable operators or agencies that have experience in organizing gorilla trekking trips and have a strong commitment to responsible tourism and conservation.

When selecting a tour operator, consider factors such as their track record, customer reviews, and the services they offer. A reliable operator will assist you in securing permits, arranging transportation, and providing knowledgeable guides who will enhance your overall experience. They can also help you with additional activities, accommodations, and other logistics related to your trip.

Obtaining Permits and Visas

Permits are a prerequisite for gorilla trekking, and each destination has its own permit issuance process. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements and procedures for obtaining permits in your chosen destination.

In Rwanda, permits for Volcanoes National Park can be obtained through the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). The RDB has an online booking system, and it is recommended to apply early to ensure availability. Depending on your nationality, you may also need to obtain a visa to enter Rwanda, which can typically be obtained upon arrival at the airport or through an e-visa application.

For gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, permits can be obtained through the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The UWA has an online booking system as well, and it is advisable to apply for permits in advance. Uganda also requires visitors to obtain a tourist visa, which can be obtained online or upon arrival at the designated entry points.

In the case of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, permits can be obtained through the park authorities. Due to the ever-changing security situation in the region, it is crucial to stay updated on travel advisories and ensure that it is safe to visit the park. The Democratic Republic of Congo also requires visitors to obtain a visa in advance, which can be obtained through the embassy or consulate of the country.

Physical Fitness and Health Considerations

Gorilla trekking involves hiking through dense forests and rugged terrains, which can be physically demanding. It is important to assess your physical fitness level and consult with a healthcare professional before embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure. While the trekking duration and difficulty can vary, being in good health and having a reasonable level of fitness will enhance your overall experience.

It is also advisable to get vaccinated and take necessary precautions to protect your health during the trip. Consult with a travel medicine specialist or your healthcare provider to receive up-to-date information on recommended vaccinations, malaria prophylaxis, and any specific health concerns related to the destination.

What to Pack for a Gorilla Trek

Packing the right gear and essentials is essential to ensure your comfort and safety during the gorilla trek. Here are some items that should be included in your packing list:

  1. Sturdy Hiking Boots: Invest in a good pair of hiking boots with ankle support and a strong grip for traversing uneven terrain.
  2. Comfortable Clothing: Dress in layers, as temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day. Opt for lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics that dry quickly. Long-sleeved shirts and pants will protect you from insects and thorny vegetation.
  3. Rain Gear: Pack a waterproof jacket, pants, and a poncho or rain cover for your backpack, as rain showers are common in gorilla habitats.
  4. Daypack: Carry a small daypack to hold essentials such as water, snacks, camera equipment, and personal items.
  5. Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated by carrying a refillable water bottle. Pack energy-boosting snacks to keep you fueled during the trek.
  6. Insect Repellent: Protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects by applying insect repellent with DEET or another effective ingredient.
  7. Sun Protection: Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to shield yourself from the sun’s rays.
  8. Camera and Binoculars: Capture the incredible moments and wildlife encounters with a good quality camera. Binoculars will enhance your ability to spot wildlife in the distance.
  9. First Aid Kit: Carry a basic first aid kit with essentials such as band-aids, antiseptic cream, pain relievers, and any necessary prescription medications.
  10. Other Essentials: Don’t forget to pack a headlamp or flashlight, extra batteries, a power bank, a waterproof bag for your electronics, and a trekking pole for added stability.

Dos and Don’ts During the Trek

Responsible gorilla trekking involves adhering to certain guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of both the gorillas and visitors. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind during your gorilla trek:

Dos:

  • Follow the instructions of your guide and ranger at all times.
  • Keep a distance of at least 7 meters (21 feet) from the gorillas.
  • Maintain a quiet and calm demeanor during the encounter.
  • Observe the gorillas without direct eye contact or pointing.
  • Stay in your group and avoid approaching the gorillas if they move closer to you.
  • Respect the gorillas’ territory and do not touch or feed them.

Don’ts:

  • Do not trek if you are feeling unwell, as gorillas are susceptible to human diseases.
  • Do not use flash photography, as it can disturb the gorillas.
  • Do not litter or leave any trace behind. Respect the environment and pack out what you bring in.
  • Do not attempt to mimic gorilla vocalizations or behaviors.
  • Do not consume food or drinks in the presence of the gorillas.

Following these guidelines will help ensure a safe and respectful encounter with the gorillas while minimizing any potential negative impact on their natural behavior.

Effective Communication and Order Management

Effective communication and order management are crucial aspects of a successful gorilla trekking experience. During the trek, clear communication between guides, rangers, and visitors ensures a safe and coordinated adventure while maximizing the chances of locating and observing the gorillas. In this section, we will explore the importance of effective communication and order management, as well as the roles of the various individuals involved.

The Role of Guides and Trackers

Guides and trackers play a pivotal role in ensuring a successful gorilla trekking experience. These knowledgeable individuals are well-trained in gorilla behavior, habitat, and tracking techniques. They possess a deep understanding of the gorillas’ movements and are skilled at interpreting signs of their presence, such as tracks, dung, and feeding sites.

During the trek, guides lead the way, guiding visitors through the dense forests and navigating the terrain. They provide insights about the gorillas, their behavior, and the surrounding ecosystem. Their expertise enhances the overall experience, enriching visitors’ understanding of these magnificent creatures and their conservation needs.

Trackers work closely with the guides to locate the gorilla families before visitors embark on the trek. They venture into the forest early in the morning, following the gorillas’ trails from the previous day. Their expertise in tracking allows them to locate the gorillas’ current whereabouts and communicate this information to the guides, ensuring a timely and efficient trekking experience.

Group Management and Order

To ensure a controlled and harmonious gorilla trekking experience, visitors are divided into small groups, typically consisting of a maximum of eight individuals. This group management system allows for a more intimate encounter with the gorillas while minimizing disturbance to their natural behavior.

Group management and order are carefully maintained during the trek to ensure the safety of both visitors and gorillas. The groups are assigned specific gorilla families to visit, and each group is accompanied by a guide and armed rangers for protection. The rangers act as a line of defense in case of any potential threats and also help to enforce the rules and regulations of gorilla trekking.

Visitors are expected to follow the instructions and guidance of their guide and rangers at all times. This includes maintaining a safe distance from the gorillas, remaining calm and quiet during the encounter, and respecting the gorillas’ habitat. By adhering to these guidelines, visitors contribute to the conservation efforts and help protect the gorillas’ natural behavior.

Communication Techniques

Effective communication between guides, trackers, and visitors is essential for a smooth and coordinated gorilla trekking experience. Guides use various techniques to communicate important information and ensure a seamless encounter with the gorillas. These techniques may include:

  • Verbal Communication: Guides communicate orally with visitors, providing instructions, sharing knowledge about gorillas, and answering questions. They use clear and concise language to convey information effectively.
  • Non-verbal Communication: Non-verbal cues, such as hand signals and gestures, are commonly used to communicate silently during the trek. Guides may use these signals to indicate when to stop, crouch down, or maintain distance from the gorillas.
  • Whispering: During the encounter with the gorillas, guides may advise visitors to whisper or speak softly to minimize any disturbance. This helps maintain a calm and peaceful atmosphere, ensuring a more natural interaction with the gorillas.
  • Radio Communication: Guides and trackers may use two-way radios to communicate with each other and share information about gorilla locations or any changes in the trekking plan. This allows for real-time updates and ensures a coordinated effort among the different groups.

By employing these communication techniques, guides and trackers facilitate effective coordination, enhance safety measures, and maximize the chances of a successful gorilla trekking experience.

The Importance of Respectful Behavior

Respecting the gorillas and their habitat is paramount during the trek. It is essential to adhere to the rules and regulations set in place to protect these endangered creatures. By demonstrating respectful behavior, visitors contribute to the long-term conservation of gorillas and their fragile ecosystems.

Respectful behavior includes maintaining a safe distance from the gorillas, refraining from touching or feeding them, and avoiding direct eye contact or pointing. It is important to remember that gorillas are wild animals and should be treated as such. By observing them from a distance and allowing them to go about their daily activities undisturbed, visitors can ensure a more natural and authentic encounter.

Additionally, respecting the environment and leaving no trace is crucial. Visitors should avoid littering and ensure that all waste is properly disposed of. By minimizing our impact on the gorillas’ habitat, we contribute to the preservation of their natural environment for future generations to enjoy.

