Gorillas exhibits some similar characteristic with human beings making Gorilla trekking more interesting – looking into the eyes of our close relative is a memorable experience. In Africa, mountain Gorillas, cross River Gorillas and Low land Gorillas are found but in some countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, both Mountain and lowland Gorillas co- exist. Below is the list of countries famous for protecting Gorillas.
Cross River gorillas are found only in Cross River State, where the government has invested heavily in tourism infrastructure. However, the chances of seeing gorillas in cross river state are still low. Less than 200 individual gorillas are thought to be here, spread across an area of 12,000 km² which includes Afi Mountain, Mbe Mountain, and the Okwangwo Division of the Cross River National Park. For this reason, scientists are cautious about habituating any.
Cross River Gorillas
Cross River gorillas live in the English-speaking part of Cameroon bordering Nigeria, in small pockets of forest that are the focus of a conservation project but with no tourism component yet. The only captive Cross River Gorillas can be seen at the Limbe Wildlife Centre, which also cares for about 15 WLG orphans with a long-term goal – funding permitting – of rehabilitation back into the wild.
3. Equatorial Guinea
The Monte Alen National Park is a spectacular forested park, and its rugged terrain served to protect it from commercial logging. As yet, there are no habituated Western Lowland Gorillas. The tourism infrastructure is in very early stages of development, and trained locals have started to conduct guided day Gorilla treks.
Western Low Land Gorillas
Gabon made a bold bid to diversify its economy by creating 13 National Parks in 2002, most of them containing gorilla habitat. The WLG habituation programme at the Mikongo Conservation Centre in Lopé National Park was terminated in 2010. But although visitors are no longer taken on specific gorilla-spotting treks, visitors can still see them while looking for other animals and birds. Moukalaba-Doudou National Park has some of the highest densities of gorillas, and an eco-tourism project has begun there with help from The Gorilla Organization. Loango National Park offers the rare combination of rainforest and Atlantic beach, where hippos have been seen surfing, whales and dolphins surface offshore and the forests are home to gorillas, chimpanzees and forest elephants – my idea of heaven!
Western Low Land Gorillas are found only in the Cabinda enclave, the part of Angola north of the mouth of the River Congo. There is little in the way of tourism infrastructure, but if it is adventure.
Since the loss of the habituated Gorillas to Ebola in 2002, the nearby Odzala National Park now presents one of the best options for seeing Western Low Land Gorillas. It is currently home to two habituated family groups that can be seen by visitors. They can also be seen from hides as they visit bais.
One of the best places to track WLGs is Bai-Hokou in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park. A WWF project has succeeded in habituating a group, and a calm contact is likely, though the dense forest and low light beneath the canopy make photography challenging.
8. Rwanda (Land of A Thousand Hills)
Rwanda is about the size of Wales, with good main roads (making it quick to get around) and a relatively well-developed infrastructure. But it is the work of Dian Fossey, as dramatised in the film Gorillas in the Mist, that really makes Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park many people’s first choice for a mountain gorilla tracking. Relaxed gorillas and relatively open habitat – montane vegetation, often with stunning views – greatly improve the chances of good gorilla watching. In Rwanda, Gorilla trekking takes place in Volcanoes National park where visitors clearly see the peaks of virunga ranges. Each gorilla permit in Rwanda costs US$750 for foreign non residents and US$475 for foreign residents (Living in East Africa – Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi), US$375 for foreigners living and working in Rwanda, US$300 for East Africans and 30.000 Rwanda Francs for Rwandese. Permits can be booked through travel agents and Rwanda Development Board (RDB) offices in Kigali. Apart from mountain gorilla tracking, Volcanoes National Park also inhabits the rear golden monkeys. Here tourists also do mountain climbing to Bishoke and Karisimbi, as well as hike to the tombs of the Late Dian Fossey, the American primatologisit who spend close to 2 decades studying and habituating Mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Know more about her works by watching her movie “Gorillas in the Mist”.
Mountain Gorilla in Rwanda
9. Uganda (The True Pearl of Africa)
In Uganda, Gorilla trekking exercise is done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National park. Mgahinga National Park is part of the tri-national Virunga Conservation Area, and its habituated gorillas often cross into Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda is gifted with almost half of the world’s remaining mountain Gorillas found in the Virunga crescent. Uganda gorilla tracking permits cost US$600 each for Foreign none residents, US$475 for Foreign Residents and UGX250000 for Ugandans. However, In Uganda, they have low season rates where, each gorilla permit costs US$350 for Foreign Non Residents. This happens in months of April, May and November. Please contact your Travel Agent for updates. Here we have over 10 habituated gorilla families that include Nsongi, Nkuringo, Bitukura, Mishaya, Oruzogo, Kyaguriro, Rushegura, Mubare, Kahunje, Businje, not forgetting Nyakagezi of Mgahinga National Park.
Mountain Gorillas in Uganda
10. Democratic Republic of Congo
Three of the four sub-species are found in Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla tourism with habituated groups began here in the mid-1970s, in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a stronghold of eastern lowland gorillas and this park still offers one of the best gorilla-viewing experiences. Bukavu is the nearest town (with some beautiful lakeside hotels), but check the security situation if entering Democratic Republic of Congo from Rwanda. Mountain gorilla tourism in Virunga National Park is also excellent when the country is stable. Things have improved since the early 2009 arrest of rebel leader Nkunda, but the area is still unsettled. However, even during the troubles many people visited the gorillas at Djomba on day trips from Kisoro, Uganda, because permits were available in the DRC and sold out in Uganda.
DR Congo Mountain Gorillas