Comparing Gorilla Trekking & Golden Monkey Tracking

Gorilla trekking and golden monkey tracking are the two key tourist activities that are conducted in Mgahinga National Park and Volcanoes National park. There are currently 880 mountain gorillas surviving within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda and the Virunga region (comprising of Mgahinga National Park of Uganda, Virunga National Park in DRC and Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda) while there are about 4000 to 5000 golden monkeys surviving within the Virunga Massif only (in Mgahinga National Park, Virunga National park and Volcanoes National Park). There are no golden monkeys in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Much as they are all important activities within the Virunga Massif, they don’t offer the same excitement. Imagine the excitement of meeting enormous creatures that are 98.2% related to humans. This feeling cannot be described in words unless you take a gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda – because it will sound like a fairy tale, so it is better to experience it yourself.

Mountain gorillas are critically endangered species that occupy the mountainous and forested areas between 2200 and 4500 meters above sea level while the golden monkeys are endangered species that inhabit the highland areas especially within the Bamboo zones of Mgahinga National Park and Volcanoes National Park. Much as these two primates are very fascinating and tracking them is a once in a lifetime experience for every tourist, meeting face to face with the mountain gorillas is not an ordinary encounter but for the lucky ones only. Gorilla trekking offers an experience outside the ordinary and golden monkey tracking experience can never match up this great experience. What make the mountain gorillas even different and exceptional creatures from other gorilla species are the darker hairs on their skins. This allows them to thrive easily in these areas which is not possible for other gorilla species.

Because Golden monkeys are mainly found within or near the Bamboo zones, the process of golden monkey tracking is considered less strenuous/challenging than gorilla trekking because Mountain gorillas are mainly found in the mountainous forests of higher altitude/elevations. Also it takes lesser time to find a habituated golden monkey group than it is for the habituated gorilla group.

There are currently over 22 habituated gorilla groups in both Uganda and Rwanda (with 12 gorilla groups in Uganda and 10 gorilla groups in Rwanda). This means that a total of 96 gorilla permits in Uganda and 80 gorilla permits in Rwanda are available for tracking by tourists. There are currently a total of 4 habituated golden monkey groups in Uganda and Rwanda (2 groups within the former and 2 groups within the latter). With their larger size, it would be expected that more golden monkey groups would exist within these National Parks. Do you know why? It is because Golden monkeys live in larger groups of between 80 and 100 individuals which can never happen with the mountain gorillas where the maximum number of members in a group is 30 Mountain gorillas.

When the costs of permits are compared, gorilla tracking permits are relatively higher than the price of golden monkey tracking permits. For Rwanda, gorilla permits cost $1500 for all tourists at all seasons and the permits cost $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and Shs 250,000 for East African Community residents visiting Uganda. Golden Monkey tracking permits cost $100 in Rwanda and $50 for foreign non-residents and foreign residents, and Shs 20,000 for east African Community Residents for golden monkey tracking permits in Uganda. The prices of gorilla tracking permits are worth the action-packed experience you will gain from tracking these Giant Apes.

Therefore, much as golden monkey tracking and Mountain gorilla trekking are prime activities conducted within the Virunga Massif, these experiences can never be equivalent because one is more exciting than the other. To experience both of them, visit Mgahinga National Park of Uganda and Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda for unforgettable memories.

Luxury Gorilla Safaris

A new brand of gorilla safaris, aimed at the high-end market, was launched in Nairobi last month. Private Label Safaris offers added value to the gorilla trekking experience, with top guiding, safari and educational services, for clients who require a little more. A new brochure for safari operators covers trekking in Rwanda and Uganda.

Serena Signs Gorillas

Gorillaland Safaris has struck a deal with Serena Hotels. In a meeting in Nairobi on April 26th, the hotel group (the only  one with properties in nearly all the parks within Gorillaland) agreed special rates, in exchange for the safari company booking clients exclusively with Serena. Gorillaland are also advising the company on their plans for a new lodge in Kinigi, Rwanda

Explore Congo

Gorillaland is proud to offer, for the first time, a safari into the Congo Jungle. The ten-day itinerary starts and ends in Kigali, Rwanda, and journeys by road, air and river into the tropical forests surrounding Walikale, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The safari includes white-water rafting on the Luhoho River.

