With only 880 mountain gorillas in the wild
and only ±75 silverbacks left, this is an experience not to be missed!
There are three subspecies of gorillas living in different parts of Africa
- Western Lowland Gorilla (gorilla gorilla) – found in Republic of Congo, Cameroon & Gabon
- Eastern Lowland Gorilla (gorilla graueri) – found in DR Congo
- Mountain Gorilla (gorilla berengei) – found in Rwanda, Uganda & DR Congo
For those interested in seeing the gorillas in their natural habitat Uganda offers two locations for tracking: Bwindi Impenetrable Fores
t and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
. Over 60% of the world's mountain gorillas are in Uganda with over 400 gorillas.
Within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, there are 4 different areas from where you can start your track, called trailheads: Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.
Each of these trailheads has accommodation near the tracking area.
If you want to track mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, you need to be in good physical condition to go up and down the terrain, as it can be quite tough. On the morning of your track, you will be transferred to the trailhead (Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga or Nkuringo – depending on where you permit was booked) for a briefing before setting off to the forest in search of gorillas. The time taken searching for the gorillas is unpredictable; however, it ranges between 2-9 hours depending on their movement. The gorilla track can be quite difficult because of uneven terrain, steep and slippery slopes, invasive vegetation. You will also have the opportunity to experience Bwindi’s other delights while tracking the gorillas – its birdlife, butterflies, buffalo and giant forest. A maximum of 88 gorilla permits (Bwindi has currently 11 inhabited gorilla groups) are issued per day, and during high season these sell out far in advance; it is therefore essential to book your permits as early as possible. Gorilla Permits currently cost USD 600 per permit.
Gorilla tracking rules
- Noise levels must be kept to a minimum so as not to disturb the gorillas.
- A 7-meter distance from the gorillas should be observed at all times.
- Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
- In the event of a gorilla charge, follow your guide’s example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away.
- No eating or drinking when near the gorillas.
- No smoking on the track.
- Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
- If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth to minimise the spread of bacteria or viruses.
- Anything taken into the nature reserve must be carried back. No rubbish can be left behind.
- Age limit - the minimum age for gorilla tracking is 15 years.
Adult males develop a silver spray of hair across their back and hips, hence earning the name ‘silverback'. This occurs at about 12-15 years of age. The lifespan of gorilla are 40-50 years and females will have their first infant between the ages of 10 and 12. Their gestation period is 9 months and their inter-birth interval 3-5 years.
The age categories used for classification are
Birth to 3.5 years
3.5 to 6 years
Between 6 and 8 years
8 to 12 years Adult female: from 8 years onwards
From 12 years onwards
Interesting gorilla facts
- No two gorillas have identical nose-prints.
- Gorillas do not drink water. They obtain all the moisture they need from the vast amounts of foliage they consume.
- Gorillas have larger muscles in their arms than in their legs (the opposite is true for humans).
- Gorillas have 32 teeth - the same number as humans. With two full sets of teeth during their lifetime, similar to humans. The first set (similar to baby teeth) is lost and then replaced by their permanent set as adults.
- Gorillas, unlike monkeys, do not have tails.
Gorilla tracking is certainly a unique, once in a lifetime wildlife experience not to be missed!