Gorilla tourism has become a key attraction in Virunga massif that straddles Congo, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The gorilla parks are Volcanoes National Park, Virunga National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Rwanda, DRC, and Uganda respectively. Trekking these amazing primates is every adventurer’s ultimate dream.
You can rely on tour operators like the Virunga Ecotours for year-round mountain gorilla trekking. However, it is important to note that seasonal changes occur in these parks where gorillas stay.
From December to February and June to September attract most of the tourists who come for gorilla safaris. Some also prefer coming during low seasons when there are discounted permits.
It’s important to usually have a budget in mind before choosing a desirable accommodation near these gorilla parks.
The gorilla trekking permits cost $1500 in Rwanda, $ 600 in Uganda during high seasons with no discount provided. Gorilla permits for Virunga National Park remain the cheapest in the whole region. Normal price for a gorilla permit in Virunga National Park costs USD 400.00 per person per trek compared to Uganda gorilla permits at USD 600.00 and Rwanda gorilla permits at USD1500.00, while effective 2018, the price of Congo discounted gorilla permits (Congo low season permits) is at USD 200.00 per permit per trek.
Note that only 8 people are permitted to see a gorilla family during the day. Virunga Ecotours advises that you book the necessary permits plus accommodations in advance so that you may avoid potential disappointments.
Several enthusiastic trekkers have discovered that this is a tiring process. They instead decide to reserve their permits via local safari operators and companies who assist them to buy the gorilla permits and reserve accommodations much faster depending on the date of the adventure.
What to wear
Mulling over what to put on for a gorilla trekking adventure may be quite a challenge. But when you follow these guidelines, you are going to discover that this can be an exciting and memorable trip.
First, you should try getting yourself the right gorilla trekking gears. They include quality hiking or walking boots and warm layers of attires with long sleeves for wet weather and cold evenings.
Meeting the Mountain gorillas
When you meet the primates for the time, you will discover that the male gorillas are two times bigger than the female ones at about 6 feet tall and between 350 and 500 pounds. They mostly feed on afro-Montana vegetation, each day eating around 75 pounds with large quantities of bamboo shoots, roots, flowers, fruits, and leaves. They have long muscular arms and the silverbacks(male gorillas) may stretch to 7 feet.
Trekkers always are briefed about rules and regulations to follow when trekking the mountain gorillas, and these include:
• Maximum of eight visitors to a habituated gorilla family
• You should keep your voice low when in the forest
• Do not throw rubbish in the park
• Observe a respectable distance of 7 meters from the gorillas
• Switch off your flash photography
• Do not eat, drink or smoke when you’re near the gorillas
• Do not touch them. You ought to remember they’re wild animals
• Lastly, you should not forget that they may charge and you shouldn’t panic in such a scenario. Instead just stay calm, crouch and slowly look down. The gorillas also are at risk of disease transmission.
Arrivals at park headquarters should begin as early as 6:30 am. Ensure you check in with your permit. Take your time also to mingle with fellow trekkers to become familiar with various gorilla rules.
Note also that trekking mountain gorillas need some level of fitness since it involves hiking uphill in search of the primates. But enjoy the trekking since being in contact with the gorillas will give you a fascinating experience to remember!