What To Expect On A Gorilla Safari

Believe it that a gorilla safari is an overwhelming experience that happens once in a lifetime.

The believability of a gorilla trek can be evidenced by millions of travelers who visit parks to encounter these gentle giants- mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.  While planning to go for a gorilla safari, there are a variety of things seen along the way but cannot be compared to the thrilling venture. Gorilla safaris can be done in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo commonly known as the “Virunga region”.  To be able to enjoy your gorilla experience, there are major things that one is expected to take note of about the gorilla trek session.

Day one of the trek, you will have an early morning breakfast and transfer from the hotel/lodge to the headquarters of the relevant national park for a simple briefing usually done at 7:00am. You will be briefed about the dos and don’ts to ensure safety while with the endangered gorillas. You will be put in groups of eight people and then allocated a particular gorilla family. This applies to all gorilla destinations where legally only 8 people as a maximum number of travelers are allowed to interact with each gorilla family. These legal government bodies include; Uganda wildlife (UWA) in Uganda, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in Rwanda and the Institute of Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) in DRC. 

You must have a valid gorilla permit and valid travel documents such as passports for clarification.  For the case of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, the gorilla tracking permit comes along with the receipt bearing the names of the trekker and the sector of the national park either Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija, and Buhoma.  A permit is valid for an hour and without it, no one is allowed to trek gorillas.  Due to high demand for gorilla permits in Uganda at the moment, travelers are always reminded to book for the permits at least 6 months before the actual date so as to avoid late booking disappointments at the last hour.

 Packing list for a Gorilla Trekking

You are advised to pack essential things for your safety in the jungle and peaceful trekking experience. Below are the most important things that you must include on your packing list to ease your trekking experience. These items include hiking boots, gardening gloves, hats, sunglasses, drinking water, walking sticks and energy giving snacks.  These things help you the trekkers in one way or the other to guarantee a successful and memorable trekking experience.  The hiking boots help you easily walk through muddy and slippery grounds, the gardening gloves; protect against thorny bushes and stinging nestles. Similarly, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants; prevent hurt and bites by ground insects.  The forests usually have unpredictable weather conditions so the rain jackets and sweaters are highly recommended in case of rains. Sunglasses and hat are also required for protection against direct sun and droplets. Walking sticks essential as they provide support in case of falling.

 The Hike in the forest

After being grouped in 8, you will follow into the dense jungle following trails in search of the allocated gorilla family.  There is no actual time to spend in the jungle as it varies from as early as 30 minutes or else extends to hours depending on how far or near the group is nevertheless trekkers are assured of meeting the gorillas at the end of the trek. Gorilla trekking is sometimes a tedious walk adventure and requires physical fitness. Expect muddy, slippery and wet grounds in the rainy seasons and early mornings since these mountain gorillas live in mountainous regions with steep slopes, which make it quite tiresome to trek.

 The encounter with gorillas

The magical moment is here where you interact with the gorilla family. Here you are required to keep a low tone and avoid a direct look into the eyes of the gorillas as you accurately take photographs without Flash Light to avoid them charging. You will see the dominant silverback gorilla; the head and determines the movements of the entire family.  Female adults nurse the young ones and the juveniles entertain the family, which make a stay with them so amazing. You are advised to keep a distance of seven meters away from the gorillas and turn back your faces when sneezing or coughing to avoid the transmission of diseases to the endangered gorillas. In case the gorillas approach you, keep calm, and quiet and let them pass. Running way or shouting may cause them to behave wildly despite them being habituated.

 Awarding Gorilla Tracking certificates

After gorilla trekking experience, you descend back to the starting point and receive your trekking certificates marking the end of the trek.

Come reward yourself with an experience that happens once in a lifetime as you enjoy a magical encounter with endangered mountain gorillas in Africa.

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