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There’s no doubt that the easiest places to track gorillas are in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Virungas. That’s Uganda and Rwanda.

Where less than 900 critically endangered Mountain Gorillas live in small pockets of tropical rain forests in east Central Africa.

Map of Africa showing home range of gorillas

Why not go beyond Uganda and Rwanda to track gorillas?

We have two species of gorilla in Africa. (Each with two subspecies.)

  • The Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei) species includes the Mountain Gorilla (G. b. beringei) found only in the Afro-montane forests of the Virunga Massif. Also the Eastern Lowland Gorilla (G. b. graueri) of the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
  • The Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) species includes the Western Lowland Gorilla (G. g. gorilla) principally of Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon. Also the little known Cross River Gorilla (G. g. diehli) of the border region between Cameroon and Nigeria.

Which gorillas to track?

We find mountain gorillas in the wild only, none in zoos. The habituated groups are the most popular gorilla tracking subjects. This species is critically endangered with fewer than 900 left.

  • We track them in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks, Uganda.
  • Also Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.
  • On a smaller scale in Virunga National Park, DRC.

Grauer’s Gorilla, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla is found only in the lowland and Albertine Rift forests of eastern DRC. Fewer than 4000 individuals are left. (The only Grauer’s gorilla tracking option is in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park. Available from time to time.)

The Western Lowland Gorilla ranges extensively across Congo and Gabon. Also Cabinda, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR) and Equatorial Guinea. Population estimates aren’t accurate but around 100000 individuals are alive today. They’re historically common zoo inhabitants. In the wild we find them in lowland and swamp forests. We track these lowland gorillas in Odzala and Nouabale-Ndoki, Congo. Also Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in CAR. Loango National Park in Gabon offers limited gorilla tracking.

The Cross River Gorilla is the rarest of Africa’s apes. Less than 300 individuals survive in small forest pockets around the headwaters of the Cross River on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. We have no gorilla trekking options here.

Consider easy gorilla treks or proper expeditions

Rwanda offers an easy way to take a gorilla trek. It’s fairly straight forward to arrange and you can do this in a few days on a short trip. So, aside from gorilla treks Rwanda is also known for scenic, cultural and historic attractions. Gorilla permits cost $1500 in Rwanda. [2017]

Uganda is just as easy – maybe better. We regard it as a better safari destination because you can combine so much more than the chance to track gorillas. Big game in Ishasha is also very under rated. Birding is especially good through the year. Uganda also has a pool of top safari guides. So in addition to gorillas; botanicals, birds, bugs, butterflies and big beasts all add lots of value to a gorilla safari in East Africa. Gorilla permits cost $650 in Uganda. [2017]

Bar one exception, tracking western gorillas can be more arduous. Gabon can be hard going. Nouabale-Ndoki in Congo and Dzanga-Ndoki in CAR are of very special interest to seasoned African travellers though. Gorillas are only part of the attraction in these parts of the Congo Basin. Preparations for safaris here are comprehensive, prices are high and accommodations can be basic at best. Expeditionary trips are available seasonally – available on request.

One gorilla trekking option that stands out above the rest is in Odzala, Congo. Here the lowland gorillas are relatively easy to track. We also pretty much guarantee sightings from Ngaga. Accommodation and safari standards are top notch too. There’s lots of other wildlife in this truly wild part of Africa too.

Some typical sample trips taken to track gorillas

track gorillas in Rwanda

An easy option for tracking gorillas in Rwanda‘s Virunga Volcanoes National Park

The quickest and simplest way to trek for mountain gorillas in Uganda. A 4 day mountain gorilla safari to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

The ultimate mountain gorilla trek in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

A 9 day expedition into Dzanga Ndoki National Park, in the south-western part of the Central African Republic near the borders of Cameroon and Congo.

Explore Dzanga Ndoki in the south-western part of the CAR near the borders of Cameroon and Congo.

An 8 day exploration in Odzala Kokoua National Park deep in the rainforest of Republic of Congo.

An 8 day Odzala Kokoua safari deep in the rainforest of Republic of Congo.

More information on tracking gorillas

  • People make the difference on safari. There are loads of “Kampala Cowboys” offering cheap gorilla treks and safaris in Uganda and Rwanda. Be sure to check credentials because you’ll find a small pool of exceptionally good guides who’re able to open all manner of doors with their in-depth local knowledge. (The “Kampala Cowboys” aren’t part of this network!)
  • More about mountain gorillas. The groups that inhabit Mgahinga (Uganda), Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda) and Virunga (DRC). Also the second population group found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
  • There’s much more to Uganda than just gorillas! We also include some top tips on how to plan a trip to track gorillas.
  • Touched by gorillas. Just 6 minutes of essential video in which a guest is touched by gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda!
  • Sue Watt goes gorilla trekking with the Zambezi team. Sue also reports back from both East and western Central Africa on her gorilla tracking experiences in Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and Gabon.

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