Gorillas are the largest among the apes and also closer in character and behavior to man. They hold similar behavior to man such as happiness and sadness, there are two gorilla species, the western and Eastern gorillas and each of these are divided into two sub species. Western gorillas are further divided into two subspecies, the Cross River Gorilla and the Western Lowland gorilla while the Eastern gorillas are divided further into Eastern lowland gorillas (scientifically known as Grauer’s gorillas) and the famous mountain gorillas.
Gorillas are regarded as infants till they clock 8 years and that’s when they are called adults. Male adults between 8-12 are referred to as blackbacks and when they are over 12 years, they start growing grey hair on their backs hence being called silverbacks.
Mountain gorillas are only found in the Virunga mountain regions which covers three countries; Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. These apes have longer hair and shorter arms as compared to their lowland counterparts, their chests and arms are muscular and they have broad hands and feet. They also weigh less about (300 to 485 pounds) as compared to the Eastern lowland gorillas. They are also the only ones that live in higher altitude areas and therefore have thick and long fur that protects them the cold, therefore keeping them warm.
Interesting facts about gorillas.
- About 98% humans genetic DNA is shared with gorillas. This means that they can get infected by human diseases if exposed to sick humans.
- They live in families just like humans. Most of these families consist of over 10 members with one dominant adult male known as a silverback. Both males and females are responsible for caring for the infants, when males grow they tend to leave their families and start their own or join another family.
- Mountain gorillas live in two isolated groups, one in Virunga Volcanoes and the other in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
- They are one of the most powerful and largest living primates with a male weighing up to 180 kg and females 90kg averagely.
- They are herbivores and can mean to eat all day long without breaks. Almost 6 hours of the day are spent feasting on leaves, roots, fruits and snails too.
- They like getting cozy especially at night where they sleep together in nests both in the tress and the ground. This helps them stay warm and safe as they protect each other.
- Their life expectancy is up to 40 years especially if they are in the wild.
- There are 1063 mountain gorillas estimated to exist in the world.
Trekking Mountain gorillas.
These gorillas can be trekked in Volcanoes National Park which is home to about 400 of them, located in Rwanda, the home of a thousand hills. This region has 12 gorilla groups that have been habituated and are available for trekking. Among them is the Susa group studied by famous primatologist Dian Fossey and it stays high on Mount Karisimbi. A gorilla trekking permit costs $1500 which makes Rwanda the most expensive to visit. Rwanda holds an annual gorilla naming ceremony where infants are named and it happens every September at Musanze, the main town for gorilla safaris.
Trekking is also done in Uganda at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, home to the best mountain gorillas in Uganda. Holding around 600 gorillas within 22 groups. However, some can be found at Mgahinga National Park which lies within the Virunga range. Only one group is found here.
Bwindi is indeed impenetrable as it sounds but it also offers gorilla habituation experience where you get to spend about four hours with a semi-habituated group, members within this group are unpredictable so this is such a thrilling experience unlike the habituated ones where you know that they are used to humans. This experience goes for $1500, the same price as gorilla trekking in Rwanda though in Uganda trekking is at only $700.
Democratic Republic of Congo also does offer Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park. It is the cheapest and most adventurous amongst its counterparts within the Virunga Mountains, the permits cost $400 only. The park has 8 gorilla groups however security is still an issue within the region and it is advisable to visit the gorillas in an organized trip where everything is catered for including security. DRC is also home to Grauer’s gorillas commonly known as Eastern Lowland gorillas and has a high number of them at around 5,000. It’s the only country with both mountain and lowland gorillas, which can be found in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a home to over 250 of them.
Visiting Mountain gorillas.
The best time to visit mountain gorillas is during the dry season which happens between December and February and also between July and September since all countries that are home to mountain gorillas are found within the tropical region.
Choose your designed Gorilla Tour Packages
It is advised to avail tour packages tailored for your African Safari with lots of special needs from Ababa Uganda Safaris
Top Gorilla tour packages
- 3 Days Rwanda Gorilla Safari
- 3 Days Gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi
- 4 Days Uganda Wildlife & Gorilla Safaris
- 5 Days Uganda and Rwanda Gorillas
- 5 Days Rwanda Gorilla Safari
- 5 Days Uganda Flying Gorilla Trekking Safari to Bwindi Forest
- 5 Days Bwindi and Queen Elizabeth National Park Safari
- 5 Days Uganda Gorilla Tour to Bwindi Forest National Park
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