This is a rare opportunity to glimpse one of the world’s most bio-diverse regions, go gorilla and chimp trekking, and a chance to spot okapi and many other species endemic to the Congo River Basin. Recent improvements in security in the area mean the trip is now a viable possibility for the adventurous. Gorillaland always ensures the highest standards in safety and well-being for all its clients.

Essential Things to Pack for a Gorilla Safari

When planning to visit Uganda, Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo for gorilla trekking, you need comfortable clothing and avoid shouting colors. Even if you were to stay for 2-3 nights on a gorilla safari, you will be in places where it may be difficult to buy a new clothing or equipment. And the fact that, you will experience hot sun and wet weather conditions in the tropical forests, you’re most likely to get wet and uncomfortable or feel the sunburn. So better pack all essential items, fast drying and lightweight clothing into a single carry on backpack.

No matter how long a gorilla trek may be, there’s no special equipment really needed. The more clothing you have that is quick to dry and offers sun protection, the better off you will be. Be determined and aware of the steepness, wet weather and thick vegetation which can be physically challenging.

A day’s pack is useful. Pack everything in a small backpack including toiletries, drinking water, clothes and equipment that you need to use during the gorilla trek in the forest.

A digital Camera to take photos and also record video is needed. Bring along with spare batteries, lenses and memory cards. You’ll need to be conversant with your camera settings. Due to thick vegetation such as in Bwindi forest, there’s low light and you must turn off flashlight before photographing gorillas.

A pair of sturdy hiking boots that fit above your ankle borne. When trekking, you will most likely cross deep muddy valleys, stumble upon sharp rocks which can be harmful to your feet. So you must wear boots that support your ankle or consider wearing long socks and adding on guitars. You are sure to remain dry after all the staff at the lodge offer free cleaning services.

Long pants are a must wear for trekkers. You’ll be doing rough hiking through thick vegetation and long pants help to protect your legs from stinging nettles and thorny bushes. Remember to tuck your pants into the boots to avoid the bite off safari ants and leeches. For trekkers who will be trekking gorillas during heavy rains in the months of April to May or October to November, you might need waterproof pants.

Long socks also offer protection and fit well into hiking boots.

Long sleeved shirt is required to cover your arms. It is important to have layers especially undershirts, fleece or sweater since the weather can be cold early morning and suddenly get warm during the day.

A rain jacket is a must for trekkers. During trekking you spend much time in the forest. Rainstorms can shower anytime of the day and make you wet. Your rain jacket should be breathable with a head cover and lightweight which won’t add up weight to your backpack.

Take a sunscreen and hat that is broad. When you go gorilla trekking, you’ll probably spend more time exposed to the hot sun which can burn your skin.

Insect repellants is vital to protect you from biting insects such as mosquitoes, flies and wasps. Some repellants may not last longer on your body. So it better to carry it and keep reapplying.

Pack garden gloves. Often when trekking, you have to scramble over thick tree canopies or the trails may be wet and slippery and there are thorns. When you have some gloves, your hands are protected from harmful germs as well.

Binoculars are not used to view gorillas. But will be necessary for you to spot other wildlife when you go other safari activities such as bird watching and primate viewing.

Pack enough drinking water, food or snacks. You need food that will give you strength and energy. Whether the gorilla trek will be longer or shorter, be sure to take lots of water and stay hydrated.

First Aid kit may include your medical supplies. For visitors taking medication while on a safari, you are advised to go in the forest with your small kit.

Toiletries including wipes and toilet paper will help whenever you must ease yourself. In the forest all human waste is buried 30 centimeters underground.

Short pants and open shoes. These are good to wear after gorilla trekking when you want to relax or walk around during a community visit.

Gorilla Safari – Get Up close & Personal with the Mountain Gorillas

One of the great things about going gorilla trekking is that you know the trackers and guides who escort you to the gorillas deep in the rainforests, have been there, done that and knows the gorilla behavior from personal hands on experience. It’s especially so with ranger conservation efforts geared at protecting and saving more than 880 mountain gorillas. These primates are the largest in the world, and inhabit the pristine, dense tropical and bamboo forested ragged mountains of Virunga and Bwindi impenetrable forest.

Travelers, who decide to venture, their unique gorilla safari into the remote forests, will truly come face to face with wild mountains gorillas. There are four national parks where to see, photography and trek gorillas. These include Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park, Rwanda and Virunga national park in Eastern DRC. The secret is knowing where and when to go for your safari.