In conclusion, effective communication and order management are vital components of a successful and meaningful gorilla trekking experience. Guides and trackers play a crucial role in guiding visitors, locating the gorillas, and providing valuable insights. By following their instructions, respecting the environment, and demonstrating respectful behavior, visitors can contribute to the conservation efforts and ensure a memorable encounter with these awe-inspiring creatures.

Conservation Efforts and Impact of Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking not only provides an extraordinary wildlife experience but also plays a significant role in the conservation of these incredible creatures and their fragile ecosystems. In this section, we will explore the conservation efforts in place and the positive impact that gorilla trekking has on gorilla populations, local communities, and the overall conservation landscape.

Conservation Organizations and Initiatives

Numerous conservation organizations and initiatives are dedicated to the protection and preservation of gorillas and their habitats. These organizations work closely with local communities, governments, and other stakeholders to implement strategies that address the various threats faced by gorillas, including habitat loss, poaching, and disease.

One such organization is the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), a partnership between the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The IGCP focuses on conservation efforts in the Virunga Massif, which spans across Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their work includes habitat protection, community engagement, law enforcement, and research.

Other organizations, such as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, the Gorilla Doctors, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, also contribute to gorilla conservation through research, veterinary care, and community development programs. These organizations play a crucial role in monitoring gorilla populations, studying their behavior, providing medical assistance, and raising awareness about the importance of gorilla conservation.

Economic Benefits and Community Development

Gorilla trekking has significant economic benefits for the local communities residing near gorilla habitats. The revenue generated from gorilla permits, accommodation, transportation, and other related services contributes to the development of infrastructure, education, healthcare, and other essential needs of the communities.

By providing employment opportunities, gorilla trekking helps alleviate poverty and improve the livelihoods of local residents. It creates jobs as guides, trackers, porters, lodge staff, and various support services. These employment opportunities empower local communities, enabling them to participate actively in conservation efforts and promoting a sense of ownership and stewardship towards the gorillas and their habitats.

Furthermore, gorilla trekking has led to the growth of sustainable tourism in the region. The influx of visitors contributes to the local economy, stimulates the growth of small businesses, and encourages the development of eco-friendly accommodations and services. This, in turn, fosters a more sustainable approach to tourism, ensuring that the economic benefits are balanced with the long-term conservation of gorillas and their habitats.

Conservation Education and Awareness

Gorilla trekking serves as a powerful tool for raising awareness about gorilla conservation and broader environmental issues. Through direct encounters with gorillas and the guidance of knowledgeable guides, visitors gain a deeper understanding of the importance of conserving these remarkable creatures and the ecosystems they inhabit.

During the trek, guides often share information about the threats facing gorillas, the ongoing conservation efforts, and the role that visitors can play in supporting conservation initiatives. This educational component of gorilla trekking helps create a sense of environmental responsibility and encourages visitors to become advocates for gorilla conservation in their own communities.

Furthermore, the revenue generated from gorilla permits and tourism activities is often reinvested in education and awareness programs. These programs target local communities, schools, and tourists, providing information about the significance of gorilla conservation and the need to protect their habitats. By fostering a culture of conservation awareness, these initiatives contribute to the long-term sustainability of gorilla populations and their fragile ecosystems.

Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel

As the demand for gorilla trekking experiences continues to grow, it is essential to ensure that tourism activities are conducted in a sustainable and responsible manner. Sustainable tourism practices aim to minimize negative impacts on the environment, respect local cultures, and support conservation efforts.

Responsible travelers can contribute to the conservation of gorillas by choosing tour operators and accommodations that prioritize sustainability and conservation. These operators adhere to ethical guidelines, support local communities, and minimize their environmental footprint. By selecting responsible operators, visitors can ensure that their tourism activities have a positive impact on gorilla conservation and local development.

Additionally, visitors should adhere to the guidelines and regulations set in place during gorilla treks. By following the instructions of guides and rangers, maintaining a respectful distance from the gorillas, and respecting their habitat, visitors can minimize disturbance and help protect the gorillas’ natural behavior.

In conclusion, gorilla trekking has a profound impact on gorilla conservation, local communities, and the broader conservation landscape. Through the efforts of conservation organizations, economic benefits for communities, conservation education, and responsible tourism practices, gorilla populations have a better chance of survival. By embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure, visitors not only have the opportunity to witness these incredible creatures in their natural habitat but also contribute to their long-term conservation.


Planning and Preparing for Gorilla Trekking

Embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure is an exciting and once-in-a-lifetime experience. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, proper planning and preparation are essential. In this section, we will guide you through the necessary steps to plan and prepare for your gorilla trekking adventure.

Booking Your Trip

The first step in planning your gorilla trekking adventure is to book your trip. Research reputable tour operators or travel agencies that specialize in gorilla trekking and have a good track record. They can assist you in arranging all the necessary logistics, including permits, accommodations, transportation, and guides.

As Kikooko Africa Safaris, we’ve been providing gorilla trekking tours since our launch in 2013. In addition to conservation efforts, our tours also support the local communities here in Uganda.

It is important to book your trip well in advance, especially during peak seasons when demand for gorilla permits is high. Gorilla permits are limited and tend to sell out quickly. Make sure to check the availability of permits and secure them as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Choosing the Right Destination

There are several destinations where you can see gorillas in the wild, including Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each destination offers a unique experience, and your choice will depend on factors such as accessibility, budget, and personal preferences.

Consider the location and accessibility of each destination. Some may require long flights or overland travel, while others may be more easily accessible. Take into account the associated costs of travel, permits, accommodations, and other expenses to ensure that it aligns with your budget.

Research the specific rules and regulations of each destination, including permit requirements, group size limitations, and trekking guidelines. This will help you understand the expectations and prepare accordingly for your gorilla trekking adventure.

Obtaining Gorilla Permits

Gorilla permits are required to visit the habituated gorilla families in their natural habitat. These permits are issued by the respective national park authorities and are limited in number to regulate the number of visitors and minimize the impact on gorilla populations.

To obtain gorilla permits, contact the national park authorities or work with a reputable tour operator who can assist you in the permit application process. Be prepared to provide necessary information such as travel dates, passport details, and payment. It is advisable to apply for permits well in advance, as they can sell out quickly, especially during peak seasons.

Travel With Kikooko Africa Safaris To See Gorillas In The Wild

Ready to start planning your trip to see gorillas in the wild? Let us know what kind of trip you’re interested in and we’d be happy to start designing it for you today!

Uganda Primate Permits: What It Costs To See Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and Golden Monkeys

Are you planning a primate safari in Uganda for 2023? Then you’re going to need some Uganda primate permits! You’re in the right place, because we have the most up-to-date information on chimpanzee, golden monkey, and mountain gorilla permits in Uganda. 

Today we’re answering your most frequently asked questions about these permits, including the difference between tracking and habituation permits, where to go for each primate tracking experience, and the costs for permits. 

General Questions About Uganda Primate Permits

What is the difference between a tracking permit and a habituation permit?

In Uganda, visitors have the opportunity to obtain either a tracking permit or a habituation permit to see primates in their natural habitats. A tracking permit allows visitors to track and observe primates for a limited time period, usually one hour. 

A habituation permit offers visitors the opportunity to spend more time with the primates, up to four hours, as they become acclimated to human presence. Habituation permits are typically more expensive than tracking permits, but they offer a more immersive experience. It’s important to note that habituation permits are limited and may only be available for certain primate species in specific areas.

Do permit prices for chimpanzees, golden monkeys, or mountain gorillas change between seasons? Are there high/low seasons?

No, permit prices for chimpanzees, golden monkeys, or mountain gorillas do not change between seasons. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) sets the price for primate permits on an annual basis, and the price is the same throughout the year. 

However, there are peak seasons and low seasons for primate trekking, which can affect availability and the overall experience. The peak seasons for gorilla trekking in Uganda are June to September and December to February, which coincide with the dry seasons. The low season is during the rainy months of March to May and October to November. 

During peak season, demand for permits is higher and it is recommended to book well in advance to secure your spot. During low season, prices for accommodations and other activities may be lower, and the number of tourists is generally lower, providing a more intimate experience.

Questions About Chimpanzee Permits In Uganda

Where can I go chimpanzee tracking in Uganda?

Uganda offers several destinations for chimpanzee tracking. The most popular ones are Kibale National Park, Budongo Forest Reserve, and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Kibale National Park is the best place to see chimpanzees in Uganda, and it is home to over 1,500 chimpanzees, making it the primate capital of East Africa. 

Budongo Forest Reserve is another great destination for chimpanzee tracking, and it is located within the boundaries of Murchison Falls National Park. Kyambura Gorge, located in Queen Elizabeth National Park, is a stunningly beautiful gorge that provides a unique setting for chimpanzee tracking.

