Meet mountain and lowland gorillas only in DR.Congo

Gorilla trekking tours and safaris in DRC are particularly exceptional as it’s on record that this is the only country in the world populous with both Mountain and lowland gorillas.

It is possible to track both species while on your holiday in DRC, tailored with chimps and myriad monkey species in the compact Central African rainforest. Tourism in this part of the country is not well developed due to safety issues, in the same way, it’s not a guarantee that anything you spend here is hugely important to protect these endangered primates and their threatened habitats.

Why Gorilla trekking tours in DRC?

The most renowned mountain gorilla trekking tour destinations are Uganda and Rwanda. They are English speaking countries while French is DRC’s official language. Their tourist infrastructural development is quite superior and much dense as well, perhaps more outstanding is the relative peace they have enjoyed for decades. But, there quite a number of reasons why DRC is particularly an exceptional place to trek the rare gorillas.

To begin with, DRC is the only republic in the world over where you have chances of meeting both mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas as they live in different forests but close to each other, so it’s most likely that you can meet both on a single trip. If you are radical about primate, you can tailor with a chimpanzee safari experience.

DRC has the cheapest gorilla trekking permit in the region, with each costing $US400 in comparison to Uganda’s $US700, and US$1,500 for Rwanda.

Also, trekking permits are less expected to sell out rapidly during high seasons; this has never really happened in DRC.

There are chances that trekking permits can be discounted to US$200 during ‘low seasons’. However, the final permit price shouldn’t be your final consideration to choose DRC over others (Uganda and Rwanda), as savings on a permit is squared on high traveling costs. Therefore it doesn’t necessarily mean that visiting DRC is much more economical and then book a double gorilla trek or reserve to see both mountain and lowland groups, for less than a single permit cost in Rwanda.

Given the fact there are few tourists that make it to DRC, means its less crowded and one of the worlds’ remotest places. So, there are chances that you can enjoy the huge impenetrable forest of your own.

However, the incomes got from park entry fees and trekking permits are absolutely important to guarantee the continuing protection of the gorillas (primates) along with their habitats.

Much as mountain gorilla population has tremendously grown by over 50 percent in the last three decades, thanks to excellent continued tourism and conservation efforts in Rwanda and Uganda, the numbers of eastern lowland gorillas, which live only in DRC however, have increasingly fallen between 50 and 75 percent in the same period.

If Tourism is promoted well, it can provide funds for the park conservation as well as jobs for threatening surrounding communities, this is key to reversing this worrying trend.

What do gorilla trekking tours in DRC entail?

Adventure tours in DRC mostly involve at least one gorilla trek, especially the mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park part of the Virunga Conservation Area shared between Uganda and Rwanda.

The park boasts of eight habituated gorilla groups, and each can have between 8 and 26 members with one dominant male, the silverback.

The silverback has its own distinct personalities and features of which the guides will share with you during the trek in the dense rain forest.

The day’s trek departs as early as 7:30 Central African time (CAT) in the morning from Bukima ranger’s station, formerly a research center a short drive distance from Goma.

The security in this park is a great concern as you will enter the forest with armed ranger guides, the ideas are intended to purely protect you in case of any danger from other wild animals like forest elephants, Poachers among others.

The length of this wild trek purely depends on the location of the gorillas that morning; the walk itself can take between an hour to five hours. The rangers will trace them from where they slept a night before by following their footage, shit, and nests.

The rangers are experts at that through the rainforest to find out where they settle each day. It’s an exceptional feeling to sit amidst them as you watch them carry on their daily activities for one hour as you take non-flash pictures and video clips.

Kahuzi-Biega National Park near the Virungas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that gives an exceptional chance to track Eastern lowland gorillas in their natural habitat.

The park which has six habituated groups can be accessed via the town of Bukavu about 40km away from the Virunga National Park, this is very close to the Rwandan border and it’s possible to travel here from Goma via Lake Kivu either by driving around the scenic lakeshore, or take a boat across. Have your briefing at Tshvanga Visitor Centre before transferring into the park to begin your memorable trek to one of the six habituated gorilla family groups.

Where to Stay for Gorillas in DRC

In the towns of Bukima and Bukavu, there are basic but comfortable tourist class hotels as well as a couple of safari lodges on the peripheries of Virunga National Park. Some of these have splendid views of the park and include a safari tented camp with self-contained rooms with bucket showers; the other boutique option has spacious stone bungalows with bathtubs and private verandas.

During your evening relaxation and having your sundowner, look out for black and white colobus monkeys jumping from one tree to another. In addition also on a good evening, you can experience the night sky glowing red thanks to Nyiragongo Volcano’s lava lake.

The best time to travel to DRC

Much as one doesn’t need to worry about crowds during peak seasons because they are yet to arrive in DRC, there is a long dry season between May and September, with July being the driest of all, followed by June. There is a shorter dry period in January and February. This is the best time to track mountain gorillas since the paths in the rainforest are a little easier to go through.

The temperature also drops ever so slightly during these months. Don’t expect sunshine and blue skies at the same time, though; as much of Central Africa, DRC is generally cloudy with tyrannical humidity. The regions of Virunga forests and Nyiragongo Volcano are on high altitude and will provide a welcome relief from the conventionality.

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