Gorilla tracking is regarded as the most interesting adventurous tourist activity done on earth and many who have got this chance of meeting them in their natural environment testifies to this. It’s better to plan for your gorilla safari early enough. For many who have gorilla watching on their bucket list of things to do in 2016, here are the best destinations where you can visit these apes, the largest primates on planet earth.
The most popular destinations for tracking mountain gorillas include;
Rwanda which is also known as the land of a’ thousand hills’’ is one of the smallest countries in the world it is about the size of Wales, and its population is one of the dense in the world. This small country is the leading mountain gorilla destination in the world; many visitors live their beautiful homes and houses to come to this small African country to spend at least 1-2 days in the wild watching these endangered mountain gorillas that are inhabited in this country.
Rwanda has good roads making it quick to get around and a relatively well-developed infrastructure all these make it very easy to reach Rwanda’s tourist attractions swiftly. It’s just about 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali international airport to the most visited Rwanda national park Volcanoes national park for gorilla tracking. But it’s the work of Dian Fossey who was and still influential in the habituation process of mountain gorillas. She was a prominent primatologist and a researcher who studied and habituated mountain gorillas to human standards for a period of over 18 years and its work was dramatized in the film Gorilla in the Mist, which really makes Rwanda’s volcanoes national park many peoples first choice for a mountain gorilla safari.
Volcanoes national park is home to over 12 habituated gorilla families ready to visit by trekkers every day. Relaxed gorillas and relatively open habitat montane vegetation, often with stunning views greatly improve the chances of good gorilla watching. Ranger Guides are professionals in the field and they help visitors in the process of searching and sighting and give all necessary information not only to gorillas but also to all forest dwellers that live in the forest. many of whom have spent decades helping visitors cope with steep slopes, stinging nettles and nerves makes every muddy, gasping step that bit easier. The chances of sighting these rare apes in Uganda are 5/5.
This east African country is one of the three countries housing the endangered mountain gorillas in the world. It’s second in popularity to Rwanda, however, it’s known for housing the highest percentage of these remaining mountain gorillas, out of 900 mountain gorillas Uganda house almost half of these giants over 480 live in Uganda’s two national parks Mgahinga gorilla forest national park and Bwindi Impenetrable national park bot located in the south-west of the country and these two parks offers a different experience. Mgahinga National Park is part of the tri-national Virunga Conservation Area, and its habituated gorillas often cross into DRC, the park house only one gorilla family called the Nyakagezi gorilla family, however, this group likes adventure, they most of the time migrate to neighboring countries DRC and Rwanda, climbing to the top of Mt Sabinio, where Rwanda, Uganda and DRC meet, is an outstanding way to see the whole mountain gorilla kingdom in Mgahinga.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is more biodiverse and at a lower altitude is home to 11 gorilla families, the groups are always available for tracking each day and many trackers to Uganda prefer tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable national park than in Mgahinga. Infrastructures like roads leading to these top visited national parks are well built and the chance of seeing gorillas in Uganda is 5/5
- Democratic Republic of Congo
The democratic republic of Congo is one of the largest countries in Africa housing three of the four sub-species of gorillas including the rare mountain gorillas. Gorilla tourism with habituated groups began here in the mid-1970s, in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a stranglehold of eastern lowland gorillas; the park still offers one of the best gorilla-viewing experiences in DRC.
You can enter DRC from Rwanda which is the easiest entry, however, recommended to check the security situation with a local tour operator or the Virunga National Park authorities. Bukavu is the nearest town with some beautiful lakeside hotels.
Although is still unsettled, gorillas tracking is superb in the Virunga national park, people can see the gorillas from Kisoro, Uganda because permits are available and some are sold out in Uganda however this is not a guarantee. Eastern low land gorillas and low land gorillas are present at the park. Infrastructures are not good however Chance of sighting the mountain gorillas is 5/5, western low land gorillas are 3/5 and the eastern lowland gorillas is at 4/5
Those interested in watching the Cross River gorillas in Cameroon offer this opportunity, these apes live in the English-speaking part of Cameroon bordering Nigeria, in small compartments of forest that are the center of a preservation project but with no tourism component yet. The only captive Cross River Gorillas can be seen at the Limbe Wildlife Centre, which also cares for about 15 Western Law Gorillas orphans. Cameroon also hosts the western lowland gorillas, these live in the French-speaking part of Cameroon in Campoma’an National park in the southwest, however, sighting is not a guarantee, chances of sighting the western low land gorillas is about 3/5, and sighting the cross river gorillas is only 1/5 percent.
Gabon can’t be left out among the African countries popular for gorilla tours, Gabon made a brave offer to expand its economy by creating 13 national parks in 2002, most of them comprising gorilla habitat. The Western Lowland Gorilla habituation program at the Mikongo Conservation Centre in Lopé National Park was terminated in 2010. Although no specific gorilla trekking spot, visitors can still see them while looking for other wildlife in the wild something which makes the treks more exciting. While in the wild chance of sighting these giant apes is about 3/5 and visitors’ infrastructures are at 3/5. Moukalaba-Doudou National Park has some of the highest densities of these apes, and an eco-tourism project has begun there with help from The Gorilla Organization.