Gorillas in Central Africa

Trekking to the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas draws bucket listers to Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park, the DRC’s Virunga National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Just 80 visitors per day are allowed into each park, hiking into the dense forest in search of powerful, majestic creatures that shares 98 percent of our DNA. Critically endangered, observing mountain gorillas in Central Africa is “akin to looking in the mirror while playing a fierce game of evolutionary Monopoly.”

Length of Trip : Day trip, although you will be limited to just one hour observing the troop

Cost : As of writing, a permit costs US$750 per person in Rwandan; US$600 in Uganda; and US$400 in the Congo. It's not cheap, but authorities count on your much-needed dollars to maintain the parks, pay the rangers, and protect the gorillas from the constant threat of poachers.

Best time to go : You can visit year-round, but there are two dry seasons: December to February and from June to September. February and September are ideal.

Wheelchair friendly : No

Family friendly : It can be a long walk, as you don't know how far the gorillas will be in the forest. If your kids are able to talk 8 hours in the jungle, they should be fine.

Where to eat :
The most reliable restaurants are located inside hotels that cater to gorilla trekkers in the various centres.

Official Site :
More info on Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda).
More info on Virunga National Park (DRC)
More info on Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga National Park (Uganda)
Observe Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys in their natural environment with World Expeditions

Where to Stay :
In Uganda, check out the Sanctuary Forest Gorilla Camp. Located on the edge of Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda is the Gorilla Mountain View Lodge. There are budget, mid-range and high-end hotels located in Goma, the latter catering to UN staff.

Getting There :
Goma, DRC: You can fly into Kigali and take a private bus to Goma. As with many borders in Central Africa, be prepared for eventful border crossings! You can also fly to Goma from Kinshasa.
Bwindi, Uganda: Serviced by three airfields, with regular flights from Entebbe and Kampala.
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda: The park is about a 2-3 hour drive from the capital of Kigali, making it particularly accessible.

Note from Robin :
Be prepared for a long trek. The gorillas can be an hour's hike away, or an 8-hour hike away. There's no guarantee. Respect your rangers. This is not a zoo. The rangers track and protect the gorillas, not gather them up for tourists. These guys do a fantastic job risking their lives from poachers to protect the gorillas.

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Photo Credit: Ruslan Margolin

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Photo Credit: Ruslan Margolin

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Photo Credit: Ruslan Margolin

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Photo Credit: Ruslan Margolin

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Photo Credit: Ruslan Margolin

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Photo Credit: Russell Kling

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Photo Credit: Russell Kling

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