Before we go any further, I must tell you that gorilla habitats are fragile ecosystems. Treks are conducted in an eco-friendly manner with much emphasis on the gorilla rules and regulations. Researchers, trackers and rangers, carry out daily monitoring and protection of gorillas. Their habitats are safe guarded from encroachment and other illegal activities which also ensure safety for trekkers.

Visiting gorillas occurs at the parks’ offices, once you get there, you’re in the best place to see and photograph gorillas.  Trackers and guides help you to trek your favorite gorilla family, be it the easier, medium or difficult to track. Gorillas move freely deep into the forests or stay high up the mountains while feeding on vegetation.

In the cold mountains of Rwanda, Uganda and DRC, several gorilla families have been habituated for daily short treks. As a matter of ethical disclosure, gorillas need less human interaction. And before you book your gorilla safari, you should not be sick and tourists won’t be allowed. Few who get the chance, are prepared and guaranteed to visit the visit the gorillas as much as you’re physically and mentally prepared. Trekking gorillas therefore means improving their lives. A gorilla safari is one of the powerful and successful conservation stories for responsible travelers.

Gorillas share 98% of their DNA with humans and tourist visits put their lives at risk of diseases. So physical contact with gorillas is not allowed and even minor infections like cough, fever would easily kill a gorilla. Tourists, who get lucky to be touched by gorillas, did not do it on their own.  But the moment you’re very close, gorillas will even touch and brush passed you. A couple of videos are out on the web will hold this claim. And it has raised awareness as much as it gives more exciting to visitors.

Visitors are given only one hour to spend with gorillas for daily trek and up to four hours during habitation experience. And guides will tell you never try to do something new that gorillas have never been exposed too. Gorillas are peaceful wild animals and trackers understand they can charge if they feel threatened. So the rule is to maintain a distance of 7 meters, keep in tight in group with guides, trackers and rangers.

Given the mountainous terrain and tropical weather trekkers are advised to reveal their trekking capacity. You should therefore ask your operator on the day of the gorilla trek. Guides can make a choice early to morning you’ll be put into a group of other trekkers with low trekking capacity. The guides always predict the length of treks and advise you to hire a porter and everything you need to include in your day’s pack.

When you’re in the forest, you’re reminded that depending on social structure and composition, some gorilla families are known to be friendly and sociable while others may not be so. And just like humans each gorilla trek will never be the same. Even those who double trekked mountain gorillas, for the best place to see and photo safaris is Rwanda while Uganda is not just about the gorillas and best for visitors who with interest in other wildlife such as birds, waterfalls, primates and local culture which is included in your gorilla safari. Indeed seeing gorillas is a life changing wildlife experience.

Treks are so adventurous, visitors hike deep into the thick jungles with no clear trails. Often created by trackers with a machete cutting through the thick bushes, therefore, having the right clothing and equipment is very important. Trekkers need to be fit because the terrain and wet weather can be challenging. This is especially so during the months of April to May and October to November, when rains fall is heavy and frequent.

Trekkers should wear hiking boots, long pants in to prevent safari ants and leeches. Carry packed food and drinking water and items such as mosquito repellant and rain jackets. After all most, your lodge may offer free laundry services, no worries if you return your muddy boots and wet dirty pants.

Two Alternative Cheap Gorilla Trekking Destinations in Africa

It has not been a while since Rwanda revised its gorilla permit prices from $750 to $1500 yet it has been one of the best destinations for gorilla trekking tours in Africa. Despite the change, Africa still has two other great mountain gorilla trekking destinations with affordable gorilla permits for those willing to trek mountain gorillas on affordable rates. It has been known that Africa has only three countries with mountain gorillas-Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. So no need to postponed your gorilla trekking trip because of gorilla permit price yet Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo still offer Cheap gorilla permits year round even in the so called high season of June-September and December to March. Nothing makes an Africa gorilla trekking trip expensive other than the gorilla permit a main gate pass to see gorillas in their natural habitats.

Uganda Gorilla Permits

Famous for its wildlife, stunning landscape, rich culture and lakes,  Uganda is superb travel destination for many tour adventures with gorilla trekking as the prime attraction of the country. Being a home to the two mountain gorilla trekking national parks; Bwindi forest and Mgahinga, Uganda has many gorilla permits for sale daily though Bwindi is the most concentrated with many habituated gorilla families in the four park sectors-Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. You can quickly book a gorilla permit for your Uganda gorilla safari directly from your tour agent or from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) offices in Kampala.

