Separation among Gorillas

What causes separation amongst Gorillas? Why can a gorilla family split?
The information below was compiled by a gorilla researcher known as Michelle, conducted her research with assistance from a group of researchers about the life of mountain gorillas. Mechelle is a senior consultant about Rwanda tours especially about visiting mountain gorillas and Chimpanzees. Her report revealed that gorillas are one of the most feared animals in the world, thanks to movies like King Kong and Congo. While it is true that they are large, powerful creatures, they are also gentle and affectionate.

Mountain gorillas are easygoing vegetarians who lead a peaceful, playful life. Large males patiently allow young gorillas to climb all over them without a murmur of protest, and they are not aggressive toward humans unless they are threatened.

Gorillas stay and move together as a family. Gorilla families are mostly led by a mature male known as silverback. Silverbacks are entitled to safe guard the entire group/ family. However, on rare cases, the female can take control f the group when a silverback has fallen/ died – but this can be for a short period of time until another silverback succeed and take responsibilities of its predecessor.gorilla-trek

The Gorilla family can split due to constant disagreements amongst group member – this can be accompanied by fights, quarrels among others. In such situations, some members can decide to form anew group or join another group where they can be secure.

Gorilla groups can split due to constant threats from predators like leopards, lions, and python among others. In the process, some gorillas can leave the insecure place to a safer area hence separation.

Scarcity of food and water – some Gorillas can decide to leave the group to another area with plenty of food. It should be noted that Gorillas are vegetarians so, the feed on fruits, leaves, backs of trees, shouts among others.
Out break of diseases like Ebola, in a given place may force gorillas to move away and in the process, some gorillas may not turn to their original groups but instead join other groups of form new groups.

Out break of pests like mosquitoes, tsetse flies among others. It can force gorillas leave for another area. In the process, some gorillas may leave the group forever.

Power struggles – desire to take control of the group by different male Gorillas – it can cause splitting of the group into new groups under different authorities and control.

Death of a group member – gorillas can walk away from a place their member has died from to anew place but in the process, some gorillas can join other groups.

Poaching or Killing of Gorillas – illegal hunting and killing of gorillas can disorganize the original family set up. In the process of running away for their lives, they may fail to unite again.

Harsh weather like too much rainfall or much sunshine may disorganize the Gorillas’ family set up leading to their separation.

Growth and development – it is a norm that most of the male gorillas form their groups at the maturity level. Like boys at home when they grow mature – most of them leave their fathers’ families and form theirs.

The role of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Tourism Sector

Uganda is a paradise of wild animals, birds, drainage and beautiful topography. The logoUganda Wildlife Authority is one of the governing bodies that regulate wildlife conservation in Uganda. This agency was established in 1996 after the merger of the Uganda National Parks and the Game Department, and the enactment of the Uganda Wildlife Statute, which became an Act in 2000.

Uganda Wildlife Authority is mandated to supervise and control all wildlife activities with in the protected areas like National Park and Reserves – plus those in unprotected areas. In other words, all wildlife in Uganda whether in your home belongs and managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and they can take it any time.
Uganda Wildlife Authority is entitled to fight against poaching – illegal killing or hunting of wildlife and whoever caught is taken to court – serious penalty is given to whoever caught in an offense. Strict control of wildlife poaching is aimed at preserving the countries wealth.

Uganda Wildlife Authority’s role in managing the country’s tourism industry and attracting investors to the sector has been a significant one.

It also manages five community wildlife management areas and 13 wildlife sanctuaries. The challenges facing the management and conservation of wildlife and biodiversity in Uganda are myriad, and they include poaching, competition in the regional tourism market, human wildlife conflict and wildlife crimes.


Game drive Car for Uganda Wildlife Authority

Uganda Wildlife Authority offers employment to the jobless Ugandans – this aimed at upgrading the standards of Ugandans. One of the strategies to stop poaching is by employing the people around the wildlife reserves – this is aimed at engaging them to fight against poaching.

