Best Places to See Gorillas in Africa

Trek avec les gorilles en Ouganda - Laba Africa Expeditions

BEST PLACES TO SEE GORILLAS IN AFRICA.

Here are the best Places to see Gorillas in Africa that you should add to add to your bucket list if you dream of seeing gorillas in the wild. There’s much debate as to which country offers the best gorilla trekking safari experience for a memorable vacation gateway in the remotest parts of Africa. Different countries like Rwanda and Uganda have put up wonderful conservation and sustainable programs wrapped around gorilla trekking adventures and great infrastructure. Thankfully, the numbers of gorillas in the wild are increasing. The latest census shows there are over now 1000 as compared to 250 when conservation efforts first started some 25 years ago.

There are only two species of gorillas and are found in Equatorial Africa which include the Eastern gorilla found in Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda and the western gorilla found in Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic Of Congo. Choosing the best gorilla safari trekking  experience depends on your budget and sense of adventure. Also scientists have habituated afew groups for tourism out of the undocumented gorilla family groups roaming Africa’s tropical forests and that means that people can visit them in their natural environment without fear of harm.

  1. Uganda.

The pearl of Africa surely never disappoints. to us its simple one of the top best places to see gorillas in Africa. The best mountain gorilla safaris are in Bwindi impenetrable National Park fiercely guarding almost half of the gorilla population with over 13groups and around 400gorillas and Mgahinga National Park which lies within the Virunga mountain neighbouring Democratic Republic Of Congo and Rwanda having one habituated group which sometimes wanders over the borders.

Gorilla-trek-Africa-photo-Africa-Expeditions-Africa-Expeditions

The operation is smooth with locals benefitting from the fees. The hiking can be tough, there’s a reason its called impenetrable. Some groups are easier to reach than others. The two gorilla habitats stretch along the south western Uganda border about 500km from the capital Kampala on a 90% well paved road. This takes about a 10hours drive or 1hour small local flight to reach the reserve.

How to Get to Bwindi Forest National Park

From Europe you can take flights from Frankfurt airport to Entebbe, then take the drive to Kampala then to south western Uganda. 2small airfields outside the north and south of sections of Bwindi impenetrable National Park have access to those who want to avoid the long drive through the magnificent rugged terrain though the drive to reach the animals is worth a go. The Uganda Wildlife Authority with help from scientists and wildlife experts have habituated 20 gorilla families and availed them for tourism. However an unspecified number of troops live within the protected areas away from regular reach. A tourist can trek and meet any of the 20habituated human habituated groups. Bwindi offers an experience where you can spend up to four hours with a semi habituated group. They are less predictable and not as submissive as habituated groups an it’s an intimate enchanting glance into how gorillas gradually get used to humans. All you need is a gorilla permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority which is about 700$. The quest to see these animals starts every morning throughout the year as expert trackers and rangers escort tourists in small groups of eight to find a family. In the north of Bwindi is the Buhoma sector which is pioneer trailhead with 5habituated groups. It’s outstanding as it’s also the favorite among the tourists as this area has a wildest selection of safari rentals and tourists can easily connect to other safari destinations on the western circuit. Nkuringo and Rushaga in the south of Bwindi are the other two trailheads that offer the best peeps. 11 families are between the trailheads with another two groups for research. Once they encounter the animals, the trackers allow the tourists to spend about an hour in a range of 10metres from the wild giants.

2. Rwanda

Rwanda is the second best country to trek gorillas in Africa. It protects the world’s most dear primates on the majestic Virunga mountain slopes. gorilla trekking-Laba Africa Expeditionswithin the Volcanoes National Park where almost half of the world’s gorilla population finds refuge. Virunga is between Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. Within Volcanoes National Park, there are 12 habituated groups available for tourism. To get to the habitat, drive northwest about two hours from Kigali city on a well paved road. From Tanzania, there are direct flights to Rwanda and takes 2hours 48minutes and by bus from Tanzania inland to Kigali and takes around 40hours on road.

 Although the gorilla trekking experiences in Uganda’s Mgahiga Gorilla National park and Rwanda are similar, Rwanda charges 1500\$ for their permits and this is exclusive to those that can afford.  Among the 11 groups available for tracking includes the susa group which lives high up on mt. Karisimbi and was studied by well-known primatologist Dian Fossey. Other groups roam lower down the slopes and are easier to track. In September, the annual naming ceremony of baby gorillas kwita izina attracts thousands of visitors to Musanze the main town for gorilla safaris in Volcanoes National Park. Also there are super luxurious accommodation available in Musanze and tour operators run trips here. Depending on where you spend the night, be at the starting point of the park headquarters by 8am for briefing, before expert trackers lead small groups of about 6 tourists into the lush jungles to find a habituated gorilla group.

