Gorilla Trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda Versus Gorilla Trekking In Uganda

What is gorilla trekking?

The term ‘gorilla trekking’ refers to an activity of moving into the jungles of rain forests on the quest to find a species of gorillas. Gorilla trekking often involves walking long or short distances by a visitor while searching for a particular habituated gorilla family. It is an activity which could last from about 30 minutes to several walking hours depending on the movement of a gorilla group in the Jungle, it also depends on your level of fitness and how fast you can hike. Once a gorilla family of interest is sighted, visitors are then allowed a maximum of one-hour ultimate gorilla experience in the midst of the giant apes.

An overview of gorilla trekking in Rwanda

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is purely a life-changing adventure rewarding visitors with a close encounter to the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Before the trek, a cup of tea or coffee is served to visitors at the park headquarters (Visitors’ information centre) Along with it is a traditional performance which gives guests a good start for their exciting day’s adventure before being briefed by a ranger on how to behave while on the trek. Later on, groups of eight individuals are led through the tracking trails on an adventure to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

Each hiking group is assigned a ranger and two armed guards, accompanied by porters to ensure the guest’s safety from jungle animals such as Elephants. The hiking experience in the search for the mountain gorillas in the Jungle is so interesting and unpredictable since gorillas are free to loam about in their natural habit hence rewarding trekkers with long or short treks depending on the movement of a gorilla family one is meant to track. Once the gorilla family of interest is spotted, visitors enjoy one hour with the gentle apes while they incredibly admire how graceful and peaceful these gentle giants are.

An overview of gorilla trekking in Uganda

Gorilla Family in Volcanoes National Park – Rwanda

The memorable gorilla trekking experience in Uganda begins 8:30 am with guests being briefed about what is expected of them during the tracking experience. Later, visitors grouped into groups of eight where each group is assigned a park ranger. Thereafter, the groups embark on the journey to the tracking trails on a quest to find the rare mountain gorilla species. Gorilla trekking in Uganda (Bwindi National Park) is more strenuous compared to Rwanda and time-taken ranges between 1 – 7 hours depending on the movement of a gorilla family a visitor has planned to track. Once the gorilla family is sighted, visitors are the then allowed a one-hour unforgettable moment with a gorilla group after which they head back to the park.

Differences between Rwanda’s gorilla trekking and Uganda’s gorilla trekking

For quite some time, visitors have wondered whether there exists a difference if a guest chooses tracking gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda. Therefore in this article, I try to draw the difference between gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda as well as what the two countries share in common in terms of gorilla trekking adventures. Here some of the differences between Rwanda’s gorilla trekking and Uganda’s gorilla trekking;

  • Gorilla trekking destinations

Uganda has only two destinations which offer visitors an out of the ordinary gorilla trekking experience. These are mainly Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park located in the southwestern part of Uganda. Rwanda, on the other hand, has only one gorilla trekking destination- Volcanoes national park situated northeast of Rwanda. With reference from the above information, Uganda has more gorilla trekking destinations compared to Rwanda.

  • Cost of Gorilla trekking permits

Rwanda charges a fee of 1500 USD for a visitor interested in tracking gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. This fee includes park entry charges, guiding and a certificate for accomplishing the trek. In Uganda, a gorilla permit costs 700 USD. Looking at the two gorilla permit charges, Rwanda offers quite an expensive gorilla trekking safaris compared to Uganda.

  • Habituated Gorilla families

Rwanda has a total of twelve habituated gorilla families currently that are available for gorilla trekking. These include Igisha, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Amahoro, Agashya, Kwitonda, Umubano, Hirwa, Bwenge, Ugyenda and Muhoza and Susa although one (Hirwa gorilla group) has been a resident in Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda for the past few years.

Gorilla Trekers in Bwindi Forest – Uganda

This is different from Uganda which has a total of 19 habituated gorilla families currently all available for gorilla trekking experiences. These include Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Nkuringo, Mishaya, Kahungye, Bweza, Busingye, Nsongi, Bikyingi, Rwigi, Katwe, Mucunguzi, Bushaho, Mukiza, Kyaguriro for research and Nyakagyezi in Mgahinga gorilla park. Therefore, Uganda has more mountain gorilla groups available for trekking compared to Rwanda.

  • Road distance to gorilla trekking locations

In Uganda, travelling to Bwindi impenetrable national park from Kampala is usually about 450-490km approximately 8 – 10 hours drive by road depending to which gorilla sector you are heading to. Similarly, road distance from Kigali Capital of Rwanda to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is about 170km approximately 4 hours drive. On the other hand, Mgahinga gorilla is 495km from Kampala approximately 10hours drive by road. From Kigali city of Rwanda to Mgahinga gorilla national park is about 131 km approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes.

