The activity of mountain gorilla tracking is the most sought-after tourism activity in Uganda and for everyone who wishes to take a vacation or safari in Uganda in national parks the parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga will enjoy it. These parks are one of the parks in the whole world which host the few surviving endangered mountain gorillas. Within the world there are about 1050 mountain gorillas left. Therefore tracking the endangered giants is one of the most magnificent activities to do on your holiday.
The popular activity that has been promoted as gorilla trekking involves hiking through the tropical rain forests of Bwindi and Virunga to meet a gorilla family that has been habituated so that it can get used to human prescence. Since these great apes are wild and at the same time need to be protected, your interaction with the family visited is guided by strict rules that are aimed at promoting sustainable tourism.
Mountain gorillas move to new places on a daily basis and they have never stayed in one place twice. It should be observed that there is nothing like nearby or extreme gorilla family. Usually the trek environment may be different though the time taken is unpredictable and a 2 to 3 hour trek today could be tomorrow’s 6 to 7 hours thus booking your preferred gorilla family is possible though has to be done through a tour agency/operator ahead of time to avoid inconveniences.
Presently, there are about 12 (twelve) Gorilla groups in Bwindi Impenetrable forest including; Habinyanja, Mubare, Kahungye, Nshongi, Mishaya, Oruzongo, Nkuringo, Mishaya and Ruhija. Mubare Gorilla family is the oldest habituated Gorilla group and was found in the Mubare Hills, deep in the impenetrable rain forest though fully habituated in 1998. Today, to many tour operators and tourists, Mubare gorilla permits are a priority. The Oruzogo group stands as one of recent gorilla families and is situated between Ruhija area. Usually this group is led by a dominant Silverback locally known as “Tibirikwata”
Of the existing Gorilla families in the park, Nshongi family has been the largest group which has ever been habituated with about 36 Gorilla members. This Gorilla family was officially introduced in September in 2009 and was named after river Nshongi – a place where the gorilla family was first found
One unique Gorilla family in the park is Kyaguriro Gorilla family. This family is not visited by tourists. It has been reserved for research and other studies therefore, keeping in contact with this group helps conservationists to learn more about these great apes- the endangered mountain Gorillas. Not only does it make you learn more about Mountain Gorillas but also makes you learn remarkable differences with the mountain Gorillas that live in Rwanda in the Virunga Volcanoes.
How a Gorilla Trek is Conducted
Having a full hour of interaction with one of nature’s great species and one of closest relatives to man about 97% exhibited is an experience second to none on this planet.
Mountain gorillas are 11th of the most an endangered species in the world and it is said that there are only about 700 left in the wild jungles of the national parks bordering, Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Crossing the border of mountains between Rwanda and Uganda leads you into an exclusively different world, and one that is exceptionally defined by many, with the stunning memory of news reports and stories of the tragedy of the 1994 genocide. Travelers do not look forward to finding potted, tarred roads, new buildings and other facilities that are not found in the seemingly more developed and relatively untroubled Uganda to the north of Rwanda.
Different to the military frontage that are established along the border are the friendly trackers who meet at the visitor’s centre in the Park National des Volcanoes. The marvelous national park has got three ancient volcanoes whose forms dominate the entire Rwenzori horizon. The trackers are local guides who have been working with the gorillas for many years and are customary as part of their family.
Tracking starts through the natural forest which has abundant crops that are worked by the natural forest lines of pure jungle with no people, no paths and no handrails.
While tracking the guide creates the path with a machete as the group continues while the guide communicates with the trackers who join the gorillas at 5am. After 45 minutes of great work, and avoiding stinging nettle, there is a greater experience of seeing the gorilla wandering for food.
Guidelines to Gorilla Trekking
- For the protection of the endangered mountain gorillas, no one with any signs of communicable disease inform of cough, flu or any air born disease is allowed to come in contact with these endangered species.
- Before you go for Gorilla tracking you require having some good levels of physical fitness and this is required since tracking is very irregular and in entail passing through bushy areas. This activity is usually between 1-8 hours thus it advisable to come with good pairs of shoes, rain jackets, long sleeved shirts and blouses. For the case of Bwindi, it is a tropical rain forest where it rains at different times but nearly every day.
- You need to put in mind that the possession of a Gorilla permit is an assurance of tracking the endangered Mountain Gorillas. However, it is not a guarantee for seeing them though the chance of sighting is 96 percent or more. For trackers, the minimum age for viewing is 15 (fifteen) years whereas the minimum time foe watching as soon as the Gorillas are found is strictly one hour.