There are many destinations that are worthy of making the bucket list. But there are none quite like Gorilla trekking in the Virunga Mountains of Africa. If you are thinking about making the trip, here are some gorilla trekking tips that will help you BE PREPARED for an amazing journey unlike any other.
We promise… you’ll be happy you read this!
Consider Best Time of Year for Trekking
Mountain gorillas live in the dense national forests of the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since these locations are close to the equator the climate stays pretty consistent year round. The rainy seasons are September – November AND March – April. Dry seasons are December – February and June – August.
The gorillas are mobile even during the rainy season so trekking is good ANY TIME OF THE YEAR (unlike other types of wildlife viewing where the rainy season can impact travel in some locations). Since the Gorillas live in the rain forest you should be prepared for rain at any time.
Get your Gorilla Trekking Permits
Both Uganda and Rwanda require gorilla trekking permits. The cost for a permit in Rwanda is $1500 and in Uganda is $600. The permits are valid per person per visit. Tour operators (like Capture Africa Tours) will purchase permits on your behalf.
Note: Visits are limited to 1 hour to protect the great apes. Gorilla families are on regular schedules for feeding, making nests, and much more and we must not disrupt their daily routines. Stress can affect the health of the gorillas so limiting exposure to humans protects against illness.
Know your Fitness/Skill Level
Choose the trek that makes the most sense for you! If you want an easy trek or more challenging our group will be assigned a family of gorillas depending on their location. Prepare yourself by exercising prior to your trip. Just remember you will always have porters to help you along the way.
Take the Right Clothing
Light layers are best! A lightweight t-shirt that dries fast as your bottom layer, a long-sleeve shirt to protect your arms in dense vegetation as your second layer, and a rain proof top layer (especially if you are trekking during the rainy season). It can be muggy, wet and muddy so boots that go past the ankle are best along with long pants and long socks. * Tuck your pants into your socks to protect against ants. And don’t forget a good pair of gloves that will protect your hands from stinging nettles very common along your trek. *
Plan for the Best Photographs
No flash photography! We suggest a camera body with a medium range telephoto lens (70 – 200 mm). Bring a waterproof bag/small backpack to store your camera and equipment in case of rain/moisture. Photographs may be easier to take during the dry season, December, January, February, June, July, August, and September. However, be prepared for wet conditions year round in the rain forest.
Know the Rules of Conduct in the Presence of Gorilla
Do not trek if you are sick / No loud noises / Stay with your group / Listen to your guides / Maintain safe distances / Do not attempt to touch any animals / Take your trash & belongings with you when you leave — Ask your guide for more insight on gorilla etiquette.
Ready to put the gorilla trekking tips to the test?
Now that you are equipped with some important gorilla trekking tips, find out what it’s like to ACTUALLY make the trip! Check out our sample itinerary for our Rwanda Mountain Gorilla & Golden Monkey Trekking tour! We love being able to visit both of these beautiful species in one trip. This is one of our all-time favorite adventures so we offer Gorilla trekking on its own as well as an extension before or after another tour. The options are endless with Capture Africa Tours as it should be with any African journey.
Contact us with any questions you may have and to discuss checking off Gorilla trekking from YOUR bucket list!
Help Save Mountain Gorillas
Show your support & love for Mountain Gorillas – The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is a great resource for “all things Gorillas” including conservation, news, and ways to help save them. Check out — “5 Ways to Help Save Gorillas”