Mountain Gorilla Tracking: An Overview
The highlight of any wilderness visit to Uganda is obviously the mountain gorillas. Visitors from all over the globe flock to Uganda and Rwanda to see these majestic creatures.
WIT Agent Nancy has been traveling in Queen Elizabeth Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. We look forward to her feedback and photos of firsthand tracking!
The images below of the mountain gorillas have been provided by Abiaz Rwamwiri, Managing Director of Africa Wild Explorations!
What are Mountain Gorillas?
Endangered Mountain Gorillas native to East Africa are found nowhere else on the planet, not even in zoos. They can’t survive in confined areas, which makes them quite a rare sight to behold! Altogether there are upwards close to 800 mountain gorillas remaining the world. Half of them on in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and many are located in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
The first known European encounter was in 1902, when one German Captain von Berenge was climbing Mount Sabinyo. At around 9,300-ft altitude, his band spotted a group of Mountain Gorillas—much larger than the apes they were accustomed to seeing. They were hunted for sport for a few decades until preservation efforts were established. Gradually tourist infrastructure sprang up to support visitors who wanted to admire these huge beasts up close.
Best Time to Go
Tracking gorillas can be conducted year-round, but the damp seasons of spring make the rainforest only pleasant in winter and summer. The high season to catch a glimpse of gorillas are December to February, then June to September.
All About Permits
The Uganda Wildlife Authority sells 96 gorilla permits per day for Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park.
Africa Wild Explorations organizes gorilla permits to that our guests don’t miss the once in a lifetime opportunity to track them. In some cases, certain permits are purchased upwards of 1-2 years in advance!
What to Wear?
As with any jungle expedition, clothing can make or break your trip! Dress in warm layers. Remember to carry a rain jacket, waterproof trekking shoes / walking boots, light outdoor trousers, and long-sleeved shirts. You’ll need a medium backpack to carry drinking water and lunchbox during gorilla tracking.
Male gorillas can grow up to 6 ft tall, with a weight around 350-500 lbs and arm length of around 7 feet. Typically, their hair is dark than their lowland counterparts, as they keep to colder climates. As they mature, a strip of hair on their backs turns silver, hence their popular moniker Silverbacks.
These majestic creatures can live around 40-50 years, keeping to close-knit, nomadic groups and feeding on seasonal flowers, roots, fruits and shoots. Their tribes range from 2 to 30-40, but mostly found in groups of 10.
Unfortunately, Mountain Gorillas are severely endangered due to human encroachment. Though poachers are no longer a threat, at least in Uganda, diseases and environmental damage still threaten overall health and wellness of these groups.
Did you know…
Mountain Gorillas and humans share around 98% of the same genetic makeup? They can communicate with a series of roars, grunts and shouts. Researchers have documented around 25 distinct sounds.