Mountain gorillas are interesting primates famously known for their strength and extreme intelligence. They are close to humans sharing almost 98 percent of human DNA. Gorillas are divided into two species that is eastern also known as gorilla beringei and western gorillas also known as gorilla gorilla.
These primates are the largest and can weigh up to 180kg for males while females are usually smaller weighing almost half living in forests and jungles of west and central Africa.
Gorillas are social and live in groups known as troops consisting of females. Infants and juveniles headed by a dominant silverback. They usually feed on fruits, insects, stems and leaves because they are herbivorous.
Their ways of communication especially when they are angry is through hooting, stabbing the ground with their feet, grunting and chest beating. They are known to be peaceful but if disturbed, they can mean to be aggressive.
In Africa, these gorillas can be encountered in only three countries, Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. In Uganda, Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla national park are top destination where you can encounter mountain gorillas in their natural habitat giving you extreme gorilla experiences.
In Rwanda, volcanoes national park has a lot of gorilla families where you can trek from creating memorable safari experiences.
In Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga and Kahuzi-Beiga national park are top destination where you get to encounter gorillas in the true jungle wilderness. Congo gives you a chance and see both mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas which makes the activity memorable and adventurous.
Just like their name, mountain gorillas live in forests high in mountains at elevations of about 8,000 ft
They have thick and lots of fur compared to other species.
They can survive in places whose temperatures drop below freezing point.
They have longer hair and are more grey than brown.
Their family groups consist of a mature male, females and infants or juveniles.
They have lots of adaptations that help them in surviving for a long time.
They cannot survive in captivity.
They have a broad chest and long faces.
They are impressive primates which have been recorded over twenty five years.
Their intelligence is usually seen through their ability to fashion and natural material into tools that help them
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in Uganda in the south western part. The park has four gorilla sectors that is Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga. Bwindi is home to the largest population of mountain gorillas having over 18 families within the dense thicket.
Gorilla trekking can be so much demanding and tiresome but rewarding at the end. It can last from 30 minutes to 3hours depending on where the gorillas will be found. Getting close to these primates is arguable and the most magnificent wildlife encounter in the world.
Trekking starts in the morning with a pre- trek briefing session at the park headquarters where you are given guidelines on how to behave once you get to encounter with them. You are then sent into the dense thickets of Bwindi to trek gorillas, once you get to see them, you are given a period of one hour as you observe them do their activities like feeding, playing and breast feeding. You can capture these beautiful moments to create long time memories. The high altitudes are testing and demand a lot of flexibility but the reward is all more magical.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is located in south western Uganda bordering DRC and Rwanda and is part of the large Virunga conservation area. The park is home to rare endangered mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking in this destination can be a little bit challenging since it demands going through steep and muddy terrain depending on where the primates will be found.
This can last for some hours and when you get to encounter them, you are given one hour to be in their presence as you learn more about their lives. Mgahinga gorilla national park gives you an opportunity to encounter these intelligent primates in their natural habitat. After the trek, you can pass by the headquarters and get a certificate of participation.
This is one of the best places to see gorillas in Africa located in Rwanda having a good number of gorillas. This place offers splendour memories of gorilla experiences while in Africa.
Rwanda gorilla trekking experience starts with a briefing at the park headquarters where you are guided on how to behave in the presence of gorillas. This activity can last for 2 to 5 hours since gorillas don’t stay in one place. It is done through designated treks and up hill hikes of volcanoes national park.
Once you get to encounter them, you are given a magical and unforgettable hour with them under the guidance of an experienced guide. You can trek from any of the nine groups of that is Sabinyo, Amahoro, Susa, Agashya, Karisimbi, Kwitonda, Hirwa, Ugende and Bwege.
Virunga national park is located in the eastern part of Congo offering incredible and adventurous gorilla trekking experiences with unforgettable memories. Virunga is one of the oldest national parks in Africa, a home to mountain gorillas.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga is conducted in small groups of people that are assigned to trek a particular gorilla group. It involves going through dense forest vegetation and thicket so it demands flexibility and energy because it is sometimes difficult and tiresome.
Under the guidance of experienced guides, you are helped on where to trek your designated gorilla family group and also giving you a few interesting facts about these primates. Feel free to encounter with gorillas and take as many photos to keep for good memories.
Cost of gorilla trekking.
Foreign residents pay USD600
Non foreign residents pay USD700
Ugandan citizens pay 250,000
Non-residents pay USD1500
Rwandese citizens pay USD 200
Foreign residents pay USD 200
Foreign non-residents pay USD 400
Foreign residents pay USD 400
Gorilla silverbacks are the dominant mature males within a gorilla family / troop. A silverback earned this name and can be identified by a silvery-grey hair found on their back as they get to mature. This grey hair starts to develop between the age of 8 to 12 years.
These silverbacks tend to have a stocky build, muscular arms, wide feet and hands and a broad chest. They can move for about 40 kilometres per hour faster than younger apes.
They are the leaders of the groups and responsible for their groups like making decisions, protecting its members and lead the groups to feed. This silverback protects its individuals especially the females, infants and juveniles from any potential threats.
They are strong and powerful in nature having physical strength and intimidating display to scare away rivals. These creatures can also socially bond with its individuals by grooming, fostering and social cohesion.
Silverbacks have a unique way of communication depending on their mood or intensions, these include hooting, grunting, chest beating and stamping feet on the ground.
These primates face challenges from younger males who always want to change leadership. And in case this confrontation succeeds, leadership has to automatically change.
They can live for about 30 or 40 years which makes them to have a short life span compared to females. What shortens their long life is the territorial defence, conflicts and leadership demands.
These primates can be 10 times more stronger than humans so one needs to be careful not to act like an external threat.
They are able to settle fights within their groups through display and not fights.
Under the guidance of experiences guides, you are able to encounter and spot these silverbacks easily. You should note that silverbacks are not only icons of strength and leadership but also essential creatures and they need to be treated well and conserved.