Category: Gorilla Tours

Gorilla Trek Uganda Vs Rwanda

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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.

Silverback Gorilla in the Jungle

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 Trek in Search for gorillas in the Jungle

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.

A Great Gorilla Trekking Experience in Rwanda

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mountain-gorilla-safariYou came close to meet what it means to be human in the Central African wilderness. Forget the Big Five – mountain gorilla trekking, our close relatives in Rwanda is Africa’s most interesting wildlife experience.

It was a minute I would be dreaming of for a long time. The 200-kilogram silverback and I locked eyes. It was an influential, powerful connection, something I would never felt previously with a animals. His dull, mahogany eyes bore into mine and I was transfixed, unable to move from my clumsy crouch in a patch of stinging nettles. He dropped the piece of bark he was biting on and turned to face me. Right then, I felt the gap between man and animals move from a chasm to a tiny sliver. As a mountain gorilla took a step towards me, I felt my heart beating faster than the drums of the traditional 50 Getaway April 2013 dancers we had seen that morning. I was extremely interested. The mountain gorilla watched me, looking for something in my gaze. At that point he picked his nose, analyzed his stubby finger with all the power he had recently blazed on me, and put it in his mouth.

Having spent much time in South African National Parks, watching the Big Five on foot and camping breaths away from predators, had not prepared me for mountain gorilla trekking; Looking at a leopard in the eyes from a game watching vehicle is miles far from sharing a connection to a animal that shares 98% of your genes.

Gorilla tracking activities in Rwanda done in Volcanoes National Park which is found on the northwester part of country and boarders Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorillas can also be found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park, and Virunga National Park in DRC.

Looking at a leopard in the eyes from a game watching vehicle is miles far from sharing a connection to an animal that shares 98% of your genes. And, apart from a few grunts and a bit of fur, could almost be human (especially the nose-picking part).

This thrilling wildlife experience in the Rwandan jungles doesn’t include the inaccessible trek to ‘darkest Africa’ that you may envision. A four-hour flight to Kigali from Johannesburg and a three- hour picturesque drive through coffee and tea estates and hills wreathed in smoke and sprinkled with villages is all it takes to get to Volcanoes National Park in the northwest of Rwanda. The forest reserve includes park of the Virunga Mountains, a chain of volcanoes traversing Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Together with Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, about 40 kilometers away, it’s the only habitat in the world where mountain gorillas can be visited in their nature environment.

Directly over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park, violent insurrection has forced vacationers to opt on gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda. I picked Rwanda, having been captivated by the film Gorillas in the Mist, based on primatologist Dian Fossey’s ground- breaking conservation work.

I traveled to Rwanda with a group of nine from Johannesburg and our expectations, which had been unmistakable from the moment our flight took off, peaked when we landed at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters in Kinigi on the misty early morning of our arranged adventure. Rwanda’s 10 habituated gorilla families are monitored every day, so trackers and rangers know where they are pretty much all the time and how long it will take to hike to them. When leaving the park headquarters, ranger Iryamukuru Jean Bosco gave us the lowdown on gorilla decorum and told us about our target, the Urugamba gorilla family, named after the dominant silverback. At that point we hit the rough road towards the slopes of the imposing Visoke Volcano in a Land Cruiser Hardtop, getting a free ‘African massage’ along the way.

There’s on official entrance to Volcanoes National Park and gorilla trekking permits are checked at the headquarters before you set off with the ranger guide to the boundary closest to where your assigned gorilla family is found. We stopped in a village, hired porters and headed through fields of Irish potatoes, daisy-like pyrethrum and Africa’s most beautiful cows (herders in the 15th century had 19 words to describe colorful Ankole hides).

We stepped over the stone-wall park boundary, entering the mysterious Central African rainforest. Painted in a million shades of green, it’s a place of greenery festooned hagenia trees, ancient looking greeneries, bamboo bushes, twisted vines like thick dreadlocks and sloppy paths peppered with giant earthworms… and the occasional human-like gorilla poo (the most amazing excrement I’ve ever seen). After an hour of trekking, we arrived at a clearing where the trackers waited and hacked our route off the path through shrubberies of nettles.

All of a sudden, they were there. A few meters before us, on a home of grass, a mother, baby and adolescent gorilla were quietly playing together, rolling around in a ball of dark fur. Iryamukuru had taught us to make the profound guttural noises that connote a peaceful “howzit” in gorilla language (à la Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist), and we snorted away anxiously, hoping we weren’t saying ‘attack me’ by mistake.