Uganda Wildlife Authority manages Uganda’s ten national Parks and twelve game reserves. Uganda’s national Park includes Kidepo Valley, Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo National park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Semliki National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Mountain Rwenzori, Mgahinga National Park and Mountain Elgon National Park.

To ensure that the integrity of the reserved areas is properly maintained – constant patrolling is done to secure wildlife.


Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers

To identify areas which should be designated and gazetted as protected areas so as to ensure adequate protection of Uganda’s major eco-system, nature habitat and biodiversity.

Explore the possibilities of increasing benefits to local communities living within or adjacent to protected areas.
To exploit wildlife potentials to generate revenue for individuals and government.

Ensuring timely and appropriate response to reported problem animals, in collaboration with the concerned communities and respective local authorities.

Enhancing economic benefits from wildlife management through promotion of tourism.
Implementing relevant international treaties, conventions, agreements or other arrangements to which Uganda is a party.

The are many Uganda and Rwanda safari companies affiliated to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA and among these we have safari companies Like Abacus vacations, Volcanoes safaris, African Jungle Adventures, Thousand Hills, Primate safaris, Africa adventure Safaris, gorilla Trek Africa and many more. You will ask your self why and how Rwanda safari companies can be affiliated to Uganda Wildlife Authority?! The reason is simple, it is because these 2 countries are near to each other, and they are the only 2 safe homes of mountain gorillas in the world. Therefore, Uganda safari companies freely operate in Rwanda, likewise, Rwanda safari companies freely operate in Uganda. And many tourists love a combination of gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda.

Gorilla Behaviors in The Wild Jungles of Rwanda & Uganda

Mountain gorilla is one of the endangered species at risk of extinction in Africa. According to the gorilla census of 2011, globally there are approximately 880 individuals. Half of this population is found in the Virunga mass of volcanic mountain ranges shared by Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park), Uganda (Mgahinga National Park) and Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park). The rest of the population is found in the impenetrable forests of Bwindi National Park in south western Uganda.

The fact that mountain gorillas are at risk of extinction, Uganda and Rwanda receive huge numbers of tourists from different parts of the globe to come and witness the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. After seeing gorillas in the zoo in your home country, you will definitely be impressed to save money to see their behavior in their natural setting.

Gorillas in the Mist - Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Gorillas in the Mist – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Because this specie is at risk of extinction, their habitat must be protected from degradation.Therefore, the number of visitors is limited per day only 8 persons for each gorilla group. You must book in advance and get your gorilla permit reserved. Bookings can be made through Travel Agents, Tour Operators or direct with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Gorilla Behaviors

Gorillas stay in groups known as troops that generally consist of 1 to 4 adult males (called silverbacks), some juvenile males (called black-backs), several adult females and young. Amazing is that the oldest and strongest adult male silverback leads the troop. The silverback keeping a watchful eye over his troop and defends in time of trouble.

Before reproduction, adolescent females transfer to another troop at around eight years of age. Generally the first troop a female reproduces will become her permanent family.
The early arrivals receive the benefits of high ranking than the late arrivals in the troop. For example the early arrival benefit from staying near the Silverback for protection. It is for this reason that females most often join a lone silverback or a newly formed troop rather than a long-established one.
An adolescent male most separate from his parental group due to lack of breeding opportunity – the dominant silverback takes advantage of mating females for reproduction.

The Gorilla groups usually range from 2 to 12 individuals with 9 being the average. If a troop consists of multiple silverbacks they are usually the sons of the dominant adult male silverback. It should also be noted that the largest group can raise 16 members. Responsible bodies like Uganda Wildlife Authority for Uganda and Rwanda Development Board for Rwanda habituate gorilla groups for tourism purposes  and make then get used to people without affecting their natural setting. The process continues and new gorilla families are formed and habituated for tourism purposes.

