The Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking
The Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking (or Tracking) is designed to help you choose where to go mountain gorilla trekking, where to stay, what to pack and explain how your trek supports the Mountain Gorillas and the local (human!) population. I also share some ideas on other activities you can do in Uganda or Rwanda, as part of your gorilla trekking tour. All information contained in this guide is based on my personal experience trekking the gorillas, and supporting conservation and tourism in Uganda and Rwanda. I cannot guarantee that every fact here is 100% accurate, but I’ve tried my very best – I’d always recommend contacting the Muzungu or one of the other organisations listed on these pages before confirming any travel plans. All feedback, suggestions and corrections gratefully received.
There are estimated to be 880 Mountain Gorillas living in the mountains that straddle Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC, formerly known as Zaire). A must for every eco-tourist’s travel bucket list, trekking the Mountain Gorillas truly is a unique wildlife experience. Every encounter with the gorillas is different.
“No one who looks into a gorilla’s eyes — intelligent, gentle, vulnerable — can remain unchanged, for the gap between ape and human vanishes; we know that the gorilla still lives within us. Do gorillas also recognize this ancient connection?” – George B. Schaller, “Gentle Gorillas, Turbulent Times,” National Geographic.
There was very little activity when I first trekked the gorillas in Bwindi, Uganda. The highlight of the trek was watching a baby gorilla hanging from one arm in the moss-covered trees above us, eyeballing us. The climb through a tea plantation and mist-covered slopes of the jungle-like forest were a magical part of the whole experience too.
My next gorilla trekking experience, in Rwanda, was altogether different: there was so much going on it became a very busy hour for us. We watched twin baby gorillas playing with their mother. Huge adults sat munching in the bamboo above our heads. At one point, the whole gorilla family decided to walk through our nervous giggling group and we edged back in to the bush, as they brushed right past us. We even watched the Silverback having sex! All of this action was to the accompaniment of loud gorilla farts.
Gorilla trekking is not a cheap experience. However, receipts from gorilla permit sales have made a huge and sustainable impact on the ability of these beautiful creatures to survive. This guide focuses on gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda but gorilla tracking in the DRC is now back on the bucket list! This is great news for us travellers – local people and the gorillas too. It means security levels have improved. Tourist dollars contribute to conservation AND development.
Gorillas remain under constant watch, 365 days of the year. Their security and health are constantly monitored. The gorilla population numbers in Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC have increased from near-extinction levels of 254 in the 1980s to a still ‘critically endangered’ level of an estimated 880 in 2015. (Another census is currently underway). By going to trek the Mountain Gorillas, you are contributing to their survival – as long as you follow the Gorilla Trekking Rules listed in this Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking.
Are you looking for answers to any of these questions?
Section 1. What do mountain gorillas look like? – including …
… Are Mountain Gorillas dangerous?
… When were Mountain Gorillas first scientifically identified by man?
Section 2. Where are mountain gorillas in Uganda? – including …
… How many gorilla families are there in Uganda?
Section 4. Where are Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda? – including …
… How many gorilla families are there in Rwanda?
… Which other activities can you do after trekking gorillas in Rwanda?
… What is a gorilla safari and how much does it cost?
Section 7. How can I buy gorilla trekking permits? – including …
… Tips on purchasing a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda
… Tips on purchasing a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda
… Contacts for purchasing a gorilla trekking permit in the DRC
… Am I guaranteed to see the gorillas?
… How many days should I book for my gorilla trekking tour?
… Should I hire a porter for my gorilla trek?
… When is the best time of year to trek the Mountain Gorillas?
… Which conservation organisations are working to protect the Mountain Gorillas?
Section 18. Gorilla tracking in the DRC *new page coming soon*
For gorilla trekking stories and Uganda and Rwanda travel advice, click on the hyperlinks in the Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking. Still got a question? Contact the Muzungu.