Tracking Gorillas and other wildlife in Uganda and Rwanda

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After reading deeply of nature documentaries one summer, my wife and I chose that we wanted to go not to Malaysia or Brazil, as we had been planning, for holiday, but to the wilds of Africa, where we could see the great outdoors populated by animals in relative purity.

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It was something of a daunting idea: neither of us had been to Africa before, and neither of us knew anyone who had! But we went online and did our research. On the Internet, we found one company that offered excellent Rwanda safaris. So we booked a trip and soon were on our way!

The safari itself was amazing, a smorgasbord of all kinds of animals, from the very small to the very, very large. The places we stayed were comfortable, and we loved the intelligent, kind guides who dealt with all of our annoying requests and questions. Now, we are telling our friends to go!

The highlight for our Rwanda safari was gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park! Though the trek was very strenuous to me and some of our group members, thrill of encountering these gentle giants was worth the effort! It erased all the poor memories we through while searching for them.

Who ever goes for Rwanda safaris especially with gorilla tracking should carry some gloves to cover your from nettles, insect repellent, rain jacket, long sleeves shirts or blouse, long pants and bottled mineral water. You can also carry some snacks because the trekking time is not predictable! It can take the whole day depending to which gorilla group you are tracking. What is most important is the gorilla pass, that gives you permission to take a guided forest walk / hike in search for gorillas. Rwanda gorilla permits cost US dollars 750, while Uganda permits cost US dollars 600 each, and the number of permits available per day is limited. Each gorilla group is visited by a maximum of 8 persons per day.

During our gorilla trek in Rwanda, our park guide shared with us a story about a story of some Germans who went for Susa group and came back at 10pm towards Mid night. Susa gorilla group is biggest and farthest in Rwanda. On that day, Susa group was at very high altitude at 3000 meters above sea level. These Germans were warned by they insisted and went for this group. Helicopters were in place to ensure that the clients are safe until they came back. From our gorilla safari in Rwanda and Uganda, I must say that everyone should go gorilla trekking before you die. It’s a must do adventure activity.

Experience the gorillas in the mist like no other

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When planning for the great African safari plan for the gorilla trekking experience. This is an expensive activity and may cause someone to think “should I do it”. Yes, absolutely. Two treks if possible. Both of our treks were very different, but also amazing. We did intermediate treks…about 2 hours of steady walking, and a good deal of uphill. They don’t traverse much. Having the porter carry your pack is a huge help, but remember to tip at the end…it typically isn’t part of their fee.

We booked an 8 day Uganda safari package with 2 gorilla treks and other activities like wildlife viewing, chimpanzee tracking, boat cruise, community tours, and mountain gorilla trekking was outstanding. You arrive at 7am and wait to be assigned the group you are to go gorilla trekking with. It’s all very efficient and informative. You meet the two rangers who will escort you and they tell you about the gorilla group you will see, what to expect and to do. Then you drive to the spot you will be hiking from.

The lengths of hikes vary and we asked for and got two of the shorter ones. The hiking is very leisurely and you can also hire porters to carry your stuff. Do this. It’s only $10 dollars and it’s worth it. You will also get a gorilla carved stick to hike with. Our hike was through potatoes fields, over the volcanic rock wall and through some jungle.

The next minute you are told to stop and leave everything behind but your camera. And then you are in the bushes with the gorillas!!! They are sometimes as close as a meter and they don’t seem bothered at all with us. They eat, and play and sleep. It’s unbelievable. You do not need to drag a massive zoom with because they are right next to you. In fact even our cellphones got great videos. You have an hour to observe and take pictures. The time speeds past and even though this is an expensive experience you will not be disappointed.

We were back at park headquarters the following day to meet our guide for our trek to Dian Fossey’s grave. This is a steep hike through jungle (about 100 minutes) to 3,200 meters but well worth it and completed the whole gorilla experience. It was wonderful to walk in the footsteps of this amazing lady and contemplate her invaluable work during 18 years living with the mountain gorillas.

The Great Africa Lifetime experience not to be missed

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gorilla-safaris-in-africaI have always wanted to trek to see the gorillas, but I never imagined it could be so good. For me this is almost a life changing experience. I felt a connection with the silverback that is beyond description. Especially when he was only 2 feet away from me. The tracking is great-mainly through beautiful country although you cross a bit of farmland to get to the forest.

