There are only two places in the world to go for a gorilla trekking holiday: Uganda and Rwanda. Both are in Africa, and both will leave your eyes bright and mouth agape. Only around 700 mountain gorillas are left on earth today, so their habitats have become fiercely protected and trips are undertaken in small groups with supervision. To see gorillas in their wild home is not only a life-changing adventure, it’s a privilege.
These are strong and mighty animals, and they actually share 98% of their genetic composition with humans. You can expect a male to reach twice the size of a female - some grow to six feet tall, with an arm span of seven feet, and live to 50 years. The males are known as silverbacks because of the silvery effect their soft back hair takes on as they age.
Although Uganda is larger, it’s a long drive (two days!) to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. There are four habituated gorilla groups there, but they don’t usually hang out near the park entrance. Depending on where they are at a given time, the trek can be very challenging - and very steep. Winston Churchill once called Uganda ‘The Pearl of Africa’ and if you visit, you’ll see why.
Rwanda is smaller and the drive to the Nyungwe Forest National Park is much shorter. The road curls through vast tea plantations, terraced hills, and thick clusters of trees before hugging the steep slopes of the forest, which is where you’ll discover the best views. There are more than double the number of habituated gorilla groups and, at the moment, all have at least one silverback male.
We suggest taking your trip between December and February, or between June and September. December is peak season so it can be busy then. April and May see the most rain, so people tend to avoid those.
Solid, reliable walking shoes or boots are a must, as are decent socks and long trousers. You will be making your way through green grasses, (not so green) mud, and maybe even untrodden paths. As the days typically see strong sun, a hat and suncream are advised. Layers of clothing are also a good idea - especially long-sleeved t-shirts for protection from vegetation. As luscious as it is, there may be hidden nettles. Plus, the nights can get chilly! Strong gloves are very helpful, as you'll often be hauling yourself uphill by grabbing bushes or sliding downhill. Rain is always possible whatever time of year you do your trek, so a rain jacket is essential for the suitcase. You’ll also want a backpack of some sort to carry water, snacks, and, of course, your camera.
You don’t need to be Mo Farah, but having a good level of fitness will certainly help when trekking, not just for speed but for enjoyment. You’ll forget about the journey then when you lay eyes on a gorilla casually chomping on bamboo a matter of metres away from where you’re standing.
Whether you have your heart set on a gorilla trekking holiday in Uganda or Rwanda, we can tailor a tour that you’ll love. Speak to a member of our team about all the options available to you on 020 7843 3500 today.
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