The Ultimate Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Looking for a Silverback Mountain Gorilla Safari or a Mountain Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo? Book that safari with Globetrotters Travel and Tours. Globetrotters Travel and Tours offers tailor-made gorilla tours to the different national parks that protect the mountain gorillas in Africa. We invite you to explore with us unique and captivating destinations on the most popular mountain gorilla watching adventures, unique experiences cannot be enjoyed in only three countries in the world. Our trips take you deep into Africa’s forested jungles of Bwindi impenetrable forest in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in DR Congo

Mountain gorillas live in families consisting of about 25 to 35 members with a leading male – the silverback gorilla with many females and their young ones.

A baby Gorilla weighs 2.5kg at birth but its weight grows twice faster the growth of a human baby! A baby Gorilla takes approximately 10 months to walk and slowly gets independent of the mother at 3 years old. At six years a Gorilla is about 1.20 meter tall and weighs almost 70 kg. The females are mature enough at six, though they continue to gain weight up-to 10 years old. Male Gorillas strictly reach maturity at ten years old; their black back starts turning into grey (silver back) – it is time for them to leave the parental group. He will move alone or join other males for some time, before attracting females to join them and form their own Gorilla family.

Lifestyle of Gorillas

An ordinary day in the life of a mountain gorilla starts at sunrise, around 6 am. Mountain Gorillas wake up early to begin looking for food for most of the morning hours. Usually a gorilla spends most of the time resting about 40% of total time. In contrast to other primates, the gorilla lives mainly on the ground and do not prey more than a kilometre per day within their territory of about 20 square kilometres.

Gorillas are vegetarians by menu, though they occasionally eat ants and other insects. The daily meal consists of roots, leaves, stems and pith of herbs among other food. During certain months of the year bamboo shoots supply a major part in their diet as well. A male adult can even eat up to 20 kg per day! Because the gorillas receive a large quantity of water from its diet, they rarely have to drink.

The afternoons are mainly spent with resting and playing. This last activity is very important in the social life, especially for young gorillas, as it determines their integration into the group. They hug each other, bite, and hit or wrestle till one is pulled down on the ground.

At the end of the day, just before dusk, the great apes start constructing a nest where they will spend their night. Every single gorilla has its own nest, except for the infants who sleep next to their mothers. Nests are built on the ground or in trees and are carefully constructed by branches of bushes among other plants.

Everything you need to know about mountain gorilla trekking

A mountain gorilla trek often comes second on travel Bucket Lists to a classic Big 5 game drive in Kruger or Serengeti National Park. Which is understandable – getting to the gorillas takes more effort, more time and more expense than a traditional safari. But you know what they say: you get what you pay for.
Here’s everything you need to know about trekking with mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda:

Where can you see mountain gorillas?

There are only two populations of mountain gorillas left in the world. The first lives in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, with groups scattered between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (our tours visit Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest).

The second population lives deep in Bwindi. As of last year, best estimates are that – in total – there are fewer than 900 mountain gorillas left in the wild. That puts them on the Critically Endangered list (two classifications away from completely Extinct).

The best mountain gorilla treks

The first thing to appreciate is that visiting mountain gorillas on a group tour can be quite expensive (going solo is often even more so). These animals exist in extremely remote locations, in countries not known for their tourist infrastructure, which means the logistics of a gorillas visit are a challenge in themselves. Tour groups must also pay permits for expert guides to lead them through Virunga, or Bwindi or Volcanoes National Park.

Like most game drives in Africa, the experience is completely worth it, and we’re yet to hear anyone come back from a gorilla visit underwhelmed, but it’s just something to keep in mind. It’s also worth remembering that gorilla treks in Uganda have seasonal permit pricing, which means permits cost almost half as much in March and April.

Nourishment

They are mainly herbivorous feeding on vegetation. Mountain gorillas mainly eat fruits, leaves, wild celery, thistles, stinging nettles, bedstraw and bamboo shoots. However, though vegetarian, sometimes they can grab small insects, ants and larvae for delicacy

 

 

 

 

Live in large family groups

Mountain gorillas live in different families and each gorilla belonging to a certain family is highly attached to that family. It is very interesting that even if the two or three families meet and mix, every gorilla goes back to her/his own family at the time of departure. A dominant silverback leads a family and the entire family consists of about 10-30 members.

Outward looking

Mountain gorillas look aggressive with males having crowned muscles and the silvery hair on their backs at their age of sexual maturity. They have long arm than legs, large head s with no hair, shiny black muzzle, thick trunk and broad chest.

They are mountainous

Just like their name, mountain gorillas live in hilly regions. The rare species hike up to the mountain peaks, which are mostly forested. The thick fur enables them to survive the coldness in the higher altitudes. Mountain gorilla trekking safari in Africa therefore entails hiking the dense forest and it’s the experience that every traveller lives to remember.

Susceptible to human diseases

Mountain gorillas are so close to human beings sharing 98% of human genes which them so vulnerable to human diseases. The mostly spread are airborne like flue and cough easily spread from people to mountain gorilla. Because of this, travellers are advised to keep a distance of seven meters away from the gorillas and others like in virungas, travellers are given masks to put on their mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing

 

Flexible

Mountain gorillas are mobile in that they cannot stay in one place for two nights. Every morning, each family led by a dominant silver back leaves the site they slept and move to new places. They make new nests in the evening where they sleep that very night and will not return there the next night, this is reason why the rangers have to observe where the gorillas have slept so that they can be followed by the trekkers he next morning

Reproduction

The reproduction in mountain gorillas is quite slow compared to other wild animals. The female mountain gorillas give their first birth at 10 years and the gestation period is 8.5 months after which one baby gorilla is born. It is not very common mountain gorillas giving birth to twins. Anew born baby gorilla is very tiny weighing approximately 1.8kgs but keeps on growing to measure about 180kgs when it becomes mature

In conclusion, mountain gorillas are very interesting animals to interact with. Each member in the family plays a different role, which resemble a real human family

More information on Gorillas here.