Please employ a porter-it will be good to you and enhance your trip but more importantly it provides income for the locals.

Our Rwanda tour was arranged by International Tours and Travel, based in Harare. They were excellent. Their prices were very competitive, and the communications and service, allowing for the vagaries of Internet access in Rwanda were very good.

I was a little concerned because there was a query in one of the forums about this organization-as to whether they were reliable et cetera and there were no answers in the forum to this question. As you can tell whoever I had nothing at all to worry about.

The hour we spent with the gorillas is one I will never forget for as long as I live. It still doesn’t even feel real a couple of months on. We just walked between a couple of trees and there was a glade just full of gorillas! Everywhere you looked there was a gorilla, and there were some that we couldn’t see but could hear crunching away at their lunch. I would have said that we saw about thirty five gorillas on our trek which included the whole family demographic from silverback male, to babies with mothers to young ones playing in the bushes. The silverback even beat his chest while we were there, a sound guaranteed to make your heart miss a beat or two and your stomach do an interesting twist!

To anyone who is thinking of doing this, just go for it! And remember to love every second, because that hour sure flies fast! Not only do you get some wonderful photos, and the experience of a lifetime, but you also get a full body workout and a patented African Massage on the drive there and back (you’ll see what I mean when you go).

Our guides were incredible and had a real respect for the animals; I had been to other places on my travels where the guides seemed to be quite happy to antagonize the wildlife for photo opportunities, and however this certainly wasn’t the case in this instance. Their knowledge and love for the gorillas was evident and heartwarming to see.

Absolutely Amazing – A must do gorilla safari Africa!

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gorilla-safari-tourWe visited two families on our gorilla tour (on two separate days); the Amahoro family and the Susa family (studied by Dian Fossey). We were fortunate to visit the Amahoro family when they were lounging in a clearing so were able to get up very close and watch the family (including the dominant Silverback) interact with one another. On one occasion, an adolescent gorilla approached my sister curious of her camera. Of course, she had to back away though not for fear of the young gorilla which really just looked like it wanted to play.
The Susa family is one of the larger families’ habituated to human contacts and has many Silverbacks, females, adolescents and young babies. One particular moment of awe for me occurred when a young mother walked within a foot of where I was sitting with a 3 month old baby on her back, pausing briefly to eat. At that moment, the baby looked at me with big round, almost opaque eyes, and I knew I would have to return (indeed, we are planning a trip to Uganda in the next few years).

We saw 17 gorillas in all, including 1dominant silverback, which is the head of the family. We were told only male gorillas become silverbacks. Their backs become silver around 12 to 15 years of age. It is similar to how men get gray hair when they get older.

We also saw many other young adolescents playing in the trees, swinging from branch to branch and spent several minutes observing a young brash male, apparently inebriated from eating too many fermented bamboo shoots, try to impress with the occasional beating on his chest. While, the cost to visit with a gorilla family may be prohibitive for some, the chance to see these amazing animals (that share 97% of our DNA) in their natural habitat and contribute to Rwanda’s larger conservation efforts, well justifies the expense. Highly recommended!

Once we met up with the other two trackers, we had to take discuss more about the trek before we were awarded our gorilla tracking certificates at the headquarters. The certificate has your name and confirms that you successfully participated in a gorilla safari in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. The first tracker we met had me follow directly behind him so I was the first person again to appreciate the group we tracked. The first feeling that swept over me was one of relief that we actually got to see the gorillas. The tracker who guided us to the family took very good care of me. He always positioned me in a great spot to see the gorillas. I was very thankful to him.

3 Day Uganda gorilla safari, 2 Nights at Wagtail Eco Camp

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WagtailEcoCampWagtail Eco safari camp is one of the most affordable Uganda safari camps in southern Bwindi National Park, a home to mountain gorillas in Uganda. Wagtail Eco camp offers accommodation in cottages and tents.

Our cottages and tents are all self-contained with ensuite bathrooms and toilets. We also have hot running water in our showers. The cottages are built using natural fabrics to blend with the environment!

Wagtail eco camp offers a perfect start point for gorilla tracking in Bwindi national park. The camp is located just a few minutes drive (5-10minutes) to the briefing point for all gorilla groups in southern Bwindi national Park. Accommodation at this camp is very affordable at USD90 per night for a single room, and USD120 per night for a double room on full board basis. The rates can change without notice depending on the season.

