Gorilla Trekking in Congo – Gorilla Safaris in Virunga .
Primate Safari Experiences an expert company offering gorilla safaris in East Africa , that is Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. We do specialise in Primate Safaris within the region and the key ones are the mountain Gorillas .
Congo Safari is never complete without the visit to the primates of Virunga National Park that is located in Eastern Democratic of Congo sharing the borders with Uganda and Rwanda.
Within the Democratic Republic of Congo, the mountain gorillas are found in Virunga National Park which is also a UNESCO Heritage site. This park is located in the eastern side of democratic Republic of Congo and boarders both Uganda and Rwanda. The park covers an area of 7800 km2 and is home to over 200 gorilla individuals mostly situated in the southern part of the park.
Virunga National Park is habitat to about 200 of gorillas that live mostly in the southern side of the park. The Congolese National Park Authorities, together with the Institute Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and its associate the Africa Conservation Fund manage the National Park. With a decline in numbers due to brutal attacks in which at least 10 apes were murdered close to seven years ago, the gorilla inhabitants have somewhat recovered. The populace is now more stable largely because of the courageous efforts of the rangers who risk their lives in the park.
Gorilla trekking regulations in Virunga National park
Gorilla trekking has some strict rules and regulations that are supposed to be followed by the trackers the mountain gorilla expeditions. These include; group size, the groups to track per day as well as the time allowed spending with the mountain gorillas. This is also done to ensure the well-being of these endangered animals. This is because the gorillas are susceptible to many human diseases due to the great closeness between the humans and the mountain gorilla.
It’s only a maximum of eight individuals per day that are allowed to trek, this helps to reduce the spreading of diseases from humans to the mountain gorillas and only 15 years and over individuals allowed to trek.
Congo Gorilla Tracking Day, The Real Experience
Tracking gorillas is an extraordinary experience worthy to be taken because of the existence of the primates in Virunga National Park. These apes are charming, friendly and smart to be amongst. They are sub-divided into relational groups and carry different attributes like say the silver backs that act as the leaders, the fully developed female gorillas as the caretakers and the youthful who are only mischievous and are at all times within the trees
The guide at the park will take you through a brief preamble before heading into the forest for the awaited trek. He will cover the geography, history and some of the truths about the gorilla family you will be seeing. The tour guide shall also offer you guidance on ways to conduct yourself when you are with the gorillas in the forest.
Like earlier said, masks are to be put on to avoid these gorillas from getting any kind of human illness. The length of this trek is determined by the position of the gorillas. On some days it can be 20-40 minute hike from the way into the forest while on others it can take more than an hour’s walk to get to the Mountain gorillas since they are always on the go in the search of food.
Be sure to meet the gigantic chap silver back that will welcome you after it makes sure you are not a danger. After you are accepted, spend a thrilling time watching the gorillas which is truthfully a once in a life span experience. Remember you are given an hour in the forest with these Mountain Gorillas.
What to look forward to on a Gorilla Tracking Excursion.
Many thanks go to the ranger efforts who have risked their lives to save the remaining mountain gorillas. The guides will clear the bush away so you can get an understandable observation of these splendid primates and allow you to get perfect shots on these rare species. Another important keynote to remember is that if you gaze a gorilla in the eye and he begins swooping at you, do not run, remain motionless and bow your head as an indication of compliance and respect. Also, by no means beat your chest when with the mountain gorillas.
The time spent while gorilla tracking varies and depends on the assemblage that is tracking, the common location of the gorilla family, the topography and weather to mention but a few. Tracking can take as little as an hour or can even go on longer till 5 hours. While on the hike all the way all the way through the forest, it is recommended that you tag along the leadership of your tour guide. As you ascend onto the precipitous slopes of the volcanoes and into the jungle, you will need to tow yourself up the sharp paths by holding onto branches, plant roots, bushes, and many others. An on foot stick can also be handy. You are likely to get dehydrated so be sure to take a sufficient amount of water. The trek in to the forest can be exhausting but the meeting with these apes is worth every endeavor.
A time period of 1-2 hours is said to be spent on tracking these endangered gorillas depending on where they were left the previous day. These apes are protected officially within Virunga National Park in the DRC, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The other population can be found in the South Western Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda that is 331km² at the boundary with the DRC.
The best time to visit the mountain gorillas in Virunga
DRC has two rainy seasons. The short seasons start from October to November while the long ones go on from mid-March till the end of May. This rain comes from the tropical rain forests.
With the best months to visit the DRC being June to September all the way to February, many tourists choose to travel then when then the rain is reduced and the sun is shining in most of the destinations. December too is known to be one of the busiest months of the year in Virunga National Park and it is prudent to book the gorilla and Nyiragongo climbing permits so as to steer clear of disappointments for these are given out on the early bird catches the worm basis.
Accessibility of Virunga National Park in Congo, Getting There
By Road: Virunga National Park is situated 32 km to the west of Goma, the capital of North Kivu region. Transportation from Goma into the park can with no trouble be prearranged with the National Park at Virunga. The easier way to get about is with Primate Safari Experiences that currently offers the mount Gorilla Safaris in Congo. Beginning from the Rwandan side, it takes close to four hours driving from Kigali city to the town of Gisenyi. It is the next town to Goma after journeying the two borders; it takes about 1 and a half hours driving to get to the Park’s Headquarters.
Water Transport: Visitors who have been to Bukavu on a Safari and want to add up on the extension of the trip so as to cover the Virunga National Park, there are ferries that travel from Bukavu and then to Goma and through Idjwi Island on the Lake Kivu. This ride on a speed boat is about 3 hours and then that on a public boat takes around 4-5 hours. Upon your arrival at Goma, you thereafter will drive in a 4WD Safari jeep so as to gain access to the park. Unique Hires boats are obtainable at the lake shores although it is much better to get pleasure from the communal transport boats for security purposes unless it is prearranged by a recommended tour operator.
Things to note about border crossing to Congo.
Border crossing is uncomplicated and from there it is only a short walk of just 10 minutes to Goma. However, we encourage travelers and visitors to take note of the following:
- Make certain that your paper work is done and in order so as to please the customs and immigration personnel.
- Valid Yellow Fever vaccinations.
- Always check the state’s travel counsel and handy tour information before going aboard on a trip to Congo with the visa having been applied for in advance.
- Traveling overland these paths can be bumpy but a 4WD vehicle is recommended. It is imprudent to travel these routes in the night.
- The park is managed by both the authorities of Congolese national park and the institute of Congolais pour la conservation de la Nature (ICCN), the other partner involved is the Africa Conservation Fund. Due to the recent tragedy that killed over ten mountain gorillas, the gorilla population has improved and recovered at the same time. Many thanks go to the ranger efforts who have risked their lives to save the remaining mountain gorillas.
Keep the eyes wide open throughout the different excursions you will complete from and about the park and also while here get to spot an array of monkeys together with feathered friends that have made Virunga National Park a home.