Gorilla Trekking Procedures
The mountain gorilla (Gorilla Berengei), of which there are still only about 700 remaining, are one of our closest living relatives. A visit to these gentle giants in their natural environment is a unique and wonderful experience – one you’ll never forget.
Are the gorillas monitored?
The park rangers monitor the gorillas on a daily basis and have a fairly good idea of where they are. However, they are free-roaming animals, and their sightings cannot be guaranteed.
Can you visit mountain gorillas if you are sick?
As the gorillas share much of our DNA, anyone with even the slightest cold or transferable illness will not be permitted to trek.
How old must you be to be able to visit the gorillas?
Trekking is also only open to people over the age of 16.
About the Trip to the Mountain Gorillas
Due to the restrictions on the daily numbers of visitors to these incredible animals, we depart from our base in Bunyonyi in small groups over 3-4 days, depending on the group size. We then wind our way through arguably some of the most picturesque scenery in Africa en-route to the National Park. Dependant on where permits are available, we may spend a night in either Kisoro or in Rwanda.
The following morning, after packing our picnic lunch, we are transferred to a ranger’s station where the trek commences. Your rangers will lead you through the cultivated lands and then into the dense rain forest and on to a gorilla family.
How long does trekking take?
Trekking can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 8 hours (not including transfer time) and it can be quite strenuous, so a reasonable level of fitness is required.
To ensure the gorillas do not get too used to the presence of humans and because they share many of our genes (and therefore able to catch our diseases), the maximum time permitted to spend with them is 1 hour. You will have plenty of time to watch their activity and to take photographs.
During the visit, the rangers will be able to provide you with a background to the family you are visiting. Once your hour is up, you trek back out of the rain forest to your meeting point where you will be transferred back to the Lake Bunyonyi campsite.
Are tourists exploiting mountain gorillas?
You needn’t feel like you’re exploiting these animals. The ever-growing number of tourists trekking them each day play a vital role in their survival. For years they have been ruthlessly hunted for their hands and heads, which have been sold as ashtrays and lampshades! In addition, large numbers have been killed whilst trying to stop poachers stealing babies for sale to zoos, where they have never lived long.
100% of the gorilla permit cost is used by the parks authorities to finance patrols that are instrumental in protecting the gorillas from poachers and their lethal snares and on promoting these wonderful animals.
Does the trip include visits to the local villages?
Depending on where the trek takes place you may also pass through some of the local villages that have settled in this region due to the high number of refugees fleeing from the Rwandan Genocide, or from the continued unrest in the DRC.
The villagers in this area are mostly subsistence farmers and families that farm against the slopes of the volcanoes. It is impressive to see how they have ploughed, planted, and harvested their crops in such an unlikely landscape.