However, if you not looking for only permits, I would advise you to book a full gorilla trekking safari tour with everything inclusive, transport, accommodation and gorilla permits. But you need to book your trip early enough due to high demand for gorilla tours every day. Backpack travelers, still book your gorilla permits or a full gorilla backpacking trip with an agent though in this context transport is by public transport not private safari vehicle. Safety is guarantee as long as you don’t trust strangers who fake their personalities.

Uganda gorilla permits cost $600 for high season and $450 for low season and it’s very easy to buy them directly from Uganda wildlife Authority office in Kampala though they only accept cash payments not credit cards yet tour agents accept credit card and that solves the hassle of acquiring one for your trek. Today Uganda permits are booked months ago before the trek since most primate lovers have eyes on it unlike Rwanda due to gorilla permit price increase. Accommodation options come last after booking your gorilla permit since Bwindi has different sector accommodations and gorilla families same applies to Mgahinga national park accommodation are not same like those in Bwindi forest.

Congo Gorilla Permits

In Democratic Republic of Congo you can get permits through Virunga National Park managed by Congolese Wildlife Authority. Email them for updates about gorilla permit availability for the dates of your interest. Be sure to get a gorilla permit in Congo any time of the year bit during the high season or low season. The process is sometimes slow but you get what you want. Alternatively you can book your gorilla permit through a tour agent like Walmark Africa Safaris that organize trips in Congo and be sure to have it done as soon as possible.

Congo gorilla permits cost $400 per permit per a trek for foreigners during high season Months, $200 per permit per trek during low season months, and $150 per permit for Congolese locals. The price includes park entrance fees but no accommodation and transport plus the Congo Tourists visa that go for $100.Dont worry any more about how to secure gorilla permits in Uganda and Congo and the same process applies in Rwanda if it happens to be your next gorilla trekking destination.

Top 5 Countries for Gorilla Trekking in the World

Gorillas are found in ten countries in Africa. Today gorilla trekking, an adventure activity where tourists hike on foot to meet these great apes, has become one of the most thrilling wildlife encounters that can be taken. Here are the five best countries where you can go for gorilla trekking.

Uganda:

Uganda hosts mountain gorillas within two national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in South Western Uganda. Amongst the two parks, Bwindi is the most famous! Bwindi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site hosting almost half of the world’s remaining population of the mountain gorillas. The park also hosts interesting willdife including over 350 bird species and 200 kinds of butterflies. The mountain gorilla population within the park has grown substantially by a third in recent years. As you trek through the impenetrable jungle, you can also see other animals.

What Makes Uganda the Best Destination

  • Uganda offers epic gorilla tracking at incredibly better rates – a gorilla permit costs USD600 per person.
  • Trekking in Bwindi is well-established and if you have a couple of days to work with, gorilla sightings are assured given that there are 99 chances to meet these gentle giants.

Fly into Entebbe International Airport to kick off your tailor-made tour. Accommodation, trekking permits and guides are all included, along with the option to add chimp trekking and game viewing.
You can also Fly into Kigali to start your gorilla trekking in Uganda. You’ll be driven straight to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to check into a comfortable lodge. When you trek, you’ll be guided into the forest by expert guides and rangers.

Rwanda:

For long Africa’s most straight-forward gorilla trekking is found in Rwanda, the tiny African country in Central Africa. Rwanda has been offering gorilla permits to wildlife enthusiats at USD750 per person per trek. In may 2017, Rwanda increased the prices for gorilla permits to USD 1500 per person! Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is done within the Volcanoes National Park. During your visit, you can even track the golden monkeys, hike the Virunga Volcanoes or pay your respects at Dian Fossey’s grave. There are also several community projects around the park, that you can engage in during your visit.

Fly into Kigali and start your tour into the Virunga Region.

DR Congo:

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the biggest countries in Africa. Formery called Ziare, the DRC hosts three of the four known gorilla species and most tourism activities are within the East side of the country. On your visit to Congo you can visit the Eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park and the mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park.
Another boon to your journey is that you can bracket your Congo gorilla tour with a Nyiragongo Hike (2 Days) and see one of Africa’s most active volcanoes.

Fly into Kigali, and then be whisked off to Gisenyi from where you will take expeditions into the Virunga.

