Gorilla Trekking in DR Congo Virunga Africa Safari
Gorilla Trekking in DR Congo Virunga Africa Safari
Democratic Republic of one of the off the beaten track safari destinations in Africa, despite of the political climate in the Eastern democratic republic of Congo Virunga National Park has remained one of the renown diverse wildlife destinations in west Africa, the park is a World Heritage site which is a home to the endangered mountain gorillas and Chimpanzees, and also the area has one of the world’s active volcanoes the Nyiragongo active Volcano.
Gorilla trekking in DR Congo offers truly exclusive wildlife encounters, with few tourist numbers gorilla trekking in the Virunga national park is one of top activities a long side visiting the Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage, besides mountain gorillas DR Congo is also blessed with Lowland gorillas, the Eastern lowland gorillas live in the forest areas of Kahuzi-Biega national park across Lake Kivu.
Mountain gorillas live in forests high in the mountains, at elevations of 2,000 to 4,000 meters. They have thicker and denser hair compared to other great apes, which helps them survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing. But as humans have moved more and more into their territory, the gorillas have been pushed farther up into the mountains for longer periods, forcing them to endure dangerous and sometimes deadly conditions.
Habituated Mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park is home to around a third of those gorillas of the global gorilla population which reside in the dense forests on the lush slopes of the Virunga volcanoes. The world population of mountain gorillas is currently estimated to be at around 1000 individuals.
As of now, there are eight habituated Gorilla groups in Congo that opened for tourism in Virunga National Park. The groups are: Kabirizi, Humba, Rugendo, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Munyaga, Nyakamwe, and Bageni. Each group has got a unique story to tell. We shall now tell you more about the groups.
Wild Mountain gorillas in Virunga national park
Despite years of civil unrest in the region where mountain gorillas live, conservation efforts have found less success with the research on Wild mountain gorillas our reliable sources from Virunga shows there might be a tremendous number of wild mountain gorillas not known due to limited access to some parts of the forest. Findings show populations in the Virunga Massif have grown to 604 individuals, up from 480 individuals in 2010. This puts the total global wild gorilla population over 1,000 individuals.
See our DR Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris Via Rwanda
Eastern Lowland gorillas
A subspecies of eastern gorilla, the eastern lowland gorilla is found only in the rainforests of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Also known as Grauer’s gorilla, the eastern lowland gorilla is the largest of the gorilla subspecies. This impressive animal is identified by a stocky body, large hands and a short muzzle. Unusually, the gorilla’s thumbs are larger than the fingers. The face, ears, hands, and feet are bare, and the chest in old males lacks hair.
Compared to the other eastern gorilla subspecies, the Mountain gorillas, the eastern lowland gorilla has shorter hair and teeth, and longer arms.
Until the mid-1990s, the population was thought to number around 17,000 individuals. But the latest survey found that numbers had crashed to less than 4,000.
Habituated Eastern Lowland gorillas
With disrupted research in Kahuzi Biega National Park, the park remains the last stronghold of the eastern lowland gorillas, numbering just over 200 individuals with three habituated families that are currently being protected by the park and they are open to tourism.
Where to see Gorillas in DR Congo
Eastern democratic republic of Congo is the one of the best places to see both mountain gorillas and Lowland gorillas, Virunga national park is covers an area of 7,769 km² is a home to the endangered mountain gorillas and Kahuzi-Biega national park which covers an area of 6,000 km² is a home to the critically endangered Eastern Lowland gorillas.
How to get to DR Congo for Gorilla trekking safari
Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is located extremely far away from the main capital Kinshasa and most travelers to Congo would usually fly in to Rwandan Capital Kigali and drive to either Virunga national park or Kahuzi Biega national park respectively however scheduled or private helicopter transfers can be arranged to Kanombe airport for those travelling to Kahuzi-Biega and Gisenyi airport for those travelling to Virunga national park.
What to expect on DR Congo gorilla trekking safari
According reports from our past clients the gorilla trekking experience is the by far the easiest trek compared to neighboring Uganda and Rwanda however the biggest problem is visa clearance in to the DRC, travelers must be patient as some of the processes may take longer and the road conditions in the Eastern DRC are sometimes terrible during the rainy season so we recommend you consider this as an adventure and expedition.
Impact of gorilla tourism in DR Congo
Despite of the few tourist numbers the park is still struggling with conservation of mountain gorillas particularly protecting their habitat which is under a big threat from the mineral miners and the political insurgency, the community benefits are currently low from the tourism in the Eastern democratic republic of Congo.
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An experience with the Gorillas in DR Congo
Just like how you imagine being a dark forest in the middle of central Africa, encountering mountain gorillas in Democratic republic of Congo still remains of the undisputed highlights of your visit to Eastern Democratic republic of Congo, come face to face with this incredible great apes can only be described as an emotional overwhelming experience that can only be once in a lifetime.
How long is gorilla trekking in DR Congo
Gorilla trekking experience in Congo can take anything between 2 hours to 6 hours, this means you will trek for either 30 minutes and view the gorillas for 1 hour or trek for 2 hours and view the gorillas for 1 hour.
DR Congo gorilla permit, cost and prices
Currently DR Congo gorilla permits cost USD $400 per person for non-nationals, USD $150 for Congolese residents, USD $ 200 for SADC nationals however this prices are subjected to changes please contact our Africa travel specialist before booking your Gorilla safari in DR Congo.
Refund, cancellation of DR Congo gorilla permits
In an honest opinion it may be very difficult to get a refund for gorilla permits in the DR Congo but rescheduling is possible however at Wilderness Explorers Africa we operate on our terms and conditions of operations please refer to our terms and conditions for more information here.
Gorilla Trekking age limit for DR Congo
Currently travellers holding a passport or travel document of age 15 and above are allowed to trek mountain gorillas in Virunga and Kahuzi-Biega national park however at wilderness explorers Africa we still think Congo is not a destination for children and we recommend travellers of 23 years and above to trek gorillas in the Congo.
Where to stay in Virunga national park during your gorilla trek
Virunga like many destinations in Africa does not have a variety of accommodation facilities and the few are made comfortable for travelers who intend to visit the park for the ultimate gorilla trekking experience and hiking the Nyiragongo active volcano.
In the jungle of Rumangabo, the brand new Mikeno Lodge is arising which will serve as a comfortable central spot for tourists to start their visit to Virunga National Park. At Mikeno Lodge you can also visit the only four captives (orphaned) mountain gorillas in the world, at the spacious Senkwekwe center.
Ngila is a new lodge located at the edge of the forest and the lodge is built beautifully to give clients that much needed relaxation after gorilla trekking in the park.
Best time for gorilla trekking in DR Congo
The months of July through to September are by far the driest months of the year, and, it’s probably the best time to visit Congo. In fact, if you’re looking to go for a gorilla trek in Virunga, this is the best time of year!