WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF SEEING MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN THE WILD?
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF SEEING MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN THE WILD
Mountain Gorillas only survive in the dense rainforests of Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda, Volcanoes in Rwanda and in Africa’s oldest national park (Virunga) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Due, to their adaptation to high altitudes, mountain gorillas can’t survive in zoos or in captivity so to have a peek, you will definitely have to trek into any of the mentioned rainforests. Everyday travelers venture into these forest for gorilla tracking to experience the one of life’s greatest moments and that is having 60 minutes sitting in the cold lounge of a mountain gorilla family deep in the dense forests as they observe these gentle primates as they go about their day.
You want to know how these primates behave while in their families. To enter these ever green forests you must be willing to hike steep hills and wind through the mist, damp undergrowth and bog. But the willingness and fitness alone are not enough, you will also need a gorilla tracking permit which you can get from Uganda Wildlife Authority for the case of Uganda, Rwanda Development Board for Rwanda and Virunga National park offices for D.R. Congo, you need not to hassle as your tour operator can do this (purchasing the permit) for you. Rwanda has the highest cost for a permit at 1500USD, Uganda permits are at 600USD but starting 1st July,2020 they will cost 700USD and D.R. Congo the permits cost 400USD.
From the recent census released by Uganda Wildlife Authority in December 2019 together with other stakeholders like Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration indicate that the number of mountain gorillas has increased to over 1023 from 900 individuals of the recent records. Uganda alone has 459 individuals in 50 groups. In November 2019 the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared mountain gorillas from critically endangered to endangered. This means you have even higher chances of encountering mountain gorillas.
The forests have beautifully colored birds, butterflies, monkeys and plants that will cover you all in green but the biggest thing here are the mountain gorillas. A walk into the forest after the briefing will take you through the trails in these steep hills as a guide leads. Unlike the chimpanzees that hoot in the forest and can easily be noticed, it is always a with bird songs until you get to them. After getting to the gorillas you are allowed 60 minutes to witness the fascinating social living up close. The trek can take 3-8hrs and they vary in length and difficulty depending on the location of the gorillas, so while at the briefing point you can request for a gorilla group that is favorable according to your physical fitness.
Travelers are not guaranteed the encounter with these gorillas but there is a 99% chance of encounter. In 1991, in the Bwindi impenetrable National park the Mubare group (Oldest) was habituated and the first group of tourists tracked it in 1993 there is no case of visitors who have failed to see the gorillas that has been registered.
So book early, prepared, pack right and embark on your safari to the highlands in Virunga and Bwindi for the Ultimate experience with the gentle giants because now you know you can’t miss seeing them.