Democratic republic of Congo

With DRC’s unending civil wars, not many tour operators would recommend trekking there, however DRC is the only country with both lowland and mountain gorillas compared to Rwanda and Uganda.Congo -Rwanda boarder point in Gisenyi

It has the most daring/ venturesome and cheapest though least visited of the virunga mountains and homelands. DRC permits cost 400$. Four groups live within DRC’s Virunga park. DRC is the only country globally with western Lowland, Eastern lowland and mountain gorillas.  If you navigate statistics, chances of seeing mountain gorillas is 98%, 60% for eastern and 20% for western lowlands. Some western lowland gorilla roam the far west of DRC in the Mayumbe area, Bas Congo, crossing back and forth from Cabinda(Angola). Best place to see the eastern lowland gorilla is Kahuzi Beiga as it’s the largest home to over 250 Grauer’s gorillas.you can get to Kahuzi Beiga from Bukavu town a few miles south at the Rwanda border with pretty lakeside accommodation in colonial mansions. However check security before heading to DRC. Also you can access virunga from kisoro in Uganda or by flight through Goma town on the Northern bank of L.Kivu.

Congo Brazaville (the Republic of congo)

Not to be confused with the unpredictable neighbour DRC and this beautiful country is certainly one of the best places to see gorillas in Africa, the peaceful and quieter Republic of Congo lies between Gabon, Cameroon, DRC and Central African Republic offering the best encounters with the western lowland gorilla.

Congo_Brazzaville  The best place to track the western lowland gorilla is Odzala Kokoua National Park which was reopened in 2012 after the ebola outbreak. Here there are two habituated groups in the tropical forests. The experience is exceptional with only groups of four people combined with rough tracking. Here Neptune is a particularly charismatic silverback and seeing his group is surely rewarding. The best lodging options around Odzala Kokoua are Sangha lodge. More gorillas can also be seen in Nouabale Ndoki National Park around Mondika camp and  Mbeli Bai at a camp that is often visited by a resident silverback on a forested island from a boat. Its more suited to fearless travellers. Also tourists can see rescued western lowland gorilla orphans being rehabilitated back to the forest in the Lefini Reserve.

Central African Republic.

gorillas in Central African Republic

Central African Republic trekking adventures are not for timid as searching for the wildlife is quite daring as here the jungle is quite wildest and most rewarding on the continent. It is home to the world’s highest number of western lowland gorillas and forest elephants. Here they are mostly concentrated in Dzanga Sangha special reserve which lies within the UNESCO world heritage site of Sangha Trinational reserve and its tropical rainforest ecosystem also spans protected in Congo and Cameroon. Tourists can encounter two of the three habituated western lowland gorillas. The local Ba’Aka tribe helps in the net hunt in the  dense jungle with encounters of forest elephants, bongos and mangabey monkeys hence making the trek not for the faint hearted. Sangha lodge is the best accommodation available. If you can endure the hardship of travel in Central African Republic, the trip is highly rewarding, otherwise check with up to date travel advisories as the country is a troubled one.   

Is gorilla trekking worthy the money?

Yes! The gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo is not only worthy the money but also the time and all the hard trekking you will go through. The experience of meeting the silverback gorilla in his territory is humbling, here he is the boss responsible for taking important decisions for the all family and the price you pay makes a huge difference in the community and conservation of these beautiful creature. Much of the money from gorilla trekking go to the protection of national parks and gorillas. Similarly, 10% of the revenue goes to local communities. In this way, one ensures that local people do not become farmers and therefore do not cut down trees for agriculture. Schools and roads are also being built with profits from gorilla treks. The rest of the money goes to the governments of these countries.

Uganda Vs Rwanda Vs DR Congo

Gorilla spicies Uganda Rwanda DR. Congo
Gorilla Specie Mountain Gorilla Mountain Gorilla • Mountain Gorillas
• Western Lowland Gorillas
Best National Parks to See Mountain Gorillas Bwindi Forest National Park Volcanoes National Park • Virunga National Park
• Ondzala Kokoua NP
What is the best time to visit All year round destination with from June to September and December to February the busy season All year round destination from June to September and December to February are the busiest months All year round, with June to September and December to February being the most sunny months
Price of the gorilla permits $700 $1500 $400
How long does the trek last from 30 minutes to 8 hours About 3 hours About 5 hours
Terrain Mountainous and impenetrable Mountainous but not very thick A bit flat and thick vegetation
Time to spend with Gorillas 1 hour 1 hour 1 hour
Difficult level from 1 to 10 8 4 5

Why you should consider going for a gorilla trekking adventure.

First of all, Africa’s Mountain gorillas can survive only in the wild and in highlands or mountains. You cannot see these creatures in the zoo as the wild is the only place to interact with a declining population of mountain gorillas. Also the safaris   are offered year round. Furthermore the tours provide support to the local community through cultural interactions. Trekking helps you explore some facts about these massive creatures. Gorillas are giant primates with a gentle character. They possess 93% of human DNA and have expressions such as playfulness of the toddlers, tenderness of the mothers, sadness and laughter. They are stocky with a broad chest and shoulders, large human like hands and a similar eye in hairless faces. They live in family groups of 5 to 30 plus members called troops/bands led by a dominant silverback male. The bond between the male and his females forms the basis of the gorilla social life.

The ones you see easily around the world are the lowland gorillas while the highland gorillas cannot survive anywhere outside their habitat in  places to see gorillas in Africa

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