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Gorilla trekking in East Africa gets you in touch with the wild and an opportunity to connect with human’s closest relatives, an experience to remember.

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Gorilla trekking is an once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It gives you the privilege of having an intimate encounter with human’s closest relatives in their natural habitat. Gorillas are found in the lush rainforests of Uganda, Rwanda, and The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in East Africa living in altitudes of between 1400M-3800M. The epitome of the safari is observing the behavior and interactions of the gorillas from their personalities to looks since their population is only in the hundreds.

Alongside trekking the gorillas, you will also get to learn how gorilla tourism is contributing to conservation efforts of the endangered species, interact with the local communities, and learn about their culture and how they coexist with the gorillas. Children under 15 years old are not allowed to trek. Only the Democratic Republic of Congo has the two subspecies of the eastern gorillas: Mountain and Lowland gorillas.

What’s the difference between Mountain and Lowland gorillas?
The difference includes the altitude where they live, their physical features and social structures. 1. Mountain gorillas live on higher altitude than lowland gorillas. 2. Lowland gorillas have lighter and shorter hairs whereas mountain gorillas have darkly colored with much thicker longer fur. 3. The Eastern lowland gorillas is the largest of the largest of the four gorilla subspecies. 4. Mountain gorillas have rounded face, Lowland gorillas have a more pronounced forehead. 5. Mountain gorillas have a monogynous mating system when lowland gorillas have polygynous mating system.

Gorilla trekking locations
There are two subspecies of gorillas in East Africa: the mountain gorillas and the lowland gorillas with each exhibiting distinct character traits due to their locations. The mountain gorillas as their name suggests, reside in the mountains and to adapt to their habitat, they have long, thick, dark fur while the lowland gorillas reside in the lowland areas and have lighter fur compared to the mountain gorillas.

1. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (Uganda)
Located west of Uganda and bordering both Rwanda and the DRC, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most popular of all the gorilla trekking locations. It is home to the highest number of mountain gorillas with more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas residing in the park.

2. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda)
Gazeted in 1991, the smallest park in Uganda is home to the endangered mountain gorillas. The park is nestled in the Virunga Mountains southwest of Uganda. Due to its biodiversity and high altitude, the park is home to the mountain gorillas. The park is also home to the unique golden monkeys

When To Visit
The gorillas can be trekked all year round but it is more difficult during the rainy season since they are found deep in the dense forest. The trekking can last from 7 or more hours and the group size is limited to 8 people per a family of gorillas. The limited number ensures easier sighting since the gorillas are quite timid and also protects them from airborne pathogens.

Charges and Permits
Charges and permits for gorilla trekking in Uganda are as follows:
Foreign Non-Residents- USD 800
Foreign Residents-USD 700
Rest of Africa- USD 500
East African Community Citizen (EAC): 300,000 UGX
Note: The rate includes the guides’ fee, park fee, community levy, and certificate of trekking.

3. Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda)
Also known as Parc National des Volcans, Volcanoes National Park is located northwest of Rwanda and is also home to the mountain gorillas. It is situated in the Virunga mountains just like Bwindi and Mgahinga parks in Uganda. The park has 12 groups of habituated mountain gorillas, the highest number in the larger Virunga conservation. Its strategic location makes it the easiest to locate compared to the other parks.

When To Visit
Optimal gorilla trekking occurs during dry seasons (June-August) since the forest is less slippery. The visibility is good and the trails are less muddy. During the rainy season (September-May), the trails are very slippery making the trekking quite challenging. However, this is the best time for budget trekkers to do gorilla trekking because the accommodations are lowered in prices.

Charges and Permits
The charge for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is USD 1500 for international visitors.

4. Virunga National Park (DR Congo)
Located East of the Congo Basin, Virunga National Park is a UNESCO Heritage Site where you can trek the endangered mountain gorillas. The park has 8 groups of habituated mountain gorillas. The groups are familiar with human interactions. Virunga National Park is the first national park established in Africa.

5. Kahuzi Biega National Park (DR Congo)
The park is located near Bukavu town on the Eastern side of the DRC. Kahuzi Biega is home to lowland gorillas making DRC the only country home to both lowland and mountain gorillas. The Eastern Lowland gorillas are easier to trek since they reside in the lowlands, unlike the mountain gorillas. The park has 9 groups of gorillas, only 2 are habituated.

When To Visit
For the period to visit, gorilla trek is an ongoing activity. The DRC has two main seasons though: the ‘dry season’ and the ‘rain season’. The ‘dry season’ (18 to 27o C ) is from June to August. In this period gorillas are hardly to find because they move a lot to look for food. So tourists coming in this period must expect to walk a lot before they find the gorillas. However the pictures in this time are very clear. In the ‘rainy season’, from September to May, gorillas are stable because they find easily food. Tourists needs quality cameras to have nice pictures and must bring rain coats.

Charges and Permits
Virunga National Park
Foreign Non-residents USD 400
Kahuzi-Biega National Park
Foreign Non-residents USD 400
International resident of DRC and CEPGL, EAC , SADC zones: USD 200
Nationals: USD 20

Gorilla trekking in East Africa gets you in touch with the wild and an opportunity to connect with human’s closest relatives. Whether you choose trekking in Uganda, Rwanda or the DRC, the experience is one to remember.

Ubuntu Voyages is a team of gorilla trekking Experts and offers you a stress-free travel to the East Africa region by taking in charge your bookings (permit, accommodation, transportation) and visa inquiry.