Trekking for gorillas in Africa is arguably one of life’s greatest privileges. Together with your team, you follow a narrow trail through the lushness of tropical rainforests while wiping sweat from your eyes. Suddenly, the guide stops and excitedly tells you what you have been wanting to hear: ‘Look, we found them’.
And there goes the troop. You’ll be surprised by the size of a silverback gorilla, his power and might as he keeps a protective eye over his troop. The playfulness of the toddlers and the tenderness of their mothers as they go about their daily lives is just amazing.
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The experience of seeing these primates in their natural habitats is unmatched, which is why gorilla trekking has been ranked among the best wildlife encounters. But where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa?
Rwanda is one of the best places to see mountain gorillas in the world. The Virunga Mountains, which span the borders of DRC and Uganda, and the Volcanoes National Park are home to more than 600 mountain gorillas.
Also known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda has ten groups available for tracking. The popular Susa group roam high up on Mount Karisimbi while other groups live lower down the slopes and are a bit easier to track. You should note that these animals are constantly moving.
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2. Democratic Republic of Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo is the only country in Africa with both mountain and lowland gorillas. Eastern lowland gorillas, which are believed to be the biggest of the species, are only found in DRC and are believed to be around 5,000 in total.
Despite being one of the best gorilla trekking destinations, DRC is the least visited due to the fact that it is a volatile country. The country’s Virunga National Park, where four groups of mountain gorillas live, was previously closed after British tourists were kidnapped. However, it reopened with assurances that it was safe.
Uganda, the Eden of rainforests and lush vegetation, is home to half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. There are several options for a gorilla safari in Uganda. The most preferred ones are Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
At Bwindi, there are more than 400 mountain gorillas and a trek can lead you to one of 11 family groups which includes adorable babies. Mgahinga, on the other hand, is home to the special Nyakagezi group who are very relaxed when trekking them. This habituated gorilla family almost allows you to become a part of their family.
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4. Republic of Congo
Are you willing to tolerate some discomforts such as heat, insects and humidity, then travel to the Republic of Congo for unique gorilla trekking? Unlike other destinations in Africa such as Rwanda and Uganda, here your search for gorillas in the wild can sometimes end within an hour.
You get time to spend with the various gorilla families and compare the fascinating differences as you get the ultimate ‘Heart of Africa’ experience. Western gorillas can be seen in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park around Mbeli Bai. Odzala-Kokoua National Park has two habituated groups but it’s not a cheap destination because of its remoteness.
Note: The Republic of Congo is not to be confused with the enormous and volatile Democratic Republic of Congo. These are two different countries.
Are There Gorillas in Kenya?
There are no gorillas in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. For the ultimate gorilla adventure tours in Africa visit Rwanda and Uganda.
Which African Countries Have Gorillas?
- Central African Republic
- Congo Brazzaville
- Democratic Republic of Congo
How Many African Countries Have Gorillas?
Western gorillas live in eight countries: the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea Cameroon, Nigeria, Angola and Gabon. Eastern gorillas, on the other hand, are found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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Are There Any Gorillas in Africa?
The two main subspecies of the gorilla, the Lowland Gorilla and the Mountain Gorilla, are found across the central belt of Africa. These gorillas are increasingly driven out of their natural habitat by deforestation, poaching and war.