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Top 10 Places for Gorilla Trekking in Africa

Gorillas are undoubtedly the top attractions that draw thousands of tourists into Africa. Their exquisite appearance and their huge bodies make them to stand out from the crowd. Their population is distributed across the continent offering tourists with a wide range of options to choose from. However, there are two (2) species of gorillas that include Eastern gorillas (Gorilla beringei) and Western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla). The Western Gorillas are sub-divided into the Western Lowland gorillas scientifically known as “Gorilla gorilla gorilla” and the Cross River Gorilla scientifically known as “Gorilla gorilla diehli”. The Mountain gorillas-scientifically known as “Gorilla beringei beringei” and Eastern Lowland gorillas scientifically referred as “Gorilla gorilla graueri” are the two sub-species of the Eastern Gorillas. All these four sub-species of gorillas are distributed throughout Africa within certain countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria and Central African Republic. Several times, tourists wish to see these gorillas but get confused on where to go for a memorable gorilla safari in Africa. This article provides you a comprehensive list of the places to see all the four sub-species while on an African Safari.

  1. Bwindi impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, situated on the South-western side of Uganda is undeniably the top on the list. This ancient impenetrable forest is a home to the critically endangered mountain gorillas. There are over 400 gorillas in this Park (about half the world’s population) and is the only place where tourists can encounter these creatures combined with numerous mammal, plant and bird species. Interestingly, CNN named Bwindi National Park among Africa’s best 5 National Parks to visit in 2017. This is why you need to visit it so that you discover why it is among the top 5 National Park.

Resources: For more planning information check Visit Bwindi or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park websites.

  1. Parc Nationale des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park) in Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park should definitely not miss on your bucket list of African gorilla trekking safari. This Park forms part of the Virunga massif that spans across Uganda, Rwanda and DRC and 5 of the Virunga Mountains are homed in this Park, and they include Mount Karisimbi, Mount Muhabura, Mount Bisoke, Mount Gahinga and Sabyinyo). It covers an area of 160 square kilometers and is a haven to 10 habituated gorilla families that tourists can track for an ultimate gorilla trekking experience. This Park is safe, accessible and unbeatable. These endangered mountain gorillas are always sighted sauntering the slopes of the Park in the bamboo zone.  When tourists visit this Park, they get the chance to enjoy the breathtaking views of the misty Virunga Volcanoes, Solidified Lava flow, the ever green forests and phenomenal biodiversity. Besides gorilla trekking, tourists can engage in other activities including Golden monkey tracking, hike to the Dian Fossey tomb, hiking to the volcanoes and bird watching.

Resources: Check the Visit Volcanoes National Park website.

  1. Mgahinga National Park

How can a bucket list exist without Mgahinga National park? This Park is a biodiversity hotspot yet it is the smallest National Park in Uganda with a size of 33.7 square kilometers. Mgahinga National Park forms part of the great Virunga Massif that spans across Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. The spectacular beauty and immense biodiversity in this Park makes up for its small size. Three of the six Volcanoes that make up the Virunga Massif are homed in this Park and they include Mount Gahinga, Sabyinyo and Mount Muhabura. Much as there are only 80 gorillas and one habituated gorilla (the Nyakagyezi gorilla family), Tourists who visit this Park are never disappointed of what it offers. Besides mountain gorillas, other mammals also exist and they include the endangered golden monkeys, elephants, buffaloes and other primate species there are also more than 100 bird species in this Park. The terrain of the Park offers a wonderful for Hiking, even tourists who don’t sight the mountain gorillas can still relish the other wonders that the park offers.

Resources: Check out the Visit Mgahinga or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park websites.

  1. Parc Nationale des Virunga (Virunga National Park) in Democratic Republic of Congo

Virunga National Park is one of the exceptional Parks that shelters the critically endangered mountain gorillas. This Park is located in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and is a home to about 200 of these primates. Permits for Virunga National Park are cheaper and easier to acquire compared to Volcanoes and Bwindi National Parks because fewer tourists know and visit the destination, hence it is relatively unexplored and offers tourists an authentic gorilla trekking experience. This park is rich with biodiversity and nearly half of the Sub-Saharan Africa’s biodiversity are found in this Park hence it is a place every tourist who visits Africa must go.