Uganda currently has up to 14 gorilla group habituated for tourism purposes namely; Nkuringo, Nshongi, Oruzogo group, Habinyanja, Bitukura group, Mubare group, Kahunjye, Mishaya, Kyaguriro, Businje, Bushabo and Bikingi, not forgetting Nyakagezi group, the only one found in Mgahinga National park. Gorilla trekking tours in Uganda are based on the groups above. Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park on the other hand are currently based on 10 habituated gorilla families namely; Hirwa group, Susa, Ugenda, Umubano, Ntambara, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Kwitonda, Amahoro and Group 13. These are found in Volcanoes National Park. For Democratic Republic of Congo, little information is available about the current status for gorilla tourism due to political unrest. Few people can now risk their life to DR congo for gorilla tracking in Virunga National Park. Those who make to Virunga reveal that Congo gorillas are the best, gorilla groups have many members, silverbacks and juveniles as well as babies. The country is now secure but some embassies warn their people against traveling to DR Congo.


Eyes of the Gorilla

Gorilla social behaviors

Silverbacks are mostly aggressive than other group members to ensure the group safety and maintenance of the leadership privileges.

Adult females are not bonded to one another and usually compete to groom and stay close to the silverback. Mothers are closely bonded to their offspring for the first three years of life.

Gorillas will give each other nose-to-nose greetings and gestures of reassurance such as embracing or touching.

Gorillas spend about 14 hours feeding and foraging and about 10 hours resting every day.
Gorillas move about 400-1,000 meters (0.24-0.60 mi) per day which is about 88-219 miles per year.
Feeding/foraging activity peaks during the first three to four hours of the day. Then there is usually an extended rest period during midday until mid-late afternoon at which point feeding/foraging activity resumes.

On daily basis, Gorillas construct nests to sleep in at the end of the day. They gather vegetation around them in trees or on the ground.

Gorillas most walk on four-foot. The walk derived its name because they walk on their knuckles, not on their palms.

Gorillas usually travel only about 0.5 to 1 km (0.3 to 0.6 mi) per day when there is ample food supply, since they have a slow pace and relatively large body size which makes it difficult to travel extensively.
It is extremely rare that gorillas would compete for food, Mothers and older siblings also help protect the young, Gorilla mothers will often enlist the help of older siblings to help care for and protect their young.

Getting to the Gorillas

Before confirming your safari in Rwanda, you must know how to get there especially to International travelers. After getting into Rwanda, your journey to the mountain gorillas starts there. Rwanda is accessible through Kanombe International Airport on the Suburbs of Kigali capital. From here, it is only 90 minutes drive to Volcanoes national park, a home to mountain gorilla in Rwanda.

Uganda is accessed through Entebbe International Airport. From here to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National parks takes between 8 and 10 hours drive. The 2 gorilla destinations in Uganda can be accessed from Rwanda (Kanombe airport), then cross international boarder of Cyanika or Gatuna, taking between 4 and 5 hours drive.

Gorilla Trekking Packing List / What to carry? What to Wear?

– Long Pants
– Long Sleeved Shirts / Blouse
– Garden Gloves
– Insect repellent
– A hat
– Sun Glasses
– Hiking Boots (water proof highly recommended)
– Bottled Mineral water for refreshment
– Some Snacks / Biscuits
– Extra Batteries for your Cameras

Note that gorilla tracking starts early in the morning every day and only one shift, not like chimpanzees where we have a morning and afternoon shift. You must be at the park headquarters by 7:30am for a briefing about the activity and group allocation.

Rwanda Gorilla safari a Lifetime Gift for my Son

I wanted to surprise my newly college graduated son with a lifetime gift, a vacation abroad, what I really knew he wanted! However, when I asked him where he wanted to travel, he told me to choose someplace less traveled, unique, and something he would never have the chance to do ever again. Boy, did this put some pressure on me!

