The mountain gorilla, a large, strong ape inhabiting Africa’s volcanic slopes, has few natural predators. Yet due to detrimental human activity, such as poaching, civil war, and habitat destruction, the mountain gorilla, a subspecies of the eastern gorilla, has become the most endangered type of gorilla.
Currently, the mountain gorilla’s habitat is limited to protected national parks in two regions of Africa. One group of gorillas lives in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The other group is spread over three national parks in the Virungas mountain region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda.
Mountain gorillas are as shy as they are strong. But when threatened, they can be aggressive. They beat their chests and let out angry grunts and roars. Group leaders will charge at the threat. Mothers will fight to the death to protect their young.
Mountain gorillas live in groups of up to 30. The group, or troop, is led by a single alpha male, an older silverback. These males are called silverbacks because of the silver stripe they develop on their backs when they mature. The oldest males of the group are at least 12 years old. These troops also include several younger males, adult and juvenile females, and infants.
In addition to providing protection to group members, silverbacks maintain order and decide all activities within their troop. They schedule feeding trips, resting time, and travel. They also father the majority of the young in the group.
Female mountain gorillas can produce young beginning at age 10. They carry one or two babies at a time and give birth after a 8.5-month gestation period. In general, they will bear between two and six offspring in a lifetime.
Newborn gorillas weigh about 1.8 kg (4 lb.) at birth. They are as weak and uncoordinated as human babies. For the first four years of their lives, they get around by clinging to their mothers backs. By 3.5 years of age, the young gorillas are fully weaned from their mothers milk and start the same diet as mature mountain gorillas: plants, leaves, roots and shoots.
Fully-grown male mountain gorillas can weigh up to 180 kg (400 lb). Females weigh half that at about 90 kg ( 200 lb). Aside from the silver stripe on their backs, male mountain gorillas are distinguished from females because they have a crest of fur on their heads. Both genders have similar thick black hair covering their body. Their thick hair keeps them warm in cold mountain temperatures.
For those are planning to do a gorilla tracking safari in Uganda, the following Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations would apply (as set out in the printed leaflet by the Uganda Wildlife Authority ‘Gorilla Rules’).
Before departing on your gorilla tracking:
- A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
On the way to the gorillas:
- Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
- DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
- You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
- When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.
When you are with the gorillas:
- A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
- You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
- Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
- Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
- Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
- Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
- The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
- After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.
General health rules:
Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:
- Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
- If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
- If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
- Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
- Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
- If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.
What to bring on your Gorilla Safari:
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
- Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
- Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
- Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
- Bring a photo of film camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.
For more information about Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations, kindly contact our office via email or phone Early morning after breakfast at 7.00 am the driver will pick you from the guesthouse and then leave for the South West of Uganda. The first part takes us through central Uganda. They will have Lunch in Mbarara at the famous Igongo Culture Centre and from here we will continue the journey through Rukugiri District passing villages, cultivated farms, hills before you reach in Buhoma Bwindi. Check in at Lodge, dinner and overnight at their booked Lodge.
Two day Gorilla Tracking Package
Day 1 and 2
Accommodation: Gorilla Valley Lodge or Travellers Rest HotelThe day of Gorilla tracking. At 7:45 am they will be at the starting point of Bwindi Impenetrable NP for pre-briefing and at 8:30 they will start the trek, after finding the gorillas they will spend with maximum 1 hour.
All visitors are expected back to the starting point by 7:00 P:M. The walks can take 3-9 hours depending on where you find the gorillas. It is a real hiking and being physically fit is recommended.
After breakfast, the last part of the journey will bring us back to Kampala. We will stop in Mbarara for Lunch and then continue, after Masaka town we will stop at the Equator for Tea/Coffee break and buying souvenirs.
We will bring you back to a hotel of your choice in Kampala for overnight. If you are continuing your journey somewhere else or back home, we will bring you to the airport for check in after refreshing at our guesthouse.
Driving time: ± 9 hours
Extra night in our Airport Guesthouse for $ 82 a double / $ 70 a single (including BB and airport transfer) Comfortable accommodation US$ 880 for one person going alone on the trip US$ 480 per person for 2 people US$ 370 per person for 3 people US$ 315 per person for 4 people US$ 285 per person for 5 people US$ 270 per person for 6 people US$ 250 per person for 7 people Single supplement will add US$ 80 extra.
Interested? Contact us!