Gorilla tracking is an incredible experience that allows visitors to observe one of the world’s most iconic and endangered species up close in their natural habitat. It is an exceptional opportunity to witness the behavior of these majestic animals in the wild and to learn about their ecology and conservation.
Gorillas are the largest living primates, sharing over 98% of their DNA with humans. These human-like apes are found in only a handful of central and eastern Africa countries, including Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC. In those tropical forests are two species of Africa gorillas: the western gorilla and the eastern gorilla, divided further into four subspecies: the eastern lowland gorilla and the mountain gorilla in the east, and the Cross River gorilla in the west and the western lowland gorilla.
The mountain gorillas roaming around the Virunga Volcanoes are a more well-known and coveted species. They reside in the high-altitude forests of Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC mountain woods. They are currently in grave danger of extinction, with only approximately 1,000 individuals remaining in the wild. Due to this, tracking them is a crucial conservation activity as the fees paid by visitors go towards funding conservation efforts and preserving their habitat.
Gorilla tracking usually involves a guided hike through the forest, searching for a habituated gorilla group. The forest hikes that start in the misty mornings can be strenuous and may take several hours, depending on how the gorillas manage their foraging movements in the woods. Visitors must be in good physical condition and prepared for the rigors of the trek. Once the gorillas are located, visitors are usually allowed to spend an hour with them, observing their behavior and taking photos.
The experience of being close to a giant male gorilla silverback is truly awe-striking. Visitors can witness the social interactions between members of the gorilla group, including grooming, playing, and feeding. They may also see the dominant male silverback, who protects the group and leads them on their daily foraging expeditions. The silverback is the group’s largest and most striking member, and his presence is truly breathtaking.
Gorilla tracking is a thrilling adventure but also an essential conservation tool. The fees paid by visitors to see gorillas in the wild go towards protecting the gorillas’ habitat and supporting local communities. By providing economic incentives for conservation, gorilla tracking helps ensure the long-term survival of these incredible animals.
In addition to gorilla tracking, visitors to gorilla habitats can also engage in other activities such as bird watching, nature walks, and cultural tours. Many lodges in the area offer comfortable accommodations and excellent food, making gorilla tracking a truly memorable experience.
However, gorilla tracking is not without its challenges. The terrain can be rugged, and visitors may have to navigate steep slopes, thick vegetation, and mud. The weather can also be unpredictable, with rain and fog common in the high-altitude forests where the gorillas live. Visitors must also follow strict guidelines to minimize their impact on the gorillas’ habitat and behavior. For example, they must maintain a distance of at least 10 meters from the gorillas, avoid touching or feeding them, wear a facemask and gloves, and follow the instructions of their guides at all times.
Despite these challenges, gorilla tracking remains one of the most rewarding and awe-inspiring wildlife experiences you can have only in Africa. It offers visitors a rare opportunity to connect with nature and witness the beauty and complexity of one of human’s closest relatives in the animal kingdom. It also serves as an explosive reminder of the urgent need to protect and conserve our planet’s biodiversity, including the remarkable and endangered gorillas of Africa.
What are the costs for gorilla tracking like?
Let’s say you work out the international flights; there are licensed local operators like us here, who will give you a quote at no cost, book all your accommodation, meals, ground transport, guide fees, and process a government permit to track gorillas from about USD 1500 per person for a 3-day tour for 2 people.
Let me break that up for you;
The government gorilla permit takes a big chunk – $700 in Uganda and $1500 in Rwanda.
A comfortable cottage outside the gorilla forests is about $120 a night with meals and can go up to $4000 per person (in Rwanda). You must spend at least a night or two near the entrance to join the early morning gorilla trekking excursion.
Tracking locations are quite a distance from the International Airport with scanty public transport; you may want to organize a private 4×4 car. A car with fuel is about $150 a day with a driver and gas.
Do the maths. Let us do the work with accurate, up-to-date guidelines!
Go any day, all year, especially during the summer, June through August.