Mountain gorilla safari
Everything you need to know about a mountain gorilla safari:
A mountain gorilla safari gives you the opportunity to view wild gorillas in their natural habitat. It’s an extremely sacred adventure like no other. This article will show you everything that you need to know about mountain gorillas in only six minutes of reading time.
Where do mountain gorillas live:
A mountain gorilla safari can take place in one of three countries: Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They live in the mountains between elevations of around 8000 to 13000 feet.
Population of mountain gorillas:
When going on a mountain gorilla safari it is important to note that there are only about 1000 mountain gorillas left on Earth. This is why it is very important to be very cautious and respectful when trekking on a mountain gorilla safari. Mountain gorillas are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as of 2018.
These gorillas face the threat of habitat loss because they live on the very green mountains of Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC. They face threats of forest destruction (for charcoal), mining and agriculture. They also do get caught in traps that are set up to catch other animals for bushmeat.
Another great threat is climate change. Even though gorillas can adapt quite well and constantly move to higher elevations so as to adapt to the rising temperatures, the areas that they can move to are becoming highly populated and it is also getting smaller and smaller.
It is also possible for gorillas to catch illnesses from humans. There are always very strict protocols put in place when it comes to tourists going on a mountain gorilla safari and coming in to close contact with these gorillas, but it is still possible for diseases to spread. Gorillas share 98% of their DNA with humans so it is very possible for them to contract a disease from us.
Research has shown that respiratory diseases pose the greatest threat to gorillas, and have been the reason for sudden deaths amongst gorillas. This is why due to the recent outbreak of Covid-19 tourists have been banned from visiting the gorillas throughout most of the mountain gorilla safari parks until it is safe to do so.
What the trek is like:
It is important to know that the trek is not a piece of cake and can be quite challenging at times (there is not always a clear path and your guides will have to form a path for you), but it is very do-able if you are of an average fitness level.
Make sure that you have proper hiking gear (and a pair of sturdy hiking boots) to protect you from the branches, insects and mud. Make sure you have enough water for yourself as the trek can be a few hours long.
If you are particularly worried about the hike, then it is always possible to hire a porter. A porter is helpful because they will carry your bag for you and will also help and guide you across the trickier ‘pathways’. By hiring a porter you are also helping someone by giving the locals employment. The cost of a porter for the day can be anywhere from $20 upwards.
What to wear on your mountain gorilla safari:
Hiking boots- Hiking boots are the most essential item to pack for your mountain gorilla safari. Make sure you buy good quality hiking boots because you will be bundu-bashing and hiking through tough terrain. Ordinary exercising shoes are not enough, you need proper protection.
Long-sleeved tops and trousers- It can get very cold in the rainforests so it is important to make sure that you have warmer clothes. The trousers are essential to protect your legs from scratches.
A rain-jacket- You will be hiking through tropical rainforests so you must always be prepared for rain at any time. Make sure to pack a light-weight rain jacket so it is not too difficult to carry around.
Gloves- Gloves are important to protect your hands from being scratched if you have to move the branches away with your hands and also in case you might slip, it is good to have protection over your hands.
Water- It is very important to have enough water with you, you will be very thirsty while hiking.
Snacks- Remember to take snacks with you when you are hiking, especially energy snacks to help you stay energized.
The cost of a Mountain gorilla safari:
A mountain gorilla safari is a wonderful opportunity that you would not want to miss out on. It is important to know that due to the population of mountain gorilla left on earth, the costs of the permits will be quite high in order to limit the number of people going on a mountain gorilla safari per day.
In Uganda, a mountain gorilla safari permit costs 600 USD per person per trek, but as of July 2020, the cost will increase to $700 per person per trek. In Rwanda, the permit is a lot higher. It costs you $1500 per person per trek. This cost is why Rwanda is a luxury gorilla trekking destination.
Mountain gorilla safari package:
There are many options when it comes to choosing your mountain gorilla safari package. Here is a list of various mountain gorilla safari packages:
* A three-day Uganda gorilla tracking safari from 590 USD per person which excludes permits and levies but includes accommodation. The minimum age for this Uganda gorilla safari is 15 years old and you can have a maximum of 6 individuals in your group.
