Have you ever imagined or wondered why gorilla trekking is described as a lifetime experience or what makes it a unique primate adventure from the rest of the safari experiences? A trek to view a group of rare mountain gorillas in African jungles is amazingly a magical experience of a lifetime. For visitors on safari in Africa consider this remarkable primate adventure one of a must for you to include in your bucket list and you won’t regret in life. There are many things that make this primate experience the most distinct adventure compared to the rest of safari activities and among others include;
Mountain gorilla trekking is unique from other tour activities a fact that in the whole world, it is only conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park southwestern Uganda; Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda and lastly in the Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This is different from most safari activities that you can participate in most African countries for instance game viewing. Usually, visitors on gorilla safari combine this primate experience with other wildlife safaris in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda and many more.
Unlike most safari activities, mountain gorilla trekking is generally a process that involves trekkers hiking through the thick tropical rain forests to look out a habituated group of these unique primates in their natural habitat. Mountain gorillas are only tracked in the forest and not at the zoo and they live mostly at altitude between 2200 meters and 4300 meters. Hiking through the bamboo forest to see a group of these impressive creatures entirely requires some physical wellness among trekkers a fact that this adventure lasts for about 3 to 8 hours or even more depending on various factors like nature of the habitat, location of the gorillas, visitor hiking speed and many others. This lifetime adventure begins with an early morning briefing by one of the park officials at the park headquarters who takes visitors through the dos and don’ts for gorilla trekking. After, visitors are grouped into 8 people per group and be assigned to only one habituated gorilla group to track plus a professional guide/trackers who leads trekkers through the entire trekking process in the jungles. This primate adventure takes trekkers through areas with or without designated paths to look out for these impressive wild creatures. However, visitor’s experience is always enhanced a fact that trackers are sent to the field to locate where groups of gorillas are found before the next group of trekkers sets off for the usual trek and they also help in clearing the pathways especially the thick vegetation for trekkers using their machetes. Gorilla trekking features among the very few primate adventures that offer visitors opportunity to strike their imaginations with these rare apes while on foot and in their natural habitat. In Uganda, gorilla treks are conducted in the jungles of Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, in Rwanda you can pay a visit to Volcanoes National Park and in the DR Congo-the Virunga National Park offers you such a golden opportunity to strike your imaginations with these magnificent apes in the wild. Safari activities for instance game viewing, there are set tracks that visitors are driven through where they can spot out most of the wildlife species. With game drives, visitors are not allowed to get out of the safari car and it involves mainly spotting out most of the big game in Africa (African lions, leopards, African elephants, buffaloes, rhinos) and other savanna wildlife species in the savanna grassland national parks. In Uganda, game drives are conducted in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Semuliki Valley National Park; in Rwanda, you can pay a visit to Akagera National Park and many other African savanna protected areas.
Mountain gorillas feature among the most critically endangered species in the world and there are fewer than 900 individuals that are still thriving on earth today. These unusual wild creatures share about 98 percent of their DNA with humans making them to be very susceptible to human infectious diseases and to trek them in the wild offers is incredibly a golden opportunity for visitors to explore how close these intelligent creatures are to humans. To ensure their sustainability in the wild, trekkers are only given an hour (1 hour) to have a face to face encounter with these rare apes and a distance of 7 to 10 meters has to be maintained away from gorillas at all times. The one hour of face to face encounter with a group of habituated gorillas is best described as a magical experience of lifetime. During this time, visitors get a chance to explore more about the behaviors of gorillas in the wild (what they feed, how they play, coupling, body gestures, grooming and others) and take as many photos as possible. And this is different from the rest of other activities where there is no set time for one to view the attraction an example of wildlife up on finding them in the wild.
When it comes to mountain gorilla trekking, gorilla permit is a must to have if you are to be allowed to track a gorilla family and this is different with most of the safaris in savanna national parks where you have to pay a park entry fees. Gorilla permits in Uganda can be purchase at $600 per visitor, $1500 in Rwanda and $400 for visitors on gorilla safari to DR Congo. Besides, gorilla trekking is limited to only persons above 15 years and only 8 visitors are allowed to track only one habituated gorilla family which may not be the case with other tour activities.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking is remarkably the rarest and the most rewarding primate experience that you shouldn’t miss to include in your bucket list. Besides trekking to see the rare mountain gorillas in African wild, you may also explore more about other gorilla species especially the eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park and Maiko National Park in the DRC.