I began to search online for various interesting travel destinations and vacations in the world for him, when I landed on a website offering Rwanda gorilla safaris. I thought I had definitely found the vacation of a lifetime for him! There were so many different ones to choose from, which made it even more difficult, but I found one I thought he would enjoy, and I bought him two spots in the safari, one for him and whoever else he felt like taking. In a strange twist of events, he ended up taking his younger sister! This was such a gift for both of them, and I know they both loved it!

I sent an email to Gorilla Expeditions Ltd a local tour and travel company operating in Rwanda and I was surprised when they immediately replied me. I communicated with a tour consultant called Joan and she gave us all details needed to do gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park and among the different sample itineraries she gave me, I talked to my son and we choose a 5 day golden monkey and gorilla tracking safari. Joan also advised us to book gorilla tracking permits in advance because they are on high demand.

golden-monkey-trackingAll of us were eager to know what really gorilla trekking means and it was on July 24th, 2014 the day when we had to leave London and travel to Kigali Rwanda. Upon our arrival at Kigali International Airport, we was warmly welcomed by Wabwire Jackson a tour guide from Gorilla Expeditions Ltd and after we transferred to Kigali for breakfast and thereafter we made our way to a place called Ruhengeri found at the foothills of the mighty Volcanoes National Park. This was the place where Dian Fossey the famous American primatologist amazed the world with her research of the magnificent mountain gorillas of Rwanda. We enjoyed lunch, dinner and overnight at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge a first class luxury comfortable lodge in the foothills of the Virunga Mountains.

On the next day, we enjoyed early morning breakfast at the lodge and as a worm up for our gorilla trek; we participated in the tracking of the rare and endangered golden monkeys in the park. These primates are unique in the Volcanoes National Park, where there is a group numbering around forty. Little is known about these wonderful monkeys and experts are only recently able to collect the basic details about their routines and ways of life. They can be very hard to spot. With our professional local tour guide and trackers we searched for them in the bushes of bamboo where they like to spend most of their time. The experience was so interesting and after we returned to the lodge for relaxation as we waited for dinner and overnight.

rwanda-mountain-gorillaOn the third day, we had breakfast and transfer to the park headquarters with our packed lunch for briefing and after we were accompanied by a ranger guide and tracker and penetrated deep into the jungle in search for the magnificent mountain gorillas. We tracked for 5 hours and we were allowed a maximum of one hour to spend with our allocated gorilla family. To find our gorilla group the tour guide will lead us to where the gorillas were located on the previous day and then we tracked them through the forest. The territory in the jungle was very rough and we were very prepared for rain, mud and giant stinging nettles – long trousers, gloves and a waterproof coat because Joan briefed us well. After our trek and humbled by this amazing experience we transferred back to the lodge for late lunch, dinner and overnight.

Our last day in Rwanda, very early in the morning we had breakfast and hit the road back to Kigali and we enjoyed a short Kigali city tour and then after we was transferred to Kigali International Airport to board our flight back home. We really had a memorable safari in Rwanda with a dependable tour company.

Lifestyle of Mountain Gorillas in Africa

Mountain Gorillas can be tracked in the south western part of Uganda in the national parks of Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga national park, then in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda as well as Virunga National Park in DR congo. The life type of these rare apes is very interesting and therefore becomes must to each and very traveller interested in knowing much about the gorillas to book a gorilla trekking safari in Africaafrican-gorillas

Mountain gorillas in Africa live in groups consisting of rough estimate of 8 to 35 individual members. The interest aspect is that each and every group has leader called silverback and the silverback is accompanied by various females who are also followed by their young ones. Due to the factor that the endangered mountain gorillas can only be found in the three countries i.e. Uganda, Rwanda and Congo in the whole world, visitors therefore have one option to book gorilla safaris in Africa and this will enable them to have one magical hour of interaction with the mountain gorillas and hence making each other to study lifestyle of gorillas.

In Uganda an ordinary day in the life of the rare mountain gorilla begins at 6 am when the sun is setting off. The mountain gorillas wake up early morning and start to gather food and mostly the mountain gorillas spend an estimate of 30% moving to look for food and roughly spend 40% resting and 30% traveling. Unlike other primates, mountain gorillas mainly live on the ground and they usually move a distance not more than one kilometer each and every day beyond their home boundaries which is range of 20 square kilometers.

