Gorilla Tracking - highlight among excursions
Once-in-a-life time experience: observing the Gorillas .
A journalist who travelled with us writes:
The impressive silverback suddenly turns around towards the small group of tourists, relaxed chewing on a leaf. Nobody moves, all is quiet, except the frenticly clicking cameras. According to the ranger, who has been on daily visits to this Mshongi family already for eight years, it is rare that this silverback shows itself in this way to people.
Uganda is one of the three countries in the world where mountain gorillas can still be found in their natural habitat. It is the most threatened primate in the world. There some 800 left, of which more than half live in Uganda. Apart from South-West Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park), gorilla families can also be found in the neighbouring regions of North-West Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park), and Congo (Virunga National Park).
Gorilla tracking is an intense experience, which sometimes can take up to several hours (depending on where the gorilla family is staying). Sometimes this requires a strenuous hike. Sometimes, though, they are quite close to the starting point of the track and not much effort is needed. Not much can be said with certainty, about this. These are wild animals and cannot not be regulated. Specially trained rangers monitor the gorillas on a daily basis, also to guarantee their safety against poachers. One of the advantages is that they know where the animals are. Chances of seeing them are therefore practically 100%. On the way, the rangers like to tell you about the gorillas' behavior and the habitat. The rangers know know all the members of the gorilla family individually.
You need a special permit to visit the gorillas.These permits cost 600 US dollars per person per visit (± 540 Euros, depending on the exchange rate). During low season (April, May and November) the permits cost 350 dollars per person per visit (± 315 Euros). If you book with us, we will take care of the permits.
If you carry luggage with you (e.g. a bagpack or heavy camera equipment) it is advisable to hire a porter to carry your stuff. The tracks in the rainforest may be slippery and steep, and during the hike it is nice to travel light. Also, it is a contribution to the local economy. They charge 10 - 15 Us dollars.
In general, there is a high demand for Gorilla permits, and a limited number of vistors is admitted. Especially during high season (more or less coinciding with European Summer holidays and the festive season around Christmas) it is advisable to purchase the permits on time. Sometimes, that is 3 to 4 months ahead. RunguTours will buy the permits when the clients have paid for them.
Gorilla young that is helped by its mother to cross the river (courtesy of our guest Nico Spreij)
Touched by a mountain gorilla
With the mountain gorillas, I had my truly once-in-a-life time experience. Our time was up and the ranger summoned our small group to leave the spot. He had seen how much I was moved by this experience for which I had longed so many, many years. He took me aside and said: "we’ll wait for you at the road", and left me all alone with these impressive but gentle creatures, for a few minutes. The animals seemed surprised. This is highly unusual and against the rules. One of the gorillas approached me carefully and touched me very gently. An indescribable emotion got hold of me, tears came to my eyes.
Marianne R., April 2015