A combination of gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda, DRC, and wildlife safaris in Tanzania, Kenya guarantees enthusiastic travelers experiences of a lifetime. Booking gorilla and wildlife safaris in these leading East African countries allows you to enjoy up close and personal with not only gorillas but also the big game, plus other wildlife while in their natural habitat.
Gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC offer the best of an on-foot-trek experience. Visitors on gorilla safaris undertake a guided gorilla trekking experience to see gorillas and depending on the destination, mountain gorillas are without doubt the must-see across the 3 countries. Unlike Rwanda and Uganda, visiting DRC for gorilla safari tours offers you a remarkable opportunity to encounter not only mountain gorillas but also the Eastern lowland gorillas.
Our gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC aren’t just causal visits to see gorillas, but they involve active participation, and you will have a deep understanding of how gorillas behave- how they copulate, feed, groom, etc and you won’t return without shooting the nicest pictures of these large apes in the wild.
Brief about endangered mountain gorillas
Mountain gorillas are a major reason why 1000s of tourists consider East African safaris a must-do. A trek to see a family of these unique apes is what many describe as a life-changing experience. Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) are a sub-species of the Eastern gorillas, Africa’s most sought-for great apes in the wild. These special apes are on the IUCN Red list of endangered species, and a total of about 1063 still survive within the East African jungles, particularly in Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC.
As of 2018, the mountain gorilla population was estimated to be 1004, but with strict guidelines and collective efforts to conserve and protect these large primates, their population is gradually increasing. Unlike other animal species or primates, mountain gorillas don’t live at the zoo. To see them, a gorilla tour to Uganda, Rwanda or DRC should be a must-do in Africa.
Uganda mountain gorillas
Uganda’s endangered mountain gorillas reside within two parks, which include Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest N. Park. The two Uganda gorilla parks were designated as parks in 1991. Mgahinga Park covers a land area of 33.7sq.kms, while Bwindi occupies up to 331sq.km. Over half of the remaining 1063 endangered mountain gorillas are protected within these protected areas.
Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla Parks comprise of 5 gorilla safari sectors, 4 in Bwindi including Ruhija, Rushaga, Buhoma, and Nkuringo. Mgahinga is where the fifth gorilla trekking region is found, Ntebeko. Overall, there are 21 fully habituated mountain gorilla group families, and on an actual visit to see gorillas, maximum of 8 tourists are allocated to ONLY one group.
The habituated Uganda gorilla families to explore on gorilla tours include Katwe, Christmas, Bikingi, Kyaguriro, Habinyanja, Nyakagezi (Mgahinga), Oruzongo, Mukiza, Nkuringo, Kutu, Bweza, Nshongi, Mucunguzi, Bushaho, Bitukura, Mubare, Busingye, Mishaya, Kahungye, Rushegura, Rwigi.
Valid gorilla permits are must-have tools if you are to visit and enjoy up close with mountain gorillas in the wild regardless of the destination. If Uganda is your dream mountain gorilla destination, a gorilla permit is issued out at USD700 for the category of foreign non-residents, foreign residents 600, and citizens in East Africa pay 250,000= Uganda shillings. Reach out to your tour operator on the ground to assist you to plan your gorilla tours in Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC. Planning a complete gorilla tour in East Africa involves booking gorilla permits, lodges, transportation, guides, and everything that is required to make your gorilla trekking adventure a memorable experience.
Rwanda and gorillas
Rwanda is a special gorilla trekking destination of its own. Rwanda’s mountain gorillas live within the Virunga region, which is in Volcanoes National Park. This is a compact park and forms part of the extensive Virunga Conservation Area. Lying in Northwestern Rwanda, Volcanoes NP accounts for 30% of the world’s endangered mountain gorilla population.
Traveling to visit gorillas in Volcanoes Park takes just 2–3 hours’ drive from Kigali or you can transfer from Kabale via Katuna border/Kisoro through Chanika border to Northwestern Rwanda. It is at Volcanoes Park where Dian Fossey did her research for 18 years, and today, the park is home to 12 habituated gorilla groups – Agashya/Group 13, Susa B‑Karisimbi, Hirwa, Amahoro, Kwitonda, Ugenda, Bwenge, Susa A, Umubano, Sabyinyo, Titus, Pablo, etc.
Volcanoes N/P derives its name from the Virunga Volcanoes, and five of the eight Virunga Massifs all exist here. The park was established in 1925 making it Rwanda’s oldest park, and its land area measures up to only 160sq.km.