However, in Rwanda, Volcanoes national park is about 106 km from Kigali close to 2 hours drive on a smooth road from Kigali- Rwanda’s capital. Therefore, it is undeniably true that Rwanda’s gorilla trekking destination is nearer and easily accessible in terms of road distance compared to gorilla trekking destinations in Uganda which may require long hours of driving.

  • After gorilla trekking activities

Visitors to the pearl of Africa (Uganda) get to enjoy a variety of activities after gorilla trekking. These include white water rafting, game drive in different savannah parks such as Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo and Kidepo Valley, birding, boat cruise, hot air balloon trips, cultural tours, chimpanzee trekking, golden monkey tracking, Elgon and Rwenzori mountain climbing, nature walks and so much more.

Visitors to Rwanda on another hand enjoy a few after gorilla trekking activities such as golden monkey trekking, birding, Kigali Genocide memorial museum, canopy walks, chimpanzee trekking and cultural encounters at Ibyiwacu cultural centre. This is different from Uganda where a visitor has a variety of after trekking activities to enjoy. Thus in case, a visitor is interested in exploring more attractions than mountain gorillas, Uganda would be an ideal destination to enjoy this.

According to Mr Philimone, the managing Director of 4×4 Tanzania, he receives many tourists interested in seeing lots of Africa’s wildlife in Tanzania, after which they fly to Rwanda purposely for gorilla tracking experience.

Most importantly, visitors to Rwanda enjoy a traditional performance before gorilla trekking which gives them a good start for their exciting day’s adventure. This is usually during breakfast where they enjoy a cup of coffee along with local music, dance and drama before being briefed by a ranger on how to behave while trekking gorillas. This is different in Uganda where traditional performances are enjoyed often during evening hours around borne fires after trekking usually at an incurred cost. However of recent, only in Ruhija sector, some traditional performances take place at the park headquarters before the actual hike.

Similarities between Rwanda and Uganda’s gorilla trekking

Although gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda has several differences, some features remain similar about the two countries in regard to their trekking adventures. Here are some of those similarities between Rwanda’s and Uganda’s gorilla trekking;

  • Time for an ultimate gorilla experience

Both Rwanda and Uganda reward visitors with a one-hour ultimate experience with the gorillas. This is usually after finding a gorilla group of interest where visitors can observe the gentle apes, take lifetime photographs, learn about their behaviour and head back to the park after this.

  • Gorilla trekking time

Both Rwanda and Uganda gorilla trekking time lasts from 30 minutes to four hours or more depending on the movement of the mountain gorilla group one is tracking. Whether short or long trekking time both countries offer a remarkable gorilla adventure.

  • Recommended age for trekking

In both countries, visitors must be 15 years and above for them to be allowed to go gorilla trekking. This restriction is meant to prevent the spread of diseases especially chickenpox and mumps from gorillas to humans and vice versa. Similarly, persons below the age of 15 are considered unfit to take on the difficulties that may arise during gorilla trekking.

  • Briefing of visitors

In both countries, visitors are first briefed before they embark on the quest to trek gorillas. The activity is mandatory for every visitor who plans to trek gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda. Briefing in both countries is done in the morning hours before embarking on the trek. It is often a caution-guided session given to visitors in preparation of how to behave themselves along the trekking trails and in the midst of the gorillas.

  • Number of Visitors

In both Rwanda and Uganda, only a maximum of eight visitors allowed to trek a gorilla group in a day. This number restricted to only visitors who are free to have around one-to-two porters each to help a guest around with carrying the luggage and whatever one would need during trekking.

  • Distance from the Gorillas

Visitors to both Rwanda and Uganda are advised to always stay 7 meters away from the gorillas while in the midst of the mountain gorillas. This is done to protect mountain gorillas from catching human diseases.

  • Gorilla trekking season

Both Uganda and Rwanda are all year round gorilla trekking destinations. However, the best time to trek mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda is during the dry seasons. This would be during the months of June to August and December to February. This is because during the fore mentioned months, the tracking trails are not very slippery and the gorillas are easy to spot, unlike the rainy season where gorillas tend to take shelter in the forests and are quite hard to spot.

  • Gorilla trekking rules and regulations

Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is governed by a numbers of rules which all visitors ought to abide by. These are usually divided into three sections; before trekking, during trekking and after trekking. The rules in both countries come along with high penalties in case a guest violates them, thus compliance is always encouraged.

  • Number of times a gorilla group can be visited daily

In Rwanda and Uganda, a gorilla group can trek once a day. This is often one set of visitors per gorilla family daily. This is done to minimize behaviour changes of the mountain gorillas as well as to ensure that other habituated mountain gorilla groups are visited.

  • Packing list for gorilla trekking

Both Rwanda and Uganda require guest to be very well prepared for the trekking adventure in order to have an amazing gorilla safari. The packing list in both countries often involves necessary items to ensure a visitor enjoys a great trekking experience. Here is a list containing some of the vital items that visitors need to carry for gorilla trekking in both countries; hiking boots, long-sleeved shirt and trousers, a rain jacket, a backpack, a hat, sunglasses, insect repellant, camera and many others.