Taking gorilla trekking safari in Africa will enable visitor know that Mountain Gorillas are vegetarians, because their diet mainly is composed of leaves, roots, stems as well as pith of herbs, shrubs and also some fruits. However they also feed on the ants, insects but rarely. The afternoon’s times of the mountain gorilla is mostly spent as the resting and playing time. This last activity which ends the day of mountain gorilla is very important to gorillas mostly to the young ones as its determining factor for integration into the group.

In the general life style of gorillas, hierarchy is respected and significant ant within the gorilla group. The silver back who is the leader of the group like father in human beings, he enjoys the most respected rank and also the females’ adults have authority over the younger ones. In relation to other animals, male gorillas gain high rank depending on their size. Usually male silver back gorilla weighs an estimated weight of 200kgs and always reach 1.7 meter when they happen to stand upright.
The reproduction process of gorilla is very slow and this is the cause reduced numbers of world populations of the mountain gorillas. Gestation period is mainly 8.5 months and usually the female gorillas give birth to their babies once after each and every four years. When the baby of gorilla is born it usually weighs 2.5 kgs which is roughly half the exert weigh of the human baby.

Causes of Death among Mountain Gorillas In The Wild

Mountain gorillas is one of the world’s most endangered specie of primates and severely affected by human diseases. Only 880 gorillas left in the world, found in the Virunga chain of mounrain ranges shared among Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo. These are the only destinations where one can book a gorilla safari to see these gentle giants in the natural setting. Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda takes place in Volcanoes National park, Uganda has bwindi and Mgahinga National parks and DR Congo has Virunga National Park. A 2 day gorilla trek Rwanda is among the most popular package in Volcanoes N.P while a 3 day gorilla safari Uganda is the top selling in Bwindi National Park.mountaingorilla

Gorillas can get infected with most diseases suffered by human beings that are why the tourists are always advised to as far away from the animals as possible- 7 meters a way. In the distribution range of the mountain gorillas, the climate is wet and cold, which the gorillas are not optimally adapted to. Respiratory tract diseases, particularly pneumonia, are the most frequent cause of death in mountain and low land Gorillas.

Gorillas only rarely have teeth cavities. Mountain gorillas in particular almost never suffer from it, as their food contains very little fruit and hence little sugar. Instead, in the mountain gorillas bad tartar leads to periodontitis, dissolving of the jaw bones and finally to the loss of teeth.

Most free-ranging gorillas have parasites, mainly intestinal parasites like protozoan or worms. Some of these parasites affect humans and gorillas equally, others specialize in gorillas. Various malaria parasites also affect gorillas, but usually they are different species than those that affect humans.
Some Gorillas hurt themselves when they get entangled in a snare with a hand or foot. The wound can get infected and the gorilla may even die from this injury.

In another tragic blow to the mountain gorilla population, a pregnant female gorilla named Samehe in the Nkuringo family group in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park died on March 26 after suffering a serious head wound. It is thought she had sustained the wound from another mountain gorilla, and although the vets with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Program intervened multiple times, she never fully recovered and died this week.

Ebola virus is extremely lethal for humans and other great apes including Gorillas. Recorded outbreaks of the Ebola virus since 2000 might have claimed thousands of gorillas in Africa. It is unclear how the disease is spread but likely through the butchering and handling of primate bush meat. Mountain gorillas have not yet been affected. The conservation implications of Ebola virus are significant since past outbreaks have occurred mainly in remote protected areas that were the stronghold for gorilla protection.

Visit Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda in 5 Days

mountain-gorilla-tourThe 5 days gorilla tour in Rwanda takes you to visit mountain gorillas in the volcanoes National Park and a visit to Lake Kivu – the Rwanda’s largest fresh water lake. Other tour activities on this tour package are; Kigali city tour to genocide memorial centers, visit the national museum among others.

