Though the two terms are used interchangeably to convey the same meaning, there exists a slight distinction between Gorilla-trekking and gorilla-tracking. Those interested in Gorilla visiting in parts of East and Central Africa need to be aware of this distinction. These are; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Virunga and Kahuzi-Biega National Parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Whenever one talks about mountain gorillas, the two terms easily pop into someone’s mind, especially in the national parks mentioned above. But basically, the difference between gorilla-trekking and gorilla-tracking lies with who does what and when.
When one talks about gorilla trekking whether in Uganda or Rwanda or Congo. It means following mountain gorillas. This involves a group of tourists who hike hills and beat the bush trying to follow and find a given family of mountain gorillas. An official guide from the Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda and the Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda always guides tourists. It is this trained guide that will lead the group of tourists to where the gorillas will be.
During gorilla trekking, the guide will do his work of identifying other animals, birds, and trees to make the journey or trek enjoyable. He will always be in touch with gorilla trackers, or what we call the advanced team who will keep on directing him to where a given gorilla family will be at that particular moment. The fact that gorillas live in mountainous or hilly areas, they have to trek or hike to find them hence the term gorilla trekking.
Gorilla tracking can refer to gorilla trekking, but in actuality, gorilla tracking involves attempting to locate a specific habituated mountain gorilla family. Gorilla trackers/advanced team/rangers use many signs and methods to trace these gorillas before gorilla trekking takes place. These rangers wake up early every morning to hit the forest in search of these mountain gorillas. They use natural means to track them other than using the GPS. Once they find them, they will communicate with the park headquarters, and it’s then that gorilla trekking will follow.
The second difference between gorilla trekking and tracking is that rangers or the advanced group conduct gorilla tracking using several methods to find gorillas. Once found, gorilla trekking follows This does not however rule out the fact that when tracking gorillas, rangers also trek or hike hills to find them. Thus, the difference between these words is minimal, and one word can be used to mean the other.
Visiting Africa to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Many countries have gorillas in their zoos but such zoos do not depict or tell the real behavior of the gorillas. For example, gorillas cannot exercise their social habits or practice their food-gathering skills. In addition, they do not engage in their natural breeding behavior. They are always fed, which means they are just like an image of real gorillas and how they should behave.
Gorilla Trekking in Africa occurs in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo, which host the four national parks that are home to the only remaining mountain gorillas. These include Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in Congo.
In Congo, visitors also have the opportunity to see the Lowland gorillas, which inhabit Kahuzi Beiga National Park. To trek in any of the mentioned national parks, you need to obtain a gorilla permit to participate in gorilla trekking. Once you have your planned dates for gorilla trekking we recommend you start booking your gorilla trip through firstname.lastname@example.org immediately given the fact that services and permits sell out very quickly especially if you plan to do the trek in the peak season of June-September, it is always better to book at least 5 months in advance prior traveling. Gorilla Trekking at the mentioned parks can be booked directly or through a trusted Tour Operator.
The Gorilla permit in Uganda Costs $800 Per person per trek for Foreign nonresidents, and $700 Per person for foreign residents. $80 is the rate for East African Citizens (Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, and South Sudan). This allows you to spend one one-hour encounter with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Uganda has 17 habituated gorilla family groups with 16 found in Bwindi and 1 in Mgahinga this means 136 Gorilla permits are available every day for gorilla trekking in Uganda.
In Uganda, gorilla trekking also offers the opportunity to spend more time with the mountain gorillas. This is accomplished through the Gorilla habituation experience, which occurs exclusively in the Bwindi forest. A gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person for foreign non-residents, and $1000 for foreign residents. $200 is for East African citizens, allowing you to spend 4 hours encountering the semi-habituated mountain gorillas under the guidance of trackers and researchers. This is as opposed to one hour for the normal trekking. Getting gorilla permits in Uganda can be done directly by booking them through Uganda Wildlife Authority. You can also get them through a trusted tour operator in Uganda like Safari Vacations and Travel Services.
The Gorilla permit in Rwanda Costs $1500 Per person per trek for Foreign nonresidents, $500 Per person for foreign residents, and $200 for East African Citizens (Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, and South Sudan), this allows you to spend one hour encounter with the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. Rwanda has 12 Gorilla families hence 96 Gorilla permits are available each day for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. To obtain gorilla permits in Rwanda, individuals can directly book them through the Rwanda Development Board or a trusted tour operator like Safari Vacations and Travel Services.
In Congo, trackers conduct gorilla tracking in Virunga National Park for Mountain Gorillas. Meanwhile, Kahuzi Beiga National Park is renowned for its Lowland gorillas. A gorilla permit in Virunga National Park costs $400 per person per trek for the high-season months. The high season consists of mid-December to mid-March and between June to October. $200 is for the low season For the period of mid-March to mid-May and then mid-October to mid-December every year. A gorilla permit in Kahuzi Beiga National Park costs $400 for foreign non-residents. $200 is for East African residents, and $20 for national residents. To obtain gorilla permits in Congo, individuals can directly book them through Virunga National Park or a trusted tour operator like Safari Vacations and Travel Services
Note: When booking your gorilla permit it is important to note that the gorilla permit price excludes accommodation. Air tickets, ground transport, meals, and other expenses are also not part of the permit fees. You will need to get more details of the package you are booking with your tour operator.
Uganda is one of the best places to visit gorillas in Africa. Compared to Congo Uganda is safe for travelers and compared to Rwanda Uganda is much more affordable for gorilla trekking.
The minimum age limit for Gorilla-Trekking is 15 years and the maximum age is 85 years depending on fitness levels. Now, elders can participate in gorilla trekking, especially in Bwindi Forest, with the provision of sedan chair carriers. To trek in any of the mentioned national parks, you need to obtain a gorilla permit to participate in gorilla trekking Potters will carry you to and from the forest during your trek. The sedan chair can be hired in advance or on the day of the trek, with prices ranging from 400 to 500 USD.
Safari Vacations and Travel Services has experience in organizing incredible gorilla safari experiences to Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. Our services also receive high ratings and reviews on Trip Advisor. We combine gorilla trekking safaris with eco-friendly and unforgettable high-end adventure and wildlife safaris. Those safaris help preserve biodiversity, conserve wildlife, and uplift local communities. These include chimpanzee trekking, Big 5 safaris and game viewing, Mountain Hiking, Boat cruise excursions, and Cultural encounters. These give you a memorable and best African Safari experience including popular and great African safari destinations Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, and Namibia. Feel free to contact us about the difference between gorilla trekking and tracking.