Many of us have seen gorillas before caged in the zoos but we have never seen them in their natural setting all free to do and move in which every location they may want to. It is an epic experience to see gorilla up close in their natural environment. This is only made possible if you visit Africa. Africa is the only continent on earth with the gorillas in their natural setting and this makes an outstanding place to enjoy the gorillas at their best behavior while in the jungle. Gorillas are not spread all over Africa; they are found in a few places of Africa that is across the tropical rain forest region of west, central and East Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species of western gorilla and eastern gorillas, and later subdivided into four species where the western gorillas have the western lowland and the cross river gorillas, and the eastern gorillas have the eastern lowland gorillas and the mountain gorillas. These gorillas are classified by the location and physical nature of their habitats.
We shall not go into details of each and every species of gorillas, lets emphases on the experience of visiting the mountain gorillas because with them we can make a tourist/visitor watch them in their natural setting. Mountain gorillas are only found in Rwanda, Uganda and the Dr. Congo. The first 2 destinations are most popular for gorilla trekking tours, while the later is experiencing some political instabilities that hinder the development of gorilla tourism in the country. Most travelers prefer to track gorillas in both destinations, and there are many gorilla tour packages with such arrangements such as the 5 day gorilla trek Uganda package, takes you to both Volcanoes National Park Rwanda and Mgahinga or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorillas are endangered species under the red list of international union of conversation for nature (IUCN). This implies that mountain gorillas can get extinct if conservation efforts are not made. There are less than 900 mountain gorillas in the world. The population also validates the mountain gorillas being endangered species.
We shall not keep on mourning on the damaged caused by the past generation of decreasing the mountain gorillas let’s focus on the future. Seeing the gorillas up close is one of conserving the gorillas since the money paid to meet the mountain gorillas goes to the conservation efforts and work. Gorillas can be seen up close mostly in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in the southwest of Uganda and the volcanoes national park in the northeast of Rwanda and Virunga national park in DR. Congo is not a popular destination due to the past insecurity that was taking place but now it is in progress to be a perfect place to watch these gentle giants.
The experience of tracking gorillas in the African jungle in these wonderful national parks is an exhilarating one. It takes the tourists 2-6 hours to find the mountain gorillas in their natural environment as they have to walk through the forest of Virunga or Bwindi to see the gorillas and these creatures are nomadic animals that move from one place to another looking for food and shelter. But the challenge the gorilla trackers go through is forgotten when come up close with the gorillas. Gorillas are huge creatures that weigh around 160 kgs and stand 150 cms in height but very peaceful and interesting animals to watch and interact with. Gorillas have special social characters that are displayed among themselves that leave very many visitors mesmerized; that is, the way they take care of their young ones, their communications, their ability to use tools like branches of trees for protection and also gather food and also the respect their give to their head of the family the silverback. Apart from watching, the gorillas do their social magic, the trackers are also able to take beautiful photos and record videos.
The experience of seeing the gorilla up close is a lifetime one, so plan for your gorilla vacation and come visit the mountain gorillas in their natural setting. There are very many online tour operators that organize gorillas safari trips in Uganda and Rwanda. Book your gorilla permit before they are sold out since they are always on high demand.
Price of Gorilla Permits
The prices for gorilla tracking permits in both destinations vary as below;
In Uganda, each gorilla permit costs US$600 for Foreign Non residents, US$475 for East African Foreign Residents and 250.000 Uganda shillings for Ugandans. Further more, Uganda has promotional permits in Low seasons every year (April, May and November), where each gorilla permit costs US$450 for foreign non-residents. However, you should contact your Travel agent or Uganda Wildlife Authority for validity every year.
In Rwanda, a gorilla trekking permit costs US$750 for foreign non-residents, US$450 for foreigners living/working in all East African countries excluding Rwanda, US$375 for foreigners working / living in Rwanda and 30.000 Rwanda Francs for Rwandan residents.