Best places to see Gorillas on an African Safari
Best places to see Gorillas! – When you hear the word Gorilla, just think about Uganda, Rwanda and DRC, these three countries give incredible and epic views of Gorillas. These incredible creatures give a hint on the folk tells that humans came from them long ago and as of today its proven by scientists that their DNA is 98.3 percent as of a human.
They have behaviors and emotions that are the same as humans making them our closest cousins after chimpanzees and other primates. All in all, their appearance like the broad chest and shoulders, stocky and longhaired body which is in form of a human body with feet, hands and 32 teeth like those of humans are all interesting and also their way of life is so amazing.
Unfortunately, these endangered species are hunted by humans and also have low reproduction rates giving a less seemingly growth of their numbers. But different wildlife organizations together with governments are working hand in hand to keep our distant cousins in existence.
Scientific name; Gorilla Gorilla and Gorilla Beringei Beringei
Where and how they live; these endangered species live mostly in national parks or reserves in areas with thick forests.
Gorillas live in family groups of 5 to 15 or more like up to 50 members, the group has males, females and the young ones, the leader is a male distinguished by its silverback whose role is to protect the family.
What they eat; Gorillas are herbivores, they feed on bamboo shoots, stems and fruits. But the lowland gorillas sometimes break open termite nests for termites and ants.
Best places to see African Gorillas
The best and safest places to see Gorillas in Africa are the national reserves or parks. When you pay a visit, you cannot fail to see how they live, interact and feed giving you an astonishing and unforgettable experience.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda; this park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda and it’s a home to almost half of the mountain Gorillas in the world. The Bwindi Impenetrable forest gives a conducive environment to the mountain gorillas, having enough food, homestead, and the high altitudes. The mountain Gorillas can be seen on the gorilla treks to Rushaga, the southern part of Bwindi that are arranged by park rangers and they usually start in the mornings.
The trek can take 1 hour to 8 hours depending on the location of mountain gorillas on that particular day and they are always lead by an experienced ranger. Once you have found them, you will be around for about one hour of observation and photos before returning back to the park headquarters. The Mountain gorillas of Bwindi will give you an unforgettable experience and urge to come back to see our distant cousins. Cost of Gorilla Permit in Uganda is 600 USD.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda; this park is located in the southwestern Uganda, neighboring Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and Virunga National Park of DRC. Mgahinga lies in the great Virunga mountains with three inactive volcanoes that is Muhabura, Sabinyo and Gahinga mountains. The bamboo trees, montane forests and the higher altitudes at the Alpine zone make a home to the mountain gorillas in Mgahinga. Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla NP is done along the forests across the slopes of the Virungas, gorilla tracking starts in the morning at the Ntebeko Visitor Centre and typically lasts 3-5 hours. The trekking is done in groups led by a guide who explains aspects of their behavior and ecology, once you have found the gorillas, you get an hour of observation, interaction and taking pictures.
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda; this famous park is situated in northwestern Rwanda and also lies within the great Virunga mountains. Volcanoes National Park was dramatized in the film ´Gorillas in the Mist` by Dian Fossey which made the park famous to the world. Volcanoes NP borders Mgahinga NP in Uganda and Virunga NP in DRC, altogether harboring mountain Gorillas and other primates. Volcanoes NP is another home to over 200 African mountain gorillas each falling in a family or group, some of the gorilla families in Volcanoes include Agasha, Amahoro, Bwenge, Titus, Umubano, Karisimbi, Pablo and Igisha. Volcanoes National Park is covered by 160 square kilometer rainforest and the volcanoes like Muhabura, Gahinga, Karisimbi, Bisoke and Sabyinyo which provide a conducive environment for these great apes. The mountain Gorillas can be seen on the gorilla treks that are arranged by park rangers and they usually start in the mornings. Before setting off, the rangers take you through the guidelines and making sure the everyone is ready, once you have found them, you will be around for about one hour of observation and photos before returning back to the park headquarters. The Volcanoes NP also has a special ceremony performed on the 1st of September every year to name baby gorillas, attending this ceremony and visiting Volcanoes gives you an amazing experience. Cost of Gorilla Permit in Rwanda is 1500 USD.
Virunga National Park, DRC; this park is located in the eastern part of DRC and also lies within the great Virunga mountains. The rainforests and alpine forests of the Virunga give home to over 200 mountain gorillas and other primates, these gorillas live in families and some of the families are Bageni, Kabirizi, Humba, Mapuwa, Rugendo, and Munyanga. Mountain gorillas in Virunga are easily seen and the treks arranged are convenient and more rewarding than the eastern and western lowland gorillas found in Kahuzi-Beiga National Park and Madiakoko Mountains respectively. The treks to see Gorillas are arranged and lead by experienced guides so as to explore each detail of these incredible apes, once you have found them, you are given an hour to observe, interact, enjoy and take pictures with them. DRC is known to have conflicts and diseases, but be assured of the safety in this beautiful land, because the government has done all efforts to make this country peaceful and also promote its tourism, there is enough security in the country and also at the tourism center. Another advantage DRC has over Uganda and Rwanda is that it has a cheaper gorilla Permit which costs only 400 US Dollars.
Other places to see Gorillas include; Cross River National Park in Nigeria which inhabits cross river gorillas; western lowland gorillas found in Western African Countries some of which are: Moukalaba-Doudou National Park in Gabon and Mefou National Park in Cameroon.
What to know; To protect the gorillas and Visitors, it’s advisable by all tour operators of these parks for you to book in advance so as to make proper preparations. Rules and guidelines must be adhered to avoid any inconveniences that might ruin your experience. Otherwise it’s such a great experience to explore the African Gorillas.
To have a safe trip, its recommended you carry trekking butts, heavy long clothes since the weather in most African countries is unpredictable i.e. it can rain anytime and most parks are always cold.
Gorilla trekking is done throughout the year but its more suitable in the dry season that is from January to February and June to September when the roads are very good and gorillas can easily be traced. But the rainy seasons also have an advantage since the parks don’t be overloaded and it can’t rain for a full day.
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