Of course, spotting animals in the wild is unlike seeing them at a zoo or a wildlife park, where you can simply stroll up and take a peek. Before you can encounter them, you need to venture into their habitat – and with gorillas, this means trekking through the rainforest, with Uganda being the best place to do so.
Gorilla trekking typically begins first thing in the morning, following a briefing from your guide. Tracking a family group, you will make your way through the beautiful wilderness landscape with experienced guides. Then, you will be able to sit and watch as a gorilla family goes about its usual activities, such as eating and playing.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is where you have the best chance of spotting a mountain gorilla family going about their business. Once you have your permit you are led across the rugged terrain and though the awe inspiring jungle to where the gorillas were seen yesterday and then you track them down. Aside from the amazing gorilla interactions there are numerous forest walks and 346 species of birds to track down, many of which are amazingly coloured.
Best Place to Stay: Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp,
It is the only complex of its kind within the park. Offering you a slice of luxury in the untamed wilderness, the camp provides the perfect base for rewarding gorilla treks. Blending in seamlessly with the natural environment, it consists of eight double tents located on raised wooden platforms, with a host of luxurious extras – think wooden verandas with glorious views and bathtubs overlooking the wilderness.
Set high on the jungle-covered slopes of the volcanic Virunga Mountains, Parc National des Volcans is best known as a sanctuary for the region’s rare mountain gorillas. Highly regulated treks through the reserve allow visitors to spend an hour at a time with these incredible primates in their natural habitat.
Best Place to Stay: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge.
The lodge is only minutes away from the headquarters of the Parc National des Volcans from where clients trek on foot to see the magnificent Mountain Gorilla – perhaps one of the most dramatic, thrilling and poignant wildlife experiences possible. Accommodation at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge comprises five double cottages, two suites and one family suite. All are stone buildings with Rwandese terracotta tile roofs, and feature large sitting areas, fireplaces, stylish en-suite bathrooms finished with Venetian plaster a dressing room and a sheltered veranda. Heat exchangers in the fireplaces provide a plentiful supply of hot water.
Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on the border of Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga is Africa’s oldest national park and is also the continent’s most biologically diverse protected area. The park’s 7800 square kilometers includes forests, savannas, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, active volcanoes, and the glaciated peaks of the Rwenzori mountains.
Virunga is home to about a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. The park’s two other Great Ape species, eastern lowland Grauer’s gorillas and chimpanzees, make Virunga the only park in the world to host three taxa of Great Apes. Another prominent inhabitant of the park is the Okapi, an endangered species that resembles a zebra but is more closely related to the giraffe. Large colonies of hippopotami, forest and savanna elephants, lions, and numerous rare bird species can also be found in the park.
Virunga’s southern sector is best known for the mountain gorillas that live on the flanks on the dormant Mikeno volcano. Dense forests cover most of southern Virunga, which also make it ideal habitat for chimpanzees and numerous species of monkey.
Although Mgahingha Park is small together with Rwanda’s Volcano and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park it makes up a significant conservation area. Aside from the main attraction which is the mountain gorillas the Park is home to buffaloes, elephants, golden monkeys and loads of bird species. The three extinct volcanoes offer plenty of hiking options.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. As its name suggests, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkey.
As well as being important for wildlife, the park also has a huge cultural significance, in particular for the indigenous Batwa pygmies. This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unrivalled.