To trek for Mountain Gorillas in Uganda would have to be one of the most memorable feats in your lifetime. SO…if you get the opportunity to go…take it! You have a choice of two locations; Bwindi Forest and Mahinga National Park, both take at least two days drive through scenic countryside The stunningly beautiful Impenetrable Bwindi Forest is the most common park to see the Gorillas on a Uganda Safari as there are more gorilla families (or troops) scattered throughout. All the locations of the gorilla families are monitored so you won’t be tramping unnecessarily through the thick bush trying to locate them. Mgahinga is easier to trek than the Bwindi Forest but the gorillas often move across the border making them difficult to track. A gorilla permit is required in order to see the gorillas and your guide will normally split groups up based on fitness levels on the day of your trip.
Rwanda offers the fabulous opportunity to see the famed Mountain Gorilla just two hours drive from Kigali, the countries capital. The mountain gorillas a found on the Virunga volcano range found in the Volcanoes National Park and the trekking here is considered a little easier than in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. The gorillas live in relatively open habitat either bamboo or montane vegetation.
Dian Fossey, acclaimed researching zoologist, her story and movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ has assisted placing Rwanda on the map. She spent two decades in the Rwandan mountains studying the endangered mountain gorillas. Rwandan Mountain Gorillas tend to be hairier around the brow region than the Ugandan gorillas.
In DRC there is a subspecies of gorilla which is named the Eastern Lowland Gorilla. They noticeably smaller but more muscular with shorter arms, have longer faces and are less shaggy. Eastern lowland gorillas often climb fruit trees. Gorilla’s are largely herbivores feasting on fruits and nuts, seeds and nuts, plants and leaves as well as insects like termites and ants.
Tips for seeing Mountain Gorillas.
Neutral coloured, loose fitting clothing with long sleeves and trousers and a pair of gloves helps protect your body from scratches.
A light weight breathable waterproof jacket is useful as is the importance of well broken in tramping boots.
Although gorilla tracking is available all year around however January to March and late May to September are more pleasant.
You are not permitted to track gorillas if you have a cold, cough, flu etc
Flash photography is not permitted.
Porters are readily available and not only are you supporting the local community by hiring someone, it also frees you up from carrying your water bottle, jackets etc too!
Birdwatching in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest is an added bonus with the Great Blue Turaco and bird song adding to your gorilla highlight.