Gorilla permits to allow you to visit Rwanda mountain gorillas are only issued to persons above 15 years. Each of Rwanda’s gorilla trekking permits can be booked at USD1500, and it is possible to book it in advance via a reliable tour operator on the ground or contact Rwanda Development Board- RDB. Trekking gorillas in Rwanda begins at Kinigi offices, and getting there takes just 2–3 hours’ drive from Kigali.
On a gorilla safari tour in Rwanda, it is also possible to visit other leading primate destinations. They include Nyungwe Forest National Park and Gishwati-Mukura National Park- where you can enjoy chimp trekking.
Congo and gorillas
Gorillas in Congo include mountain gorillas and lowlands. The rare mountain gorillas in Congo reside in the jungles of the Virunga National Park. The vast UNESCO protected area sits on the Eastern part of the D.R. Congo, and shelters 300 mountain gorillas. This is a special habitat for Congo’s 8 habituated mountain gorilla families; Munyaga, Bageni, Nyakamwe, Rugendo, Lulengo, Humba, Kabirizi, and Mapuwa.
Congo and lowland gorillas- the Eastern lowland gorillas in the DRC reside in Maiko and Kahuzi-Biega National Parks. Visiting gorilla beringei Grauer’s in Congo also requires you to have valid gorilla permits, which costs USD450 per person.
Things to pack for Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC gorilla safaris
Pack right for all gorilla trips to Rwanda, Uganda, or DRC. Begin with essentials such as waterproof hiking boots, bottled drinking water, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, rain jacket, camera, daypack, long trousers, pair of socks, insect repellents, high energy giving snacks, gardening gloves, extra camera batteries, memory card, etc.
Wildlife safaris in Tanzania, & Kenya
Tanzania and Kenya are East Africa’s top big 5 game destinations. Boasting of their breathtaking landscapes, Kenya and Tanzania are the 2 places where the world’s greatest spectacle of wildlife can be experienced- the wildebeest migration. The two premier wildlife safari destinations have plenty of opportunities for tourists to explore and experience different wildlife in the wild.
Kenya wildlife safaris are done in various protected areas. Located in East Africa, Kenya offers the best wildlife tours in both national parks and reserves. If your dream experience is the wildebeest migration, then no better place is worth visiting on Kenya safaris than the Masai Mara. This sweeping 1510sq.km nature reserve is where the annual wildebeest migration occurs in East Africa, and millions of wildebeest, elands, zebras, etc can be observed while crossing the Mara River.
Other leading safari destinations in Kenya include Aberdare National Park, Tsavo Parks- Tsavo East and West, Lake Nakuru, Samburu National Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Mount Kenya N/Park, etc. To enjoy the best of Kenya wildlife safaris, there are plentiful of exciting activities to indulge in and they include guided game drives, hot air balloon tours, walking tours, boat cruises, canoeing, horseback, wildebeest migration safaris, birding, and more.
A Kenya wildlife tour is a great opportunity to enjoy the view of diverse animals. These include impalas, zebras, lions, gazelles, hippos, cheetahs, leopards, wildebeest, buffaloes, elephants, warthogs, kobs, topis, hyenas, and others.
Tanzania wildlife ‑explore Tanzania, one of the leading big five game viewing destinations. Game/wildlife tours in Tanzania are possible across most of its pristine parks and national reserves. The prime destinations for wildlife safaris in Tanzania include Lake Manyara, Serengeti National Park, Ruaha National Park, Ngorongoro Crater/Conservation Area, Selous Game Reserve, Gombe National Park, Mikumi, etc.
The wildebeest migration
In Tanzania and Kenya, the wildebeest migration is the main reason why the two destinations are bucket list on most of the African safari packages. The best time to enjoy wildebeest migration is during the dry months, specifically July to August. The birthing season for wildebeest is from December to February.
Wildebeest migration in Kenya occurs in the Masai Mara National Reserve which is set in the far Southwestern part, Narok county. In Tanzania, the best destination to consider for wildebeest migration tours is Serengeti National Park, one of the leading parks in the Northern tourist circuit.
When to travel for gorilla & wildlife safaris?
Gorilla and wildlife safaris in Africa are enjoyable at any time of the year, although the dry months are the most preferred. The dry months are the best months of the year to visit mountain gorillas or go game viewing to see the big 5 game. For gorilla trekking, consider traveling to Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC around June, July, August, September, and December, January to February. To enjoy wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara, Serengeti, visit Kenya/Tanzania from July to August.