Gorilla tracking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park presents a rare and thrilling opportunity to witness one of the world’s most magnificent creatures, the mountain gorilla. These gentle giants are not only the largest primate on Earth but also one of the most endangered species, with their survival hanging in the balance due to poaching and habitat destruction. In the wild, there are merely 840 mountain gorillas left, the majority of which reside in Rwanda and Uganda.
Unlike their smaller primate relatives that spend much of their lives in the treetops, mountain gorillas are terrestrial beings. They prefer open canopy forests where sunlight filters down to the forest floor. Their herbivorous diet consists of roots, leaves, vines, stems, and bamboo.
While mountain gorillas are capable of bipedal movement, they are primarily knuckle walkers, navigating the forest floor on all fours. Female gorillas select their breeding partners based on their protective capabilities, and gorilla groups can vary in size, ranging from a mated pair to groups of up to thirty individuals. On average, gorilla “families” consist of about nine members.
Male mountain gorillas can reach towering heights of approximately six feet and weigh up to 200 kilograms, while females are smaller, measuring under five feet and weighing around 100 kilograms. Despite their size, mountain gorillas tend to stay within a relatively confined area of their habitat.
While gorilla tracking is possible year-round, the dry season stands out as the best time for this captivating adventure. The wet season not only makes hiking more challenging but also prompts gorillas to seek shelter, making them harder to observe.
The timing of the wet season varies depending on the country:
The duration of your hike to encounter a gorilla family can vary significantly. Some trekkers find gorillas within as little as 40 minutes, while others may spend up to seven hours on the trail. For this reason, it’s essential for all gorilla trekkers to be in good physical and mental condition. If you are ill, you are not permitted to participate in a gorilla trek, as gorillas can be vulnerable to human-borne illnesses.
Observing gorillas in their natural habitat comes with responsibilities. These rules must be followed when tracking and observing gorillas:
While gorillas are not aggressive predators, they are wild animals capable of causing harm if they feel threatened. It is crucial to adhere to these rules for your safety and the well-being of the gorillas.
The trek through the rainforest to reach the gorillas can be physically demanding. Dressing appropriately and comfortably is essential for the journey. It is recommended to wear a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, and lightweight hiking boots to protect against scratches from the rugged terrain. While protective gloves are optional, they can be beneficial.
Given the varying temperatures throughout the day, bring a light jumper and a breathable rain jacket or poncho. A small backpack is handy for storing extra clothing, water, lunch, and photography equipment. Wearing neutral-colored, comfortable clothing is advised.
In addition to warm clothing and rain protection, consider these essentials for your gorilla safari:
For a memorable and affordable gorilla tracking experience in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, contact Trek Africa Tours to plan your expedition. Witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat and contribute to their conservation efforts while creating memories that will last a lifetime.