No wildlife adventure can compete with coming face-to-face with a wild gorilla. This is an endangered species that will certainly take your breath away. Their sheer size and human-like characteristics will leave you feeling astounded.
Because their numbers are diminishing and because the treks are a highly-restricted activity, encountering wild gorillas is considered to be an unforgettable and essential travel experience. Visiting these gentle, mystical primates in their natural habitat really is one of earth’s ultimate wildlife experiences.
Today the mountain gorilla is confined to the Virungas—a cluster of forested volcanoes that straddle the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Trekking usually takes place in either Rwanda or Uganda. It is crucial that you acquire a permit to trek. $500-$800 will ensure a one hour visit with the gorillas, and it also covers the time it takes to hike there and back. Please keep in mind that there are very limited gorilla permits so it is necessary to book at least 10 months in advance.
For a gorilla trek you need to be fairly fit, excited, and ready for the adventure of a lifetime. The rainforest is a challenging environment—it’s hot, humid, and muddy, and it has plenty of steep slopes and lots of tropical vegetation. Your guides will lead you through the lush forests and, before you know it, you will see them. Glossy black against the luminous green of the rainforest, and only metres away from you, you will spot a family of silverbacks. Nothing can prepare you for the intensity of the encounter. The silence is deafening but the excitement is wholly palpable. You will be blown away by their sheer size, their intelligence, their beauty and, most of all, their human mannerisms. The young ones prefer to rough and tumble about, while the patriarchal silverback usually keeps a watchful eye over you and his females who are likely to continue with their grooming.
This magical experience will, no doubt, take your breath away and render you speechless. You will be in awe of this most unbelievable, yet unforgettable, encounter. It is an intimate experience like no other, and has been known to bring many people to tears. One hour is certainly not long enough but it is an hour that you will remember for the rest of your days.
Rwanda or Uganda are equally incredible spots to find the gorillas but each country provides a slightly different experience.
Rwanda’s gorillas live in Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans) which is a two hour drive north west from the capital, Kigali, and there are several divine lodges nearby.
Uganda’s gorillas live just over the border in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is a full day’s drive from Entebbe or Kampala. The lodge you stay in will depend on the trek that you choose.
Please do let us know if you are thinking about planning a Gorilla encounter. We will do our best to organise all the details for you!