The American naturalist Diane Fossey (Author of Gorillas in the Mist) dispelled the myths and revealed that gorillas are in fact shy and gentle creatures, intelligent, sociable and given to aggression only as a means of defence. We owe Diane Fossey a great debt for bringing the gorillas to public attention and inspiring the governments to introduce laws for their protection. She also contributed largely to set out the basic rules for gorilla viewing. Today the International Gorilla Conservation Programme covers all three countries, and it is most certainly a great privilege to be able to visit these mountain gorillas (gorilla gorilla beringei ).
The entire world population is found in 2 only conservation area. The volcanic Virunga Mountains, which straddle the common borders of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, and in South Western Uganda's Impenetrable Forest. Both conservation area give a different gorilla experience. The habitat in Bwindi Impenetrable NP is a dense rainforest while in Kinigi, Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda) and Mt Mgahinga (Uganda) the habitat of the gorillas is part of the Virunga, the famous chain of volcanoes located in Congo, Rwanda and also partially in Uganda.
A typical gorilla trekking starts with assigning the visitors to the respective habituated gorilla groups. In Bwindi the groups are assigned when buying the gorilla permit while in Rwanda the Park Authorities will assign them on site the day of the trekking.
After this formality the Rangers will give you a briefing of the way they will conduct this fantastic guided nature walk to the gorillas. They will give you extensive information on the environment, the gorilla family you will visit and the way you should behave with them. The so named “gorilla rules” will be clearly set out because it’s a corner stone in the conservation of the gorillas. There is not only a high risk of disease transmission to gorillas and vice versa, but the daily visits can cause behavioural disturbance and stress to gorillas. Please respect the rules!
After the briefing we will drive you to nearest location outside the park and from there your rangers will guide you to the gorillas. Gorilla trekking is unpredictable and it’s difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike. In Bwindi the hiking time are generally much challenging. The terrain is usually more difficult in the rainforest and hiking times are longer because when looking for food Bwindi gorillas tend to travel longer distances per day. In Rwanda the gorilla trekking is usually easier except for the challenging Sussa group located at the Karisimbi volcano.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t need a good physical condition in Rwanda. We have seen several times that visitors had some problems during their trekking. Rain can get you by surprise and during the dry season gorilla tend to climb higher for their preferred bamboo shoots. It has to be said that the park rangers and the porters are extremely helpful and will do everything they can to make sure that visitors can see the gorillas. We therefore strongly advise not to hesitate to take a porter. Porters can not only be very efficient but in return you help local communities to benefit from tourism! There is also a very efficient rescue team available in the parks for visitor getting in trouble!
For conservation purposed the time spend with the gorillas is limited to one hour. The daily visits have an impact on gorilla activity patterns. The daily visits are a source of animal stress and less feeding are a strong justification for he one-hour rule.
Gorilla trekking is the strongest animal experience ever! Tracking the gorillas is a unique experience - it leads you to meet unusual creatures on their own terms and it’s a very intense and trilling experience! You will be rewarded with a certificate of the National Park!