Resources: Check Visit Virunga and Virunga National Park websites for more information about planning a trip to the park.

  1. Parc National Du Kahuzi-Beiga (Kahuzi-Beiga National Park)

For the Eastern Lowland gorillas (world’s largest gorillas species), the Kahuzi-Beiga National Park is among the top destinations that you must visit. This National Park was gazetted in 1970 with an aim of protecting the Grauer’s gorillas, but currently there are less than 400 individuals left. There are only two gorilla groups that can be tracked by tourists who visit Kahuzi-Beiga National Park.  A journey to this riveting destination ushers tourists to the jungle to encounter the few remaining Eastern Lowland gorillas that are found in the Eastern side of the country.

  1. Cross River National Park in Nigeria

Cross River National Park is a biodiversity hotspot, and shelters about 16 primate species, the popular ones being the Cross river gorillas. The cross River gorillas are Africa’s least known and the most threatened Apes with their number estimated to be between 250-300 individuals. Not only are they in Nigeria, these critically endangered Apes are also found in Cameroon, but have not received much attention as the mountain gorillas much as they are all categorized under critically endangered species by the IUCN. Because little is known about them, tourists should make an effort to visit the Cross River National Park of Nigeria to discover more about them.

  1. Odzala-Kokoua National Park in Congo Brazzaville

To be able to watch and track the Western lowland gorillas in Africa, look no further than Congo’s Odzala-Kokoua National Park. It is one of Africa’s oldest Parks declared by the French Administration in 1935. This park covers an area of 13,600 square kilometers and is known for its spectacular biodiversity and evergreen vegetation. With about 150,000 western lowland gorillas left in the wild, this magnificent Park has the highest number (with about 22,000 of them). It is surprising that it is only Odzala-Kokoua National Park that homes the “habituated groups” of Western lowland gorillas in the entire world. Besides the western lowland gorillas, there are 100 species of mammals including 11 diurnal primates and 430 bird species in this Park.

8. Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some of the western lowland gorillas are also found in the tropical rain forests of Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo. These primates are mainly found in Mbeli Bai section of this Park. Situated in the far North of DRC at the border with Cameroon and Central African Republic, it was gazetted in 1993 and covers an area of 4000 square kilometers. There are frequent sightings of Forest Elephants in Mbeli Bai, Dwarf forest Buffaloes, leopards, chimpanzees, over 300 bird species and about 1000 tree and plant species. Listening to the hissing sound of the crocodiles in Mbeli Bai prior to walking back to the forest alive with fireflies at night is an experience beyond the ordinary.

9. Dzanga-Ndoki National Park (Central African Republic)

This off beat Park was established in 1990, is situated in the South-western side of the country bordering Congo and Cameroon, and covers an area of 1,143 square kilometers. Western lowland gorillas are mainly found in the Northern Part of this National Park, and it is believed that this park also has a high population of this species of gorillas with 1.6 individuals found in each kilometer. Besides the gorillas, other mammals are found here and they include African Forest elephants, the endangered Bongo, Giant forest hogs, 6 species of duikers, African forest buffaloes, about 350 bird species and the forest is a place of remarkable cultural encounter with the Ba’aka pygmy people.

10. Moukalaba-Doudou National Park in Gabon

How can a list lack Moukalaba-Doudou National Park of Gabon? This magnificent Park covers an area of 4,500 square kilometers making it the third largest National Park in Gabon. Much as it receives fewer tourists compared to the other Parks where these western lowland gorillas are found, it’s no doubt that tourists experience the adventure in an authentic African wilderness.

In conclusion, Africa is a place of wonders with all the four species of gorillas distributed across the continent. No one visits these places to see the gorillas and goes back home the same. Make a trip to Africa and experience what it feels to track the gorillas and attain an excitement of a lifetime.

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