In conclusion, the question of whether its Uganda or Rwanda’s gorilla trekking on chooses lies on which form of gorilla safari adventure a visitor is interested in. One needs not to forget that both countries are undoubtedly amazing mountain gorilla destinations which reward guests with exceptional gorilla trekking safaris.

Comparing Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

gorilla-trekking-adventureGorilla trekking activities in Uganda and Rwanda are carried out in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Volcanoes National Park respectively. Only 8 people can visit a given gorilla group for every day. In Uganda, so far 19 gorilla groups have been habituated in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, and so can have 152 persons tracking mountain gorillas on any day.

Rwanda can likewise take 80 persons for every day. All else being equivalent, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park has a slight edge over the rest since its gorillas are the most wholly habituated, and they are regularly found in bamboo than the thick forest which makes photographing easier.

The main challenge with gorilla trekking in Rwanda is positively the cost of the gorilla tracking permits at US$1500 contrasted with Uganda’s US$700 for every gorilla permit. In any case, Rwanda’s pride is in the ability for one to do the gorilla trek even in one day and fly back home which is difficult for Uganda.

Volcanoes National Park is found 116km from Kigali and can be driven in only 2 hours. Then again, Bwindi Forest National Park is located 500km from Kampala / Entebbe International Airport and a drive can take over 8-10hours. In that sense, you will spend no less than 3 days for your gorilla trek in Uganda; Day 1 for travelling to Bwindi, day 2 for gorilla trek and Day 3 for driving back to Kampala or Entebbe Airport. In the event that a tour operator is making you a safari package, they ought most likely need to consider this expense and incorporate it in your tour cost.

Nonetheless, the long drive to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is very charming with extraordinary views all through like the Equator, Lake Mburo National Park (for some Queen Elizabeth National Park with plenteous wildlife), terraced mountains with streaming rivers, and a lot if rural Africa. This is not so really the case for the drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park.

Some voyagers have likewise decided on flying over from Entebbe airport to Kihihi and Kisoro airstrips on the edges of Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla parks. It is only 45 to 60 minutes of flight. A round trip ticket costs about US$250 with Aero Link Uganda. In that case, you will need to organize your transfer from the airstrip to your booked accommodation in Bwindi Forest National Park, and back also. (Talk with our preferred agents for support to arrange this please).

You will absolutely need to spend more on transport and time to track the mountain gorillas in Uganda than it’s for Rwanda despite the fact that this cost is compensated for by a cheaper gorilla trekking permit.

Besides, some areas of the roads to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park are not so comfortable to drive on yet in the case of Rwanda, you drive on smooth tarmac at least up to the Volcanoes National Park head office.  Also, however, the road heading from Volcanoes National Park office to the gorilla trekking start points must be accessed with a raised 4×4 vehicle, preferably Land Cruiser, Land Rover, Nissan Safari or Patrol and Rav4.

Step by Step: How to Book Gorilla Permits

How To Book A Gorilla Permit

A gorilla permit is an essential tool every visitor should have and it is what lets you visit a habituated gorilla family in Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Booking a gorilla permit is one important step in planning a gorilla safari in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC.

Mountain gorillas exist in only the three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and the DR Congo) and gorilla permits can be booked through a credible tour company/agency and for this case, simply get in touch with reservation team to assist you secure your gorilla permit while you sit back home. Alternatively, gorilla permits can be booked directly through a respective conservation agencies depending on the country you plan to visit for gorilla safari.

Congo Mountain Gorillas

Gorillas in DR Congo

Respective gorilla destinations issue out gorilla permits to tourists who are above 15 years and each permit lets you visit only one habituated family with only an hour of a magical encounter. In Uganda, gorilla permits can be booked through our reservation team. We are a credible tour company in Uganda offering authentic gorilla trekking experiences and our team is available 24/7 to ensure you make your dream come true. Procedure of booking a gorilla permit in Uganda through a tour operator/company or Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)-an organ in charge conservation and management of wildlife in and outside protected areas in Uganda.

  • Contact our reservation team or at reservation team at UWA.
  • We shall cross check to find out availability of dates you intend to go trek mountain gorillas.
  • After, we shall get back to you as soon as possible.
  • You will be required to submit your details.
  • A deposit of 30 percent will be required for you to make and the rest can be cleared within 91 days to actual gorilla trek.
  • Payments can effected through account details provided to you by us or the tour operator you choose to deal with or reservation team at the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Once you make payment or deposit, the tour operator secure or book for you the permit.

To book a gorilla permit through tour operator is easier than booking direct with UWA given the tedious process. 80 percent of all the gorilla permits are given to only members of Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) and this means, booking with UWA leaves you with only 20 percent.

