Gorilla trekking is one of the best rated wildlife safari experiences in the world. With many positive reviews on TripAdvisor, this wildlife safari experience is among the most sought for in Africa. Did you know that gorillas are found in ten countries? However there a few places where this unrivaled experience can be enjoyed by travelers. This article brings to you the 5 best known locations where you can go gorilla trekking.
Africa’s most straight-forward gorilla trekking is found in Rwanda. This tiny Central African country in East – Central Africa punches way above its weight in sheer natural beauty reserve. The country protects the Volcanoes National Park, lies only 80 kilometres and 50 miles from the capital’s airport and is home to about half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. You can even pay your respects at Dian Fossey’s Grave. It’s a well protected and monitored reserve full of monkeys and forest birds where the chances of encountering gorillas are a reassuring 90 percent some revenue from tourism goes to community projects around the park, reinforcing the positive impact of gorilla trekking and making conservation of the great apes meaningful to rural communities in a very practical way. In fact, in some cases, reformed poachers are now employed by conservation projects that allow them to earn a legitimate income.
Do you have less time in Africa? Rwanda offers a viable option. Fly into Kigali and straight away start your gorilla trekking tour to the Virunga Massif in the northern part of Rwanda. If you have more days, You’ll be driven straight to Volcanoes National Park to check into a comfortable lodge. When you trek, you’ll be guided into the forest by expert guides and rangers.
Uganda is one of the best destinations where travelers see the endangered mountain gorillas. Uganda’s gorillas live in two national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The epically named Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is indeed an impenetrable forest. This ancient rain forest is a cloak of tangled green that covers the country’s south-west mountains. Bwindi protects naerly half of the world’s remaining population of the endangered mountain gorillas. Most gorilla tours start from either Kampala or Entebbe though it is also a viable option start your tour from Kigali, Rwanda.
Getting There: It’s more than a day’s drive from the capital Kampala or a quick flight so you’ll work a little harder to get there than in Rwanda, but it’s worth it! Bwindi is a World Heritage Site with over 350 bird species and 200 kinds of butterflies. Its mountain gorilla population has grown by a third in recent years. Trekking in Bwindi is well-established and if you have a couple of days to work with, gorilla sightings are more or less assured.
Fly into Entebbe International Airport to kick off your tailor-made tour. Accommodation, trekking permits and guides are all included, along with the option to add chimp trekking and game viewing.
Congo officially called the Republic of Congo (also known as Congo-Brazaville) is not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These two are distinct countries in Central Africa. Congo is small but less known to tourists. This country offers travelers with the chance to see the Western Lowland Gorillas. These great apes can be best seen in the Odzala National Park, a park that is still relatively little known. Odzala is attractively deserved and re-known for its conservation of lowland gorillas. Unlike their mountain cousins, lowland gorillas are smaller and less shaggy, with softer fur. But like their altitude-dwelling relatives, they are always a joy to behold.
Another advantage of visiting the gorillas in Congo is that you can bracket your gorilla trek with big game viewing or highly satisfying birding. Congo is scattered with ‘bais’, a kind of clearing in a forest wetland where the plentiful water and good grazing attract forest elephants and buffalos, large antelope known as bongo and bush pigs.
Fly into the capital Brazaville, and then be whisked off to one of two of Congo’s fly-in lodges, which have both been designed to have as light an environmental footprint as possible.
Democratic Republic of Congo
For years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been known for political instabilities. However the rich biodiversity of DR Congo is incomparable to none. This country protects three of the four known species of the gorillas. You can track the mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, the oldest national park in Africa and as well see the Grauer’s gorillas in the Kahuzi Biega National Park and the Western Lowland Gorillas.
Another bonus is climbing the Nyiragongo Mountains in Eastern Congo, one of the few active volcanoes in Africa.
Getting There: There are a few tour operators organising gorilla tours to Eastern Congo. Most tours start from Kigali in Rwanda or Kisoro in Uganda.
Cross River gorillas (CRGs) are found only in Cross River State, where the government has invested heavily in tourism infrastructure However, the chances of seeing gorillas here are still slim. Their total population now consists of less than 200 individuals, spread across an area of 12,000 km² which includes Afi Mountain, Mbe Mountain, and the Okwangwo Division of the Cross River National Park. For this reason, scientists are cautious about habituating any.
But visiting the habitat does help to conserve it, and two outstanding primate sanctuaries and reintroduction projects – Pandrillus for drill monkeys and chimpanzees, and Cercopan for numerous monkey species – are based in Calabar.
Gabon made a bold bid to diversify its economy by creating 13 national parks in 2002, most of them containing gorilla habitat. The WLG habituation programme at the Mikongo Conservation Centre in Lopé National Park was terminated in 2010. But although visitors are no longer taken on specific gorilla-spotting treks, visitors can still see them while looking for other wildlife.
Moukalaba-Doudou National Park has some of the highest densities of gorillas, and an eco-tourism project has begun there with help from The Gorilla Organization.
Since the loss of the habituated Lossi gorillas to Ebola in 2002, the nearby Odzala National Park now presents one of the best options for seeing WLGs. It is currently home to two habituated family groups that can be seen by visitors.
The most famous bai is Mbeli Bai, in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, where about 100 gorillas have been monitored by the Wildlife Conservation Society for a decade; gorilla groups can be seen wading into the marsh to forage for water plants alongside forest elephants, buffalo and antelope such as Sitatunga.
Rescued gorilla orphans (WLG) are being rehabilitated back into the forest in the Léfini Reserve two hours’ drive north of Brazzaville, where visitors can view silverbacks on a forested island from a boat.