Gorilla Trekking Reality vs. Myths
Here are 5-Things You Never Knew About Gorilla Trekking
The 5-Things You Never Knew About Gorilla Trekking. Things you do not know about Gorilla Trekking. We compare the Reality versus the perceptions that tourists and visitors have. Perceptions that can cost you Thousands of Dollars above what you should be paying.
What you read on the internet, what you read in Travel Magazine, on TripAdvisor Posts, in forums such as Fodors or Lonely Planet’s Thorntree Forum are opinions often biased, prejudicial, and do not reflect the reality of gorilla trekking.
As we say in Uganda, the authors of such posts are spewing Buffaloes (Uglish -Ugandan English Phrase). They do not know what they are talking about.
Do we know Gorilla Trekking? We must—Gorilla Trekking is our business as well as our Passion.
Here are 5-Things you never knew about Gorilla Trekking.
5-Things You Never Knew About Gorilla Trekking
1. Gorilla Trekking is not better in Rwanda:
Some say, “Gorilla Trekking being better in Rwanda.” That is a myth propagated by Rwandan Tourism, Travel Agents, International Tour Operators that are sympathetic to Rwanda.
Even Ellen DeGeneres and the Arsenal Football are part of the choir proclaiming Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda. Gorilla trekking to us Gorilla Trekking is an encounter with the Mountain Gorillas. It is the encounter that is important and not the country where the encounter takes place.
Those that claim that Rwanda is better for Gorilla Trekking than Uganda most often have never trekked Gorillas in Uganda. They merely pass on anecdotal diatribe from others or armchair Besserwissers that are clueless about trekking in Uganda.
Uganda, unlike Rwanda, offers two distinct terrains and habitats to trekkers. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Only in Uganda can you track Mountain Gorillas in an ancient rainforest and the shadows of the brooding volcanoes.
Since the time in 2017, when Rwanda chose to market itself as a high-end Gorilla Destination doubling its Gorilla Permits to $1,500, thousands chose affordable Uganda as their Gorilla tracking Destination. And preferred to trek in affordable Uganda, making it the premier Gorilla Destination.
Ask gorilla tourists whether they had a lesser experience trekking Gorillas in Uganda. The bottom line is that a three-day gorilla safari is twice the price in Rwanda without compromising the quality of the experience.
2. I want interaction with the Gorillas on my Trek
Gorilla Trekking is not like other Tourism offerings in Africa, such as walking with Lions, petting Lion Cubs, riding on the back of Elephants, feeding, and spending time with Chimpanzees.
Forget Dian Fossey and the movie “Gorillas in the Mist.” You will not be cuddling with Gorillas as she did, and neither will you be feeding any Gorillas.
Yes, we all have seen John King II’s photos being groomed by a gorilla, but that is not the norm. That was a gorilla group visiting a lodge in the Buhoma area in Bwindi Forest. What he experienced was a one-time encounter not to be replicated.
Since the COVID-19 new protocols have been implemented, now, there is the ten-meter distance rule and the wearing of surgical masks.
The Gorillas are in control as to what happens. There is no interaction, no Koko the Gorilla sign language. It is the wild. You are entering the living room of a Gorilla family, their place in the wild. What happens, for the most part, is up to them. You, the Trekker, are an observer. If you choose the Gorilla Habituation Experience, you become an active participant in the Habituation Process. Gorilla Trekking is predictable unpredictable, except that you will be with a gorilla family.
3. Gorilla Tourism Funds Gorilla Conservation:
I am a conservationist and am against Gorilla Tourism. Dian Fossey, a pioneer in Gorilla Conservation in her day, would agree with you.
Today, seeing what has been done Conservation Wise for the Gorilla, the Forests’ conservation would be in harmony with Gorilla Tourism as it exists, and her namesake foundation now is. Without Gorilla Tourism, the Gorilla habitats would long have been turned into farms, plantations, and Villages.
