Gorilla trekking is widely known as a magical experience today and it is also known that mountain Gorillas are found only in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, although much of the activity takes place in Uganda and Rwanda because of the never ending instabilities in eastern Congo with travel advisories barring tourists from the risks.
Many tourists however, find it a questioning task making a choice of where to go for a gorilla trekking safari in Africa and it does not get easier as there are tons of inaccurate, and at times, incorrect information all over the internet and in print materials with everyone giving their opinions including those that have never set foot in the jungles of Bwindi, Mgahinga, Volcanoes, or Virunga National Park in Congo.
So whether you track from Rwanda, Uganda or Congo the experience is the same. The Uganda gorilla tours gives you the chance of having a variety of groups to choose from. It is quite stressing because you have to manoeuvre the boggy ground. In Rwanda, you may take a little less time to get to the gorillas. In case you are an adventure seeking person, i would recommend Uganda but if you are only interested in the gorillas, then Rwanda would be my best recommendation.
Gorilla Photo safari takes you to 3 major countries for mountain gorilla trekking experience: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DRC. This is a unique safari that gives an opportunity to experience the main species of species of gorillas. The start starts off with an awesome experience with the endangered mountain gorillas in renowned Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda.
After which we transfer you to the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ to experience yet another sub-species of the mountain gorillas in the beautiful landscapes of the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda. From here we proceed to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a unique destination of Kahuzi Biega a UNESCO World Heritage Site to experience the Eastern Lowland gorillas only found in the DRC Congo and of course Gabon and Congo Brazzaville.
Day one of your safari starts with breakfast, our guide will drive you to south western Uganda. On the way you may make a brief stopover at the Uganda’s Equator for photos and souvenirs. We then proceed to Mbarara for lunch. We shall continue through the beautiful scenery of the terraced green hill of the ‘Switzerland’ of Uganda.
We continue to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas in the world and for its rain forest that attracts spectacular species of birds such as 23 of the 24 Albertine Rift endemics including the African Green Broad bill and other beautiful forest species. We shall be arriving before sunset. Check for dinner and overnight at accommodation facility of your choice.
Day two we shall be going for a full day Gorilla Habituation Experience in Bwindi Forest. After breakfast you will report to the park headquarters for briefing and thereafter depart for gorilla trekking. Take with you previously arranged packed lunch boxes, drinking water and jungle boots. Trekking some of the only 880 mountain gorillas left in the world is perhaps one of the most exciting wildlife experiences. Trekking to see the mountain gorillas may take between 2 to 8 hours depending on the movement of the gorilla families, with a park guide who will interpret the flora and fauna and the lifestyle of the gorillas.
Once the gorillas are sighted, we spend 4 hours with them why studying their behaviours, movements, what they eat, how they, sleep, play and feed their young ones. Once the fours are done, we return back to our lodge for dinner and overnight stay.
Day three of our gorilla safari we transfer to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. On this day we shall say goodbye to the Pearl of Africa. After breakfast your checkout and we drive to Rwanda passing through Kisoro – Cyanika border. The journey leads through absolutely picturesque landscape with breath-taking views. Customs & Immigration are cleared at the Uganda and Rwanda border post. The Virunga Mountains are a chain of nine impossibly steep and lofty volcanoes straddling the western branch of the Rift Valley from east to west.
The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to relax or you may feel like having an optional massage or to explore the surrounds together with your guide. After dinner you retire for the night, accompanied by the sounds of one of Africa’s most incredible natural environments. Dinner and overnight stay can be at lodge of your choice.
Day four is for experiencing second gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. Today you partake in your gorilla tracking on the Rwandan side. The gorillas you are allowed to track belong to either one of eight habituated family groups in Rwanda. After an early breakfast you are off to the park headquarters at Kinigi to register and to be allocated your gorilla family for today.
Once this is done, you set out by vehicle to the start of the tracking point, where you meet up with your guide and porters to begin the track. As on the Uganda side, the time taken to track the gorillas varies enormously, from as little as half an hour to as much as 9 hours before one returns to camp. Once the gorillas are located, your group is allowed a maximum of one hour with them. After returning to the lodge there may be an opportunity to visit the local communities or to take a drive out to the scenic Lake Bulera and Lake Ruhondo in the afternoon together with your guide.
Day five after breakfast we transfer to Gisenyi a town on the north shore of Lake Kivu, in north-western Rwanda’s Rubavu district. Beach resorts line the lake’s sandy waterfront, and kayaks ply its clear waters. We continue to Bukavu district a city in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, lying at the extreme south-western edge of Lake Kivu, west of Cyangugu in Rwanda. We arrive late in the evening and cross over to Congo. Dinner and overnight stay at Orchids paradise lodge.
Wake up early and we drive to the visitors’ point at Kahuzi Biega National Park. Kahuzi Biega National Park remains the last stronghold of the eastern lowland gorillas. Dominated by two huge extinct volcanoes (Kahuzi and Biega) this vast area of primary tropical forest is a sprawling park of lush, rolling hills and thick jungle which is also home to the elusive forest elephant.
After the briefing, the trek through the mountainous jungle area of Kahuzi Biega National Park begins, to find the large lowland gorilla family. The species here are Eastern Lowland gorilla, very different from the mountain gorilla species you have seen in Bwindi and Volcanoes National Parks. Just under 2 hours you will be in the company of these rare species, observing and them as they feed, groom, and play with one another while taking photos and videos of them. After the experience, return back to you lodge for dinner and overnight stay.
Day seven wake up and transfer back to Gisenyi –Kigali for your flight back home. Note: Make sure you hire a porter-a local Ugandan/Rwandan to carry your bags and help you up/down the many hills. The cost is 15-20 US dollars and they can be invaluable. Several times my porter caught me as I was falling in the wet forest. (One downside of using a porter to carry your bag is that your bag will smell like your porter at the end of the hike).