Weighing as much as 200 kg, gorillas are the largest ape species. There are two distinct kinds of gorilla: eastern and western. Among these, the four gorilla subspecies are eastern lowland gorillas, eastern mountain gorillas, western lowland gorillas, and western cross river gorillas. What links all subspecies is that they reside exclusively on the African continent. You have the possibility to see these remarkable, endangered mammals when you book a gorilla trekking excursion in the following African countries.
Mountain gorillas dwell across the Virunga Mountains in this small Central African nation with the Volcanoes National Park providing the highest possibilities for a sighting. Rwanda is considered one of the best countries for observing gorillas in their natural habitat. Trekking conditions are somewhat demanding and you will be exploring a high-altitude area. As the bands are nomadic, they are constantly on the move. However, primatologists and trackers are skilled at keeping abreast of their whereabouts.
Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is considered to be both the most accessible as well as the most luxurious destination in Africa for gorilla trekking. With a personal butler service provided to all guests and views that stretch across the park and Musanze Valley, Virunga Lodge is a deluxe accommodation option for gorilla trekkers.
Rwanda’s northern neighbor is also home to mountain gorillas. Cloaking the southwestern mountains, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is the best place to go gorilla trekking in Uganda. There are 13 bands equating to a total of around 400 gorillas. In addition to the gorillas, the forest – and Uganda in general – is one of the best places to see other primates in the wild, including colobus monkeys and chimpanzees. As the name of the forest hints, you will again need to prepare for tough hiking conditions.
On occasion, gorillas have been known to wander into the Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp. The property comprises luxurious tents with an en suite complete with a soaking tub – essential after a day in the wilderness.
The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) is the third African country where it is possible to walk with gorillas on a guided trekking expedition. Two habituated bands of western lowland gorillas live in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park – a vast and remote patch of tropical rainforest where group sizes are restricted to 4 people. Further north, the more compact Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park is another region where wild western lowland gorillas roam. Elephants reside in both parks alongside the gorillas.
Gorillas are also endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC or Congo-Kinshasa). Due to instabilities, it is not always advisable to travel and you will require a travel agent to navigate the latest travel advice. In DRC, you might encounter lowland gorillas as well as mountain species. Kahuzi-Biega National Park is the best place to watch for the eastern lowland gorilla, also known as Grauer's gorilla. These are the largest subspecies and the most critically endangered.
Gorilla trekking permits are strictly limited to small group sizes to safeguard the creatures; this activity is only increasing in popularity. It is recommended that you book your trip around one year in advance. Although available year-round, June to September and December to February provide the driest and most comfortable trekking conditions. Contact me to discuss your gorilla trekking excursion.