Gorilla safaris can only be done in only three countries across the globe and these are Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. Gorilla safaris are mainly in two packages namely; gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation safaris giving you an hour and a full day with the mountain gorillas. Taking you into the montane tropical rain forests of these countries.
Gorilla safari destinations
There are only 3 destinations of gorilla safaris around the world and these are the king its itself Uganda and the two least gifted destinations of Congo and Rwanda.
Uganda is also known as the pearl of Africa and it’s a landlocked country located in the eastern part of Africa bordering South Sudan in the north, Kenya in the east, Rwanda in the southwest, Tanzania in the south, and Congo in the west.
Uganda is gifted with unique and diverse wildlife distributed all over the country with two national parks having endangered mountain gorillas and these are Bwindi national park and mgahinga national park. Uganda has got over 21 gorilla families and 1,063 gorilla individuals.
Bwindi national park
This tropical rainforest park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda established in the year 1991 covering an area of 331km2 governed by the Uganda wildlife authority. The park is only 512 kilometers from Kampala making it a 6 to 8-hour drive. It’s home to 220 tree species, 200 butterfly species, 350 bird species, 120 mammals with 10 primate species.
The Bwindi national park has got 4 sectors namely buhoma, ruhija, nkuringo, and rush age.
Gorilla families at Bwindi
|Nshongi gorilla family
|Mubare gorilla family
|Bitukura gorilla family
|Nkuringo gorilla family
|Bikingi gorilla family
|Habinyanja gorilla family
|Oruzogo gorilla family
|Bushaho gorilla family
|Mishaya gorilla family
|Rushegura gorilla family
|Kyaguliro gorilla family
|Kahungye gorilla family
|Katwe gorilla family
|Mukiza gorilla family
|Bweza gorilla family
|Muyambi gorilla family
|Busingye gorilla family
|Kutu gorilla family
|Mucunguzi gorilla family
|Rwingi gorilla family
This is the best gorilla safari destination worldwide just because it is home to half the world’s mountain gorillas.
Mgahinga national park
This national park is also governed by the Uganda wildlife authority and it was established in the 1991 site on 33.9km2 in the southwestern part of Uganda. Mgahinga is situated in the Virunga mountains having 3 inactive volcanoes and these are muhabura, gahinga and sabyinyo.
Mgahinga national park is home to 76 mammal species and 184 bird species with only 2 gorilla families namely; the nyakagezi gorilla family and the hirwa gorilla family.
Rwanda is an East African landlocked country neighboring Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and congo with Kigali as the capital city. Rwanda has got 4 national parks with only one park gifted with the mountain gorillas and this is the volcanoes national park.
Volcanoes national park
The park is located in the northwestern part of Rwanda just 4 hours drive from Kigali. The park has got 200 bird species and several mammals that include mountain gorillas.
Volcanoes national park has got 11 gorilla families and this makes it the second-best gorilla safari destination worldwide. The gorilla families at the volcanoes national park are;Susa A, amahoro, hirwa, sabyinyo, kwitonda, agashya, umubano, ugenda, karisimbi/ Susa B, Titus, and bwenge gorilla families.
Congo is the least gorilla destination with only 8 habituated gorilla families. Congo is a Central African country with Kinshasa as the capital with French as their official language. Congo is the eleventh largest country in the world and it has got over 20 national parks but with only one national park with gorillas and this is Virunga national park.
Virunga national park
Virunga national park is located in the eastern part of congo sited on an area of 7,800km2 protecting over 200 mammal species, 109 reptiles, 78 amphibians, and 706 bird species. The park has only got 8 habituated gorilla families and these are kabirzi, humba, rugendo, mapuwa, lulengo, munyaga, nyakamwe, and bageni.
There are mainly two gorilla safaris that are to say trekking and habituation giving you an hour and a full day with the endangered mountain gorillas respectively of the gorilla safari.
This is the popular and most done gorilla safari that gives the tourists a full hour with the mountain gorillas in the wild. This is an early morning activity that starts with having early morning breakfast at your lodge or leaving the lodge with a packed breakfast.
On arrival at the park’s headquarters, you will be welcomed by the different performers, and hereafter you will be briefed on how you are going to trek the gorillas. After the briefing, you will leave the headquarters with several rangers and trackers heading into the forest to allocate where these mountain gorillas are.
On finding the gorillas, you will watch them feed, take pictures of your own and also enjoy the presence of the playful baby gorillas for a full hour. At the end of this memorable hour, you will head back to the park headquarters to meet up with your tour guide.
The best gorilla trekking destination is surely Uganda with over 12 habituated gorilla families catering to vast numbers of tourists daily.
The second safari on the gorilla safaris is gorilla habituation that gives you a full day with gorillas. This safari also starts early in the morning as you will come along with your packed daily meals heading to the park headquarters for a simple briefing.
After the briefing, you are to enter the wild with several trackers and rangers to tame or habituate the endangered mountain gorillas’ families. The habituation process takes 2 to 3 years to fully tame or habituate these gorillas.
Unlike the trekking safaris, habituation only gives chance to only 4 clients or tourists per day enjoying 4 hours to a full day with the gorillas.
Gorilla habituation is mostly done in Uganda compared to the other gorilla destinations of Congo and Rwanda.
Costs for gorilla safaris
Before enjoying the different gorilla safari you must first present a permit at the park headquarters and each activity goes for a different price and different permit depending on a given destination or country,
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is only 700 USD, congo at only 400 USD, and lastly Rwanda at 1500 USD making Uganda the best destination with a cheap price and a lot to offer.
Gorilla habituation is mostly done in Uganda and the permit goes for only 1500 USD.
What to pack for the gorilla safaris?
As you are planning to go to your desired gorilla safari destination, there are certain things that you wouldn’t leave back because they will smoothen your safari making it more flexible and memorable.
Here is the list of some of the things you have to come with on your gorilla safaris;
- Insect repellants
- Rain gears
- Hiking boots
- Long-sleeved clothes
Gorilla safari rules
Gorilla safari rules are some of the rules and regulations that you will have to keep in mind to be safe around the gorillas and also to avoid ditsbunce on your safari;
- You must present your gorilla permit at the park headquarters before the activity starts.
- The age limit of gorilla safaris is 15 years
- While you are with the gorillas avoid making fast and unscary movements
- A person with any contagious infection is not allowed to go to any gorilla safari because gorillas are victims of such diseases.
- While taking pictures of the gorilla’s flashlights are not allowed.
- You are advised to keep a safe distance from the gorillas like 7 meters.
- You are advised to keep your voices low during the presence of the gorillas.
- The maximum number of people trekking is 8 and on a habituation safari is 4.
- Don’t leave your rubbish at the park
- Don’t eat or drink in the presence of the gorillas.
- You are advised to not touch the gorillas.
Best time for gorilla safaris
Talking of the best time to visit the gorillas or to go for a gorilla safari, I see no best time when it comes to the real travelletravelers or tourists that are ready to face the wild at any point.
Gorillas are always present in their homes and I see no time to say that it’s the best because the endangered species are already waiting for you in their montane and tropical rainforests.
To cut off the hardships of muddy and slippery trails during the rainy or wet seasons, one can say that the best time for a gorilla safari is during the dry season of your given destination.
The best time to visit Uganda for a gorilla safari is during the dry seasons of December towards February and June – august.
The best time to visit congo gorillas is during the dry months of late December, January, and February.
The best time to visit the volcanoes national park in Rwanda for a gorilla safari is from June to September and December to February.