There are just over 1000 mountain gorillas left in the whole world, and getting to see them is a highlight of any African wildlife safari experience. Unlike other animals, mountain gorillas can only survive in their natural habitat.
This means that you won't be able to see mountain gorillas in any nearby zoo or captive wildlife sanctuary. The lowland gorillas can survive in zoos and those can be seen in a few zoos around the world.
The limited number of gorillas, and where they can be seen is one of the reasons why mountain gorillas trekking is a highly sought-after safari experience for those who love wildlife.
In this article, we'll look at where you can see mountain gorillas in their wild habitat, look at which places might suit you best and a summary of other activities you can combine with your trip. To keep this short and straight to the point, our focus is on mountain gorillas and not any other species of gorillas.
Where Do Mountain Gorillas Live
Mountain Gorillas live, and can only be seen in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Natural Habitat of gorillas is spread over the 3 National Parks in the Virunga Massif as well as the nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Here are the national parks where you can see mountain gorillas in their natural wild habitat.
|1||Volcanoes National Park||Rwanda|
|2||Bwindi Impenetrable National Park||Uganda|
|3||Mgahinga Gorilla National Park||Uganda|
|4||Virunga National Park||DR Congo|
Best Place to See Mountain Gorillas
As far as one place being good or better than another is a serious matter of opinion and personal experience. If you look online - even for a little while - you will find raving recommendations for any of the 4 national parks mentioned above.
Let us try to give you a comparison that is based on factors that are slightly less abstract.
|Gorilla Permit Cost||1500 USD||700 USD||400 USD|
|Level of Difficulty (out of 5)||2 / 5||4 / 5||3 / 5|
Gorillas in Rwanda
As you can summarize from the table, Rwanda's prices are higher than Uganda and DRC. Most gorilla families in the volcanoes can often be found much lower on the slopes, and thus the physical demand is less.
Gorillas in Uganda
Uganda has the most trackable gorilla families and as such attracts more people. Uganda has several tracking points across the national parks and this helps to reduce the crowding especially in the high season months of June to August.
Additionally, Uganda offers gorilla habituation experiences where you can spend up to 4 hours with a gorilla family that is newly getting used to humans. This gorilla habituation experience permit will cost 1500 USD.
Gorilla in DR Congo
DR Congo's gorilla trekking is hindered by the security issues which never allow the industry to recover long enough. rebels and kidnappings keep very many people away from the country's gorillas. This means that you can find the least crowds - at any time of the year.
Aside from the above points, the rest is similar. This is because the terrain and environment are exactly the same. In all the countries, you will have to spend the same amount of time with the gorillas (1 hour) and you are more than 99% guaranteed to see the mountain gorillas.
The preparation in terms of what to wear is the same, and conservation restrictions on age and disease are the same too.
While you can travel strictly to see the gorillas and head back home, a combined experience will always give you more to appreciate. Here are some additional activities that could be added to your gorilla safari.
- Wildlife Game drives in Akagera National Park
- Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park
- Cave Exploration in Musanze
- Visiting the Kigali Genocide Museum
- Wildlife Game drives in Murchison Falls or Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park
- White Water rafting on the Nile in Jinja
- Climbing to Mount Rwenzori's 5109-meter summit
- Wildlife Game drives in Garamba National Park
- Lowland gorilla tracking in Kahuzi Beiga National Park
- Climbing Mount Nyiragongo (see an active volcano with red hot lava in the crater)
Now you know where mountain gorillas live and can be seen. The decision of which country or national park you will go to is up to you.
There is really no easy gorilla tracking trail, but some are tougher. If you are the kind who is up for the challenge, make sure to get the tough route that will challenge and equally inspire your strength.
Gorilla permits are expensive and this could be another factor in determining where you end up going. Your consideration shouldn't just be based on one factor, but all the other things that determine what sort of trip you will have - including the other activities, you might have planned.
We hope this was helpful to you. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and we'll help you answer them. Cheers.