Are there chimpanzee tracking permits and chimpanzee habituation permits?

Chimpanzee tracking permits are issued for visitors who wish to go on a guided trek to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat. This usually involves hiking through the forest with a trained guide who will lead visitors to where the chimpanzees are located. Tracking permits are typically cheaper than habituation permits and are only valid for a few hours of tracking.

Chimpanzee habituation permits allow visitors to spend more time with chimpanzees as they get habituated to human presence. Visitors with habituation permits can spend up to 4 hours with the chimpanzees during the habituation process, which involves following the chimpanzees as they move around and observing their behavior. Habituation permits are typically more expensive than tracking permits and require a longer time commitment.

What are the costs for chimpanzee tracking permits vs. chimpanzee habituation permits?

Chimpanzee tracking permits and chimpanzee habituation permits have different costs in Uganda. As of 2021, a chimpanzee tracking permit costs $200 per person for foreign non-residents, while a chimpanzee habituation permit costs $250 per person for foreign non-residents. The cost for chimpanzee tracking permits for foreign residents is $150 per person, while chimpanzee habituation permits cost $200 per person for foreign residents.

The cost for chimpanzee tracking permits and chimpanzee habituation permits varies depending on the nationality of the visitor, as Ugandan citizens pay a lower fee. It’s important to note that chimpanzee tracking permits are only valid for one day, while chimpanzee habituation permits are valid for the whole day, allowing visitors to spend more time with the chimpanzees and learn about their behavior.

It’s also important to note that these prices are subject to change, and it’s always best to confirm the current prices with the Uganda Wildlife Authority or a reputable tour operator before booking your permit.

Questions About Golden Monkey Permits In Uganda

Where can I go golden monkey tracking in Uganda?

Golden monkey tracking can be done in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda. This park is located in the Virunga Mountains and is one of the few places in the world where you can see golden monkeys.

Are there golden monkey tracking permits and habituation permits?

Yes, there are separate permits for golden monkey tracking and habituation in Uganda. The golden monkey tracking permits are required to track and observe the golden monkeys in their natural habitat for a limited time, usually around one hour. 

The golden monkey habituation permits are required for visitors who wish to spend a longer time (up to four hours) with the golden monkeys, to gain a deeper understanding of their behavior and daily routines.

What are the costs for golden monkey tracking permits vs. habituation permits?

The permits for golden monkey tracking and habituation are different in price, with the tracking permit costing $60 per person, while the habituation permit costs $100 per person. 

Additionally, there are different rules and regulations that apply to each type of permit, such as group size restrictions and specific time slots for tracking or habituation activities. It’s important to check with your Uganda safari tour operator or the Uganda Wildlife Authority for specific details on obtaining and using these permits.

Questions About Mountain Gorilla Permits In Uganda

Are there mountain gorilla tracking permits and habituation permits?

Yes, there are both mountain gorilla tracking permits and habituation permits in Uganda. The tracking permits allow visitors to spend one hour with a gorilla family while the habituation permits allow visitors to spend up to four hours with a gorilla family. 

The mountain gorilla habituation permits are more expensive than the tracking permits, but they offer a unique opportunity to spend an extended period of time observing and interacting with the gorillas as they become accustomed to human presence.

Where can I go mountain gorilla tracking in Uganda?

You can go mountain gorilla tracking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, while Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to one habituated gorilla family. Both parks offer a unique and unforgettable gorilla tracking experience in their natural habitats.

What are the costs for mountain gorilla tracking permits vs. habituation permits?

Mountain gorilla tracking permits cost $700 per person, regardless of the season, and allow visitors to spend up to one hour with a gorilla family in their natural habitat. 

A mountain gorilla habituation permit costs $1,500 per person and allows visitors to spend up to four hours with a gorilla family that is being habituated to human presence. The habituation process can take up to two years, during which the gorillas gradually become accustomed to the presence of humans, and the permit allows visitors to witness and participate in this process. 

The cost of the mountain gorilla habituation permit may seem steep, but the experience is truly unique and unforgettable, and the revenue generated from these permits goes towards conservation efforts and community development in the surrounding areas.

Need Help Booking Your Uganda Primate Permits? Let Kikooko Africa Safaris Help

Looking to experience the wonder of primate trekking in Uganda? Look no further than Kikooko Africa Safaris. Our team of experienced safari guides will help you create a completely personalized itinerary, handling all of the permit booking for you, so that you can simply focus on enjoying your adventure. 

With our expertise, you’ll have the opportunity to witness these incredible animals in their natural habitats, and maximize the time you spend seeing wildlife. 

Don’t wait any longer to book your primate safari tour with Kikooko Africa Safaris. Contact us today and let us help you plan the trip of a lifetime.

Gorilla Safaris in Africa:  Where To Go To See Each Gorilla Subspecies

There’s nothing quite like a gorilla safari in Africa. Though some zoos around the world do have these incredible creatures, a gorilla safari is something entirely different. 

Instead of seeing them in an unnatural environment, you get the opportunity to spend a brief moment with them in their home and natural habitat. You’ll be in close proximity to these incredibly human-like creatures, get to watch how they play, eat, communicate, and sometimes, flirt!

It can be a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, which is why we like to make sure our guests know ahead of time a little bit more about the gorillas they’re going to see.

First – there isn’t just one kind of gorilla! There are two species and four gorilla subspecies. Today we’re going to do a brief breakdown of each, including the countries where you can find them, so you get the most out of your next gorilla safari in Africa.

Types of Gorillas For Your Gorilla Safari in Africa

There are two main types of gorillas in Africa: the Eastern gorilla and the Western gorilla. Let’s learn a bit more about each.

The Western Gorilla

This is the most abundant species of gorilla in Africa. In terms of differences from their Eastern gorilla counterparts, they tend to have a lighter color and a slightly different nose structure.

As we’ll see below, the subspecies of Western gorillas – the Cross River gorilla and the Western lowland gorilla – have even more individual characteristics.

Western gorilla populations are found in the following countries:

  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Gabon
  • Republic of Congo

Because they tend to be found in dense, remote African rainforests, it’s difficult to know the exact number that exist.  

The Eastern Gorilla

There are also two Eastern gorilla subspecies, the mountain gorilla and the Eastern lowland gorilla, which is also more commonly called the Grauer’s gorilla. 

These are the largest species of apes, and they inhabit Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

4 Gorilla Subspecies

Western lowland gorillas (G. gorilla gorilla)

The Western lowland gorilla can be found living in lowland forests of central and west Africa.

As mentioned, it’s difficult to get an accurate number, but it’s said there are around 350,000 still in the wild. 

If you have seen a gorilla in a zoo, it’s likely been a Western lowland gorilla. 

Common threats to the Western lowland gorilla include the Ebola virus (which reduced their population by about 30% in 2003), and human activity.  

Cross River Gorillas (G. gorilla diehli)

The Cross River Gorilla lives in a stretch of forest mountains between Cameroon and Nigeria. 

Of all the gorilla species, this is the most threatened. It is believed that there are less than 350 individuals still in the wild.

Their vulnerability comes from the fact that they live in a small area and have more frequent contact with humans, which has been connected with habitat loss and poaching.

Because of this sensitivity, gorilla tracking for Cross River gorillas is not possible.  

Eastern Lowland gorilla / The Grauer’s gorilla (G. beringei graueri)

These gorillas are found along the eastern side of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

It is the largest of the four gorilla subspecies, and has a stockier body, larger hands, and shorter muzzle. 

In comparison to the others, the Grauer’s gorilla has about 7,500 individuals left in the wild. 

Mountain Gorillas (G. beringei beringei)

Mountain gorillas are found in the Virunga Mountain range of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This gorilla species lives in forests at higher elevations and on the slopes of mountains. 

Known for their thicker, longer fur, they can only be seen in the wild. They are the second most endangered species of the four. Read more of our mountain gorilla facts here!

At the last count, there were just over 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the wild. 

How The Four Gorilla Subspecies Compare in Size

Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)

The Western Gorilla is the largest of the four gorilla subspecies. Adult males can weigh up to 220 kilograms (485 pounds) and stand up to 1.8 meters (5 feet 11 inches) tall. Adult females are smaller, weighing up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and standing up to 1.5 meters (4 feet 11 inches) tall.

Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)

The Mountain Gorilla is the second-largest gorilla subspecies. Adult males can weigh up to 200 kilograms (440 pounds) and stand up to 1.8 meters (5 feet 11 inches) tall. Adult females weigh up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and stand up to 1.5 meters (4 feet 11 inches) tall.