How much are gorilla permits?

Between now and 30th June, Uganda issues out gorilla permits at $600 per person-for foreign non-residents, $500-for foreign residents and 250.000 Uganda Shillings for East African residents.

However, effective 1st July, 2020 each gorilla permit in Uganda will be obtained at $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents and 250.000 Uganda shillings for the East African citizens. Obtaining a gorilla permit in Uganda lets you visit gorillas in Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

In Rwanda, gorilla permits are issued out at $1500 per person. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is conducted only in Volcanoes National Park which is set in the Northern Province. To secure your gorilla permit in Rwanda, you can still get in touch with a credible ground tour operator or do so through a reservation team at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

In the DRC, each gorilla permit is obtainable at $450 per person. Visitors on Congo gorilla safari can go gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park and permits can be booked through a registered tour operator or reserve it through the park authorities. Besides mountain gorilla trekking, DR Congo is known for Eastern lowland gorilla trekking which is conducted in Kahuzi Biega National Park.

When to book a gorilla permit

To book a gorilla permit in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC, you are advised to do so at least 3 to 4 months before the actual tracking date. Usually, other visitors do book permits even a year before the embarking on the actual trip. Please note, gorilla permits are scarce in the months of June, July, August, September and December, January, February. This is because the demand for gorilla permits increases during the peak season.

Choosing the most suitable places to stay for your Gorilla safari

In Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has four sectors where gorilla tracking takes place. There sectors are;

  • Buhoma
  • Ruhija
  • Nkuringo
  • Rushaga

Each of these sectors has different habituated gorilla groups, and each sector has different accommodation options, ranging from basic / budget lodges and campsites to mid-range and luxury lodges.

Gorilla Close Up Lodge

Gorilla Close Up Lodge

Before choosing any accommodation unit, make sure that, that lodge or camp site is located in the sector where your gorilla permit was booked. All sectors are distant from one another, therefore, staying in one sector and tracking gorillas in another sector can ruin your gorilla trekking experience! For example, if you book accommodation in Buhoma sector, with gorilla permit for Ruhija sector, you will be required to wake up early and drive for 90 minutes in the Jungle for your trek. Things become worse if your accommodation is in Buhoma sector and gorilla permits for for Rushaga or Nkuringo sectors, to be honest, you can not make it in time because the journey takes more than 3 hours.

In conclusion, for any plans to visit Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo for mountain gorilla safaris, please make sure you reserve your gorilla permit early to avoid the last minute disappointments, and be careful while booking your accommodation unit.

Prices of Gorilla Permits 2020/ 2022

Gorilla Permit Prices In Uganda, Rwanda And Democratic Congo Republic

Gorilla permit prices in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) vary significantly. Each country has it’s set price for gorilla trekking permits. However, the three countries are the only three in the world where you can trek mountain gorillas which today remain fewer than 1063. Obtaining a gorilla permit lets you trek habituated gorilla family in the respective country’s gorilla parks. A gorilla permit is one essential document every visitor needs to have when it comes to gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.

Mountain gorillas exist only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda; Volcanoes National Park in Northwestern Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in Eastern DR Congo. For any plans to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo, it is advisable that you reserve your permit at least 2-4 months or even a year prior embarking on the actual trek.

Gorillas in the Jungle

Gorillas in the Jungle

Gorilla permit prices in Uganda

Gorilla permit prices in Uganda as for January to 30th June 2020 range as follows; $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents, Uganda shillings 250000 for East African citizens. From 1st July 2020-2022, Uganda will be issuing its gorilla trekking permits at $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 foreign residents and Uganda shillings 250000 for the East African citizens.

However, for visitors who may wish to enhance on their gorilla experience, they can opt for gorilla habituation experience and each gorilla habituation permit for this adventure costs $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents and Uganda shillings 750000 for the East African citizens.

Gorilla permits in Uganda are obtainable in two ways. You can book a gorilla permit in Uganda through reservation team of your travel agency or tour operator, or reservation team at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) an organ that conserves and manages wildlife in and outside Uganda’s protected areas, and also in charge issuing out gorilla trekking permits to visitors. Please note, only persons above 15 years are considered eligible to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo.

Gorilla permits in Uganda can be obtained at least 2-4 months or a year before you set off for actual gorilla trek in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Gorilla treks in Uganda are only conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These protected areas are set in Southwestern Uganda about 9-10 hours’ drive from Entebbe or Kampala, and 4-5 hours from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla permit prices in Rwanda

Gorilla permits in Rwanda are obtainable at $1500 per person. Rwanda increased the price of its gorilla trekking permits from $750 to $1500 which applies to all visitors on Rwanda gorilla safari to Volcanoes National Park where gorilla trekking is conducted in the Land of a Thousand Hills.

