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Mountain Gorillas

THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS OF EAST AND CENTRAL AFRICA

Visiting the Mountain Gorillas will most likely be one of the most emotional wildlife encounters you will ever experience.



Gorilla Trekking Permits

Gorilla trekking permits are booked in advance. To secure a Permit you will need to advise us of your intention to trek. At this time, we will reserve your Gorilla trekking space. Payment of USD$500-USD$750 per person is the cost of a permit, dependent on where you trek. Please note: this price is subject to change without notice.

No one can guarantee you will see the gorillas as they move freely around the jungle. The gorillas are tracked and 99% of the groups do get to see them but, if the gorilla families are sick, for example, then they are protected from human contact. The permit only allows you the chance to see them.

The Mountain Gorillas of Central Africa are one of the closest relatives of humanity, and they are indeed endangered. They are few in number–only about 600 are left in the world–and they reproduce slowly. About half of them live in the Bwindi Impenetrable Park in Uganda, and the rest live in the Virunga Mountains, a chain of towering volcanoes divided between three nations: Rwanda, Uganda, and The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). – the Mgahinga National Park. Although officially protected, many factors make the gorillas’ hold on life precarious. Their small numbers and restricted range mean that disease or natural disasters may destroy them. The gorillas are threatened even more by contact with humanity. The gorillas’ homes are two small islands of pristine rainforest surrounded by some of the most densely populated and heavily farmed lands in the world. The people are among the poorest in the world, and the rate of population growth is one of the highest.  Over half-a-million people were killed during the mid-1990s in two successive civil wars driven by ethnic hatred in Rwanda and Congo. Another two million became refugees, and many still cluster on the borders of the gorillas’ forest homes.

The most serious threat to gorillas is habitat loss. The rich volcanic soil of the Virungas is as highly valued as farming land. In Rwanda, Uganda and Congo, a regional conservation program stressing the importance of maintaining the virgin forest watershed and the need to habituate some groups of gorillas for tourist visits has helped ease encroachment. The Virunga Mountain range is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth; it has an eco-system that defines the very essence of the continent and has therefor been designated as a World Heritage Site. The forest floor is damp and laden with leaf mould, matted vegetation and fallen vines, which serve to trip you up as you clamber up and down the slippery slopes in search of a glimpse of the elusive gorillas.

Gorillas have a well-developed social structure, living and traveling in family groups which vary from 2 to 35 individuals, but more frequently number 5 to 10 individuals. They have a home range of between 5 to 30km². They form stable groups with the dominant male keeping his position for years. If a male leaves a group, he wanders alone for a number of years, then sometimes establishes a range adjacent to or overlapping that of the former group. Adult males that stay in a group are probably the offspring of the dominant male and eventually will take over leadership of the group. Nearly all female gorillas leave their natal group at maturity to join other groups or single males. They are mainly herbivorous (vegetarian), spending almost half of the day feeding on stems, bamboo shoots, and a variety of fruits, supplemented with bark and invertebrates. In Gabon, gorillas are reported to frequently feed on termite nests.

 

Seasons

1] Dry Season: January and February plus June to September are the driest months and are the best time for gorilla trekking. But even in the dry season you should be prepared to get wet in the occasional afternoon thunderstorm.

2] Rainy Season: Many roads are impassable after the long rains of March to May and it becomes hot and humid with a very slippery forest floor. It also usually rains in October and November.

3] Temperatures: a pleasantly hot temperature of 80°F (25°C) can be expected from June to September, rising to 85°F (27°C) in January and February.

For more information on conservation of the Mountain Gorillas and their habitat in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) please check out the following organisations:

 

Websites

International Gorilla Conservation Program
www.igcp.org

Gorilla Fund (Dian Fossey International Fund)
www.gorillafund.org

WWF Great Apes Programme
www.panda.org