Eastern Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri)

The Eastern Lowland Gorilla is the largest subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla. Adult males can weigh up to 250 kilograms (550 pounds) and stand up to 1.8 meters (5 feet 11 inches) tall.

Adult females weigh up to 110 kilograms (240 pounds) and stand up to 1.5 meters (4 feet 11 inches) tall.

Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli)

The Cross River Gorilla is the smallest of the four gorilla subspecies. Adult males can weigh up to 160 kilograms (350 pounds) and stand up to 1.6 meters (5 feet 3 inches) tall. Adult females weigh up to 80 kilograms (180 pounds) and stand up to 1.3 meters (4 feet 3 inches) tall.

Mountain Gorilla Tracking in Uganda with Kikooko Africa Safaris

When you’re ready to plan your gorilla safaris in Africa, Kikooko Africa Safaris is here to help. As East Africa safari specialists, we can help organize your Uganda gorilla tracking or Rwanda gorilla tracking experience. 

Contact Kikooko Africa Safaris today to start planning your dream safari in East Africa.

Everything To Know About Primate Safaris in Uganda

Thinking about embarking on a primate safari in Uganda? Then you’re close to one of the most unique experiences East Africa has to offer!

Deciding just what kind of adventure you’re going to go on is a big part of the planning process – and it can get overwhelming! That’s why we’re here to help you with all the details you need to know to make the most of your primate safaris in Uganda.

Today, we’re focusing on exactly what kinds of monkeys, gorillas, chimps and more you’ll see, along with example primate safari itineraries and permit costs.

What primates are in Uganda?

Uganda is home to 20 primate species, including 13 diurnal species and seven nocturnal ones. 

These primates love their home in Uganda’s tropical forests. In fact, Uganda happens to have the highest primate concentration in all of Africa!

Popular primates in Uganda include the mountain gorilla and the chimpanzee.

Still, that’s just the tip of the primate iceberg! There are so many more that you’ll discover when you’re here.

11 Of Uganda’s Most Popular Primates

While we could go on and on about all of Uganda’s primates, below we’re sharing about 11 of our favorites. 

1. Mountain Gorilla

Sharing over 98% of human DNA, the mountain gorilla is from the family of great apes. They live in two populations in Uganda, in forests Uganda shares with Rwanda and Congo. 

For more on the amazing mountain gorilla, we have a list of more than 30 mountain gorilla fun facts!

2. Chimpanzee

Another of our close cousins, chimpanzees are a delight to spend time around.

Some of the most popular spots to do chimpanzee trekking and chimpanzee habituation in Uganda include Budongo, Kibale, Kyambura Gorge, Kalinzu, and Semuliki.

3. Golden monkey

If you want to see the golden monkey, you’ll have to come to the only place it lives in the world: the slopes of the Virunga in East Africa.

Known for its golden orange coat and cute face, meeting them is often a visitor’s favorite part of their primate safaris in Uganda. To see them, head to Mgahinga National Park.

4. De Brazza’s monkey

Another easily identifiable primate, the De Bebrazza’s monkey is known for its white mustache, blue scrotum, and reddish-brown brow.

To catch a glimpse of one, head either to Semuliki National Park on the western side of Uganda or Mount Elgon National Park on the eastern side.

5. Black-and-white colobus monkey

Though we may think all primates have thumbs, that’s not always the case. For proof, come for a primate safari in Uganda to see the black-and-white colobus monkey.

Instantly recognizable due to its black coat and white back, you can find them in Kibale National Park, Budongo, and Mabira. 

6. Red colobus

Similar to their black-and-white cousins, the red colobus stands out thanks to its striking colors. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll spot them in Semuliki National Park.

7. Bush baby

Beyond its large eyes that cause it to resemble a baby, the bush baby also sounds just ilke one, too.

To catch a glimpse of this unbelievably cute critter, head to Kibale Forest.

8. L’Hoest’s monkey

While not the easiest to find primate species in Uganda, L’Hoest’s monkey is certainly one of the most memorable thanks to that striking white bib against its brown coat.

To try your luck, head to Bwindi, Kibale Forest, or Maramagambo Forest.

9. Red-tailed monkey

Uganda seems to have a never-ending supply of cute primates. The red-tailed monkey stands out for, yes, its red tail, but also the heart-shaped spot on its nose.

As one of Uganda’s more common primates, you’ll have the chance to see them at many of its parks, including Bwindi, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth, Smuliki, and other tropical forests.

10. Patas monkey

As the world’s fastest primate, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled to see the Patas monkey.

Living mostly on the ground, the Patas is remarkable because it runs only on its fingertips – its feet never touch the ground!

Look out for them in Kidepo National Park or the plains of Murchison Falls National Park.

11. Baboon

Last but not least is the most common primate in Uganda: the baboon.

You’ll see these alongside the roads and in the forests throughout Uganda. These sociable, smart monkeys are sure to fill up your camera with their charming antics.

Example Tour Itineraries for Primate Safaris in Uganda

As you are searching for primate safaris in Uganda, it is often helpful to have some ideas to guide your research. Below are four of our favorite primate safaris, ranging in lengths to help give you an idea of how you can structure your time in the Pearl of Africa.

  • Explorers Primate Safari – When time is precious and you want to spend as much time as possible with Uganda’s incredible primates, this primate-centric safari is made for you. Take the quickest route to the beautiful southwestern area of Uganda by flying in for a 10-day adventure during which you’ll see chimps, gorillas and Golden Monkeys.
  • Primate Habituation – For the essential primate experience in Uganda, this 10-day safari will introduce you to amazing primates all throughout Uganda. With opportunities to experience a day each of chimp tracking, mountain gorilla tracking, and Golden Monkey habituation, you’re sure to take away some indelible memories, not to mention some great photos. A truly unique African safari experience!
  • The Grace of the Mountain Gorillas – As one of only three countries in the world where it’s possible to spend a moment with the mountain gorillas, Uganda offers travelers an incredible opportunity. As the lucky few who have come before you can attest, a look into the eyes of these majestic animals touches your soul. Experiencing the Grace of the Mountain Gorillas firsthand is a memory you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.

Custom Tour Itineraries for Primate Safaris in Uganda

If you need help planning your primate safari in Uganda, Kikooko Africa Safaris would be honored to help.

As boutique Uganda safari tour providers since 2013, we help to connect travelers both to the amazing wildlife and the warm people of Uganda. It would be a delight to help you plan your trip, too. Please get in touch with us today to begin!

Frequently Asked Questions About Primate Safaris in Uganda

Where are the best parks to see primates in Uganda?

If you’re planning a trip to see primates in Uganda, the two parks that need to be on your list are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Kibale National Park for mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, respectively.

Other top primate destinations in Uganda include:

Why visit primates in Uganda?

Because of Uganda’s size, it is easy to navigate between these parks and have a fruitful, fun wildlife photography safari

Likewise, naturalists love visiting Uganda because it’s possible to spend between an hour and four hours with families of gorillas and chimpanzees. These habituated families offer a chance to study their behaviors, their social structures, and more.

Plus, the whole trekking experience leads you through natural forest landscapes that are unlike any other you’ve visited before. Many times, the rangers will be blazing a new path through the untamed wilderness, meaning you’re the first group to ever set foot there!

How much does it cost to see mountain gorillas in Uganda?

The gorilla permit cost in Uganda is currently $700 for foreign non-residents (including tourists), $600 for foreign residents of East African countries, and 250,000 UGX for East African citizens. The gorilla permit allows you to spend one hour with the gorilla family.

The gorilla habituation permit costs $1,500 for foreign nonresidents, $1,000 for foreign residents in East Africa, and 750,000 UGX for East African Citizens.

There are no low season discounts.

Where can mountain gorillas be found in Uganda?

With more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas, Uganda is a great place to go visit them. Mountain gorillas live on the slopes of the Virunga Mountain in Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. 

How much does it cost to see chimps in Uganda? 

A chimpanzee trekking permit in Budongo Forest costs $130 for foreign non-residents, $120 for foreign residents, and $85 for East African Citizens.

Where can chimps be found in Uganda?

Chimp trekking is most often done in Kibale Forest National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park. 

If you’re choosing just one, go with Kibale Forest. As they have the highest population, you’ll have the best luck at seeing a large number of chimps.

How many chimps are there in Uganda?

There are around 5,000 chimpanzees in Uganda. This population is spread through forest reserves like Budongo, Kibale, Kalinzu, Bwindi, Bugoma, and the Rwenzori Mountains.

