GORILLA TRACKING IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Enjoy a thrilling moment while with the mountain gorillas which are not only the greatest apes but also whose DNA matches with a percentage of 98 with that of humans. Seeing them is a unique experience that can never be matched with any other when it comes to wildlife thus a reason it makes it to many travelers bucket list.
Tracking gorillas only takes place in the 3 countries of East Africa namely; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo though it largely happens from Rwanda and Uganda for they are strategically located and politically stable when compared to the latter. For those whose interest lies in tracking the gorillas of the DRC, it is recommended that you ensure the situation is favorable before actually traveling. These gorillas have also faced a huge deal of poaching and habitat destruction especially because of the country’s instability however wave of peace has for 3 years been felt; a reason a fine number of tourists has flooded the Virunga National Park for hiking the Nyiragongo Mountain and gorilla tracking as well.
Guides to that lead the trackers into the jungle help keep track and record of these mountain gorillas for the purpose of conservation and protection from poachers that lurk around the mountains. These are skilled at finding the areas where these gentle giants will have moved the previous day.
The tracking adventures begin early in the morning from the ranger station at Bukima in the Virunga Mountains National Park just outside the city of Goma. The length of the track is entirely reliant on the movement of these gorillas. Thus it may at times last only 2 hours or even go longer than that.
These gorilla families are more than 35 in number but you will only get to be allocated only one gorilla family which you will track and get to spend an hour with watching as they feed, play and the silverbacks keeping an eye out for the rest.
Here are a few tips that can guide you when planning your trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo;
- Acquire a Gorilla Tracking Permit through your tour operator ahead of time. In the DRC, you can get one directly from the Virunga National Park since there aren’t as many tour operators as in Uganda and Rwanda. Spend $400 on a gorilla permit and get to visit during your favorable time of the year. However during the wet season of May to October, these permits can even go for as low as $350 since the navigation of some areas becomes very difficult.
- Get vaccinated with an injection for yellow fever since you will be prohibited from entering the country without one. Some of the other vaccines you can get are those of Hepatitis A, Rabies, Meningitis and Typhoid. Also carry along anti-malarial drugs just in case.
- The visa which costs $100 is required to enter the Democratic Republic of Congo thus you will have to apply ahead of time.
- Carry along the right equipment before setting off into the jungle. This includes equipment like rain gear, sturdy trekking boots, comfy hiking clothes, woolen socks, light backpack with snacks and water in plenty, a first aid tool kit and waterproof camera. This is because hiking can sometimes arduous and long.
Regulations to follow when tracking Gorillas
- A total of only 8 people are permitted to track the Mountain Gorillas.
- Adults of 16 years and over are accepted to take part in the tracking.
- Gorillas tracking can only begin from 8am till 7pm.
- Only an hour is allocated to trackers to spend time with these gentle giants.