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.

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.

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.

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.

Top Things to Do in Bwindi National Park

Tourist Activities Conducted Within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Gorilla National Park is one of the must-visit destinations by majority of tourists that visit Uganda, mainly because it is a haven to more than 480 of the critically endangered Mountain gorillas that are found in only three countries in the whole World-Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Uganda. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was established in 1991 and is surprisingly the only place in Africa where Mountain gorillas and Chimpanzees can be found.

Interestingly, most tourists know Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for only gorilla tracking but there is more to this destination than meets the eye. Did you know you can actually also enjoy bird watching, nature walks/Hiking, the Batwa cultural experience, mountain biking and the Gorilla Habituation Experience?

It is the only place you will enjoy this unforgettable experience in a lifetime. Some of the attractions to expect here include over 1000 flora species including 160 tree species and 100 fern species, about 120 mammal species such as Forest elephants, primates like Red-tailed monkeys, chimpanzees, Mountain gorillas, Vervet monkeys, Olive baboons, L’Hoests monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, forest buffaloes, Duikers,  bushbucks, serval cats and the giant forest hogs among others.

If you are a birder, then this is real Paradise with over 340 species of birds like the handsome francolin, Chestnut-throated Apalis, the Rwenzori Batis, African green broadbill, mountain-masked Apalis, white-browed Crombec, the yellow-faced woodland warbler and the white-tailed flycatcher.

Provided are the detailed activities tourists can actually relish when they visit this wonderful destination;

  • Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking is and will always be the number one activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is undeniably the number one reason why tourists visit the country. This destination offers a phenomenal backdrop for this exceptional activity and there are 11 habituated gorilla families distributed across the four sectors-Rushaga, Buhoma, Ruhija and Nkuringo thus only 88 permits are available per day.

  • Gorilla Habituation Experience

You can enjoy Gorilla trekking from all the four National Parks where the Mountain gorillas are found but the Gorilla Habituation Experience can only be enjoyed from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park whereby instead of the usual one hour offered during gorilla trekking, tourists get up to four hours to spend with a gorilla family still undergoing habituation. Currently, only two groups (in the southern sectors of Nkuringo and Rushaga) can be visited for this experience and costs only $1500 per person.

  • The Batwa Cultural Experience (Cultural Encounters)

The Batwa pygmies were the first inhabitants of the Park and lived in the forest as hunter-gatherers. Much as they lived in the forest for many years, these people left small ecological footprint on the area and lived in harmony with nature but after it was gazetted into a National Park in 1991, they were displaced to the edges of the Park with no representation, no voice but living as beggars and squatters. Visiting the Park will therefore introduce you to some of the ancient ways like making bamboo bowls, building if grass-thatched huts, harvesting honey, making fire by rubbing sticks and use of trees and plants for herbal medicine among others.

Also, tourists can participate in a three-hour cultural walk through Buhoma villages and learn some of the cultures and customs of the people such as demonstrations of making local crafts such as baskets. Also see how local produce is harvested, food is prepared traditionally (with firewood) and also visit the local schools in the area.

  • Bird watching

There are over 350 species of birds that call Bwindi Impenetrable National Park home, making bird watching one of the must-do activities in the Park. Some of the lovable species of birds in the Park include Ruwenzori Batis, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Chestnut-throated Apalises, White-tailed fly-catcher, Shelley’s Crimson-wing, Mountain Greenbul, Handsome Francolin, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Green Tinkerbird and the White-browed Crombec among others.

  • Nature walks/hiking

There are 12 hiking trails in the Park lasting from one day or longer ones lasting several days and require you to spend overnights. Some of the trails include the Muyanga waterfalls walk, Muzubijiro loop, the Rushura Hill walk, the Ivi River walk, the Buhoma-Nkuringo and the Habinyanja (Railegh) Trail rewarding tourists with the views of different primates, waterfalls, mountains and the beautiful bird species such as the African black ducks, Pel’s fishing owls, Rwenzori Batis and black bee-eaters among others.

  • Mountain biking

Biking is mainly conducted within Buhoma sector by the Ride 4 a Woman, a community support group that also offers bikes for rent also guides tourists within and around the Park. The guides take you through different landscapes, the village and into the Forest through different trails such as the Ivy River Trail and most rides last 3 hours or longer depending on the trail used.

Tips to Save Money on Gorilla Tour

Tips On Saving For Your Next Gorilla Tour in Uganda

If you have ever had a trip to Uganda, you will concur that gorilla trekking is the most adventurous and fulfilling safari activity but also the most expensive. However, did you know you can actually save a lot of money on that Uganda wildlife and gorilla tour that appears expensive to undertake? Well, it is not rocket science but just a matter of following the following workable and proven tips;

  • Give your expected budget to the tour operator you intend to book with

Much as most tourists are always hesitant to give their target budget for the whole safari to the tour operator, it is sometimes important if you wish to save some money on your gorilla trekking safari. This allows the booking agent to look for the best deals especially when it comes to transport and Safari Lodges/Safari camps/Hotels at the budget you have given thus allowing you to save.

  • Plan in advance

It is obvious that last minute bookings can lead to booking for more costly accommodation facilities and the safari as a whole because demand certainly exceeds supply; hence it pays to book in advance. Most tour operators have long standing relationships with good Lodges, meaning with that, a facility can be booked on your behalf in advance.

  • Conduct the safari during the low season

Much as the discounted gorilla permits for low season (April, May and November) were scrapped off (by the end of 2017), some Safari Lodges  still offer discounted rates for rooms hence you can be able to save on your gorilla tour in Uganda.

  • Plan how you will travel around the country

If you find a cheaper means of transport to travel within the country, there are high chances that you will save a lot of money while on your gorilla tracking adventure. Possible means to move around Uganda include public means, whereby, you can connect from one destination to another by Buses. For example, you can use a bus from Kampala to Kisoro near bwindi gorilla national park and Mgahinga national park. Alternatively, you can cheaply rent a 4×4 car like Toyota Rav4, Nissan xtrail or Toyota Prado and drive your own gorilla adventure to the gorilla parks.

  • Long stay rates

Someone who spends more nights in one Hotel or safari lodge is likely to spend lesser money than someone who spends nights in two or three different hotels because in most cases, you may end up paying three instead of four nights spent. Surprisingly, most of these deals are not indicated on the Hotel websites thus it would be good to ask the tour operators.

  • Target specific Brand name

Just like you always pay more money for a particular brand of shoes or jeans, the same applies to the Safari Lodges thus tour operators always know good places at relatively lower rates.

  • Book with one Tour Company

This usually applies to Companies that also own Hotels/Safari Lodges because there are chances that companies having three or more accommodation facilities can offers discounted rates for longer stays at their facilities.

  • Travel in a group

Another important tip for saving during your gorilla safari is by traveling as a group with friends or family members, especially when it comes to transportation around the country or spending overnights at a Safari Lodge.

  • Mix up some of the Accommodation Facilities

We all like the best products but sometimes you may not enough money to spend nights from certain Safari Lodges, thus you can always mix the facilities up by getting the expensive an cheap ones during the safari. Also, being cheap doesn’t mean that they are of poor quality or not nice but you will be surprised that cheap accommodation facilities offer comfortable facilities.

  • Keep watch on your Traveling

In most cases, if you intend to explore many destinations in the country, you might end up spending a lot for the flight costs and other additional costs for transfers to and from Entebbe International Airport thus you would rather land at Kigali International Airport and proceed for gorilla trekking within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park because it tends to be shorts and more convenient than Entebbe Airport. With this, you will be able to save a lot of money during your gorilla tour in Africa.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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