What is primate trekking?

It is a physical activity which sees you trekking through the forest in search of habituated, yet wild living primates in their natural habitat.

Where to see UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uganda

As the Pearl of Africa, Uganda has some of the most amazing natural beauty and cultural wonders to be found in our continent. But did you know that a number of our treasures are actually recognized as internationally important?

That’s right. Uganda has a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. UNESCO, which stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is dedicated to “fostering peaceful communication between nations and preserving cherished heritage sites around the world.”

Their World Heritage List includes sites famed for their cultural significance, natural beauty, or both, often combining the two with the values and histories of the countries they’re found within. 

Today, we’re revealing the three UNESCO sites found within Uganda, and why you should book your trip to visit them!

Uganda’s Three UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Uganda has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park, and Kasubi Tombs in Kampala. Below we have unique details on each and why they were selected as part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bwindi Park is located in south western Uganda. Perhaps most famous as the home to the endangered mountain gorilla, Bwindi Park is also home to more than 160 species of trees, over 100 species of ferns, and many birds and butterflies, too. 

Bwindi Park is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the following criteria:

  • Criterion (vii): As a key site for biodiversity on the continent, Bwindi can be considered as a superlative natural phenomenon.

  • Criterion (x): Due to its diverse habitats ranging from 1,160 to 2,706 m in altitude, Bwindi is the most important area in Uganda for species due to an exceptional diversity that includes many Albertine Rift endemics. It’s also home to almost half of the population of the critically endangered mountain gorilla. 

You can read more about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park here, and about UNESCO’s breakdown of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park here.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Covering nearly 100,00 hectares of western Uganda, the Rwenzori Mountains National Park also has Africa’s third highest peak (Mount Margherita: 5,109 m). Surprising to many visitors, there are not just waterfalls and lakes but glaciers, too. 

Rwenzori Mountains National Park has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the following criteria:

  • Criterion (vii): The Rwenzoris are the legendary “Mountains of the moon”, a reflection of the mist-shrouded mountains of this rugged massif that tower almost 4,000 m above the Albertine Rift Valley, offering a combination of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, clear blue lakes, and unique flora contributes to the area’s exceptional natural beauty.

  • Criterion (x): Because of their altitudinal range, and the nearly constant temperatures, humidity and high insolation, the mountains support the richest montane flora in Africa. In terms of fauna, the Rwenzoris have been recognised as an Important Bird Area with 217 bird species recorded to date. They’re also home to threatened species such as the African forest elephant, eastern chimpanzee and l’Hoest’s monkey. 

You can read more about visiting the Rwenzori Mountains National Perk here, and UNESCO’s breakdown of Rwenzori Mountains National Park here

Kasubi Tombs in Kampala

Occupying a site just outside of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, the Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi is the former palace of the Kabakas of Buganda. It was first built in 1882 and converted into the royal burial ground in 1884.

At this point, there are four royal tombs that now lie within the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga. It is a major example of an architectural achievement in organic materials, principally wood, thatch, reed, wattle and daub. The site’s main significance lies, however, in its intangible values of belief, spirituality, continuity and identity.

The Kasubi Tombs in Kampala have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the following criteria:

  • Criterion (i): The site is a masterpiece of human creativity both in its conception and its execution.

  • Criterion (iii): It bears witness to the living cultural traditions of the Baganda.

  • Criterion (iv): The organization of the Kasubi Tombs site shares the best example of a Baganda palace/architectural ensemble. Having been built in the fine traditions of Ganda architecture and palace design, the Kasubi Tombs reflect technical achievements developed over centuries.

  • Criterion (vi): Both the built and natural elements of the Kasubi Tombs site contain historical, traditional, and spiritual values, making it a major spiritual center for the Baganda and the most active religious place in the kingdom.

You can read more about UNESCO’s breakdown of the Kasubi Tombs here.

5 Reasons To Visit UNESCO Sites In Uganda

  • A Great Way To Find Hidden Gems

While some UNESCO Sites are a part of a country’s well-trodden tourist trails, that’s not the main reason they’re chosen. These landmarks may include sites you’ve never heard of before, which makes visiting the UNESCO sites in Uganda a powerful way to uncover more of Uganda’s history and nature. 

  • A Way To Transport Yourself Back In Time

Some UNESCO sites from around the world include rock carvings, cave art, and old salt mines. In a sense, these sites are snapshots of different periods of our time on this planet, and the same is true for Uganda. From the Kasubi Tombs from the 1800s back to national forests that have been important to native populations for centuries, these are a great way to see sites that have shaped our country.

  • An Important Way To Support Preservation 

To make sure that sites as beautiful and significant as these UNESCO sites in Uganda can be enjoyed by future generations, we have to work together. By visiting these sites, we can help to provide financial support that protects them from natural disasters, political conflict, and more.

  • A Chance To See Some Of The World’s Most Incredible Sights

A UNESCO designation is a special one, indeed, as it places the ruins, the natural landscape, and the cultural features on a list whose members span the world. Though the UNESCO sites in Uganda are unique to the Pearl of Africa, their inclusion on the list lets you know you’re participating in something global. 

  • A Unique Way To Learn About This Part Of The World

Traveling is a chance to experience a culture, its people, and its place firsthand. UNESCO is special in that it involves local stakeholders in the preservation of the selected site, which gives you as the traveler a chance to contribute directly to the communities.

Visit Uganda’s UNESCO Sites With Kikooko Africa Safaris

Ready to plan a trip to see Uganda’s unique UNESCO sites? Want to hike to the top of the Rwenzori Mountains? Or visit the mountain gorillas in Bwindi

At Kikooko Africa Safaris, we’d be honored to help. As Uganda safari specialists since 2013, our experienced staff is here to assist with your tour. Reach out today to get started!

Is Uganda or Rwanda better for gorilla trekking?

If you’re looking to go gorilla trekking, you may be wondering if Uganda or Rwanda is the better option.

Both countries offer unique experiences when it comes to gorilla trekking, so it really depends on what you’re looking for.

Called the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda is known for its impressive natural parks, birding, diverse wildlife, and beautiful lakes.

Uganda, or the Pearl of Africa, is home to many amazing primates, an intimate Big 5 animals experience, incredible natural landscapes, and more.

Besides sharing a border, one of the elements Uganda and Rwanda have in common is that it’s possible to track the endangered mountain gorilla.

Which one should you visit for your next East African safari? We break down the pros and cons of Uganda vs Rwanda for gorilla trekking below.

Rwanda vs. Uganda: Which is better for gorilla trekking?

Rwanda and Uganda are both great places for gorilla trekking. As there are only 1,063 mountain gorillas in the wild – and mountain gorillas only live in the wild – going on a mountain gorilla safari is one of the most amazing natural experiences available to us.

There are only three countries where you can go gorilla trekking: Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo. Given that the Congo’s mountain gorilla permits are currently unavailable, today we are focusing on Rwanda and Uganda.

Let’s start with three important differences between Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking:

  1. Location: While both countries are located in East Africa (and you can get access to them both through the East Africa Tourist Visa), Uganda is located to the east and shares a border with Kenya, while Rwanda is located further to the south. Both share a border with Tanzania. Depending on how you’re thinking about planning your East African safari, your choice of country could mean more time enjoying the wilderness and less time traveling.
     
  2. Cost: A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs $700, while a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda costs $1500. This is a significant difference and something to consider both if you are on a budget, traveling with a large group, and would like to potentially visit more than one gorilla family.
     
  3. Distance From The Airport: In Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is just a few hours drive from the capital city, Kigali. In Uganda, getting from the capital to the border can either take a longer driver or another short flight. For travelers pressed for time, Rwanda can seem more convenient. For travelers who want to experience more of the country itself, Uganda may present more immersive opportunities.

Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park vs. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for Gorilla Trekking

The mountain gorillas of East Africa are most often visited in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. It is also possible to see mountain gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

If you’re looking to go gorilla trekking in Africa, you may be wondering whether Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park or Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the better option. 

Here are three key differences between the two parks that may help you make your decision: 

  1. Ease of Arrival: Volcanoes National Park is located in northwestern Rwanda, about two hours’ drive from the capital city of Kigali. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, on the other hand, is located in southwestern Uganda, about a five-hour drive from the capital city of Kampala.
  2. Cost: A permit to trek gorillas in Volcanoes National Park costs $1,500, while a permit to trek gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park costs $700.
  3. Time: The average time to hike and find the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park is about two hours, while the average time to hike and find the gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is about four hours. Once there, tourists may enjoy one hour with the normal gorilla permits. In Uganda, though, it is also possible to book a $1,500 gorilla habituation permit for a visit of up to 4 hours.