Like Uganda, gorilla permits in Rwanda can be secured through your travel agent or tour operator offering excellent gorilla safari experiences. Alternatively, visitors can reserve their gorilla permits directly through reservation team at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done only in Volcanoes National Park which is situated in northwestern part of the country. It currently consists of 10 habituated gorilla groups; Ugenda, Karisimbi, Agashya, Bwenge, Umubano, Amahoro, Kwitonda, Susa A, Sabyinyo and Hirwa.

Gorilla permit prices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo issues out its gorilla permits at $450 per person. You can reserve your gorilla permit in the DR Congo through your tour operator or travel agent, or directly through the park authorities and Virunga Foundation.  Booking gorilla permit in DR Congo allows you to visit the mountain gorillas in the magnificent Virunga National Park in the East and Eastern Lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park.

Gorilla Trekking Congo

Gorilla Trekking Congo

What are the requirements for booking gorilla permits in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo?

To book a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo, you should be 15 years and above. Booking gorilla permits also depends on the availability of the dates you wish to trek mountain gorillas or Eastern Lowland gorillas in DR Congo. You need a valid passport which you will be required to present to the respective park authorities before setting to search for mountain gorillas.

The details on the passport should tally or match with those of the gorilla permit. To reserve your gorilla permit, you are required to effect payment depending on the bank details submitted to you by the tour operator you are dealing with, or reservation team at respective conservation organs in gorilla destination you plan to visit.

What is included in your gorilla permit price in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo

Gorilla permit prices in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo include park entrance fees, service of the park rangers and guides. Please make sure you reserve your permit early before the actual trek to avoid any disappointment.

Additionally, the activity is done only in the morning in all destinations, start with a briefing from the park officials about gorilla trekking experience in the Jungle. The briefing starts at 7.30 am, therefore, one must spend the first night near the park headquarters, there are many accommodation options around each gorilla park. Don’t forget to carry some packed lunch or snacks and bottled mineral water for refreshment.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Unlike other countries, Rwanda is gifted with Mountain Gorillas found in Volcanoes National Park. In Rwanda, you can only track mountain gorilla in Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans), a part of the wider Virunga (mountains).

At least 500 mountain gorillas inhabit this (Virunga) complex and live at altitudes ranging from 2,300-4,500 m within the southern part of Virunga National Park (DRC), and the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda, while a few use the Mgahinga National Park, southwestern Uganda.

In Rwanda, Gorilla’s families or groups are divided into two those which are for the study/ research purposes and these are only accessed by scientists and researchers. These include: Beetsme, and Pablo’s Shida’s and have the largest number of individuals
The park is easily accessible from Kigali city and visitors on tight schedule can as well consider taking a 1 day gorilla trek and back to their home countries. The quickest and low budget Gorilla safari is:

GORILLA TRACKING RWANDA SAFARI (1 DAY)
This itinerary is made to offer a quick experience of an encounter with the mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. From Kigali, the journey will take us through the rolling hills which characterize much of Rwanda. Take photos while traveling to the home of mountain Gorillas (Volcanoes national Park) to enjoy a life-time wildlife experience tracking Gorillas.

DAY 1: EARY MORNING TRANSFER TO VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Wake up very early for break fast; be picked from your Hotel in Kigali by 4:30am Rwandan time to the home of mountain gorillas. Be at the briefing point by 7:00am for the tips concerning gorilla trekking.

In accompany of senior ranger guides, move into the jungle and start searching for the intelligent, gentle apes. Stay amidst gorillas for a maximum of one hour, take photos. Return to Mountain Gorilla view lodge or Muhabura Hotel for lunch. Return to Kigali airport for your flight back home.

Gorilla trekking permit costsUS$ 1500 per person and Gorilla permits are bought in advance from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or from local tour operators you trust. Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park is guaranteed since the park has ten Gorilla groups namely Susa Group with 33 members, including 2 Silverbacks, Sabyinyo Group with 13 members, including 2 Silverbacks, one of whom is the biggest of all the silverbacks in the volcanoes, Amahoro (‘Peace’) Group has 18 members, including 2 Silverback, Group 13 name changed to Agashya (meaning special) with 27 members, including 1 Silverback, Umubano (‘Live Together’) Group with 13 members, including 2 Silverbacks, Kwitonda Group has 23 members, including 4 Silverbacks, Hirwa Group with 16 members, including 1 Silverback, Karisimbi Group has 16 members, including 2 Silverbacks, Ugenda Group has 11 members including 2 Silverbacks and Bwenge Group has 11 members including 1 Silverback.

Like human families with the man as the head of the family, each gorilla group is headed by the silverback to lead, control, mate females and defend the family against any danger.

Volcanoes National Park – Gorilla tracking experience is conducted in the Bamboo forest making it less strenuous to find Gorillas in their natural environment. Unlike in Zoos, meeting Gorillas in their natural habitat is incomparable. Successful trekkers are awarded certificates by the Rwanda Development officials for record keeping and future memories.

