Travel Tips for the Best Gorilla Trekking Safari Experience


If it’s not already at the top of your bucket list, gorilla trekking in Africa really should be. For adventurous travelers with an appreciation for wildlife conservation, seeing mountain gorillas in the wild is likely to be one of the best most special travel experiences you’ll have in your lifetime. Watch from just feet away as families of gorillas eat, nest, feed their young and play with each other in their natural habitat. Not only is the experience life-changing for you, but because the species is critically endangered, with just 800 of their kind left in the world, by embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure in Rwanda or Uganda you’re making an important contribution to wildlife conservation.

We’ve put together answers to some common questions you may have when planning a trip to see gorillas in the wild so that you can have the best gorilla safari experience possible:

 Where in Rwanda do mountain gorillas live?

Less than 800 endangered mountain gorillas remain in the world and about half of them live in Volcanoes National Park or Parc Nationale Des Volcans, an extraordinarily beautiful and vast expanse of land where you’ll find dense, rich rainforests, open grasslands, and bamboo forests. Volcanoes National Park borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the two parks share eight volcanoes that make up the Virunga mountains. All of the volcanoes in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park are dormant. Legendary primatologist Dian Fossey wrote Gorillas in the Mist about her experience researching mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.

Where in Uganda do mountain gorillas live?

One of the most beautiful places to experience a gorilla trekking safari is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in the southwestern corner of Uganda near the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Rift Valley. Approximately 350 gorillas inhabit Bwindi, which is also home to hundreds of rare and beautiful bird and butterfly species.

Are there any other places to see mountain gorillas?

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a third option for especially intrepid travelers. Due to ongoing instability in the region, trip planning is done on a case by case basis based on experience of the traveler, and the stability of the region at that time.

How much does gorilla trekking cost?

In Rwanda, permits for non-residents are $1500 per person. This does not include transportation or lodging. In Uganda, permits are $600 per person most of the year, and $450 in the low season (April, May, November).

What is the difference between gorilla tracking and gorilla trekking?

Technically, gorilla tracking refers to the work that scientific researchers do to find the families of mountain gorillas in the wild. Gorilla trekking is the act of hiking through the mountains and forest to find and subsequently visit with these remarkable creatures in their natural habitat.

What other animals can you see when you go gorilla trekking?

Rare, endangered golden monkeys also live in Volcanoes National Park. Tracking golden monkeys is exhilarating, as these small and curious animals swing from treetop to treetop at a fast speed. Permits are obtained separately but are much less expensive than the permit for gorilla trekking, and both experiences can be had in the same day. Golden monkeys inhabit an area of the park at a lower altitude than the mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s misty rainforest has a rich biodiversity. Many primate species call the park home, including white colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and baboons, as do elephants, antelopes, and over 300 bird species.

What is the weather like in Rwanda and Uganda?

Gorilla trekking trips take place year round. In both Uganda and Rwanda’s mountainous regions there are two dry seasons, December - February and June - September, with temperatures averaging in the mid-80s Fahrenheit. Wet seasons run March - May, and September - November. While these parks are year-round travel destinations, it is ideal to travel during the drier months for the best wildlife viewing, including gorillas.

Is there an age restriction for visiting mountain gorillas?

 Yes, you must be over 15 years old to obtain a permit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda.  

Other tips for Gorilla Trekking in Africa:

In both Volcanoes National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park there can only be a maximum of one group of eight visitors per day per group of gorillas. Because of the limited availability it is important to plan your trip along with obtaining permits well in advance of traveling to Rwanda. It’s common for travelers to add their gorilla safari experience to a safari to another part of Africa, like Kenya’s Maasai Mara or Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. See our dedicated pages on Rwanda or Uganda for more details including luxury accommodation options, and get in touch to let Epic Road seamlessly plan your life-changing gorilla trekking adventure in Africa.

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