5 best destinations for gorilla trekking in Africa

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Gorilla trekking is among those African safaris that may not popularly identify with Africa. Outside the common African safari norm of watching wildlife in an open roof safari car, gorilla trekking is generally a hiking trip. The only thing that makes it stand out from most of the hiking trips is the fact that you hike with an aim of meeting gorillas in their natural habitat.

On the African continent, gorillas are found in East, west and central Africa. Therefore, for anyone considering a gorilla safari, they will have a list of choices to consider. In order to narrow down your list, you will simply have to choose among the following countries; Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic republic of Congo, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria ,Central African Republic, and Congo. 

However, the above list of countries still seems too long for you to make a choice. For that matter, we bring you the best five gorilla trekking destinations in Africa;

Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda)

Among all destinations on the African continent, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park stands out as the best destination for gorilla safaris on the African continent. This is partly due to their efforts in infrastructure development that in the end has improved their gorilla watching experience above that of their neighbors. 

Though Rwanda has the most expensive gorilla permit in Africa, the price is worth it. The road to the Volcanoes National Park is well tarmacked, and they have the option of choosing the hiking terrains according to difficulty; an opportunity that does not exist anywhere else in Africa.  

The country is also one of the safest in Africa giving it an edge when it comes to gorilla trekking. Volcanoes National Park is part of the Virunga conservation area that is shared among Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo. But their focus on detail and service delivery has distinguished them from all the other gorilla trekking destinations in Africa. 

Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park (Uganda) 

Uganda boasts of hosting more mountain gorillas than any other park in Uganda and Rwanda. This is attributed to that fact that it is the only country in the whole world where you can find two national parks that protect mountain gorillas. 

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of Africa’s prime destinations for gorilla trekking. The park is divided into four sectors. This has helped Bwindi offer a unique gorilla trekking experience almost matching that of volcanoes. However the park faces one major challenge, which is the long transfer from Kampala to Bwindi impenetrable forest. The drive takes about 10 hours!

Like Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, you have 98% chances of spotting mountain gorillas in Bwindi on any given day. In other words, when you book a tour in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you are very sure that you will see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. 

Mgahinga Gorilla National park (Uganda)

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of those places that tourists miss while on safari in Uganda. This is largely due to former reports of continuous migration of the gorillas to Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. 

However, the narrative has changed since the Nyakagezi Family became a permanent resident in Uganda. It should be noted, like Bwindi, you have over 98% chances of meeting the mountain gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park on any given day. Due to the bamboo forest cover, sometimes tourists find Mgahinga Gorilla National Park more interesting since it offer more clear scenes to spot the mountain gorillas. 

Uganda is one of the safest countries in the East African region. The country hosts refugees from all its neighbors. The road network to the gorilla national parks as well as accessibility for power, and cell phone network makes the trips in Mgahinga worthwhile. 

Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic Of Congo)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has continuously suffered a security related set back. Though it offers some of the cheapest permits to see mountain gorillas, it has remained in the shadows of Uganda and Rwanda largely due to security threats.

Unlike Uganda and Rwanda, the DR Congo still has a very poor road network that makes some of the parts of the country inaccessible. These issues have made Virunga National Park a non-desirable gorilla trekking location. Then why should we rank it among the best gorilla safari destinations in Africa?

The Virunga National Park offers 98% chances of spotting the mountain gorillas on any given day. You will also have security throughout your trek. The roads to Virunga through Goma are also in good condition. The gorilla trekking experience is far unique from that of Uganda and Rwanda. With a visit to Virunga, you return to tell a story that most people have not heard an opportunity to hear. 

Kahuzi Biega National Park 

Kahuzi Biega National Park is the leading destination for the Eastern lowland gorillas. Though the East lowland gorillas can be found around the world, Kahuzi Biega is the only place where you can find them in their natural habitat. 

The park can be accessed through Rwanda. You can also easily take a flight from Kigali international airport to Kamembe international airport to reduce on your transfer time. From Kamembe, you can then take a road transfer to Kahuzi Biega National park. 

Though Democratic republic of Congo has been considered by many people as unsafe, Kahuzi Biega National park locality is far secure compared to the locality of Virunga national park. Their gorilla trekking permits are also cheaper compared to Volcanoes and Bwindi of Uganda. 

This article was written in cooperation with African Jungle Adventures