* A five-day low season gorilla and chimp safari from Kigali which starts at 1720 USD per person and includes accommodation but excludes permits fees. This is a great option for a Uganda gorilla safari because you get to see the mountain gorillas but also get to experience other aspects of the ‘Pearl of Africa’. Day one will see you travelling from Kigali, day two will see you embarking on your gorilla trek in Bwindi Impenetrable National park, day three you will drive to Kibale National Park, day four you will do chimpanzee trekking and a Bigodi Wetland walk, and day five you will drive back to Kigali National Airport.
Detailed Itinerary packages:
4 day Uganda Gorilla tour with Journey’s Intent:
Price: R68 422 (4300 USD) per person sharing
Day 1: Arrival
You will arrive at Entebbe airport and be met by a representative at 11:30 am just in time to catch your flight to Bwindi Forest at 12 noon.
Once you land, you will be met by your guide. You will then be transferred to Gorilla Forest Camp.
Day 2: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
You will have an early breakfast and thereafter you will be escorted to Uganda Wildlife Authority Park headquarters where you will meet other trackers as well as your gorilla guide. You will then start your trek into the forest to search for the Mountain Gorillas.
Day 3: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
You will spend the second-day trekking into the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and the rest of the day you will be free to roam at your leisure.
Day 4: End of the trek
3 day Bwindi gorilla tour with gorillatrekafrica.com:
Day 1: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
After breakfast, our tour guide will transfer you by road to Bwindi. Along the way the Ankole long-horned cattle and the various antelopes crossing the main road are fascinating. Make a stop-over in Mbarara town for your lunch and then proceed to Bwindi in southwestern Uganda arriving in the evening. Overnight at Silverback Bwindi Lodge/ Buhoma Community bandas (FB)
Day 2: Gorilla Tracking Adventure
Wake up very early in the morning for your breakfast and then hike to the park headquarters, which are a few meters from your lodge for a briefing by the park ranger on how you need to conduct yourself before the gorillas. At 8.30 am begin hiking along well-established trails in the forest. Gorilla tracking is a strenuous exercise but joy you experience after encountering the gorillas is overwhelming. The time to encounter these apes ranges from an hour to several hours depending on their movement in the jungle. You will enjoy dinner and stay overnight at the lodge.
Day 3: Departure.
After your breakfast, you will transfer back to the airport for your scheduled flight to the next destination.
A six-day Rwanda tour with Journeys Intent:
Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Enjoy a canopy walkway adventure and transfer to Rubavu.
Spend a full day in Rubavu city and on Lake Kivu.
Spend a full day mountain gorilla safari trekking in the beautiful mountains of Rwanda.
Day 5 you will have an Iby’lwacu cultural visit and transfer to Akagera National Park, where you will spend a full day.
Full day Akagera National Park game drive. This all-inclusive six-day adventure will cost approximately US$5500.
Is a mountain Gorilla safari safe?
Your safety will always be our top priority. During your mountain gorilla safari, you will be accompanied by trained guides as well as park rangers who will protect you and make sure to list the safety instructions before you go on the trek. It is very important to know that you are also responsible for your own safety, and your behavior must be respectable.
Here are some important safety considerations that you should be aware of before you embark on your mountain gorilla safari:
• Distance: it is a general rule that you should keep at least seven metres distance between you and the gorillas so that you do not appear as a threat and so that the gorillas remain comfortable and at ease.
• Illness: this tip is more for the gorillas than the humans. Any and all travellers are encouraged to not trek if they are feeling ill as mountain gorillas are highly susceptible to human diseases such as the common flu, it is therefore required that travellers present a medical letter attaining to their health before they embark on the gorilla trek.
• Attire: the hike through the forest is certainly not a walk in the park and it is strongly recommended that you wear comfy and sturdy hiking boots to ensure that you don’t get any blisters or scratches. You are also required to wear dull colors that do not make you stick out, such as khaki long-sleeved shirts and long pants. It is also recommended to wear sunscreen and sunglasses, as well as to carry gloves so that you can maneuver through the sharp and thorny shrubbery.
• Avoid direct eye contact and remain calm: Uganda gorilla trekkers will be advised to avoid making direct eye contact with the mountain gorillas as they can view this as a threat. You are also advised to speak in a low tone of voice and to remain calm at all times. If the gorillas come near you one should stay silent and still and do not make any sudden movements that will startle the gorilla, who is probably just inquisitive of you.