Of all the wildlife adventures in Africa, a trek to see mountain gorillas in the wild is undoubtedly one of a few most mind blowing experiences and for plans to visit this continent this coming season count it a must to include in your travel plan. Mountain gorillas only thrive within Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Worldwide, about 1004 of them are now left and can only be tracked while in their natural habitat.
In Uganda, gorilla trekking is only possible in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park making them the two national parks in the Pearl of Africa where one can catch a glimpse at these dramatic creatures. These 2 (two) protected areas are found in southwestern Uganda just at the border with the DRC. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park is reachable about 10 hours’ drive from Kampala or Entebbe. You drive via Kampala – Masaka – Mbarara route to Kabale. From Kabale -drive via Lake Bunyonyi to connect to Kabale-Kisoro main route about halfway at Muko. Ntebeko is Mgahinga’s main entry point just 14 kilometers from Kisoro. As well, you can connect to Mgahinga National Park on Bwindi side in the southern sector at Nkuringo and Rushaga. The habituated gorilla families in Uganda account for about 17 in total and they include Habinyanja, Mubare, Rushegura, Kyaguliro, Oruzogo, Kahungye, Busingye, Mishaya, Katwe, Christmas and many more.
In total, Uganda is a home to about half the number of mountain gorillas that are left out in the world. Permits in Uganda cost $600 and they can be obtained through a tour operator or the reservation office at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
Where to stay while on gorilla safari in Uganda
For visitor overnight stay while on gorilla safari, the notable lodges include Buhoma lodge, Bwindi Volcano Lodge, Mahogany springs, Gorilla forest camp, Mount Gahinga Lodge, Mutanda Lake Resort, Engagi Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Lake Kitandara Tented Camp, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, Cuckoo land Lodge and many others.
In Rwanda, this life changing experience is only done in Volcanoes National Park. This park lies suitably in northwestern Rwanda about 2 to 3 hours’ drive from Kigali. This park covers an area of about 160 square kilometers forming part of the Great Virunga Conservation Area that also includes Mgahinga National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in the DR Congo. It is situated within Musanze village which also called Ruhengeri and besides gorilla trekking, you can also embark on other important activities like golden monkey tracking, Bisoke Volcano hike, Dian Fossey tomb hike, exploring the twin Lakes of Bulera and Ruhondo. The available lodges for visitor stay on gorilla trip in volcanoes national park include Bisate lodge, Sabyinyo silverback lodge, Virunga lodge, mountain gorilla view lodge, Kinigi guesthouse and others.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, you pay a visit to the Virunga National Park which is situated in the eastern side. This UNESCO World Heritage Site shelters about a third the population of mountain gorillas that exist on earth today. A side from mountain gorillas, the 7800 square kilometers’ protected also inhabits other incredible wildlife species such as golden monkeys, chimpanzees and many bird species. For gorilla experiences, treks are conducted in habituated families such as Mapuwa, Humba, Rugendo, Lulengo, Nyakamwe, Bageni, Munyaga, Kabirizi and others. Besides, you can also embark on eastern lowland gorilla safaris in Kahuzi Biega National park. This UNESCO site expands for over 6000 square kilometers making it a few largest parks in Africa. While on gorilla trekking tour in this park the habituated groups for you to track include Mpungwe and Mankoto group. The cost for tracking mountain gorillas in DR Congo is the same as that of tracking the eastern lowland gorillas. The eastern lowland gorillas also thrive within Maiko National park in DR Congo.
Other destinations for you to see gorillas include Nigeria where you can view the cross river gorillas, Equatorial Guinea at Monte Alen National Park where there are lowland gorillas, Gabon-at Moukalaba Doudon National Park, Angola a home to lowland gorillas and many more.
In conclusion, there are many places that you can pay a visit that reward travel endeavors with thrilling gorilla experiences but to view mountain gorillas in particular-Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the only exceptional options that exist for you.