If you’ve ever been to Africa you would probably agree that it is a truly diverse continent with so much to offer those who seek a thrilling adventure!
It is a place where you can immerse yourself in nature and explore an untouched wilderness.
Although Africa is home to some of the world’s leading hotels and lodges, it is the unique experiences, up-close encounters with wildlife, and interactions with locals that you will always remember.
There are so many safari destinations to choose from in Africa but there are only three places that offer an experience encountered nowhere else in the world! In the protected forests of Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo (DRC) is where you come face to face with one of the rarest animals on earth – a Mountain Gorilla.
It is incredible to think that gorillas share 98% of their genetic makeup with humans
Their sheer size will have you in awe, with silverback males generally double the size of females. They stand as tall as 1.82 meters, weigh in at 226 kilograms and are four to nine times stronger than the average man. Their arms even reach out as far as two meters.
With an estimated 880 mountain gorillas left in the wild, tourism not only offers visitors a better understanding of gorillas but aids in the protection of these endangered species.
Here are the only places to visit for a gorilla trekking adventure:
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is situated in the south-western region of Uganda and is a whopping 81791 acres in size. There are a total of fourteen habituated gorilla groups to visit and plenty of opportunity to see colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, over 350 bird species and 120 mammal species, including the African elephant and striped jackal.
Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is one of the most popular gorilla trekking destinations in Africa, providing sanctuary to one of ten habituated gorilla groups. A visit to Volcanoes National Park involves hiking the 3800-meter Karisimbi Volcano, visiting the tomb of the well-known Dian Fossey, visiting the Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo, exploring caves and meeting locals at a nearby village. During your trek, you are likely to come across golden monkeys, forest elephants, buffalo, hyena and over 300 species of bird.
Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park in the Congo encompasses riverine forests, rolling mountains, and two active volcanoes. It is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site that protects six habituated gorilla groups.
Virunga is special because it not only offers gorilla trekking experiences but chimpanzee habituation walks, Nyiragongo volcano treks, Rwenzori mountain treks, and visits to Tchegera Island. Other animals to be seen in the park include savanna and forest elephants, chimpanzees, giraffe, buffalo and various endemic bird species.
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Best time to visit the gorillas
Gorilla trekking is a year-round activity however there are certain months that are regarded to be better than others.
The dry months of June to September and December to February are great as they bring with them more sunshine than rain.
There first rainy season is from October to November and then again during the months of mid-March to end of May.
Gorilla trekking involves hiking different paths and terrain, so although the rainy season can be more challenging, the experience is well worth the effort.
Gorilla trekking is not a free for all experience and is strictly controlled through the issue of paid permits. In order to protect these incredible animals, permits are limited to eight people per gorilla group and a time allocation of one hour is given once you reach the assigned group.