So, there you have it – three key differences between Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Ultimately, the best choice for you will come down to your budget, your schedule, and how long you are hoping to spend with the mountain gorillas.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mountain Gorilla Safaris

How much does it cost to see gorillas in Uganda?

The gorilla permit in Uganda costs $700 and allows you to spend one hour with a gorilla family. The gorilla habituation permit in Uganda costs $1500 and allows you to spend up to four hours with a gorilla family. 

You can find an example of a 3-day gorilla safari itinerary here.

How much does it cost to see gorillas in Rwanda?

A gorilla permit in Rwanda costs $1500 per person. This includes the cost of the permit, which is required in order to see the gorillas. 

Is it gorilla trekking or gorilla tracking?

Some people use the terms gorilla trekking and gorilla tracking interchangeably, but there is actually a difference between the two. 

Gorilla tracking is the act of following gorillas in their natural habitat, observing their behavior and movements. Gorilla trekking involves actually going into the forest to find gorillas and then spending time with them.

What is gorilla habituation?

Gorilla habituation is the process whereby wild gorillas become accustomed to the presence of humans. This process generally takes many months, sometimes even years, and requires the dedication of a team of habituation experts. 

The end goal of habituation is to allow humans to safely and comfortably observe gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla habituation is the process of getting wild gorillas used to the presence of humans. 

It generally takes many months or even years, and requires a team of experts dedicated to the cause. The goal is to allow humans to observe gorillas safely and comfortably in their natural habitat.

Final verdict: Rwanda or Uganda for Gorilla Trekking?

We’ve presented our case for both Rwanda and Uganda as great gorilla trekking destinations. 

Both countries offer an incredible experience, but we have to give the edge to Uganda. With the UNESCO World Heritage Site Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as the backdrop, more than half of the world’s remaining endangered mountain gorillas, more affordable gorilla permits, and a much bigger country to add on a longer safari, Uganda is a beautiful place to track gorillas. 

Still, Rwanda has our heart, too, and is a very compelling place to see gorillas and other primates, too

So, which one wins for you? 

If you need help deciding or you’re ready to get started on your completely personalized East Africa safari tour, contact Kikooko Africa Safaris today.

Get To Know Some Of The World’s Most Famous Safari Explorers

Safari exploration has long captured the imagination of adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. These intrepid individuals ventured into the unknown, braving the wild landscapes of Africa and other parts of the world to discover its diverse wildlife and untouched beauty. Their expeditions not only paved the way for scientific discoveries but also ignited a global fascination with the wonders of the natural world.

In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the lives and legacies of famous safari explorers, from the early pioneers who embarked on perilous journeys to the modern conservationists who continue to advocate for the protection of our planet’s biodiversity. By examining their captivating stories, we aim to shed light on the rich history and profound impact of safari exploration.

The Definition and Importance of Safari Explorers

Before we embark on our exploration of famous safari explorers, it is essential to understand what constitutes a safari explorer. A safari explorer is an individual who embarks on expeditions to remote and untamed regions, primarily with the intent of studying and observing wildlife in its natural habitat. These explorers often face numerous challenges, including treacherous terrains, unpredictable weather conditions, and encounters with dangerous animals.

The significance of safari exploration cannot be overstated. These expeditions have played a pivotal role in expanding our knowledge of the natural world, shaping our understanding of different ecosystems, and contributing to the conservation efforts that strive to protect endangered species. Without the bravery and curiosity of these explorers, our understanding of wildlife and their habitats would be far more limited.

Early Pioneers of Safari Exploration

The era of safari exploration was marked by brave individuals who set out on daring expeditions to unravel the mysteries of the African continent. These early pioneers ventured into uncharted territories, armed with their curiosity and an insatiable desire to discover the wonders of wildlife and nature. Their courageous journeys laid the foundation for future exploration and ignited the imaginations of generations to come.

One of the most renowned figures in the realm of safari exploration is David Livingstone. Born in Scotland in 1813, Livingstone dedicated his life to exploring the unexplored corners of Africa. He undertook numerous expeditions from the 1840s until his death in 1873, traversing vast stretches of the continent and documenting his findings. Livingstone’s expeditions were motivated by a dual purpose: to map uncharted territories and to combat the slave trade, which he vehemently opposed. His explorations led to the discovery of the Victoria Falls and the exploration of the Zambezi River, among other significant geographical landmarks.

Another prominent explorer of the time was Henry Morton Stanley. The American-born journalist and explorer embarked on a mission to find the missing Scottish explorer, David Livingstone, in 1871. Stanley’s famous encounter with Livingstone, marked by his now-famous words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” propelled him to global fame. Stanley subsequently led several expeditions of his own, including his exploration of the Congo River, which significantly expanded European knowledge of Central Africa. His book, “Through the Dark Continent,” became a bestseller and further fueled public interest in African exploration.

The early pioneers of safari exploration faced a multitude of challenges during their expeditions. They encountered harsh climates, treacherous terrains, and hostile wildlife. Disease and malnutrition were constant threats, as were encounters with local tribes and political unrest. Yet, despite these formidable obstacles, these trailblazers pressed on, driven by their unyielding spirit of adventure and their determination to uncover the secrets of the African continent.

Their expeditions had far-reaching consequences. Not only did they contribute to our understanding of Africa’s wildlife and landscapes, but they also played a pivotal role in exposing the atrocities of the slave trade and advocating for its abolition. The narratives and accounts of these early explorers captivated the public’s imagination, sparking a fascination with the African wilderness and its untamed beauty.

Famous Female Safari Explorers

In an era dominated by societal norms and gender roles, a select group of daring women defied conventions and made their mark in the world of safari exploration. These remarkable individuals challenged the notion that adventure and exploration were exclusively reserved for men, breaking barriers and leaving an indelible mark on the history of wildlife exploration. Let us now celebrate and delve into the extraordinary lives and achievements of some of the most famous female safari explorers.

Mary Kingsley: Courageous Expeditions in West Africa

Mary Kingsley, born in 1862 in England, embarked on a series of daring expeditions to West Africa in the late 19th century. Her travels took her to regions that were largely unexplored by Westerners, venturing deep into the heart of Gabon, Sierra Leone, and Cameroon. Kingsley’s expeditions were characterized by her determination to understand and document the local cultures and wildlife.

Kingsley’s exploration of the Gabonese rainforests was particularly noteworthy. She navigated treacherous rivers, maneuvered through dense vegetation, and encountered various wildlife, including crocodiles and hippos. Her encounters with local tribes provided her with valuable insights into their traditional beliefs and customs, which she documented in her acclaimed book, “Travels in West Africa.”

With her sharp wit and unyielding spirit, Kingsley challenged the prevailing stereotypes and expectations of her time. She fearlessly immersed herself in unfamiliar environments, breaking down barriers and inspiring future generations of female adventurers.

Isabella Bird: Exploring the American West and Asia

Isabella Bird, a 19th-century British explorer and writer, embarked on numerous expeditions across the globe. Known for her indomitable spirit and thirst for adventure, Bird ventured into the American West, Asia, and other regions, documenting her experiences in vivid detail.

Bird’s exploration of the American West in the late 19th century was groundbreaking. She traveled extensively through the Rocky Mountains, encountering Native American tribes and witnessing the breathtaking landscapes of the region. Her book, “A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains,” became a bestseller and offered readers a unique perspective on the untamed beauty of the American frontier.

In addition to her American adventures, Bird explored various parts of Asia, including Japan, China, and India. Her travels in these regions exposed her to diverse cultures, traditions, and landscapes. She fearlessly navigated through challenging terrains, from the rugged mountains of Japan to the remote villages of China. Bird’s writings, such as “Unbeaten Tracks in Japan” and “The Yangtze Valley and Beyond,” captivated readers and provided invaluable insights into these lesser-known regions.

Delia Akeley: Wildlife Conservation in Africa

Delia Akeley, an American explorer and conservationist, dedicated her life to the study and preservation of African wildlife. Born in 1875, Akeley embarked on several expeditions to Africa alongside her husband, Carl Akeley, a renowned taxidermist and conservationist.

Akeley’s expeditions focused on documenting and studying the diverse wildlife of Africa, particularly elephants. She witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of the ivory trade on elephant populations and became a staunch advocate for their protection. Akeley’s expeditions resulted in the collection of invaluable scientific data, including detailed measurements and observations of elephants and other wildlife.

