Gorilla Trekking

Meet the Gorillas

Gorilla trekking provides the perfect opportunity to come face to face with these gentle giants, one of the most endangered species on the planet.

close up photo of black gorilla
monochrome photos of gorillas

About the Gorillas

Trekking through the jungle in search of the elusive, critically endangered mountain gorillas is one of the rarest and most magnificent wildlife experiences you can encounter. Join us as we search for these gentle giants in the Virunga Mountains that border Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These mountains have been named a UNESCO World Heritage site due to their incredible biodiversity and the large number of endangered species that call them home.

Fewer than 900 mountain gorillas remain in the wild, and gorilla trekking provides the perfect opportunity to witness this rare species in it’s natural habitat. Gorillas are very similar to humans in both appearances and emotions. Gorillas communicate in a number of ways including sounds, postures, gestures, and expressions. They have been known to make at least 22 distinct sounds to communicate their feelings. The lifespan of a mountain gorilla ranges between 40-50 years. They are the largest primates in the world and can stand up to 6 feet tall, weigh between 250-600 pounds, and have an arm span up to 7 feet long. Male gorillas are typically twice the size of females.

Gorillas normally live in family troops of five to ten; however troops of up to 50 have been identified. The troop is led by one dominant adult male or silverback — a mature male, named for the graying hair on his back — who holds his position for many years. The silverback maintains his position in the tribe by power, violence, and respect. If the females in the troop do not support the silverback they will leave the troop or seek out another male. The silverback is the only male in the group to mate with the females. If the dominant silverback is challenged by a subordinate silverback and is displaced, then the new male will often kill the infants that are nursing in order to have the females restart their reproductive cycle. The silverback is also responsible for protecting the family and may be joined by other subordinate males, adult females, or juvenile males to defend the group when outside danger approaches. Within the troop the silverback is responsible for breaking up any family fighting and for guiding the troop to the best feeding locations of nettles, bamboo, and other plants.

Gorilla trekking can be done year round but it is best experienced during the dry season; which in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda, is June-September and December-February. Considered low season, January and February have the fewest crowds so you will find cheaper rates in the hotels. June-August is peak season so expect more crowds and make sure to book well in advance as gorilla permits are limited. The rainy season (March-May, October-November) is the most challenging time as the trails and slopes can be quite slippery. In Bwindi the average temperature throughout the year is 52°F (11°C) – 73°F (23°C).

A gorilla trek is a great way to start or end your East African safari experience. You’ll have the unique opportunity to see some of the most endangered primates in the world. In Rwanda you can view the genocide museum, see the amazing scenery and visit with the golden monkeys. Once in Uganda you will be able to enter Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which hosts the largest number of mountain gorillas troops in the world.

To learn more about gorillas, visit: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/the-gorilla-king-gorilla-family-dynamics/735/

Your Itinerary

4 days/3 nights

Day 1 – Land at the Kigali Airport and receive the opportunity to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial. After lunch, drive two hours through gorgeous mille collines scenery before reaching your lodge at the base of the stunning Virunga Volcanoes.

Day 2 – After an early breakfast, drive 30 minutes to base camp where you will meet with your guides and porters. Hike through bamboo forests to find Golden Monkeys – some of the most endangered primates in the world. After spending time with the monkeys, your hike back to base camp will provide excellent views of the volcanoes and scenery. Return to the lodge and freshen up before your drive to the Ugandan border, where you’ll cross and take the short drive to your hotel, passing by gorgeous lakes and views of south-western Uganda.

Day 3 – Departing before dawn, you will be driven to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for your gorilla trek. The hike should take 0.5 – 2 hours, depending on the location of the gorillas. You will then enjoy the uniquely compelling and unforgettable company of the
gorillas, as they relax in clearings or forage through bamboo thickets. After your time with the gorillas, you’ll return to the hotel where you can relax or have the option to take a boat/canoe trip to some of the many islands in the lake, one of which hosts a zebra herd. The hotel grounds
and the lake are also home to some of the 400 or so bird species for which this area is famous.

Day 4 – In the morning, go for a bird walk or enjoy any of the other activities offered at the hotel before departing back to Kigali for your flight onward.

Reach out to start planning your gorilla trek today