5-Things You Never Knew About Gorilla Trekking – The Reality

Posted by on December 23, 2018

What you do not know about Gorilla Trekking

Here are 5-Things You Never Knew About Gorilla Trekking

5-Things You Never Knew About Gorilla Trekking – What you do not know about Gorilla Trekking-The Reality versus Perceptions and those Perceptions can costs you Thousands of Dollars, Money that you spending because you do not know. There are Gorilla Trekking Realities you should know since 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, prejudiced and they leave out the reality on the ground.  The authors of such post are simply spewing Buffaloes (Uglish -Ugandan English Phrase) as we say in Uganda, they do not know what they are talking about. 

Do we know what we are talking about when it comes to Gorilla Trekking?  We have to, Gorilla Trekking is both our business as well as our Passion. We know Gorillas, we live and work here. trekking the Gentle Giants is not an afterthought, it is not an add-on it is our Business meaning that we have to know all there is to know about it and what we put on the internet is current and the situation on the ground.

We take it one step further something that makes what we write about authentic and that is what we write about we have done ourselves.  Gorilla Trekking is the most expensive Tourism Activity in Africa and as a Gorilla Tour Operator, we want to make sure that you get the most value for your Money whether you are on mid-range lodge Safari or and exclusive Luxury one.

5-Things you never knew about Gorilla Trekking.  Gorilla Trekking is not a common African Safari Activity, it is done by a fraction of the Tourists that grace the vast African Continent, hence there are more things not know, then known by many which result in dissemination of information that is simply wrong, opinion based and not relative, lack of information.  We hope that the below which is based on our insights as a Ugandan Gorilla Tour Operator will be of help to you and give you information that you need.

5-Things You Never Knew About Gorilla Trekking

1. Gorilla Trekking is better in Rwanda:

 That is a myth happily propagated by Rwandan Tourism, Travel Agents, International Tour Operators that were sympathetic to Rwanda.  Gorilla Trekking.  Here is our take, Gorilla Trekking is an encounter with the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo, it is the encounter that is important and not the country.

One should ask one of the thousands that have participated in the Great Gorilla Trekker Migration from Rwanda to Uganda whether they had a lesser experience trekking Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla Park or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  You will hear the echoes of a resounding no.  Uganda has become the Premier Mountain Gorilla Destination, Uganda had responded by adding Gorilla Families that can be visited and now offers almost twice the number of permits that Rwanda does 152, each day compared to 80.

Put that aside and let us personalize it to your experience – as a tour operator we rarely receive any complaints about Gorilla Trekking, in the past 5 years, one was the perception of a trekker what gorilla trekking ought to be like and the reality, the other was an error by a Uganda Wildlife Ranger.

Rwanda is not better than Uganda when it comes to Gorilla Trekking, the bottom line is that Rwanda is more expensive than Uganda, by $900 and that has resulted in very few requests with us for Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda.

2. I want interaction with the Gorillas on my Trek

 Gorilla Trekking is not like other Tourism offerings in Africa such as walk with Lions, petting Lion Cubs, tiding on the back of Elephants or 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, something some have written to us about.  Yes, we all have seen the photos of John King II being groomed by a gorilla, but that is not the norm, that was a gorilla group visiting a lodge at Buhoma and that again is not the norm.

There is nothing staged about the Gorilla Encounter, it happens in the wild, you, the rangers, we the tour operator are not in charge, Gorillas are in charge and if they want to approach you out curiosity, that is not in the gorilla trekking script,  The Gorillas are in control as to what happens.  There is no interaction, no Koko the Gorilla sign language.  This 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 conservation of the Forests would be harmony with Gorilla Tourism as it exists and her namesake foundation now is.  Without the Gorilla Tourism, the Gorilla habitats would long have been turned into farms, plantations, and Villages.

It is because of Gorilla Tourism that the number of Mountain Gorillas has seen a dramatic increase to over 1,000 and that is without the census being completed in Bwindi Impenetrable which will also show an increase.  The sharing of permit and entrance fees into the protected Gorilla Habitats along with education has raised the awareness level of the surrounding communities, reduced poaching to minimal levels.

There is a reason that Gorilla permit prices are above other tourism activities, the money is used to keep Gorillas well, they are monitored, there is Gorilla Doctors Forest Calls made, Rangers are being added, Children educated about Conservation and Gorillas and more.

The health and wellbeing of Gorillas are on the up and so is the health and wellbeing of the surrounding Communities.  Gorilla Tourism has directly contributed to the funding of hospitals such as Bwindi Community Hospital that is one of the best rural hospitals in Uganda.

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.  What most Visitors do not realize since most have not looked at a map and still today many Gorilla Tour Operators do not tell you, there is a closer airport to Gorilla Trekking than Entebbe.  You can fly into Kigali, Rwanda, the unofficial Uganda Gorilla Trekking airport and within 3 hours you are in Mgahinga Gorilla Park or 4 hours in the southern area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. That is exactly what the majority 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 3 countries including Rwanda and Uganda.

5. There are Guerillas in the Gorilla Tracking Areas:

 There are only Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda presently, 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.  The reason it closed was that 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 a tight border control in Southwest Uganda and northwest Rwanda.  The purchase of weapons is restricted in both Uganda and Rwanda,  All those crossing the border into Uganda and Rwanda are checked for contraband material.

Erroneous reports by individuals that do not know their geography place events taking place in one country and tie it 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 or Rwanda when that, in reality, 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 that you need for a successful trek and then it is up to the Gorillas as to how your date with them goes.

The Gorilla encounter is in the Wild, it is not in a Zoo, you are on the Turf of the Gorillas.  Pre-Trackers, the trackers, rangers, porters all will assist you but ultimately it is the Gorillas who are in control.  99% 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 most likely be better than you expect.

What we cannot stress enough is the fact 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 definitely better than expected. One added thing, know as much you can before you go about Gorilla Trekking or the Habituation.