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Planning a trek to see mountain gorillas

Mountain gorillas are found in the eastern regions of central Africa, living in and among the rain forests.

The mountain gorillas are the largest and rarest

Less than 900 mountain gorilla individuals remain in a pocket of tropical rain forest and volcanoes along the south west border of Uganda, north west Rwanda and eastern DRC. Each day small groups of 8 people trek out with a local guide and search for the habituated gorilla families. Just 56 permits are available each day which makes them highly sought after. Gorilla permits cost US$600 per person per trek in Uganda and US$1500 in Rwanda. (2017 prices) It is essential to check the availability of gorilla permits before planning the rest of your journey.

See mountain gorillas in Rwanda Courtesy Tim Henshall

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda

Treks last from as little as half an hour to a full day hike depending where the mountain gorillas are searching for food. Most treks are an average of 3 to 4 hrs duration. An average level of fitness is desirable to cope with the steep, muddy slopes! Just one hour is spent observing the gorillas when they are found. The time limit is specifically in place to leave the gorillas in peace for the rest of the day so they can get on with searching for food and just being a mountain gorilla.

Treks are available in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in south western Uganda and Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda. Although this is geographically the same area, the mountain gorillas in Rwanda live on the slopes of the volcanoes and eat bamboo shoots (known as Virunga gorillas). The mountain gorillas in Bwindi live on the grass, leaves and fruits of the forest. (Known as Bwindi gorillas.) The terrain in these areas are the perfect habitat for the gentle giants of the primate world, if not quite so convenient for humans!

We have some gorilla trekking options available in Virunga National Park and Kahuzi-Biega in eastern DRC

Lowland gorillas are very different!

The western lowland gorilla is found in forests and lowland swamps of Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Nigeria. It is thought around 100 000 populate northern Congo alone. Treks for western lowland gorillas are easily organised in Odzala-Kokoua National Park with sightings pretty much 100% guaranteed.

The eastern lowland gorilla is rarer and restricted to the lowland and Albertine Rift forests of Eastern DRC. This population is under threat from habitat loss and poaching. A few thousand individuals remain.