Gorilla trekking is one of the most unique activities that can only be done in Africa from the entire world. Encountering these rare animal species is a lifetime experience, spending little time with the gentlest and humanitarian apes are worth it. Gorilla trekking is done in only three African countries those are: Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The guests are grouped in groups where they are briefed before being led by the park ranger to the jungle.
Gorilla trekking is an experience in which one walks in the jungle to trace Gorillas in their habitat before spending 1 hour closely with the Gorillas. There are two main types of Gorillas in Africa those are Mountain Gorillas and Lowland Gorillas. The mountain Gorillas are in the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo while low land gorillas also called the Western Lowland Gorillas can be found in Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The lowland gorillas can be distinguished from mountain gorillas by their size which is smaller than mountain gorillas, their brown-grey coats, brown ridges and smaller ears. Its only lowland Gorillas that can be kept on the zoos.
On the other hand, mountain gorillas are one of the endangered animal’s species in the world with only around 1004 individuals left. The rare apes are human close relatives with over 90% shared DNA are greatly affected by human activities like poaching, deforestation and others.
The Gorilla habituation experience is the process that involves tracking the Gorillas in their natural habitants with the guidance of the experienced park rangers for more than 4 hours. Gorilla habituation experience was started in Uganda when the demand from tourists who wanted to do more research on Gorillas especially identifying their behavior, how they live as a family, feeding behavior, life span and many more. All guests who want gorilla habituation are always charged more money doubling the normal gorilla trekking fee. They are very unique in that they only allow 4 people to do Gorilla habituation per day compared to 8 per day per family in Gorilla trekking. Gorilla habituation groups ae also known as research Gorilla groups are only used for Research purposes.
Gorilla habituation always starts more early than gorilla trekking reason been more information about the Gorillas is needed and every minute of their action is paramount. Gorilla habituation is one of the rarest and unique experience with the gorillas, one will have enough time and space to record or film all the detailed behaviors of the gorillas in their true wilderness home. Till now Gorilla habituation is only done in Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest in Uganda with only two Gorilla families of Bushaho and Bikyingi. Unlike Gorilla trekking which takes only one hour Gorilla habituation takes 4 hours after meeting the gorillas.
Gorilla habituation is mostly done to the gorilla families which are still not fully habituated and ready for the trekkers to trek on. This is because the research is mostly done on the typical wildlife of the gorillas in the bush which are not very much close or used to humans. This helps to know the true life of the true wild gorilla on their character, way of feeding, actions and many leadership skills they have. For Gorilla habituation the 7 meters’ rule is much more emphasized to all the tourists who are doing the Gorilla habituation. It’s a must that the guests must not exceed 4 per group during habituation experience.
Lifestyle of Gorillas
Gorillas both Lowland and Mountain gorillas in Africa leave in families which range from 3 to 30 individuals. The mountain Gorillas live mostly in tropical rainforests which occupy the Western part of Uganda, Rwanda and D R Congo. The like a cool high altitude area where the temperatures are ever low even if its dry season. Every Gorilla family is led by the adult Sliver back Gorilla accompanied by females, young ones and semi-adult males.
The Gorillas have a gestation period of 8 to 9 months pregnancy before a female Gorilla gives birth to a young Gorilla which mostly weighs an average of 2.5 kilograms. The young may weigh half of the human baby weight but can grow faster than human baby. Within the period of 40 weeks the baby gorilla can play, walk and climb long trees. At the age of 6 years a gorilla can weigh up to 70 kilograms with height of 1.20 meters tall when standing upright. A fully grown up Gorilla can weigh up to 200 kilograms with a height of 1.70 meters when standing upright.
Female gorillas mature at the age of 6 years while the male gorillas get mature at the age of 10 years. At the mature age the males always become stubborn and start moving alone, fighting for leadership at the family or may even join another family. Gorillas reproduce at every slow pace and that is why they are highly endangered species. In fact people quote that they have the best “natural family planning on earth”. The mother gorilla gives birth to a single baby with some rare cases of twins though it have been recorded in Bwindi impenetrable forest. The growth of the gorilla number is also affected by low growth rate where by 30% of the young gorillas die when they are young. Most dies due to natural calamities while others are killed by other family males.
Male gorillas develop the light grey hair on their back at the age of 12 years hence giving them the name sliver back Gorilla. A family can have more than one sliver back leaving in good terms and sharing well.
Life time of a Gorilla
Generally, Gorillas have short life time with an average of 35 to 40 years though some Gorillas have managed to leave longer up to 50 years. Gorillas plan their daily activity as led by the sliver back. They start their journey to look for food early as sunrises around 6 am, they mostly depend on leaves, roots, stems and fruits of the trees. They are mostly vegetarians though in some cases they change their diet by eating ants and other small insects in the forest. The main source of food is the bamboo shoots. They spend an average of 30% feeding, 30$ moving around and playing and 40% resting. Unlike other primate species, Gorillas spend most of their time on ground. The male gorilla can eat upto 20 kilograms per day, they consume the largest volume of water through their food making it rare for them to search for water for drinking.
The young gorillas take much time playing while the elders at late afternoon construct nests where they will spend a night from. Every adult gorilla makes its own nest and sleeps alone, the young ones stay close to their mothers. They select good raised ground or build their nest on trees which have well developed branches. They have vocal loudly communication calls with different sounds which mean different things for example roars, screams, barks and many more. Its established that gorillas have more than 25 ways of communication.
Where are mountain Gorillas found in Africa?
Mountain Gorillas are the rarest Gorilla species in Africa which leaves in the tropical rainforests found in higher altitude areas. They are found in the corridor of the volcanos mountains in Africa which start from Uganda stretches to Rwanda and finally to Democratic republic of Congo. The three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo are the three lucky countries in the world to host the mountain Gorillas. They are the only places where Mountain gorilla trekking is done in Africa with great experience of the true wilderness of African primate.
Gorilla trekking permit
Gorilla trekking permit is the wildlife authority document that is issued to the guests who have fully paid their gorilla trekking fee. All the three countries where mountain Gorillas are found charge a certain fee for someone to trek the Mountain gorillas. They also have clear rules and regulations that are set which makes one to have such a qualification in order to trek Gorillas, for example, one has to be above 15 years in order to trek Gorillas.
Gorilla trekking can be done in following national parks: Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The three countries charge different gorilla trekking fees, 600$ for Uganda though by next year they will be charging 700$, Rwanda 1500$ and Congo 400$ and 200$ for lowland Gorillas.
Gorilla permits are booked in advance in all the countries, DR Congo has even advanced that the gorilla permit packaged is sold together with the Congo visa. The most recommended time if high season is 4 to 8 months in advance while on low season or rainy season one can book a month to his or her Gorilla trekking period. The Gorilla permit can be booked directly though the Rwanda Development Board for Rwanda gorilla permits, Uganda wildlife Authority for Uganda Gorilla Permit and Virunga park Authority for DR Congo. One can also use reputable tour operators who can organize your full package tours.