Tips for a Better Gorilla Safari Trek
The following is a guest post by Martin Lugwana….
Many people in the world think life is about having a good earning job and having a mansion for a family to live in. However the latter is totally wrong since a man with no happy family or without time to hang out with his family is never a complete person. A family wants a person to have time for them and talk and do things that bond them more.
Therefore a gorilla trekking tour can be one thing that can bind a family and make it complete as the family is able to stay together and enjoy wonderful interactions with the gorillas in their natural habitats. Gorilla treks are found in Central East Africa in Uganda, Rwanda and DR of Congo. So the onus is on you to choose the destination you may travel to.
Tips for a Successful Gorilla Safari
Many people think of visiting mass touristic places like resorts, beaches and recreation centers to have a good time and unwind; however these places are generally not interesting for families since they are crowded and there is competition for space to enjoy so a family might feel like they have not the privacy to enjoy themselves to the fullest.
So it is best to take family and friends to a place that is serene quite and out of this world, like an eco touristic spot. A gorilla trekking tour would be the ideal trip for a family since it makes the family hang out in tranquil lodges and also move through the jungles of Africa to watch the mountain gorillas that they have never seen before. Trekking with the gorillas in Africa will leave your family buzzing since this is a lifetime experience.
However, it takes some planning and preparation for a good gorilla trekking trip. Follow these steps to find the right trek for you.
Best Travelling Time
Although all mountain gorilla destinations in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo declare that gorilla trekking is done throughout the year, the dry season is the best time. These three countries lie in the tropical region of Africa which receives sun and rain interchangeably year round. It is best for one to come to trek the gorillas in the dry months of June to mid October and mid December to mid March. We say the dry months are the best since in rainy seasons the habitats of gorillas become impassable as the walking trails are slippery and also the forest become thicker.
Picking a Tour Operator
For a successful gorilla trip in Africa , you are required to hire a very established and professional local tour operator with experience in organizing gorilla trekking trips. Tour operators give all the advice you need on how to travel in Africa. You can find a good local tour operator on the internet and there are many genuine gorilla tour companies online that you can book to have a good trip. You can also ask friends and colleagues who have traveled to Africa to refer you to some good tour operators to work with.
Consider The Gorilla Trekking Minimum Age
One thing you should know about gorilla trekking in Africa is that the activity is strictly guided by age restrictions! Only people who are above 15 years are permitted to go gorilla trekking. The young ones below the age of 15 years are not permitted because gorilla trekking is a very challenging activity that requires hiking the montain and tropical forest of Africa for more than 5 hours to find the gorillas.
Gorillas living in the jungle exhibit different behaviors. There are set guidelines on how gorilla trackers behave during the encounters with the mountain gorillas. Some of the behaviors cannot be tolerated by children (e.g when it charges). Given that only mature people can tolerate this behavior, only adults above 15 years can visit the gorillas. The gorillas also do not want to be disturbed by any weird sounds like the screams of the kids, something that can make gorillas become aggressive.
Mind Your Safari Gear and Other Back Pack Essentials
There are specific things that trackers will have to carry while going on a in Africa. First of all you must carry the right clothing and shoes for hiking within the forests. Recommended clothing should include good climbing boots, a rain coat given that the forest is moist, long sleeved clothes to protect you from dew and thorny paths as well as insect repellents.
You should also pack essential medical items like malaria pills, insect repellents and everything required in your medical kit; otherwise it will be a mess if you fall sick on your gorilla trip.
You also have to pack the right equipment needed for gorilla trekking. Don’t forget, you will have to carry a good spec camera, extra batteries with very good lens to capture the gorilla pictures,. Remember a camera jacket to protect it from the rain.
Improve Your Fitness Level Prior Gorilla Trekking
Gorilla Trekking is almost rated as an extreme adventure. It requires a reasonable degree of fitness given that it involves hiking through steep slopes as you search for the giant forest dwellers. When going for gorilla trekking, one has to be physically and psychologically fit. Normally gorilla trekking requires moving for more than 2 hours looking for the gorillas in the forests. It takes such a long time because the gorillas are never in one place given that they keep moving as they look for food and shelter each and every day.
Validated Required Travel Documents
While in Africa as a tourist, you are required to carry a passport valid for more than six months and in addition you must be holding a tourist visa that is offered at any immigration point that is the airport or at the ground borders of the countries. For travelers looking to explore both Uganda and Rwanda, you can use apply for East African Visa.
It is also mandatory to have a yellow fever vaccination card given as some countries in Africa are infected with the disease.
Take note of making photocopies of all the useful information just in case you misplaced the original copies.
There is also malaria in Africa. It is best for the family to get malaria medications from their home doctors before traveling to Africa.
The government of Uganda, Rwanda & Kenya amended their immigration policies and there are plans to make East Africa a single tourist destination. Therefore agreements were signed to open up the borders for free exit and entry of people. With the East Africa Tourist Visa you can travel between the three countries with ease for a period that lasts for 90 days and you can obtain visa within your arrival country.
Acquiring a Gorilla Permit
A gorilla permit is a document or card that allow one to do gorilla trekking in Africa. The permits are issued by government organizations such as, the Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda, the Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda and Virunga Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gorilla Permits can also be booked with the local tour operators. A gorilla permit comes with a price tag; in Rwanda it costs $ 1500, Uganda $600 and in Congo $400.
Note: no one is allowed to trek the gorillas without a gorilla permit! Therefore if you are going gorilla trekking first secure the gorilla permits.
There are several lodges within the destinations where gorilla trekking is conducted. These are categorized by the financial status of people that is budget, mid range and luxury so the onus is on the visitor to choose where to stay. Please note whether budget or luxury, these lodges have the basic facilities and services needed in a tourism accommodation facility. The local tour operator can help you to book a lodge and advise the best place to stay.
Real Gorilla Experience
After moving through the jungles of Africa for some time you will meet the gorillas in their natural environment. Gorillas are found in families of 10-30 individuals headed by a dominant alpha male called a silverback welcoming the tracker by making intense eye contact that makes the tracker grow a bit nervous.
While with the gorillas you must keep a 7 meter distance. You also have to lower your voices so that you do not interrupt their movements and feeding. During the gorilla trek, you will watch the gorillas feed, play around with their young ones and observe their intelligent communication among themselves. You can take photos of the gorillas but the flashes are kept off since these animals are light sensitive. After an hour of interaction with the gorillas you will head back to your lodges.
After a Gorilla Safari Experience in the Wild
A gorilla safari trekking trip is not all about seeing the gorillas in their natural environment. After the trek you will dine and stay in exquisite lodges or hotels and learn African culture by watching locals perform their art of dance, music and drama. Furthermore while in the jungles of Africa, you can see wildlife such as monkeys, elephants, different bird species and a wide range of beautiful creatures. Flora is also interesting and there are many exciting tree species and medicinal plants for those who love botany.
The climate in Africa is agreeable as it conducive to stress release. Enjoy stunning sunsets, serene evenings and even during warm days you get to sweat off excess water weight.
If you crave a memorable, enlightening, family friendly experience that will help you bond, book an unforgettable gorilla trekking experience in Africa.