Safari Itinerary
Day 1: Transfer to Volcanoes Gorilla Park in Ruhengeri
Upon your arrival at the Airport, you will meet our tour guide, who will drive you north wards to Volcanoes National Park in Ruhengeri region, home to over half of the world’s remaining critically endangered and rare mountain gorillas. You will have dinner and overnight at Gorilla View Hotel, La PALME HOTEL, Kinigi Guesthouse.

Day 2: Mountain Gorilla Trekking
Early morning after breakfast, you will transfer to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters for a short briefing from the ranger guide about the dos and don’ts while with the mountain gorillas in the jungle. Later, penetrate into the forest for the greatest adventure of tracking mountain gorillas, which may take 2 – 8 hours depending on the movement of gorillas in their natural habitat. Expect to get dirty, for the environment involves moving in slippery and muddy slopes.

When you meet the mountain gorillas, you will be allowed a maximum of one hour, which will be enough for you to take photography and asking all the questions you want. Afterwards you will transfer back to your lodge, where you will have lunch and unwind. In the evening, you may enjoy a nature walk or cultural, where you will be entertained by the local Banyarwanda people. Dinner and overnight will be at your lodge as on day one.

Day 3: Dian Fossey/Golden Monkey tracking and transfer to Lake Kivu.
In the morning, you will enjoy your breakfast at the lodge and either participates in golden monkey tracking in the forest where you will also find other animal species and birds. Alternately you may trek up to Dian Fossey’s gravesite, an American primatologist who was buried here after dedicating her life to conserve the lives of the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. On this hike you will learn more about her projects and the lives of mountain gorillas. On descent, you will transfer to Lake Kivu, where you will unwind at the beach in the evening. You will have dinner and overnight at Lake Kivu Serena Hotel / Stipp Hotel / Paradise Malahide.

Day 4: Boat cruise on the lake and transfer to Kigali.
In the morning after breakfast at the lodge, you will enjoy a launch cruse on Lake Kivu where you will visit the islands and the Nyirangongo volcano. Unwind at the beach, and after lunch, transfer back to Kigali city for dinner and overnight at Serena Hotel / The manor hotel / Chez Lando Hotel.

Day 5: City Tour and Departure.
In the morning you will have a relaxed breakfast at the HOTEL AND enjoy a city tour, where you will visit the genocide memorial centers, the national museum, the first house, the local markets, do last minute shopping and later transfer to the Airport for your departure flight if on schedule.

Nkuringo is the magic of Uganda

As a tour operator in Uganda Nkuringo camp consistently rates as the highlight of accommodation. Why… it is one of the simplest camps we offer it is in the most remote of locations, the road to get there is challenging to say the least but still my favorite drive in Africa. The magic of Nkuringo camp is in the location and the people of the area. The camp is perched on top of a stunning hillside overlooking Bwindi forest, this little piece of paradise is part of the great community of Nkuringo. It is good for both luxury and budget camping Uganda safaris.

uganda-mountain-gorillaThis is not a luxury lodge but provides simple accommodation and facilities, great meals and hot showers with rustic charm. The youth group performs at the camp welcomes you in to the community. Sometimes as a traveler it is hard to get the real essence of life in a country and at Nkuringo this rare door opens. The staffs are a huge asset and will guide you through the area, walk you to a gorilla office, guide you on bush and community walks or multi day treks with enthusiasm or just sit at the campfire chatting all night. This place is the magic of Uganda!

If you are headed to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in South Western Uganda, for gorilla tracking or just to experience the beautiful mountains and scenery, Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite and Hammerkops Bunkhouse is the park’s best kept secret.

We stayed there in October 2013, on part of a tour round the South Western (we are ex-pats based in Kampala) and having been to gorilla tracking in Buhoma the year before (situated on the other side of Bwindi), I would recommend you head for Nkuringo instead. Buhoma is like a Turkish coastline hotel strip compared to the peace, quiet and uniqueness of Nkuringo beautiful location.

