Gorilla trekking in Congo

Mountain gorilla

18 November 2017

My gorilla trekking experience in Congo

'Stop staring at him!' I'm telling myself. In the bamboo bushes the huge silver back is chewing on a piece of bamboo. He is curious looking at me. At the briefing they told us not to look them in the eyes. But seeing those intense eyes it's impossible to turn my head away. Soon he is getting up and walks away. We follow him at a respectful distance and get a good look at him again. He is giant! And you can see is immense strong.

Our guide chops away more vegetation to create a new path. The vegetation is really dense, so sometimes we have to clear the path.
Just around the corner we see a male juvenile. He is eating. I look up in the trees and find another gorilla. The branches are having difficulties to carry his weight. They are bending but not breaking. In another tree a female gorilla is on her way down. She just uses the tree trunk to slide down, not to bother getting from one to another branch. The massive weights let it. At her back I could see a fluffy head. A baby gorilla is holding himself at the hairy fur of his mother. The gorillas all are on the ground. As this family has 10 members, we only got to see 5 of them. The 5 we have seen all sat together in the end for a relaxing moment. They intent to sleep several times a day. Before they are up for a rest the juvenile and the baby had to play together. The tumble over each other and seen to enjoy themselves.

The one hour visit has gone too fast!

Gorilla trekking

It only took us 50 minutes to reach the group. Because there were 6 tourist this day, the guides decided to split the group in two. We all could decide which family we wanted to visit. I choose the group Rugendo, which had 10 members at the time of my visit.

This group was the closest and the easiest hike. For me a good decision!

Unfortunately my DSLR camera had damp issues due to the high concentration of humidity. I also used a rain cover to protect my camera of rain.

A dream in Congo

Seeing mountain gorillas has been a dream for me for years. Mountain gorillas have a small habitat and are only seen in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. When I found a cheap ticket to Uganda, I thought it was finally time to meet them.

For visiting the gorillas you have to buy a permit. This allows you to see them for one hour after you have seen the first gorilla of the family.

With only 880 gorillas's remained in the wild and only a group of 8 tourist per gorilla family you can guess the permit to see the gorillas are expensive.

Best is to buy the permit in advance to avoid disappointment. In high season the permits sold out fast.

My intention was to visit the gorillas in Uganda. But when I came across a volcano climbing tour in DR Congo I decided to make a combination and do both the volcano climbing and gorilla tour in DR Congo. With the discount permit I would save some money.

DR Congo has a negative travel advise, which can give consequences for your travel. Check internet and make your own decision!

Information

I contacted Barack Nari from Congo discover safari after reading good recommendations on trip advisor and other websites.

He arranged my permits and he arranged private transport with security from Virunga national park.



Visa Congo

For DR Congo I needed a visa which Barack could arrange for me. It only took a few days to apply.

Barack waited for me at the bus station in Gisenyi and crossed the border to DR Congo. A few mistakes in the visa applications seemed not to be a problem and all in all it only took us 20 minutes to cross. They checked my temperature and vaccine for yellow fever.

DR Congo has a high risc for travelers. Please check internet for the current situation!

Uganda and Rwanda visa

For Uganda and Rwanda you also need a visa. I applied for the Eastern Africa visa which is $100. It should give you multiple entry to those countries but at the Rwanda border crossing to DR Congo the put used on my visa. I had to buy a new transfer visa for Rwanda and at the Uganda border I had to buy a new visa for $50. If you only intent to stay short period in Rwanda you better of buying a transfer visa, which is valid for 3 days.

Cost

Permit cost for gorilla trekking

- Rwanda $1500

- Uganda $600 with discount tickets for $450 in low season

- DR Congo $400 with discount tickets for $200 in low season.

- Transport is in private cars with protection of Virunga national park.

For more information contact CongoDiscoverySafaris




Do you want to hike the volcano Nyiragongo? Read more about this hike here.

Due to saftey issues and outbreak of Ebola, Virunga National Park is closed until further noticed.
If you wanna visit the gorillas you can either go to Rwanda or Uganda.

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