How Fit Should To Be To Trek Gorillas?

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is an activity that requires a moderate level of fitness for anyone planning to get involved. You will be required to prepare for this as you plan your Gorilla safari to Uganda or Rwanda. The habituated mountain gorilla families live in high altitudes in Bwindi impenetrable forest and on the Virunga Mountains covered in thick forest cover.

Preparing for a gorilla trekking trip helps you enjoy your trip with ease and making it more fun because you are familiar with the activity.

Walking

Walking helps you tone your legs and shed excess weight. It is the foundation of gorilla trekking as the major exercise which should grow steadily in distance over time. The largest part on a gorilla trekking safari is on foot in the rain-forest. You are therefore required to practice walking long distance to get yourself ready for this activity.

Jogging

It elevates your heart rate and helps you maintain it at that level. It is an aerobic activity that helps your body get used making it easy to do your trekking and enjoy it.

Squats

This is the best exercise for fitness that promotes your body balance and stability. Squats also strengthen your legs, thighs, hips, buttocks and hamstrings.

Stretch

It is healthy to stretch your muscles after your daily training to improve your flexibility of your muscles. Physical fitness will make your Gorilla Trek more enjoyable. Most often visitors to Uganda and Rwanda plan their gorilla trekking Safari about six (6) months before the safari begins. That is the perfect time to get yourself physically tuned for your Gorilla Trek or Gorilla Habituation Experience.

Hiking

Pushing your body up stair and after stair against gravity is another great body exercise for a trek. Hiking in the jungle is not such an easy activity that needs to prepare for. Practice hiking if you have a chance to be near a hilly area. Ensure that you will increase distance each time you practice and your trip to Uganda or Rwanda will be enjoyable.

Go to the GYM

Build your leg strength with gym work. Leg strength is essential for your trek so in addition to walking training which will strengthen your legs, try and include either gym exercises such as leg presses and weighted squats, or lunges and bodyweight squats. Going to the gym to make their gorilla trek more enjoyable.

Start your Trekking training early enough

You are advised to start your training 6 months before your trip. It’s never too early to get started on your trek fitness program. Look to build your strength and fitness gradually, giving your body time to adapt to the new demands. That way you can enjoy your trek training and avoid risking injury by trying to do too much too soon.

Walking Poles

It is good to practice using walking pole to help you get used to them. Gorilla trekking may require you to have them to ease the load on knees and thighs on descents and give you two extra legs on steep climbs. They can also be used to help clear vegetation and have numerous uses in a campsite. Trying out before the real time is good for you.

Choose the correct footwear for your trek

Select good quality and appropriate hiking boots for your trek and your walking training is essential. A supportive hiking shoe with ankle protection is important but beware of ankle cuffs that are too high as they can irritate the Achilles tendon at the base of your calf. Look for an ankle cuff that is scooped away at the back. Make sure that your trekking boots are thoroughly broken in and your feet have bedded in the time for blisters is now, not during your trek. When purchasing your boots, try to shop in the afternoon when your feet have expanded slightly so that you get the correct size.

Conclusion

It’s true that Gorilla Tracking requires some level of fitness but your fitness level should not prevent you from a gorilla tracking activity. There are easier Gorilla groups to track both in Uganda and Rwanda. The last resort is that you are carried on a Sedan Chair – something that requires 12 porters for the journey which allows people with disabilities to spend time with the mountain gorillas.

Cross River Gorilla Trekking

A side from trekking to see mountain gorillas and the eastern lowland gorillas, Africa also offers you yet another incredible opportunity to catch a glimpse at the cross river gorillas. This category comes with a rare appearance though not very different from the rest of the subspecies.

They have robust and powerful bodies with a bit of elongated head and a pronounced brow ridge. Their skulls on the other hand are shorter than those of the western lowland gorillas scientifically called gorilla gorilla gorilla while their mouths are not very big compared to other subspecies. The teeth, hand and feet are shorter than the western lowland gorillas with broad nose, wide nasal passages, fingers, opposable thumbs. The skeleton of these creatures is sturdy with straighter vertebrae compared to those of humans.

 

Males are taller and heavier than the females and in average; they are 1.65-1.75 meters high and have the weight ranging from 140 to 200 kilograms. Females can even stretch up to 1.40 meters and weigh 100 kilograms. However, all of them feature a dark fur over their bodies apart from the face, hands, feet and ears. The cross river gorillas are a subspecies of the western gorillas and today, about 200 to 300 of them still thrive on earth and this makes them a few most endangered apes in Africa.

Where to see the cross River gorillas?