Below is a day by day itinerary for a 3 day Uganda gorilla safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with 2 nights at Wagtail Eco Camp.

Day 1: Transfer to Bwindi National Park – Wagtail Eco Camp

Breakfast followed by a scenic drive to Bwindi impenetrable National Park. This is an 8 to 10hours journey, going through small villages / trading centers and some big towns such as Masaka town, Lyantonde town, Mbarara town where we normally stop for lunch at Agip Motel and Kabale town. Arrive at Wagtail Eco Camp by late afternoon or early evening, dinner and overnight.

Day 2: Life time event / Community walk

Heavy breakfast at Wagtail Eco camp and drive to the park headquarters for a briefing about mountain gorilla tracking in southern Bwindi national park. The gorilla groups available this side includes Kahungye, Businjye, Mishaya, Nshongi group and others. The trek is quite strenuous and time taken depends on the movement of gorillas. It is unpredictable because these gorillas are on free movement in their natural environment. You will be allowed to stay with gorillas for 60 minutes maximum, take photos and videos, etc. Always keep a distance of 7 meters. However, some times a gorilla may come close to you. Do not shout at them. Silence is very important. Return to your Wagtail Eco camp for lunch, time permiting, you can take a forest walk in the evening to see more birds, or take a community walk through Nkuringo or Rushaga areas, dinner and overnight stay at Wagtail Eco safari camp.

Day 3: Reserved for departure

Heavy breakfast at wagtail Eco camp, followed by transfer to back to Kampala, enroute lunch in Mbarara town at Agip Motel, another stop over at the Equator for photographs, arrive in Kampala by early evening. Depending on your arrangements, we can drop you to your pre-booked hotel around Kampala, or transfer you to Entebbe International Airport for your scheduled departure flight. This marks the end of your 3 days gorilla safari adventure in Uganda to Bwindi national park with 2 nights at Wagtail Eco camp.

To book this tour package, send an email to info@cheapgorillasafaris.com

The price quoted will include a gorilla permit per person, private transport from Kampala and back in a 4WD safari vehicle, enroute meals and bottled mineral water for refreshment, 2 night accommodation at wagtail eco camp on Full board, all tour activities as per the itinerary, services of a professional English speaking driver / tour guide.

 

Explore Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park for Gorilla Tour

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gorilla-safari-bwindiBwindi Impenetrable Forest is located in southwestern part of Uganda on the edge of the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley, along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National Park. It is also located about 530km from Uganda.

The national park comprises of about 321 sq km of think jungle forests and contains both montane and lowland forest and is accessible only on foot. This park is partitioned into four gorilla tracking sectors including Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors;

The Buhoma was the first to be established for gorilla trekking and is the most famous of all the four sectors in Bwindi Forest. It is also at this sector where other natural walks take place like; Munyanga River Trails in the valley of Buhoma, which is a short stroll for watching birds and primates along the forest edge, the waterfall trail which passes beneath tree ferns, epiphytic plants and also orchids to visit three stunning waterfalls, there is also Rushura Hill Trail, Muzabajiro Loop Trail and the River Ivi Trail of which the last fallows an old raod the forest, emerging near Nkuringo on the southern edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The Buhoma community walk and culture exhibitions which takes up to three hours visiting the local homestead, the traditional healer and a banana beer brewery is organized by the local community. Of late, the Batwa cultural experience has been established in this sector of the park. Gorilla groups / families in this sector incorporate; Rushegura, Mubare and Habinyanja.

The Nkuringo sector which was established near to the Buhoma sector is approximately 10km from Buhoma despite the fact that this distance is by the think jungle and a stroll through the forest takes about 4 hours. Connecting by vehicle from the two areas takes around 7 to 8 hours. Villages at Nkuringo sector also organize a community walk that visits a traditional healer, rural homestead, blacksmith and brewers. Nkuringo gorilla family is the only gorilla group in this sector.

The Ruhija sector which is popular for its variety bird species on top of the mountain gorillas is considered as the most remote sector of all the four. There is a three hour trek to visit the Mubwindi swamp which hosts a variety of bird species and is a perfect sector for bird lovers. The mountain gorilla families found in Ruhija sector includes; Ruhija, Bitukura and Kyaguriro.

The Rushaga sector which hosts the highest number of gorilla groups which include Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, and Busingye. It is located between Kabale and Nkuringo from either Ruhija or Kampala.

