Gorilla tracking is a year-round activity, with no main season as such. The forest is moist and it rains quite often, even in the dry season. Trekking commences every morning from the park headquarters at 8:00 AM. There is a daily maximum of 8 visitors to each gorilla group and each group is accompanied by 2 guides. Whilst the gorillas may cover large distances overnight, the gorilla location trackers will use their knowledge of the gorillas’ habits and information from the previous day to locate the group’s whereabouts before you head on your trek.
The Mountain Gorilla is an endangered species and thanks to conservation efforts and the statistics from WWF (World Wide Fund), the population of mountain gorillas has increased from 620 individuals in 1989 to around 880 individuals today. This number is likely to be accurate, as these animals have been intensely monitored since the 1950s. The Bwindi population lives at elevations of 1,500- 2,300 m. A 2011census recorded 400 individuals. Additionally, four orphaned mountain gorillas currently reside in a sanctuary in Uganda.
Noting all of this they also Live in groups of 2- 40 individuals (Mainly around 11 to a group) all led by a dominant male or head Silverback. The females only reproduce between 2-6 living young in their life span of their 40-50 years. Because of this, it can threaten these creatures to extinction. Therefore, we as humans must abide by rules and regulations when viewing these remarkable creatures. Remember Gorilla’ are acceptable to human diseases.
What to bring on your trek?
– Minimizing your trekking luggage to a small amount. Share sun block, a small first aid kit, Insect Repellant with your fellow travellers.
– Wear only neutral colours whilst on the trek, long sleeve shirt and trousers are requested to protect you from the long grasses and nettles on your trek.
– Invest in a light weight weather jacket – the weather is always unpredictable
Wearing appropriate shoes is a must. A trek can last anywhere from half an hour up to 10 hours (average around 2-3 hours)
– It is advisable to bring plenty of water at least 1-3 liters (note that it can get really hot and you get really thirsty up in the mountains).
– Make sure that you have charged all batteries in your camera and have spares. You will be surprised on how many photos’ you will take in a short space.
– Having a small pack of sweets, nuts and dry fruit for energy together with a packed lunch is also a must.
The rules and regulations when viewing the Gorilla’s trek:
– No flash photography. Move slowly to take photo’s
– A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a gorilla family per day
– Do not eat, drink or throw rubbish in the NP or whilst seeing the gorilla’s
– keep your voices low to a whisper
– No coughing, sneezing in front of the gorilla’s
– No direct eye contact with the gorilla’s
– staying at least 7 Meters from the Gorilla’s
One permit gets you 1 hour with these amazing creatures. All details are highlighted in a briefing before your Gorilla Trek commences. Walking conditions can be tough with thick rainforest/ jungles, valleys and steep hills, often very wet conditions and sometimes 5-7 hours of walking before you find the Gorilla group you are seeing. It is all worth it in the end and most people return from the encounter looking at doing it again.
Take a trip with Acacia Africa to Uganda to see mountain Gorillas. A remarkable experience of a lifetime!
Written by Michelle Lewis – Acacia Sales/Marketing