Akeley’s commitment to conservation extended beyond her expeditions. She played a vital role in establishing national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, including the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her efforts to raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation and her pioneering work in the field of taxidermy left an enduring legacy.

These pioneering female safari explorers shattered gender barriers, paving the way for future generations of women in the field of exploration and conservation. Their courage, determination, and contributions to wildlife exploration continue to inspire and empower adventurers and conservationists around the world. In the next section, we will shift our focus to the endeavors of modern safari explorers and their impact on wildlife conservation in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Modern Safari Explorers and Conservationists

Nature Walks

The 20th and 21st centuries have witnessed the rise of a new generation of safari explorers and conservationists who continue to push the boundaries of exploration while advocating for the protection of our planet’s biodiversity. These modern-day pioneers have built upon the foundations laid by their predecessors, employing advanced technology, scientific methodologies, and a deep sense of environmental stewardship to further our understanding of wildlife and advance conservation efforts. Let us now delve into the endeavors of these remarkable individuals and their impact on the world of safari exploration.

Dian Fossey: Guardian of Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

Dian Fossey, an American zoologist, dedicated her life to the study and conservation of mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Her groundbreaking research and fierce advocacy efforts played a crucial role in raising awareness about the plight of these endangered primates.

Fossey’s work began in the late 1960s when she established the Karisoke Research Center in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda. She conducted extensive studies on the behavior, social structure, and ecology of mountain gorillas, becoming one of the world’s leading experts on these magnificent creatures. Fossey’s efforts not only shed light on their complex lives but also exposed the threats they faced from poaching and habitat destruction.

In addition to her scientific contributions, Fossey actively campaigned against the illegal wildlife trade and the killing of gorillas for their body parts. Her unyielding dedication to the protection of mountain gorillas led to the creation of stringent anti-poaching measures and the establishment of the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

Fossey’s life and tragic death continue to inspire conservationists worldwide. Her memoir, “Gorillas in the Mist,” brought international attention to the challenges faced by mountain gorillas and their fragile ecosystems. Through her work, Fossey paved the way for future generations to continue her fight for the survival of these magnificent creatures.

Jane Goodall: Champion of Chimpanzees in Tanzania

Jane Goodall, a British primatologist and anthropologist, is renowned for her groundbreaking research on chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park. As the longest-running study of wild chimpanzees, Goodall’s work has significantly contributed to our understanding of these intelligent and complex beings.

Goodall’s research began in 1960 when she ventured into the forests of Gombe to observe and document the behaviors of chimpanzees. Her meticulous observations challenged long-held beliefs about the uniqueness of human behavior, revealing striking similarities between humans and our closest living relatives. Goodall observed chimpanzees using tools, displaying complex social structures, and exhibiting a range of emotions, challenging the notion that these traits were exclusively human.

Beyond her scientific contributions, Goodall has been a tireless advocate for the conservation of chimpanzees and their habitats. She established the Jane Goodall Institute, which focuses on wildlife research, habitat conservation, and community-centered conservation initiatives. Through her institute, Goodall has worked to empower local communities, promote sustainable practices, and raise awareness about the importance of protecting chimpanzees and their ecosystems.

Goodall’s work has transcended the realm of academia, inspiring generations of scientists, environmentalists, and animal lovers. Her efforts demonstrate the power of individual action and the potential for positive change when fueled by passion and dedication.

Birute Galdikas: Guardian of Orangutans in Borneo

Birute Galdikas, a Canadian primatologist, has dedicated her life to the study and conservation of orangutans in Borneo. Her pioneering research and conservation efforts have shed light on the lives of these critically endangered great apes and the urgent need to protect their habitats.

Galdikas arrived in Borneo in the early 1970s to study orangutans in their natural habitat. She established the Camp Leakey research station in Tanjung Puting National Park, where she conducted long-term studies on orangutan behavior, ecology, and conservation. Galdikas’ research has provided invaluable insights into the complex social structures, tool use, and intelligence of these remarkable primates.

In addition to her scientific work, Galdikas has been a vocal advocate for orangutan conservation. She has actively campaigned against deforestation, illegal logging, and the illegal pet trade, which are major threats to the survival of orangutans in Borneo. Galdikas’ efforts have contributed to the establishment of protected areas and the rehabilitation of orphaned orangutans, ensuring their long-term survival.

Galdikas’ unwavering dedication and passion for orangutans have made her a leading figure in the field of primatology and conservation. Her work serves as a reminder of the urgent need to protect and preserve the habitats of these magnificent creatures.

The contributions of these modern safari explorers and conservationists have significantly advanced our understanding of wildlife, shaped conservation policies, and inspired a global movement to protect our planet’s biodiversity. Their tireless efforts continue to inspire future generations of explorers and conservationists who are committed to safeguarding the natural world. In the next section, we will explore the lasting legacy and influence of famous safari explorers, examining their impact on tourism, conservation efforts, and public perception of wildlife and nature.

Legacy and Influence of Famous Safari Explorers

Walking Safari

The legacy of famous safari explorers extends far beyond their individual achievements. Their expeditions and discoveries have had a profound and lasting impact on the realms of tourism, wildlife conservation, and public perception of wildlife and nature. By examining their enduring influence, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the contributions of these remarkable individuals and the transformative power of exploration.

Impact on Tourism and Wildlife Conservation

The expeditions of famous safari explorers have played a pivotal role in shaping the tourism industry, particularly in regions known for their abundant wildlife and natural landscapes. The tales of adventure and discovery shared by these explorers have captivated the imagination of travelers, inspiring them to embark on their own journeys to witness the wonders of the natural world.

The establishment of national parks and protected areas, often influenced by the findings and advocacy of safari explorers, has provided a framework for sustainable tourism and wildlife conservation. These protected areas not only preserve biodiversity but also offer opportunities for travelers to experience wildlife in their natural habitats while supporting local communities.

Safari tourism, with its focus on responsible and eco-friendly practices, has emerged as a vital contributor to local economies and conservation efforts. The revenue generated through safari tourism has been instrumental in funding conservation initiatives, anti-poaching efforts, and community development projects. It serves as a powerful incentive for governments and communities to prioritize the preservation of wildlife and their habitats.

Shaping Public Perception of Wildlife and Nature

The narratives and accounts of famous safari explorers have played a crucial role in shaping public perception and understanding of wildlife and nature. Through their writings, photography, and documentaries, these explorers have provided glimpses into the intricate lives of animals, the fragility of ecosystems, and the urgent need for conservation.

By bringing the wonders of the natural world to the forefront of public consciousness, safari explorers have inspired awe, empathy, and a sense of responsibility towards the environment. Their stories have instilled a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of all living beings and the importance of protecting biodiversity for future generations.

Furthermore, the work of famous safari explorers has challenged outdated stereotypes and misconceptions about wildlife. Their findings have highlighted the intelligence, social complexity, and emotional depth of animals, forging a deeper understanding of the ethical considerations surrounding wildlife conservation and the need for humane treatment of animals.

Inspiring Future Generations

One of the most enduring legacies of famous safari explorers is their ability to inspire and ignite a sense of wonder and curiosity in future generations. Through their remarkable achievements, these explorers have shown that passion, perseverance, and a deep love for nature can lead to groundbreaking discoveries and create lasting change.

The stories of famous safari explorers have motivated countless individuals to pursue careers in scientific research, wildlife conservation, and environmental advocacy. Their journeys have sparked a sense of adventure and an appreciation for the natural world, encouraging young minds to explore, question, and protect our planet’s biodiversity.

The influence of these explorers extends beyond the field of exploration and conservation. Their endeavors have inspired artists, writers, and filmmakers to create works that celebrate the beauty of wildlife and nature, further amplifying the impact of their legacy on popular culture.

In conclusion, the legacy of famous safari explorers is multifaceted and far-reaching. Their expeditions have not only contributed to scientific knowledge, but they have also shaped tourism practices, conservation efforts, and public perception of wildlife and nature. Their stories continue to inspire and remind us of the inherent value of exploration, conservation, and our responsibility to protect the natural world.

Follow In Their Footsteps With Your Own East Africa Safari

As we reflect on the remarkable lives and achievements of these explorers, we are reminded of the power of curiosity, passion, and the human spirit. Their legacies continue to inspire future generations of adventurers, scientists, and conservationists who are dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of the natural world and protecting its wonders for generations to come.

In the footsteps of these famous safari explorers, we embark on our own journey of discovery and appreciation for the beauty and significance of wildlife and nature. If you’d like to know more about safaris in East Africa, including Uganda gorilla tracking, please reach out to our team here.