Because of Gorilla Tourism, the number of Mountain Gorillas has seen a dramatic increase to over 1,000.
The sharing of permit and entrance fees into the protected Gorilla Habitats and education has raised the surrounding communities’ awareness level and reduced poaching to a minimum.
Gorilla Permit money is used to conserve and keep the gorillas well. The health and well-being of Gorillas are on the up, and so are the surrounding communities’ health and well-being. Gorilla Tourism has directly contributed to hospitals’ funding, such as Bwindi Community Hospital, one of Uganda’s best rural hospitals.
Tracking for Cash – means Gorilla Conservation is funded
4. I am not going to trek Gorillas in Uganda-it is too long of a Drive:
The official airport for Uganda is Entebbe International Airport, and yes, it is a 9-hour drive to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest from there. Most visitors do not realize since most have not looked at a map, and still today, many Gorilla Tour Operators do not tell you that there is a closer airport to Gorilla Trekking than Entebbe. You can fly into Kigali, Rwanda, the unofficial Uganda Gorilla Trekking airport. Within three hours, you are in Mgahinga Gorilla Park and four hours in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest’s southern area. That is precisely what most of our clients do.
Plan B is to fly to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park, a short, scenic flight from Entebbe airport, but it comes with a price tag that can add on 500 plus Dollars to your Safari price. Plan C- is to weave a safari together that includes Gorilla Trekking plus other parks.
Many start their Safari with us in Kigali, and 7-days later, at the end of their Gorilla, Chimpanzee Wildlife Safari, they fly back home out of Entebbe International Airport.
The East African Tourism Visa is best suited for such Visitors and covers three countries, including Rwanda and Uganda.
5. There are Guerrillas in the Gorilla Tracking Areas:
Uganda is the only country that has been Guerrilla-Free in the last few years. There are only Gorillas that you can safely visit on a Gorilla Trek escorted by rangers and the military.
The same cannot be said about DR Congo and Virunga National Park, which has been closed for most of 2018, and there is no evidence that it will open again soon. It closed because of insecurity in the volatile Eastern Region of the Congo and Guerilla Activity, which directly hampered Gorilla Tourists.
Every precaution is taken as you head out for a Trek that you are safe. That includes tight border control in Southwest Uganda and northwest Rwanda. The purchase of weapons is restricted in Uganda and Rwanda, All those crossing the border into Uganda and Rwanda are checked for contraband material.
Reports by people who do not know the local geography place events in one country and put them into another. The term Virunga – covers the Volcanoes that are in Rwanda, Uganda, and DR Congo. Virunga National Park, the oldest park in Africa, is in DR Congo, and at times events there get associated with Uganda when that is not the case at all.
Safe and Secure Gorilla Trekking is taking place in Uganda and Rwanda.
What you might not know about the Role of Gorilla Tour Operator:
Things You Never Knew About Gorilla Trekking -We see Kabiza Wilderness Safaris like a Gorilla Matchmaker. We set up the Date, the lodge, the transportation, make sure that you have everything you need for a successful trek. Then it is up to the Gorillas as to how your date with them goes.
The Gorilla encounter is in the Wild is unlike a visit to the Zoo. You are on the Turf of the Gorillas. Pre-Trackers, the trackers, rangers, porters all will assist you, but the Gorillas are in control. Ninety-nine percent of the time, things go better than planned, better than you imagined, rarely, very rarely. Your expectations and the reality of the trek may not match. That is why it good to know all that you can about Gorilla Trekking before you go.
The best Advice we as a Gorilla Matchmaker, a Gorilla Tour Operator, can give you, put aside your expectations based on other people’s input. Your experience will be better than you expect.
We cannot stress enough because of Gorilla Trekking. Your experience with the Gentle Giants of the Forest is not predictable since you are in the Wild. For 99%, the experience is better than expected. One added thing, know as much you can before you go about Gorilla Trekking or the Habituation.