- Posted by admin
- On April 16, 2019
- 0 Comments
Mountain Gorillas: The rare apes bringing tourists to Southwestern Uganda
Listed among the world’s primates under critical threat, mountain gorillas are currently the largest living apes. They are covered with black fur, have a broad chest and arms most especially a fully grown male gorilla popularly known as a silverback. These rare primates are considered to be among man’s closest relatives and similar to humans, they live in families that are led by a dominant silverback. The gorilla family also comprises of juvenile gorillas, young gorillas as well as females
Currently the remaining mountain gorilla population lives in only three countries on the entire planet in the forested mountains of southwestern Uganda, Northwestern Rwanda and the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo in the four major gorilla national parks of Mgahinga Gorilla Park, Bwindi impenetrable national park, Volcanoes National park and Virunga National park respectively with Bwindi impenetrable forest National park having the highest mountain gorilla population. Mountain Gorilla Safaris; Over the years, mountain gorilla safaris have increased as a number of people from the different corners of the world visit Bwindi to have a one on one encounters with these rare primates and guess what! They never get disappointed! An encounter with the mountain gorillas in the forested mountains of Bwindi as described by many is “Breathtaking, Once in a lifetime experience, Amazing Experience, Unforgettable! Awesome Experience, name it all! Above all, it gives that human feeling of meeting your long lost friend or relative.
The gorilla experience starts with an early morning briefing at the park headquarters where tourists gather and they are given information about what to expect while in the forest. This also includes information on the do’s and don’ts while with the gorillas to
to ensure the safety of both the gorillas and the tourists. From here the tourists are led to the forest amidst sighting of a number of wildlife species including birds, vegetation species, insects and other wildlife in the forests. This hiking process takes a 1 to 5 hours or more tracking the gorillas and largely depends on the movement of gorillas since they are mobile animals and often times move from one place to another looking for fresh vegetation to feed on as well as new places where they can build their nests and rest.
On getting to the gorillas, tourists are strictly allowed in the presence of the gorillas for one full hour and then they can clearly see the gorillas as they feed, relax and go on about their routine at the moment in the wild. The young ones as always don’t shy away from having fun and are seen jumping up and down running around their mothers. One can take as many photographs as they want though flash photography is strictly not allowed.
In the southern sector of Bwindi however, there is another unique gorilla experience that is referred to as the Mountain Gorilla Habituation Experience. This is the ultimate experience that comes with 4 full hours in the presence of the gorillas. The gorilla habituation experience just as normal tracking starts with a briefing in the morning though takes a full day as clients participate in the behind the scenes of what rangers go through to make gorillas get accustomed to human beings presence in their midst.
From there, tourists are lead back to the park headquarters from where they are awarded their certificates of participation and then can be driven back to their lodges or to their next destinations depending on schedule.
A mountain gorilla-tracking permit currently costs $600 per person and a gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person. Note that a gorilla permit is only valid for a day and anyone seeking more time with the gorillas can buy another gorilla permit and track or habituate on another scheduled date. The gorilla permits are strictly sold at the Uganda Wildlife Authority and can be purchased from there or can be got through the different tour operator who gets them from the wildlife authority on behalf of their clients. Important to note though is that these are very scarce due to high demand and therefore anyone seeking to undertake a mountain gorilla safari should ensure to secure the gorilla permit in advance before they are fully booked
The best time to visit mountain gorilla is in the dry season from June to September and from December to March though one can still go for a gorilla tour in the months of April, May & November.
Given that Bwindi is covered with a tropical rain forest, rainfall can occur at any time of the year and its therefore always better to have a waterproof jacket just in case it rains. For a great trek, one is also advised to wear strong hiking shoes or boots, long-sleeved shirts, and trousers to avoid skin irritation and scratches from the vegetation. Hiring a porter can also be useful as some times the trails get rough to hike and you might need a hand.