31 Mountain Gorilla Facts To Know Before You Go Gorilla Tracking

Mountain gorillas are one of East Africa’s most incredible animals.

Living in just three countries (and you won’t find them in any zoo), the only way to see a mountain gorilla is to actually travel to its home in the mountainous forests.

As travelers often have many questions for us about these unbelievable creatures ahead of their gorilla tracking experience, we have created this document to share some incredible mountain gorilla facts and answer as many of your mountain gorilla questions as possible. 

31 Things To Know About Mountain Gorillas

1. Where are mountain gorillas found?

The mountain gorilla lives in the mountainous forests of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

2. What is the mountain gorilla’s scientific name?

The mountain gorilla is also known as gorilla beringei beringei.

3. Are mountain gorillas endangered?

Mountain gorillas are considered endangered by IUCN’s Red List, meaning they are at a serious risk of extinction. This risk comes from a loss of habitat due to human encroachment, as well as violence from poachers that kill or capture mountain gorillas. 

4. Are mountain gorillas critically endangered?

Mountain gorillas are no longer critically endangered. As of 2018, mountain gorillas were reclassified from critically endangered to endangered by the IUCN.

Still, conservation efforts are vital to keep this progress happening, especially when considering other gorilla species are still in danger. Critically endangered gorillas include the eastern lowland gorilla, Cross River gorilla, and western lowland gorilla. 

5. Does the mountain gorilla have natural predators?

The mountain gorilla has almost no natural predators because of its size, strength, and tendency to live in a family. Though animals like leopards and crocodiles may be able to kill a lone gorilla, especially a young gorilla, they can’t take on a whole family.

6. What is the greatest threat to mountain gorillas?

The greatest threat to mountain gorillas is mankind. As humans clear forests near gorilla habitats, they have less space to live, and with less space to live, there is less space for diverse gorilla families to prosper. 

Gorilla conservation work is very important, and in part relies on the stability of the countries where the gorillas live. Despite having the oldest national park in Africa, Congo has the smallest number of mountain gorillas. 

7. How much of our DNA do we share with mountain gorillas?

Mountain gorillas share 98.4% of our DNA. 

8. What is a silverback mountain gorilla?

A silverback mountain gorilla is the dominant adult male gorilla in a group. Known for its aggressive displays, including chest beating, tree slapping, and roaring, they are identifiable by the silver hair on their back.

Silverback gorillas develop their silver hair around 12 years of age. 

As the leader of the group, the silverback mountain gorilla decides all the group’s activities, from where they feed to when they stop to rest. They will protect the group if attacked by humans, leopards, or other gorillas – even if it means fighting to the death.

9. What is a blackback mountain gorilla?

Before mountain gorillas become silverback gorillas at age 12, they are considered blackback gorillas from 8-12 years of age. In this time, they are waiting to develop sufficiently to lead their own troop or family.

10. How many silverbacks does a mountain gorilla group have?

While a group can only have one dominant mountain gorilla silverback, up to 40% of groups have other silverbacks. As long as a hierarchy is established – say a father or brother sticks with the group – they can remain. Though each of the males will share responsibility in protecting the group, the dominant silverback sires most of the offspring.

11. Do mountain gorillas sleep in trees?

While many people believe all gorillas prefer staying in trees, mountain gorillas spend time sleeping and traveling on the ground. For the most part, they are too heavy for a tree to support them and will only climb to collect fruits.

12. Are mountain gorillas aggressive?

Despite stereotypes from movies, mountain gorillas are very calm. They leave in calm, peaceful groups. Attacking and charging are last resorts, and only happen after a gorilla has first communicated its displeasure.

13. Do mountain gorillas eat meat?

The diet for a mountain gorilla is mostly leaves, flowers, tree bark, stems, and roots. Their diet sometimes includes larvae, ants, and bugs.

14. How much do mountain gorillas eat?

A silverback mountain gorilla can eat up to 18 kilograms, or up to 40 pounds, of vegetation in a day.

15. Why do female mountain gorillas leave the group?

Once females reach maturity at 9 years of age, they will leave the group. This is done to protect the genetic diversity of mountain gorillas. These females will find a suitor in another mountain gorilla family, or go with a lone silverback.

16. How big are mountain gorilla babies when born?

An infant mountain gorilla weighs 1.8 kilograms, or 4 pounds, when born. A female mountain gorilla is pregnant for 9 months and normally has just one baby gorilla at a time.

17. Why do gorillas walk on their knuckles?

Mountain gorillas actually have longer arms than legs, helping them to walk on all fours. Knuckle-walking, which is walking on the knuckles of their hands, helps them balance while climbing trees and hills.

18. What color are mountain gorillas eyes?

Though humans may end up with a range of eye colors, mountain gorilla eyes are dark brown with a dark ring around the iris. 

19. What makes mountain gorillas unique from one another?

Like humans, mountain gorillas have unique fingerprints. Mountain gorillas also have unique nose patterns, which helps scientists and rangers 

20. How strong is a mountain gorilla’s bite?

A gorilla can bite with a force of 1,300 PSI, or pounds per square inch. Tigers and lions bite at 1,000 PSI. And humans? We have a bite force of about 150 to 200 PSI, meaning a gorilla’s bite is 6 times stronger. 

21. Which parks can mountain gorillas be found in?

Mountain gorillas can be found in the Virunga Volcanic Range, which is shared by Rwanda, Congo, and Uganda. They can also be found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. To see the mountain gorillas you’ll need a permit, so don’t forget to check the 2022 mountain gorilla permit prices here.

22. How many mountain gorillas are left?

The most recent census revealed 1,063 mountain gorillas in the wild. Given the rising population trend and conservation efforts, this number will likely increase with the next census.

23. Where can I see mountain gorillas in zoos?

Mountain gorillas cannot survive any place besides their natural habitat. To see a mountain gorilla family, then, one has to travel to where mountain gorillas live in Uganda, Rwanda, or Congo.

24. How long do mountain gorillas live?

Mountain gorillas have a life expectancy of about 40 years. Because of their lack of natural predators, gorillas mostly die of old age, disease, accidents, or other natural causes.

25. Why do mountain gorillas build sleeping nests?

Gorilla troops do not stay in the same place for long, so they build a new sleeping nest each day from branches and grass. In the morning, they move on in search of food.

26. When do mountain gorillas eat?

Gorillas tend to have two meal times: in the morning and in the evening. During the day, older gorillas will nap and the infants will play.

27. Besides DNA, how are mountain gorillas similar to humans?

Mountain gorillas use tools, learn language, and express emotions like sadness, happiness, jealousy, and more.

28. Can mountain gorillas catch human diseases?

Because mountain gorillas and humans are so similar, it’s possible for mountain gorillas to catch human illnesses. If you are feeling sick or if you have any communicable disease, you will not be allowed to visit with mountain gorillas.

29. What are the main differences between mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas?

The mountain gorilla is the larger of the two, with longer hair and shorter arms than their lowland gorilla cousins. Mountain gorillas can only survive in high altitudes of about 2,200–4,300 metres. Lowland gorillas are much more likely to be seen in the trees, and prefer a more heavily forested, flatter habitat.

Western or lowland gorillas inhabit the forests of equatorial Africa. This includes the lowlands near the Cameroon coast through the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Angola, and possibly Congo.

30. When is the best time of year to see mountain gorillas?

While you can see mountain gorillas year-round, the answer depends more on one’s comfort level. The dry season is a more popular time to visit because trekking through the mountains is a bit easier than during the rainy season. This period includes the months of May to September, as well as from from December to the end of February.

31. How many types of gorilla tracking are there?

There are three ways to spend time with the gorillas. The most common is the one-hour permit, where you track a mountain gorilla family with the help of rangers and then spend one hour with them. This costs $1,500 per person in Rwanda and $700 per person in Uganda.

The gorilla habituation experience includes tracking the gorillas and then spending the day with them. This costs $1,500 per person in Uganda.

Each of these trips can be done more than once, and with a number of different mountain gorilla families.

Go Gorilla Tracking With Kikooko Africa Safaris

Curious to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat? From 3-day Uganda mountain gorilla safaris that take you straight to the gorillas to 10-day Uganda safaris that introduce you to the gorillas and Uganda’s other incredible wildlife, we’ve developed a number of must-try East Africa safaris (and we’re excited about developing gorilla and golf tours in the future!).

We’d also be delighted to help develop a tour just for you. Let us know what you’re interested in for your upcoming tour and we’ll get started planning today!