Gorilla safari tours are the highlight of all African safaris. There no wilderness joy one can perceive than that when one faces the giant silver back face to face. Rolling into rush green tropics of slopes and highs in searching for gorillas is a remit for central African forests particularly the Virunga points jeweled by the Great Western Albertine Rift.
Well, Uganda still possesses for being the top gorilla trekking destination. The only country blessed with two gorilla parks. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are two important forests as far as gorillas are concerned in Uganda.
However, it’s important to understand that mountain gorillas reside into physical forests of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Uganda, and the Virunga Conservation Areas. The Virunga Conservation Area is shared among three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. So, the Virunga forms three parks of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of Uganda, Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda where daily short gorilla trekking tours take place from Kigali and Virunga National Park of Democratic Republic of Congo.
About Mountain Gorillas
Mountain gorillas are among the ape category, (Primates without a tail), and others are human, chimpanzees, Bonobo, Orangutan and Gibbon. The mountain gorillas are a sub-specie of the eastern lowland gorillas that resides in the thick central African forests. The mountain gorillas imitate much of human characters, and the scientists think that they share about 98% of human DNA.
Mountain Gorilla are endemic to the mountainous Bwindi Impenetrable and the Virunga forests. Recently in 2021, IUNC removed the mountain gorillas from the red list of critically endangered species to list of endangered species.
Mountain gorillas are the special wild species which has attained a successful story of conservation. By 1980s there were around 300 gorillas remained in the world wild. Today, the story has turned that there is over 1063 mountain gorillas according to the last census of 2019.
In the world mountain gorillas are ruminants of Bwindi forests and Virunga Forests. Before gorillas are ready for trekking, they first undergo habituation. The process is aimed at making the gorillas familiar to human presence. Mountain gorillas are very aggressive species and in-case of any threat are ready to attack, to quench their aggressiveness, it makes it necessary to habituate them before are made ready for trekking.
What’s all about Gorilla Safari tours?
Gorilla safaris always starts with the mind to trek the giants. The mind is developed to reserving a permit that gives access to the gorillas. A permit to trek either at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park costs $700. The gorilla trekking safaris doesn’t require any experience, calls for a certain level of fitness. However, even elderly and grown-up people even of 100 years have trekked gorillas and watched them.
There is 99% chance of seeing the gorillas on a trek and remaining percentage may come due to various reasons. But it’s on record that all guests who have trekked gorillas have seen them.
What to carry on a gorilla safari tour?
Gorilla safaris is not a joke, trackers have to find their own path through the impenetrable montane tropics. Being a tropic, can even be expectant of rain almost throughout. So, when planning a trip to trek gorillas, just know that you are to walk and hike through the moist, muddy, thorny slopes before when searching for the gorillas. It needs enough time of preparation. And should know what to carry alongside the gorilla permits.
What to carry? One should always carry the following things when heading to trek gorillas. Besides the permit, one should carry long sleeved shirts, long pair of pants, rainy jacket, a hut, jungle trekking boots, must carry a walking stick, enough drinking water about 2litres, energizing snacks, gloves, body repellent. All these are safety and protective gears one should always have. As well other tools like binoculars, cameras are very important to have for memory.
Best time to go for a gorilla safari
Mountain gorillas can be trekked throughout the year. However, dry seasons are more adorable seasons for an incredible gorilla trekking. When planning a gorilla safari, the dry months (seasons) are better. These months manifest in June to mid-September and December to February. The highest number of trekkers prefer trekking gorillas when the grounds are dry and the sunny months are the perfect ones.
During the peak dry season there is limited rainfall, this draws the highest number of trackers than the rainy seasons. These months tend to experience Spartan sunshine making it best and finest season to trek gorilla. However, it’s also important to note that from afro montane region, it can rain throughout the year.
The rainy/wet seasons suggest the most thrilling gorilla encounter in the moist leaves. The raining seasons are experienced in the months of March to May and from Mid – September to November. Heavy shower drop downs are experienced with low temperatures which tend to fall to about 17OC, forests are misty and moist all day. This is a perfect time for trekkers who opt for more challenge encounters with uncrowded sectors of trekking.
Talk about Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Uganda’s smallest national park among the 10 other parks. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a special park located in southwestern Uganda into the deep of the Great Western Albertine Rift Valley. This park is a portion of the great Virunga Conservation Areas that extends also to Rwanda and DR Congo.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is features corns of Volcanoes clothed with tropics and bamboo vegetation. It’s another 2nd destination in Uganda which is endemic to mountain gorillas, and the only endemic to the golden monkeys. This gives the park a name of where “Gold meets silver”, meaning finding the golden monkeys living alongside the Albertine’s Silver back.
However, Mgahinga is not a reliable park to trek the gorillas, the park has only one habituated gorilla family. This guarantee only 8 trekkers per day which is very limited number of trekkers according to the demand of trekking.
When visited Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, there are various adventures awaits among which include; gorilla trekking, mountain climbing, Batwa Cultural tours, mountain biking, nature walks, golden monkey tracking, bird watching among so many other considerations.
Talk about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in close range with the Virunga Mountains still within the Albertine Rift Valley southwestern Uganda. The park has warn travel accolades for being one of the thrilling tourist destinations in Africa.
Bwindi is the world capital of mountain gorilla; it accommodates about half of remain mountain gorillas. The park has the highest number of habituated gorillas, meaning it also offers the highest opportunity for trackers to see the mountain gorillas.
In a special manner, the Bwindi has habituation experiences opened for trackers. The habituation is an undertaking where all tracked gorillas first undergo before they are made ready for tracking. The habituation process can last for a period of not less than 2 years. So, at Rushaga sector, trackers can decide to join a team of researchers and primatologists and spend a full day tracking the gorillas.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park has 4 tracking sectors. These are Buhoma which is also doubles as the parks headquarter, Rushaga, Ruhija and Nkuringo. Buhoma sector is considered the easiest center to trek gorillas, and Nkuringo sector the most challenging.
Visiting Bwindi Impenetrable, trackers can engage in several adventures including; gorilla trekking, gorilla habituation, bird watching, Batwa cultural tours, community visits, nature walks, biking among other activities.