Getting there

Bwindi Forest National Park can be accessed either by air from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip or by road from Kampala.

From Entebbe International Airport, there are scheduled flights to Kihihi which is near the northern part of Bwindi Forest and there are also flights to Kisoro which is near the Southern sector of park. Flights to Kisoro only leave in the morning while Kihihi has both morning and afternoon departure from Entebbe Airport. You can also do charter flights from Kajjansi Airstrip to either Kisoro or Kihihi.

The main tourist activity in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is; Gorilla trekking limited to a maximum of 8 tourists per a particular gorilla family per day – Gorilla permits must be booked in advance since they are on a very high demand all year round. You can do this by contacting Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA) or by contacting any Uganda local tour operator for advise. There are many tour companies in the country which offers affordable and cheap gorilla tours in Bwindi Forest and can also help you book a gorilla permit like; African Jungle Adventures Ltd, Gorilla Expedition Ltd, Able Safaris Ltd, Acacia Safaris, Across Africa Holidays Ltd, Adrift – The Adventure Company, Adventure Natural African Safaris (U) Ltd, Adventure Vacation Safaris Ltd, Afri Tours And Travel Ltd, Africa Adventure Safaris, Africa’s Great Exploration Safaris, African Adventure Travelers, African Big Five Safaris, African Pearl Safaris, African White Rhino Safaris among others.

Guided forest walks, bird watching tours and other primates watching are also done in this park. There is also other interesting tour activity (Batwa Pygmies) whereby recently the Batwa Cultural Experience was introduced.

At the point when to go & What to Expect

Uganda is suitable for travel at any time of the year and it is sunny most of the year with temperatures seldom rising over 29 degrees. The average yearly temperature is around 26 degrees Celsius.

For a gorilla tour in Bwindi forest, you have to be fairly physically fit, equipped for the humid, muddy conditions of a rainforest hike, and healthy because it is quite tiresome but interesting. You won’t be allowed to go gorilla trekking in Uganda if you have a cold or similar illness because mountain gorillas are vulnerable to numerous human diseases. The region’s mid-December to February and June to September dry seasons are the best time to go gorilla trekking in Uganda however you can still expect a tough day on foot: it’s in some cases humid, wet and sloppy with steep slops and tangled vegetation. Never the less, the possibilities of finding gorilla groups are often around 95%.

When a habituated gorilla group has been found by your tour guide, you can settle down for 60 minutes to take photos and watch them as they feed and groom while their babies tumble about the undergrowth – all under the watchful gaze of the great silverback male. Sitting just a couple of meters from a gorilla and looking its soft brown eyes is a memorable experience.

Put this African adventure on your bucket list!

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We did trekking for 2 days. Most people we talked to did only one day, but we wanted to maximize our visit, and I am glad we did. The first day was great- did “easy” trek which was about 1hr 45 min one way, across a field and up a mountain. The visit with the gorilla family was phenomenal. On day 2 we had rain, did the easy trek and were hiking abit longer with a more difficult hike. Some people on the easy treks only hiked about 1/2 hour.

The fur of the mountain gorilla, often thicker and longer than that of other gorilla species, enables them to live in colder temperatures. Gorillas can be identified by nose prints unique to each individual. Males, at a mean weight of 195 kg (430 lb) and upright standing height of 150 cm (59 in) usually weigh twice as much as the females, at a mean of 100 kg (220 lb) and a height of 130 cm (51 in). This subspecies is on average the second largest species of primate; only the Eastern Lowland Gorilla, the other subspecies of Eastern Gorilla, is larger.  Adult males have more pronounced bony crests on the top and back of their skulls, giving their heads a more conical shape. These crests anchor the powerful temporalis muscles, which attach to the lower jaw (mandible). Adult females also have these crests, but they are less pronounced. Like all gorillas they feature dark brown eyes framed by a black ring around the iris.

Adult males are called silverbacks because a saddle of gray or silver-colored hair develops on their backs with age. The hair on their backs is shorter than on most other body parts, and their arm hair is especially long. Fully erect, males reach 1.9 m (6 ft. 3 in) in height, with an arm span of 2.3 m (7 ft. 7 in) and weigh 220 kg (490 lb). The tallest silverback recorded was a 1.94 m (6 ft. 4 in) individual shot in Alimbongo, northern Kivu in May 1938. There’s an unconfirmed record of another individual, shot in 1932, that was 2.06 m (6 ft. 9 in) tall. The heaviest was a 1.83 m (6 ft.) silverback shot in Ambam, Cameroon which weighed about 266 kg (586 lb).