This particular gorilla species thrives within the mountainous areas around Nigeria and Cameroon just at the top of the Cross River where they derived their name. They range within 7770 square kilometers about twice the size of Rhode Island. This means they are mainly inhabited around the most north and western areas. In Nigeria, you can find them at Afi Mountains, the Cross River National Park and in Cameroon in the Mbe Mountains, Takamanda National Park. Like most primates, the cross river gorillas thrive within the mountainous rain-forest and bamboo forest at elevation of about 1500-3500 meters.

 

Just like other primates, the cross river gorillas are equally threatened by a number of factors that include among others poaching as they are hunted severely, habitat loss due to deforestation, human infectious diseases and others. These types of Great Apes belong to family hominidae and order primates.

 

This subspecies of gorillas are largely herbivores and their diet is dependent on leaves, herbs, vines, tree bark and fruits. They enjoy fruits a lot although these are not available throughout and mostly from August to September and then from November to January. Their intestines are very long and can digest plants perhaps a reason why they have large and rounded abdomen and even bigger than the chest. Besides, they also depend on termites, caterpillars.

 

The cross river gorillas live in families of 2 to 20 members with silver-back being the leader of the group. They construct nests on tree branches for them to rest for the night. In the wet season, they construct nests on top of tree branches and during the dry spell they can make nests even on the ground. Much of their time is spent while eating as way to maintain their sizes and strength and they also groom each other. In terms of reproduction, the cross river gorillas have a gestation period of about 9 months and females can breastfeed and take care of the infants.

 

In conclusion, besides tracking mountain gorillas or the eastern lowland gorillas, you can as well embark on cross river gorilla safari that will reward you with amazing encounters. Amazingly, you can combine both adventures and you will have the best of gorilla experience in Africa.

2 Baby Gorillas Born In Virunga National Park

The birth of two new mountain gorilla babies has brought happiness and also good news in Virunga national park. The birth came from two different gorilla families in Virunga and this brought multiplication of the number to nine new gorilla births this year.

The 19 year old Kayenga mountain gorilla gave birth to a boy baby gorilla, being her third child in the Bageni gorilla family which has 30 members. And the second baby gorilla was given birth by an 8 year old mountain gorilla known as Anangana. This was its first born baby a girl making 11 members in Humba gorilla family.

Virunga national park is found in Democratic Republic of Congo and it is famous for its endangered mountain gorillas. And for the last decade they have played a great role in increasing the overall population which now stands at an estimated 1004 individuals after results were revealed in the recent population survey of mountain gorillas.

Virunga national park is UNESCO world heritage site and Africa’s oldest natural reserve and it is found in one of the most restless area of Democratic Republic of Congo. The country has been deeply affected by the country’s political situation. And earlier this year, 5 park rangers and a driver were killed. Then in

May the park closed its gates from guests until 2019 after three people, a ranger was killed and two British visitors were abducted, but later released unharmed.

The park was established in 1925 during the regime when Democratic Republic of Congo was still a

Belgian colony. Virunga national park is Africa’s most biologically diverse protected area.

This park stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the south to the Ruwenzori Mountains in the north, to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Mgahinga gorilla national Park in Uganda and Rwenzori Mountains.

Besides mountain gorillas, Virunga national park also protects the low land Grauer’s gorillas and the eastern chimpanzees. This makes the park a destination that hosts three big apes.

However, mountain gorillas remain the major attractions in Virunga national park and it is one of the few parks in the world that host these highly endangered gorillas.

Travelers like to trek the gorillas in Virunga because the low prices of permits and the park is not congested compared to other trekking centers like Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla national parks. Virunga national park is still fresh for new discoveries since it has not had a lot of tourism activity for a long time making it a perfect place for those who want to relax, research and adventure at the same line.

Besides mountain gorillas, Virunga national park is arguably the most biologically diverse national park in the world, it has a lot more to offer to travelers like a variety of wildlife, lakes, forests, more than 700 bird species and it is also the home of Mountain Nyiragongo, one of the active volcanoes in the world.

Virunga national parks shelters up to 8 habituated gorilla families. The encounter with the gorilla in this park is an excellent and magical experience that brings you close to the rare and gentle primates in their natural habitat.

Virunga national park is also part of the broader Virunga conservation area that stretches from Uganda, Rwanda and D. R. Congo and contains a massif of 8 volcanic mountains and 2 important national parks, Volcanoes national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Rwanda and Uganda respectively.

Book a gorilla safari in Democratic Republic of Congo and grab yourself a chance to get a life time experience with the mountain gorillas in Africa’s largest and oldest national park.

Kizigo West Game Reserve

Kizigo West Game Reserve was established in 1982 and sprawls near the Rungwe Mpera Concession hence offering an extensive ecosystem in which to manage and hunt. Extending for about 4000 square kilometers (400,000 hectares), Kizigo West Game Reserve is found within Manyoni in Singida region and is also adjacent to Muhesi Game Reserve, part of the greater Ruaha Ecosystem.

