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Gorilla Trekking Safaris & Tours

A gorilla trekking safari is a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter. Imagine coming eye-to-eye with a mountain gorilla. A big part of what makes the gorilla trek so special is that these big apes are so closely related to humans (the difference in DNA is only about 1.6%). They do seem to touch a nerve when they look at us with interest. The gorillas’ natural habitat is restricted to a relatively small area in a historically turbulent region. But this region has stabilized and tourism is picking up throughout, which make gorilla tours increasingly accessible. Habitat loss is now the main obstacle to the survival of gorillas, and money spent on gorilla tourism goes a long way in securing their survival.

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1-20 of 944 Gorilla tracking packages, tours, trips, holidays and vacations

6 Questions About Gorilla Trekking Tours

 
 

6 Questions About Gorilla Trekking Tours

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

Why should I choose a gorilla trekking safari?

“If you love nature and wildlife, a gorilla trekking safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed. Coming eye-to-eye with these gentle giants, especially a silverback, is truly unforgettable. Gorilla trekking is more accessible than before. Mountain gorillas can be tracked in three countries: Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The tourism industry in Uganda and, to a lesser extent, Rwanda has blossomed in recent years and these countries have opened up to tourism extensively. Both countries have lots more to offer than gorilla trekking alone, which makes a trip even more worthwhile. Gorillas are highly endangered. So, it is also worth considering that the money you spend on gorilla trekking will be used in the conservation and protection of these great apes.”

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How do I choose the best country for a gorilla safari?

“African mountain gorillas have a very small range which extends over three countries: Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC. All three countries offer amazing gorilla trekking experiences, but there are differences. Uganda is most developed for tourism and has the most to offer in addition to gorilla trekking. You can do a safari in Uganda that covers several savannah wildlife reserves, chimp trekking and gorilla trekking. Rwanda, with its turbulent past, offers a similar experience but the cost for gorilla trekking is much higher. However, tourism is less developed away from Volcanoes National Park, the base for gorilla trekking. The DRC also offers great gorilla trekking but has been politically unstable for a long time. Virunga National Park is mostly visited from Rwanda as a quick visit across the border, but it will take time for the park to re-establish itself after the region’s past conflict. The price for gorilla trekking in Uganda is US$700, in Rwanda US$1500 and in the DRC US$400.”

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How fit should I be for a gorilla trekking safari?

“You will need to be reasonably fit to go gorilla trekking. However, if you really want to do it, you probably could. In Uganda, you book a trek to a particular gorilla group. Gorillas have territories and some groups are known to be easier to visit than others. You can ask your operator to try and get one of the easier groups. Book early to secure this option, though. In Rwanda, travelers are allocated gorilla groups on the day of trekking, but the rangers will try and accommodate elderly or very unfit people, if possible. It is important to wear good hiking shoes and you will be offered a walking stick. It is also recommended to hire a porter who will carry your daypack and help you up the slopes.”

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How close can I get to the gorillas?

“You are supposed to observe a minimum distance of 7m/23ft from the gorillas. This is to avoid the possibility of exposing gorillas to human diseases, as well as for your own safety. You will get a full briefing as part of your gorilla watching experience. You will be told how to behave, as well as how not to behave, in front of the gorillas. Your guide will tell you where to stand at the actual sighting. Gorillas, of course, don’t observe rules and might well approach you and come much closer. In most cases, your guide will tell you to back off. Sometimes this isn’t possible, due to dense vegetation for example. If that instance, you will be told to crouch down and divert your gaze until the gorilla has passed.”

4

What are the typical costs of gorilla trekking?

“Gorilla trekking doesn’t come cheap. The price in Uganda is currently US$700. In Rwanda the price is US$1500 and in the DRC it is a bargain at US$400. This is only the fee for the activity and doesn’t factor in a lot of other costs involved in a safari package. The experience in all three countries is very similar. You can stay one hour with a gorilla troop after you have reached their location. The tour group size is limited to eight people. A new activity offered in Bwindi (Uganda) only is the gorilla habituation experience where you’ll track a semi-habituated troop in a limited group of four travelers. Instead of the one-hour time limit given for the ‘normal’ gorilla trekking, you’ll be able to stay for four hours. Viewing is less easy as these gorillas aren’t fully habituated yet and prefer to keep their distance. The price for this special activity is US$1500. ”

5

How to add gorilla trekking onto a broader wildlife safari?

“Gorilla trekking is offered as an add-on to a general wildlife tour. The common combination was a safari in Kenya or Tanzania, with add-on gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Rwanda was the country of choice because Volcanoes National Park is very accessible and lends itself to an add-on. The same can be done in Uganda. However, although Bwindi is the most accessible of the two gorilla parks in Uganda, it is a lot more remote. It is therefore less suitable for a quick add-on. In both cases, your operator books local flights and road transfers to your choice of gorilla park. To make the most of the add-on, book extra activities on offer in the gorilla parks, such as volcano hikes, golden monkey trekking and cultural activities. Uganda has developed into a great wildlife destination, and a Ugandan safari package that includes gorilla and chimp trekking is also worth considering. ”

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