The mountain gorilla is primarily terrestrial and quadruped. However, it will climb into fruiting trees if the branches can carry its weight, and it is capable of running bipedally up to 6 m (20 ft.) Like all great apes other than humans, its arms are longer than its legs. It moves by knuckle-walking (like the common chimpanzee, but unlike the bonobo and both orangutan species), supporting its weight on the backs of its curved fingers rather than its palms.

The mountain gorilla is diurnal, most active between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Many of these hours are spent eating, as large quantities of food are needed to sustain its massive bulk. It forages in early morning, rests during the late morning and around midday, and in the afternoon it forages again before resting at night. Each gorilla builds a nest from surrounding vegetation to sleep in, constructing a new one every evening. Only infants sleep in the same nest as their mothers. They leave their sleeping sites when the sun rises at around 6 am, except when it is cold and overcast; then they often stay longer in their nests.

It really depends on where the gorilla families are that morning and sometimes they move deeper into the mountain by the time the group gets to them. On day 2 of our gorillas safari, we still saw the gorillas, but not as great as the first day as they were in a more heavily forested area. You get very close to them and they are so used to people they may try to grab you. I felt very safe with the guides, who were with us. Please hire a porter to carry your backpack and in another way you reduce unemployment to the local living near the gorillas and more encouraging them to save the mountain gorillas and the habitat of the mountain gorillas.

It is easier for you and it helps their families with the money in tips that you give them. You do tip the guides, the porters and the trackers (group who finds the families in the morning). I am 56 years old and was able to complete the hikes, but was tired on the 2nd hike. It is important to get in shape before you go. If you take rain gear (which I strongly advise), make sure it is sturdy as our thin inexpensive rain gear tore to shreds on the bamboo and other vegetation. Take plenty of water as well. You will get amazing photos.

Awesome experiential tour in Africa

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A must do trip when in Rwanda. I have been to see the gorillas twice while on our gorilla tour in Rwanda last year. As you can see from all the reviews, each trip is completely different. I had one easy trip and one more difficult one, but managed to see a lot of gorillas both trips.

kanama-mountain-gorillaThe first trip was about a 1.5 hour hike up. We were told that it was going to be about that long. The family was huge (30+) with 4 Silverbacks (the patriarch passed away after our trip and two of the full grown Silverbacks fought it out for the group. The third was the son). We also saw some babies. One of the Silverbacks went around bumping members of our group. We made it back in 45 minutes.

The second trip was a little longer than planned… We had requested a close group as my mom; her friend and my brother’s pregnant wife were with us. It turned out to be a 4.5 hour hike to find the gorillas. A group of buffalo (we had to sneak past them) had scared the gorillas off. The terrain was also difficult and my mom’s friend was helped by two porters. When we finally found the gorillas, it was all worth it. The kids wrestling us each other and the Silverback keeping a look over the family. Even though the hike was difficult, it was definitely one of the main parts of the visit as the terrain was beautiful. We also really got to see the real “Gorillas in the Mist”.

Having done some research prior to the trips, we were ready for anything. Lots of water are recommended and bring snacks especially those that can give you energy kicks. Prepare for rain, mud and tough terrain. I suggest wearing gloves. At the end of the day, the hike can be very easy, but best to be prepared. If you have any doubts about the trek take a porter.

I and my fellow travelers I was travelling with were lucky enough to be selected to track the Susa group. Another tourist with us had information about this group and she said the group has the big number in that area and was normally the hardest to get to, so we were both excited and a little nervous about the trek ahead! I am not going to lie, the trekking is hard work! It took us nearly two hours simply to reach the tree line and the altitude really takes your breath away if it’s not something you are used to.

In the forest itself you have to be very careful where you tread as the undergrowth is dense and slippery, even a couple of our porters took a tumble every now and then to carry our big bags equipped with our perfect cameras ready to take unforgettable shoots and videos while with the mountain gorillas in the mist!

In general, an experience of a lifetime with the mammals those are the most similar to humans. The interaction is very close with small groups. It is well organized (best to buy your passes directly from the Rwanda Development Board) One of the best activities in Rwanda. Visit our website for more information about gorilla tracking in Rwanda or Uganda.