Congo

Congo officially called the Republic of Congo (also known as Congo-Brazaville) is not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These two are distinct countries in Central Africa. Congo is small but less known to tourists. This country offers travelers with the chance to see the Western Lowland Gorillas. These great apes can be best seen in the Odzala National Park, a park that is still relatively little known. Odzala is attractively deserved and re-known for its conservation of lowland gorillas. Unlike their mountain cousins, lowland gorillas are smaller and less shaggy, with softer fur. But like their altitude-dwelling relatives, they are always a joy to behold.

Another advantage of visiting the gorillas in Congo is that you can bracket your gorilla trek with big game viewing or highly satisfying birding. Congo is scattered with ‘bais’, a kind of clearing in a forest wetland where the plentiful water and good grazing attract forest elephants and buffalos, large antelope known as bongo and bush pigs.

 Fly into the capital Brazaville, and then be whisked off to one of two of Congo’s fly-in lodges, which have both been designed to have as light an environmental footprint as possible.

Gabon
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 wildlife.
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.

Since the loss of the habituated Lossi gorillas to Ebola in 2002, the nearby Odzala National Park now presents one of the best options for seeing WLGs. It is currently home to two habituated family groups that can be seen by visitors.

The most famous bai is Mbeli Bai, in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, where about 100 gorillas have been monitored by the Wildlife Conservation Society for a decade; gorilla groups can be seen wading into the marsh to forage for water plants alongside forest elephants, buffalo and antelope such as Sitatunga.
Rescued gorilla orphans (WLG) are being rehabilitated back into the forest in the Léfini Reserve two hours’ drive north of Brazzaville, where visitors can view silverbacks on a forested island from a boat.

Book Uganda Gorilla Permits at US$600

Visiting the Gorillas of Uganda require one to get a tracking permit at a cost of $ 600 and the best way is to secure them through your preferred tour company you are set to use. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in both Bwindi Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park all found in western Uganda in the districts of Kabale, and kisoro. Access these two Uganda gorilla national Parks by road and enjoy the beautiful scenery all the way or use a charter flight from Entebbe to Kihihi. There are four different sectors for tracking the mountain gorillas in Uganda and they include Rushaga, Ruhija, Buhoma and Nkuringo. Each sector has its own gorilla trekking families, accommodations close to the park trekking area, so be careful and book both gorilla permits and accommodation in the same point if you want to track mountain gorillas in Bwindi forest. Please note that at the time of booking your gorilla permit, you should book corresponding accommodation where you will stay during your gorilla safari with in the park.

Best time to see gorillas

No more worries about the best time to track gorillas in Uganda because peak season months also known as dry months of the year, June –October and December to March are best times to see Uganda gorillas because treks are manageable, warm weather making every forest trek fantastic. It can rain once in a while but not so common but no discounts on permits. However, discounts are offered in April, May and November every year the months Uganda promotes gorilla tourism across the globe. Trekking gorillas is an exclusive amazing adventure that you will love and enjoy if you wear right clothes, walking shoes and also carry enough drinking water for the trek. Gorillas can be seen within duration of 2-6 hours though some nearby gorilla families are found immediately after briefing in just 30 minutes time so don’t be scared about the tough hikes and treks of the forest. Uganda gorilla trekking safaris are real that chances of seeing the beautiful primates are 99% based on the fact that no tourist has ever entered the forest and failed to see gorillas.

Tracking Gorillas twice

In case you want to track mountain gorillas twice, Bwindi is the best park since it has twelve habituated gorilla families ready for trackers in all the four sectors and others for research purposes plus gorilla habituation. If you interested in Uganda and other gorilla trekking destinations like Congo and Rwanda, it’s very easy to connect but place in your request at the time of booking so that your gorilla permits are reserved in advance. Remember Gorilla trekking is a highlight of all Uganda, Rwanda and Congo tours a reason for many foreign visitors year round. Besides mountain gorillas are the main attractions in Uganda despite the presence of other impressive attractions in the country. In terms of costs Uganda has the cheapest gorilla permits at only $600 per trek compared to other mountain gorilla trekking destinations like Rwanda where a gorilla permit costs $1500.Above all the gorilla permit offers permission to tourists to spend one hour with gorillas and also support the conservation of mountain gorilla conservation. Note that only 8 people are allowed to see a particular habituated gorilla family per day in respect of conservation and nature.