At Ntungamo (the name of the local trading center, though almost everyone calls it Nkuringo now, which is the name of the local UWA gorilla tracking group), you have a choice of two different types of accommodation. Unless you have $ 500 to spare per night per person (the rack rate for the new up market neighboring Clouds lodge) then I suggest you look at Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite.

They have some basic but clean, comfortable and cozy twine rooms in their bunkhouse, plenty of camping space for those with their own gear, and some lovely looking new self-contained cottages which were just being finished up when we were there. The bunkhouse is very good value for their price, the cottages will apparently be priced at a significantly higher rate per night but the furnishings, privacy, view (of a line of volcanoes on the misty horizon) and private bathroom and terrace make this also good value for a more mid-range choice.

The shared bathrooms are basic but clean and attractively but sustainably designed. An eco-toilet without the usual smell that accompanies them! Showers are of the hot water in a jerry can variety (but when you learn about the lack of rainfall here during the dry season you’ll understand the need to conserve water).

Food is on an all-inclusive day rate basis – which is very good value and while there is no choice on menu per se we enjoyed every single dish we had. The dinners were particularly nice, with warming spiced soups and robust hearty mains….

The atmosphere is more one of a family run place, with friendly and helpful but relaxed and laid back staff. The site also works closely with the local community in a very genuine way – you get the sense they do it because they want to work harmoniously with their neighbors and not because they want to impress their eco-sensitive guests as so many, more cynical establishments do nowadays. We enjoyed a highly entertaining cultural dancing display by the local Youth Initiative group while we were there and this can easily be arranged by the staff for your stay.

The big plus from staying at Nkuringo is the fact that along with the guests from Clouds, you are pretty much the only tourists in the immediate area. You get a more genuine experience of the local community, and you avoid the tourist trappings and crowded strip that Buhoma is becoming.

You also benefit from some fantastic views where you can get a sense of the area’s spectacular scenery. Nkuringo is at 2040m, considerably higher than Buhoma, and the views are definitely worth it. In one direction you can see a line of volcanoes on the Ugandan/Rwandan/Congolese borders, and if the skies are clear, you’ll see the glow of the more active of them at night (don’t worry – it is still a very long way away!). In another direction you can see the misty forested steep ridges of Bwindi stretching out into the distance. It’s breathtaking. But be prepared for the altitude – may be worth spending a few nights at Bunyonyi (1700m) or Kabale/Kisoro before heading up to the heights – especially if you want all the help you can get with the hiking!

Last but definitely not least, the walking safari. As I had previously tracked gorillas from the Buhoma site the other side of Bwindi, we opted to do one of this campsite’s walking safaris instead, though you can arrange gorilla permits for the Nkuringo group from tour companies or from the UWA central reservations office in Kampala if that’s what you fancy doing.

As hinted at above, you need to be of reasonable fitness to be able to do the walk. I had found tracking from Buhoma challenging but perfectly doable – but Nkuringo is up another level. Its steep volcanic hills can be very unforgiving. It’s fine for the first two thirds of the walk (downhill into the valley, then along the valley floor through the forest) but the last section is tough on those who are bordering unfit (I know because that was me!). We were also unfortunate with the weather (we were there slap bang in the middle of the wet season so we were asking for it really…) which probably made it considerably harder. But go in the drier months and it should be fine.

The walk has some beautiful scenery and glimpses of un habituated red tailed Columbus, and black and white Columbus, as well as plenty of sun-birds and butterflies to keep you entertained. If you’re a hiker you’ll love it. Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite is great – un-spoilt, un-pretentious, great value, and a spectacular location. Better book your Uganda gorilla safari today and experience the true African Wilderness at its best in Bwindi National Park!

