Best places to see mountain gorillas? Our experts list 3 countries for watching mountain gorillas in Africa.These survive high in the forest highlands of the Virunga massif and Kigezi Highlands from elevation of 2400m to 3900m. In comparison to other subspecies mountain gorillas have thick fur and black fur which help them to keep warm in low temperatures. Half of them survive in the extinct Virunga volcano ranges that stretch from DR Congo, Rwanda and to south western Uganda and the remainder in Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda.
Since 1902, when this specie was discovered, it has gone through a lot of challenges of habitat loss, civil wars, hunting, and diseases among others. They were once thought to reach extinction by the 20th Century though it didn’t come to pass. Mountain gorillas were declared critically endangered, but thanks to efforts by conservationists that are protecting these apes because in November 2018 IUCN declared these giants endangered.
Gorilla tracking is an ultimate experience and most travelers can’t imagine a safari to Eastern Africa without a glance at these gentle giants.
Therefore, any traveler who wishes to see mountain gorillas, must visit 3 of these East African countries.
Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park)
The “land of a thousand hills” has branded its self as a luxury gorilla tracking destination when they doubled their tracking fees from 750USD to 1500USD. Rwanda has 10 habituated Gorilla groups in the Volcanoes National park located in the northwest of the country. The country provides the easiest access to mountain gorillas as the park is just a 2-3hours drive from the capital Kigali. This is much shorter than a 9hrs drive from Kampala to Bwindi or Mgahinga but then also an advantage to visitor in Rwanda and would like to track gorillas from Uganda. The two parks of Mgahinga and Bwindi are just north of Volcanoes national park. Also, Virunga in Congo can be accessed from this side of Rwanda. Permits can be acquired online from Rwanda Tourism Board or any tour operator that offer gorilla tours to the country.
Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National parks)
Here is home to half of the population of mountain gorillas in the world. The country has 18 habituated gorilla families in the two national parks. 17 are in Bwindi impenetrable national park and 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla National park. Each group is tracked by 8 people on a daily so you can be part of the 144 people that visit these dense forest parks for gorilla tracking every day.
A walk into the dense unspoiled forests can be challenging but worth the effort when you get up close with the gorillas and you have to spend a magical one hour with these apes. You require early planning if tracking gorillas in Uganda, because it’s gorilla tracking permit is 700USD. This is half of the permit price in Rwanda, therefore many people do tracking in Uganda as it is possible to do tracking in Uganda from the Rwanda side.
To spend more time with gorillas, Uganda started a gorilla habituation experience that allows travelers 4 hours with the mountain gorillas while they are accompanying researchers and other conservationists. This activity allows only 4 people per group and only 2 groups are available in Rushaga Sector of Bwindi.
D.R Congo (Virunga national park)
In the Virunga National park, gorilla tracking is to 8 gorilla families with over 250 mountain gorillas. Despite a bad reputation of wars, the less visited and oldest park in Africa currently safe and we appreciate the country for taking gorilla conservation as foremost.
The park has a lot of diversity and offers the best adventure and gorillas are available for tracking all year around and a gorilla permit costs 400USD. This stands as the cheapest options to see these mountain gorillas. The park also has an orphanage for gorillas with about 5 gorillas that are rescued- Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage. It also has the best hiking experience to the Nyiragongo volcano with a lava lake on top. The country also offers low land gorilla tracking.
In arrangement with your operator you can do a gorilla safari to any of these countries for gorilla tracking.