Gorillas are primate species inhabiting the forests of East and Central Africa. The gorillas are divided into two species; the eastern and western gorillas.
The gorillas are father divided into lowland gorillas and mountain gorillas. These amazing apes share 95-99% DNA with human beings depending on what is tested, making them human’s closest cousins. The gorillas only live in 3 countries in the whole world and that is Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo. DR Congo has all the two sub species of the gorillas, with mountain gorillas living in Virunga National park and Eastern Lowland gorillas living in Kahuzi Biega National park, south of Lake Kivu.
The other mountain gorillas live in Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park and in Uganda in Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park. There are less than 900 mountain gorillas living in the world and less than 400 lowland gorillas living in the world. This makes the mountain gorillas an endangered specie as they are at a risk of extinction being limited in few areas of the montane forest in Virunga Mountain ranges.
There was depletion of gorillas to almost extinction due to poor conservation and political instabilities in the region. However, thanks to the efforts of Dian Fossey who brought the plight of the mountain gorillas to the whole world, she devoted her life to conserving the mountain gorillas and even after she was killed in 1986, her work continued through gorilla fund project.
Gorilla tourism was introduced and has been developed since 1990’s and the number of tourists coming into Africa to see the mountain gorillas has been on a steady increase up to date. If you are planning a gorilla safari in Africa therefore, there is need to plan and book the trip earlier by contacting your trusted local tour operator so that you are assured of the gorilla permit. The gorillas leave in groups called families headed by a dominant male silverback gorilla. The gorilla families are habituated for gorilla tracking to be able to interact with human beings.
Each gorilla family is visited by a maximum of 8 people per day, which is a limited number compared to the demand for gorilla tracking.
In Uganda, there are 14 habituated gorilla families in total with 13 families in Bwindi impenetrable forest National park and one in Mgahinga national park, implying that a maximum number of 112 people can be allowed to track the gorillas in Uganda each day.
In Rwanda, there are 10 habituated gorilla families, which implies a maximum of 80 people can track the gorillas there per day. On the other hand, DR Congo has 7 habituated gorilla families implying a maximum of 56 people can visit the mountain gorillas per day.
Considering the number of people allowed to go on gorilla tracking per day and the high demand for gorilla tracking permits, the competition is so high that one ought to book the gorilla safari early.
In addition to limited gorilla permits, there are few accommodation options for different categories. There are high-end accommodations, mid range accommodations and low budget accommodations. These are all not enough depending on the budget of the traveller. Thus, the earlier the booking, the better chance of booking into the accommodation of interest.
With the increase in demand for gorilla tracking safaris and need to conserve the mountain gorillas, governments have put a fee on the gorilla permits which helps in deterring some people from coming to track the gorillas there by improving on conservation of nature, and then those who manage the fee, the funds help in conservation efforts. The governments thus keep on increasing the gorilla permit fees with the increase in the demand for gorilla tracking permits. This is always unpredictable and not communicated prior. Therefore, the earlier the booking, the better as the increment on gorilla permit fees only affects those who book after the price changes have been communicated.
Most people tend to make last minute bookings and this always make the flight cost more expensive as the cheaper seats are already booked. Thus, the earlier the booking, the cheaper the safari will become in terms of transport costs which is also affected by inflation in the region.
A gorilla safari is always combined with other tourist activities such as chimpanzee tracking, mountain hiking, game drive safaris and other activities. All these activities have limited number of people per day and it is thus paramount that one books the safari earlier before there spaces are full to avoid any inconveniences in trying to put up a completer travel itinerary.
Therefore, if planning a gorilla safari, plan in advance and book earlier to be able to enjoy your memorable adventure with the closest cousins, perhaps one of the most exciting adventure in the world.