The mist that spills along the verdant hills and volcanoes of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo cloaks the home of one of Africa’s most endangered animal—the mountain gorilla, that has created a new travel craze— gorilla trekking.
Uganda Gorilla trekking is the guided trek into the mountain forest jungle in search of the gentle beast family that has been habituated to embrace human traffic. And when found, spending an hour in their presence with the protection of game rangers. The adrenaline release you get in their presence is what travellers pay for and it’s precious.
With about 1000 of these wild mountain gorillas left in the world, a trek to see these humble great primates in the wilderness is at the top of many travellers’ bucket list. The rare mountain gorilla lives nowhere else in the world but along the border of Rwanda, Uganda, and the politically tumultuous DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in the Virunga Mountains—a range of now extinct volcanoes—and in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where thick foliage of trees and bamboos covers the 12,000 foot peak that is habitat to the mountain gorilla.
Rwanda has recently become the center of big-ticket safaris, with lodges charging up to $1,500 per person per night and permits to track the gorillas sold by the government for $1,500 per person per day (so yes, that’s $3,000 per person per day). For most travelers, that could end a trip to Africa before it’s even started. Even if you can find cheap lodging, you’ll still have to pay $1,500 for a permit.
There’s good news though: Just across the border in Uganda, there are more affordable permits, just US$600 per person, per trek per day—a third of the price of Rwanda just across the border.
Too much funds go into protecting and habituating these creatures. So that money may seem too much but it’s needed to still have the mountain gorilla share this planet with us.
Regardless of what you’ve paid for a permit, you’ll hike under the guidance of a local ranger accompanied by armed trackers. Trekking hikes may end up taking several hours, but no matter how long you’ve searched to find the silverbacks, you’ll only be permitted to stay with the primate groups for one hour. No one is permitted to visit gorillas without a ranger or permit.
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