There are a few countries in the world where gorillas are found in their natural habitat. Surprisingly there are only 10 African countries that host mountain gorillas. These great apes are divided into two different species of gorillas; the Eastern Gorilla and the Western Gorilla. Of these countries, few have developed gorilla tourism – the sustainable adventure activity of tracking these giant apes.
Today gorilla tourism is becoming an important aspect of protecting the gorillas, species that IUCN has listed as endangered! The activity of tracking these apes deep into the African forests raises revenues that are needed to manage the national parks where these creatures are protected. There are a few countries where gorilla tourism has been developed and most travelers focus on visiting the mountain gorillas that are found within only 3 countries though efforts have also been put towards promoting tours to the low land gorillas and cross river gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are only found in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The lowland gorillas are found in Gabon, Cameroon, and other countries. Meeting close with these rarely seen apes is known as a breathtaking moment in life very difficult to forget. It’s always very important to first know where to track/trek from and then continue with the process of organizing your gorilla safari in their natural habitat. Here are the most popular gorilla destinations include the following.
For mountain gorillas visit These Countries;
This small African country is thought among one of the popular gorilla tours in Africa because it hosts the rare mountain gorillas, it’s one of the few countries in the world for housing the endangered mountain gorillas, it’s said to be the most popular safari destination in the world housing almost a half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Many trackers prefer tracking in this country since gorillas in this area are easy to found, and for those who need shorter distances, Rwanda offers the best since it’s only about 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali to kinigi park headquarters. The park is easily accessed due to good roads and a relatively well-developed infrastructure, with very many accommodation types around the park for an overnight ranging from budget to up-market accommodation. Habituation efforts were due to the works of Dian Fossy who was a primatologist and research who monitored and habituated these apes to human standards for a period of over 18 years, his work was documented in the film Gorilla in the Mist, which is a must-see film for anyone before tracking these apes, it’s so interesting, her works made Rwanda very popular for gorilla tracking safaris that make many peoples first choice for a mountain gorilla safari. Only one park in Rwanda habituates these apes volcanoes national park located in Ruhengeri Musanze district in the north-western part of Rwanda. The park habituates 10 gorilla families which are ready to receive visitors every day. Tracking activities begin very early in the morning after reporting at the park headquarters in kinigi for short briefings about the whole process of gorilla tracking from the park wardens and senior ranger guide. Tracking time is unpredictable it can go from 1-8 hours depending on a gorilla family tracked. The chance of sighting Rwanda mountain gorillas is a most 98% and above.
Almost a half of visitors to Uganda came specifically to track mountain gorillas in the forests of Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla forest national park in the southwestern part of Uganda. This pearl of Africa as it’s sometimes referred to be is one of the three countries in the world hosting the rare mountain gorillas and it’s one of the major Mountain gorilla tours in Africa. Uganda houses the highest percentage of these apes over 480 individuals are living in Uganda out of the estimated 900 remaining mountain gorillas in the world. Mgahinga National Park is part of the tri-national Virunga Conservation Area, and its gorillas frequently cross into DRC and Rwanda in search of a new adventure, however, they have shown some consistency in the last two years. 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. The Park is home to one gorilla family called Nyakagezi gorilla family.
Bwindi national park is home to 11 gorilla habituated families and gorilla tracking activities are conducted every day at the park starting with short briefings about gorilla tracking and also get assigned to a ranger guide. Access to the park is very possible with good infrastructure; sighting is a guarantee when tracking with Uganda about 98%& above. Tracking activities last for only one hour in a group of 8 members who are allowed to visit these apes per group.
- Democratic Republic of Congo
DRC is gifted for housing three/of four subspecies of gorillas making it one of the best gorilla safari tours in Africa. like Uganda and Rwanda, DRC is among the three countries in the world for housing the endangered mountain gorillas, other species include the eastern low land and the western lowland gorillas. The chances of tracking/trekking all these subspecies are very high. 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. The country is considered to have some political instabilities however, tracking activities are still organized and gorilla tracking activities are conducted every at the park in Virunga national park a gifted park housing these remaining mountain gorillas. Rwanda is the easiest point to enter DRC, although still the country can be entered from kisolo Uganda. infrastructures are not good as it is in Uganda and Rwanda however, chances of seeing gorilla species is very high and the activities are guided by well-armed ranger guides who escorts you deep in the forest to have a chance of seeing these giant apes in the forests of Virunga and Kahuzi-biega national park is high with about 95% mountain gorillas, 70% lowland gorillas and about 50% western lowland gorillas.
Cameroon is also mentioned as one of the African countries offering gorilla tours in Africa, it houses a sub specie gorilla known as cross river gorillas, and these apes majorly live in a small section of forest that is a center of a preservation project but with no tourism element yet and they are found in the English speaking part of Cameroon bordering Nigeria. Spotting these apes is possible at the Limbe wildlife center however the center also is home to about 20 western low land gorillas orphans. Sighting of the western lowland gorillas is made in the French-speaking part of Cameroon in Campoma’an national park in the southwestern part of the country. Not like the top three where sighting is a guarantee, sighting these gorilla species is not a guarantee, chances of seeing the cross river gorillas are only about 50%, and sighting the western lowland gorillas is just about 70%
Gabon is also mentioned among the most popular for lowland gorilla tours in Africa, it houses the western lowland gorillas and the habituation program started at the Mikongo conservation center in Lope national park and was ended in 2010. Although no specific gorilla tracking arrangement and specific gorilla trekking spot ever recorded, these apes can be seen while tracking other wildlife which makes all activity more magnificent. Moukalaba-Doudou National Park has some of the highest numbers of these apes, and an eco-tourism project has begun there with help from The Gorilla Organization. The chances of sighting the western lowland gorillas are about 70%.
The choice remains yours to choose which destination to go for gorilla tracking, however, the best gorilla tracking destination is Uganda and Rwanda with the highest habituated gorilla families and tracking activities are safe. Gorillas are habituated to human standards and they can be tracked safely in their natural habitat without any harm caused to humans.Read More