Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris & Tours

Gorilla trekking in Congo (Virunga National Park)

A guide to gorilla trekking in Congo, permit cost, when to go, tour operators, accommodation and booking information.

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Within the Democratic Republic of Congo, the mountain gorillas are found in Virunga National Park which is also a UNESCO Heritage site. This park is located in the eastern side of democratic Republic of Congo and boarders both Uganda and Rwanda. The park covers an area of 7800 km2 and is home to over 200 gorilla individuals mostly situated in the southern part of the park.

congo gorilla trekkingThe park is managed by both the authorities of Congolese national park and the institute of Congolais pour la conservation de la Nature (ICCN), the other partner involved is the Africa Conservation Fund. Due to the recent tragedy that killed over ten mountain gorillas, the gorilla population has improved and recovered at the same time. Many thanks go to the ranger efforts who have risked their lives to save the remaining mountain gorillas.

The park is found in the west direction of Goma which is the capital of North Kivu province. Here transport from the city to the park can be arranged by the management of Virunga National park. Tourists travelling from Rwanda have the best option of reaching Goma since here the road infrastructures are well developed. It takes just 3 hours to drive from Kigali to Goma near the border of the Democratic republic of Congo. Goma can also be accessed from south western Uganda at the border crossing area of Bunagana where you can be able to purchase a local visa for crossing. In addition to seeing the gorillas in Congo, tourists to Virunga National Park take on Mount Nyiragongo Volcano Hike.

Gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not so perfect since the country was affected by war and conflicts, so travelers are advisable to check the situation before traveling to the country. The fighting in Virunga has greatly affected the number of gorillas due to habitant destruction and poaching. Most of the travel advisory organizations have considered the area so volatile for those planning to travel to DRC.

Gorilla trekking regulations in Virunga National park

congo gorilla safariGorilla trekking in the Virunga national park has some strict rules and regulations that are supposed to be followed by the trackers on their congo gorilla safari expeditions. These include; group size, the groups to track per day as well as the time allowed spending with the mountain gorillas. This sis also done to ensure the well being of these endangered animals. This is because the gorillas are susceptible to many human diseases due to the great closeness between the humans and the mountain gorilla.

Gorilla Safari Group Size: It’s only a maximum of eight individuals per day that are allowed to trek, this helps to reduce the spreading of diseases from humans to the mountain gorillas.

Restrictions on Age: It’s only 15 years and over individuals allowed to trek

Hours of Visiting: gorilla trekking takes place during day time and it’s between 8:00qm to 7:00 pm

Time limit with gorillas: It’s strictly 1 hour allowed to spend with the mountain gorillas.

Rules of Congo gorilla trekking (The do’s and don’ts) in Virunga National Park

  • Protecting the mountain gorillas is the first rule; this means that if the tracker is sick or has any infections shouldn’t be allowed to come in contact with the gorillas.
  • Manners are recommended- always turn away your face while coughing or sneezing and remember to cover the nose as well as the mouth to help reduce on the bacteria transfer to the mountain gorillas.
  • Don’t over stay with the gorillas- End ever to stay for the only recommended time with the gorillas; it’s usually one hour that is allowed.
  • Keeping distance from the primates- it’s always recommended that you stay away from mountain gorillas between 5 to 7 meters because they are wild animals and can easily catch diseases from humans.
  • Well behaving while trekking: the rangers always advise the trekkers to keep noise levels as low as possible, avoid pointing or using flash light when taking photos of the mountain gorillas.
  • Being prepared: Remember to always carry water proof & warm gears for the cool conditions with in the mountains since it sometimes gets wet within the forest and comfortable walking shoes are of a great advantage.
  • No smoking and no snacks- Visitors are not allowed to drink of eat as well as smoking during gorilla trekking.
  • Cleanliness is recommended: Always wash your hands before engaging in gorilla trekking.
  • Keep hands intact- don’t touch the mountain gorillas at any time, always keep hands to yourself to avoid direct contact.
  • Avoid littering within the forest and keep the trash to yourself
  • Always remain calm– Avoid direct eye contact in case the gorilla charges and stay calm until it moves away.
  • Toilet manners: A ranger will be willing to dig a hole for you and after make sure its fully covered.

 

Cost of Congo Gorilla permits

congo gorilla toursThose planning to track mountain gorillas in Virunga national park, you are advised to book with one of the best local tour operators and the Congo gorilla permits costs ($400) per person.

The mountain gorillas in Virunga national park can be visited anytime during the year, however some paths are hard to navigate during the wet seasons of (May/April and November & October), in this season, Congo gorilla trekking permits are reduced  to ($350) per person. Other months are okay for gorilla trekking since it’s a dry season. Mountain gorillas can also be found in Uganda where a gorilla permit is $600 in high season and $450 in low season. For Rwanda, the gorilla permit is sold at $ 750 for both high season and Low season.

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