Mountain Gorillas | Facts, Photos & 1 Video
Mountain gorillas are a few most impressive creatures in the world. Mountain gorillas are a major reason for most visits in Africa and a face to face encounter with them in their natural habitat is undoubtedly a life changing experience.
What is a Mountain Gorilla?
A mountain gorilla is a great ape and a sub-species of the Eastern gorilla. Mountain gorillas are among the largest living primates in the world and the most sought-after creatures by majority of tourists on African safari.
They have muscular arms, massive chests and broad hands, feet with longer hair but shorter arms than their cousins- the Eastern Lowland gorillas in Congo.
Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) have thick black hair that plays an important part in protecting them during cold weather.
Mountain gorillas/Gorilla beringei beringei live in only 2 isolated rain-forests of Central-Eastern Africa between altitude 8000 and 13000 feet. Not more than 1063 of these large apes are left on earth and they live in only Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Half of 1063 mountain gorillas can be explored while on gorilla safaris in the Virunga Region that is Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National Park – Northwestern Rwanda and Virunga National Park- Eastern D.R. Congo.
About 459 of 1063 mountain gorilla population on earth live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Southwestern Uganda.
Since 1902 when mountain gorillas were discovered, they still encounter severe threats including habitat loss, infectious diseases, poaching, war etc. Thanks to conservation efforts to gradual increase in the number of these unique species.
Almost 98% of mountain gorilla DNA is similar to that of humans and this can be witnessed while on gorilla trekking particularly during the one hour of magical encounter. They are listed on the IUCN RED List as “Endangered” species in the world.
Weight and size: mountain gorillas weigh 135-220kgs/300-485pounds, 1-2m tall about 4-6ft. In terms of life span, mountain gorillas can live up to 40-50 years and they have gestation period of 8.5months.
What is Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trekking is a means in which visitors on gorilla safari can see gorillas in their natural habitat. In Uganda, a section of the world’s mountain gorillas lives in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Uganda boasts of 5 locations where tourists on gorilla tour can start their treks to see mountain gorillas and they include Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija and Buhoma for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Ntebeko in Mgahinga National Park.
Mountain Gorilla trekking in Rwanda and D.R. Congo are carried out in Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park respectively.
Gorilla trekking is also best understood as on foot-experience and involves tourists navigating via the natural vegetation not only to see gorillas but also to have in-depth exploration about their daily behaviors.
Trekking to view mountain gorillas starts with briefing about guidelines/rules/regulations and maximum of 8 visitors are allowed to track a habituated gorilla family.
Where to see Mountain Gorillas in Uganda
Uganda is one of the only 3 countries in the world where mountain gorillas live and boasts of 2 destinations for tourists on gorilla safaris to visit.
The 2 National Parks in Uganda to visit for gorilla trekking include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
What is age limit for gorilla trekking?
To be considered eligible to track mountain gorillas in Uganda, a visitor should be 15 years and above. Gorilla trekking is an inclusive adventure in that even persons with disability or elderly have opportunity to see mountain gorillas.
Is mountain gorilla trekking expensive?
Mountain gorilla trekking is costly- yes but it is worth the monies, time and energies. There are many reasons why gorilla trekking is regarded as “expensive” but most importantly, it is expensive due to the high cost for conserving mountain gorillas.
There is a lot that is involved to ensure that these endangered apes thrive. The money paid for gorilla trekking part of which is used for paying staff, researchers, guides, vet doctors etc.
Cost of mountain gorilla permits
Mountain gorilla permits in Uganda cost foreign non-residents 700, foreign residents 600 and East Africa citizens Uganda shillings 250,000. In Rwanda, mountain gorilla permits are available for booking at USD1500 per person; in D.R. Congo USD450.
Gorilla permits are open for booking through a ground operator and for this case, you don’t need to look any further than Maranatha Tours and Travel or park authorities and essentially, we encourage visitors to have their permits booked early 2-4 months prior the date for gorilla trekking.
Is it safe to trek mountain gorillas?
Tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda is very safe. Security in Uganda and Rwanda has improved compared to the 70s and interestingly, while on a trek to see mountain gorillas visitors are accompanied by armed park guides or rangers.
Briefing about guidelines for gorilla trekking is always done before the actual trek starts and besides treks are conducted in already habituated gorilla families.