Mountain Gorilla Tool Use Reported by Fossey Fund Scientists

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund scientists recently published a paper in the journal “Behavioural Processes,” describing the use of a bamboo stem by an adult female mountain gorilla to presumably serve as a “ladder” for her offspring, helping him climb up a pile of vegetation to reach her. The paper’s authors include Cyril Grueter, Ph.D., former scientist at the Fossey Fund’s Karisoke Research Center; Karisoke Director Felix Ndagijimana; Fossey Fund Chief Scientist and Vice President Tara Stoinski, Ph.D.; and Martha Robbins, Ph.D., of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, who has been involved in many studies of mountain gorillas with the Fossey Fund.

This observation, of mother gorilla Tamu, was made in 2010 during a study focusing on feeding ecology among the mountain gorillas led by Dr. Grueter for his post-doctoral research.  Interestingly, most reports of such presumed tool use in primates (other than humans) don’t involve wild gorillas, though there are repeated observations of it in captive western lowland gorillas. Tool use has been observed much more frequently in chimpanzees, orangutans and capuchin monkeys, as well as a few other primates. Scientists are not sure why tool use among wild gorillas has been seen less often, but some theorize that it may be because gorillas have little need for tools in their daily food gathering (which is a primary driver of tool use seen in other animals), relying instead on plants that are easy to reach or that can be removed by brute force.

uganda-gorilla-trekkingHowever, the instance in this paper, combined with a few other examples, suggests that wild gorillas are capable of tool use. Although more such observations are needed, and scientists can’t be certain that the bamboo handled by Tamu was intended to be used as a tool, it’s always exciting to add more potential evidence to the pool, especially in the case of wild gorillas.

“Tool use in some other primates is frequently seen in the context of food acquisition, whereas in gorillas it seems to be related to overcoming physical obstacles,” says Dr. Grueter. “However, given that there are fewer than a handful of observations of (possible) tool use in wild gorillas, we should be careful not to over-interpret the findings. Nevertheless, I do hope that this anecdote will draw researchers’ attention to look for similar cases and that one day we will have a fuller understanding of gorillas’ cognitive capacities.”

Indeed, there is no shortage of studies related to the mountain gorilla going on right now at the Fossey Fund’s Karisoke Research Center. This shows the importance of the Fossey Fund’s long-term database, says Fossey Fund Chief Scientist and Vice President Tara Stoinski, Ph.D.  Thirteen scientific papers were submitted or published in 2013 alone. Topics include: an analysis of gorilla census data (especially the impact of population growth), vegetation changes since the 1980s, ranging patterns seen over time, reproductive cessation in females (menopause), brain growth and even human-ape divergence. Many more studies are in the works, including bamboo research, paternity in multi-male groups, golden monkey projects and more. To see and experience the mountain gorillas in the wild, contact African jungle Safaris, specialists in Rwanda safaris and gorilla tours in Uganda, email:

Rwanda Tourism Industry is based on Mountain Gorilla Trekking Safaris

The Tourism Industry in Rwanda has decided to put its focus in developing and marketing of the mountain gorillas, since this will help in increasing the amount of tourists who come to Rwanda for gorilla trekking safaris hence contributing to raising enough revenue from the primates.

The Gorilla trekking activity which is carried out in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is so interesting and it’s done by numerous tourists who want gorilla safaris to the nation. This is because the incomes from the tourism industry in Rwanda have improved in the later years and this implies that mountain gorillas have contributed the highest incomes to the tourism Industry.

rwanda-gorilla-tourIn spite of the fact that Rwanda’s tourism sector has mainly concentrated on mountain gorillas, there are numerous different attractions which have likewise contributed the increase of Rwanda’s revenues to the nation. These attractions incorporate; the chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park, the birds, the water bodies, the mountains, wildlife and many others. All these have helped in pulling in more tourists to come for Rwanda safaris.

The Rwanda Government has however helped in providing finances to the ministry of tourism with the goal that it can be able to funds its projects which will help in developing the tourism industry and likewise increasing the number of tourists who come for Rwanda Gorilla safaris in Volcanoes National Park.

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