How gorilla families are allocated to Travelers

Whichever gorilla destination you choose to go for gorilla trekking, you are assured of a close encounter with one of the gorilla families in that habitat. At present, there are roughly 30 gorilla families that have been habituated for trekking 13 of which reside in Uganda 10 in Rwanda and 8 in Democratic Republic of Congo. Each day, a gorilla family is visited by a group of eight people and the interaction lasts for an hour. Gorilla families’ differ regarding their size, location, names and history hence an interaction with each family reward you with an exceptional experience. It’s on the day of trekking that travelers are allocated gorilla families to trek after several months of planning for a tour. Some people on several occasions have wondered which criteria is followed to allocate gorilla families when planning their uganda gorilla safari and other gorilla destinations of Rwanda and DRCongo. The distribution of gorilla families among travelers is based on different things, which among others include?

Physical fitness
Ones’ physical abilities to hike and travel short of long determine which gorilla family to trek. For your information, gorilla groups live in areas of different altitudes; some in low while others in high altitudes. The difference in altitude therefore comes with a difference in the ease and toughness of the hikes. Travelers who are physically fit are given gorilla families in high altitude areas while those who cannot hike high are given those in low altitudes. Also, travelers are always reminded to disclose their fitness to their guides so as to get families they are capable of reaching. For those who are totally unfit, sedan chairs have been provides and travelers are carried by porters to see gorillas and then carried back after an hour with the endangered species.

Age is yet another feature they consider in allocation of gorilla families. In most cases, elderly people are given a chance to trek gorillas in low altitude areas while young ones trek gorilla families in high altitude areas. Besides old age, the young children aged 15, 16, 17 and 18 are given easy and medium hikes. Also, age applies for families with the young and aged members.

The location/sector
Mountain gorilla groups in uganda especially in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park live in sectors. These sectors/regions are Buhoma in the north, Rushaga in the south and Ruhija/Nkuringo in the eastern part of the national park. Every morning, traveler’s transfer to the park headquarters in the respective families and this indicate that there are four head quarters where briefing and allocation of gorilla families is done every morning.

More Useful Information
Gorilla families in Uganda

Uganda the pearl of Africa is a home to 13-gorilla families habituated for trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park both in southwestern Uganda. Gorilla groups in Bwindi are split in four sectors and these include Mubare, Habiyanja and Rushegura in Buhoma, Oruzogo, Bitukura, and Kyaguliro in Ruhija, Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, and Bweza in Rushaga sector. Also, Rushaga has 2 gorilla families named Bikyingi and Bushaho that are undergoing habituation experience while Nkuringo sector shelters Nkuringo gorilla family. On the other hand, Mgahinga is a home to 1 family named Nyakagyezi and has presently settled for trekking unlike in the past when it would cross to Rwanda and Congo, which made it’s trekking difficult.

Gorilla families in Rwanda
Rwanda is second to Uganda in hosting a high number of gorilla groups. The land of a thousand hills is a home to 10 gorilla families habituated in volcanoes national park in the northwestern province of Rwanda. Fortunately, volcanoes is 2-3 hours drive from Kigali international airport hence the easily accessed gorilla destination for travelers with limited time compared to Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla families in volcanoes national park include Agashya family, Susa A family, Bwenge family, Susa B family, Hirwa family, Amahoro family, Kwitonda family, Sabyinyo family and Ububano family all available for trekking.

Gorilla families in Congo.
Despite the past conflicts, gorilla tourism has now stabilized in Congo and 8 gorilla families have been habituated in Virunga national park for trekking. These families include kabirizi family, Rugendo family, Humba family, Lulengo family, Nyakamwe family, Mapuwa family, Munyaga family and Bageni family.

Gorilla permits
To be allowed to see mountain gorillas, a traveler must have a valid gorilla permit along with other related travel documents like visa and passport photos for clarification. Permits are issued out by the Uganda wildlife authority (UWA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and management of Virunga national park. Despite the similar trekking experiences, each country charges a different price for the permit. Rwanda sells its gorilla permits at 1500usd paid by all travelers including Rwanda nationals while Uganda charges 600usd for foreign non-residents, 500usd for foreign residents and 250,000ush by east Africa residents. Democratic Republic of Congo offers relatively low cost permits at 450usd, which make it the best trekking destination for budget travelers. Booking can be done direct from responsible government bodies or through tour operators.

Packing list
To ensure a memorable simple and enjoyable gorilla trekking experience, travelers must have a fully equipped packing list. This entail hiking boots for easy movements in slippery muddy grounds, gardening gloves, long sleeved shirts, san glasses, hats, sweaters, rain jackets, energy giving snacks, enough drinking water, insect repellent, binoculars, waterproof, windproof, cameras, toiletries, small notebooks, and first aid kit among others. A traveler with a clear packing list is assured of a peaceful and enjoyable gorilla trekking experience with minimal or no difficulty at all. Rain jackets are highly recommended in all seasons because of the unpredictable forest weather conditions where rain showers are expected anytime of the day.

Porters and walking sticks
All these are not compulsory but are highly recommended for all travelers. Porters carry traveler’s baggage as well as supporting them incase of sliding grounds, which make hiking difficult. Interestingly porters are hired at a low cost of 15usd in Uganda and 10usd in Rwanda for the entire trekking. also hiring a port is an indirect support to local people since the money earned is used to improve the livelihood of local families who initially depended on forests. Walking sticks are also helpful in hiking and therefore highly recommended.

In conclusion, gorilla tracking is a life changing experience; a chance to meet face to face with critically endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. Boos a gorilla safari to Uganda, Rwanda and Congo and share a moment with a gorilla family in the jungle.

Posted in blog, gorilla.