General Climate and Vegetation of Kizigo West Game Reserve
There are two main seasons (rainy and wet), the long rains begin from March to May and the short rains from October to November while the dry season ranges from June to September and December to February. Anyone that visits this site will concur that the dry season is perfect for game viewing while the wet season is ideal for birding much as roads become muddy and literally impassable, thus 4X4 vehicles are recommended.

The Reserve is characterized by an extraordinary Itigi thicket and Miombo woodland forest that is scattered through the open savannah plains but there are also scattered water holes, rocky outcrops, riverine valleys and springs.

Wildlife species within Kizigo West Game Reserve

Kizigo West Game is popular for its beautiful appearance as well as abundant wildlife species, particularly the big maned lions and outstanding populations of the Sable and Roan antelopes.  Other animals to expect here include bushbucks, Grysbok, common duikers, greater kudus, warthogs, Oribis, baboons, giraffes, Lichtenstein Hartebeest, Dik-dik, leopards, zebras, impalas, buffaloes, elands, Klipspringer, Reedbucks, Roan antelopes and many others.

Things to do within Kizigo West Game Reserve

The main activities conducted within this exceptional Game Reserve are game viewing and nature walks where antelopes, leopards and lions are mainly spotted as well as hunting. The best time for hunting is from July to October, and is also ideal for game viewing. Much as the best time for visiting the Reserve is the dry season, tourists who visit during the rainy season also achieve remarkable safari experiences.

Where to Stay

The best accommodation facility within Kizigo West Reserve is the Kilumbi Camp found at the heart of the Reserve allowing guests to enjoy the captivating views of the vast plains but also the wildlife species that roam around the Camp. However, Camping is also available within the designated Campsites allowing visitors to experience the wilderness in a different way.

How to Get There

This Game Reserve is found within Manyoni in Singida region (at the central circuit of Tanzania tourism) and can be reached by both road using 4WD Vehicles and air where chartered flights with light crafts can be organized from Arusha (travel time being at least 2 hours) and Dar es Salaam (travel time being from 2-2.25 hours).

 

Tips On How To Set Up A Campsite?

Are you planning to travel to Uganda for camping adventures and you do not know how to set up your campsite? Whereas most campers may take setting up a campsite as very challenging, the latter may not be true if you are keen enough. Camping is entirely celebrating the outdoors, spending time at close range with nature. However, to come up with a perfect home away from the usual, you have to plan for it adequately and the tips provided below can be of great value to you.

  • Choose a perfect site

If you are thinking of undertaking a self drive and camping safari in Uganda, first look out for gently sloping land and bear in mind about water drainage. Getting a leveled area makes it simpler for you to prepare food and set up a tent on flat ground and at end of it all; you will enjoy comfortable night stay. You may also prefer areas with some trees for you to have a shade and the trees can act best as wind breakers, however, you have to be keen on the falling branches and ensure that your tent is set at a distance. Also consider the direction of sun rise while setting up a camp for you to enjoy the warmth of the morning sun rise while in the jungle and do not forget to bear in mind the wind effects

  • Established campsites

Selecting the best camping site at already established campground is simpler as you can just pull your trailer up to any of the designated campsites. You can also opt for walk in sites within the easy walking distances of the campsite road or parking lot. Regardless of any site that you will opt for, the site should be gently sloping for you to set up a shelter and fire ring. Most of the already set up campground feature amenities such as picnic tables, restrooms and at times water pumps within reach from the campsite.

  • Tent and food set up

Tents play a big role and it can be used beyond sleeping. They can be used as areas for storing unpacked equipment and help in offering shelter especially with bad weather conditions. Preparing food around the fire is ideally the most captivating experience of a lifetime but keep this in mind. Always prepare your food downwind, after you are done, all the extra food should be kept at least 200 feet from the camp, stored in a bear bag and hung about 10 to 20 feet up in a tree. The bags are usually designed to hang food out of reach of wildlife.

  • Disposal set up

The bathroom area should be set up no less than 200 feet off the camp. Ensure that you spare an area for trash as this will help you when cleaning the area at the end of your vacation.

  • Campfire set up

While setting up a camp fire, be aware of wind direction and protection. Keep a 15 foot radius clear of wood to prevent unintentional fires. After you have successfully established your campsite, you can now freely relax and chill in your camp.

  • Besides the carrying the tent, make sure that you have a tarp shelter

This can serve another significant purpose while you are on camping safari and a well strung tarp makes adequate room for your camp and you will have comfortable camping experience. Tarp shelter can serve as the central gathering area, the kitchen, the front porch, garage, shade or lounge.

From the discussion above, setting up a campsite can be simpler as it comes with experience. The entire process involves learning something new about what works best for you every time you make up your campsite. Camping safaris are the most exceptional experiences that offer you a chance to interact closely with nature. By paying maximum attention and setting up the best camp site will reward you and the rest of campers with amazing experiences of lifetime.

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