Congo Gorilla Safari Tours: A Little Variation in Trekking Rules

Congo Gorilla Safari Tours: A Little Variation in Trekking Rules

Gorilla Trekking Safaris in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo Gorilla Trekking is a life-changing experience. The Mountain gorillas, the highly intelligent, good-natured, and fascinating great ape are found in three countries; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

When viewing the gorillas, you will be in the presence of a powerful, awe-inspiring, yet calm Silverback. You may call him “a gentle giant”. Witnessing the tenderness and care that mothers show their young is another life-changing experience. Meet the infants and the juveniles who spend most of the time walking, playing and breastfeeding, giving visitors a smile on the face.

According to the 2010 and 2011 gorilla census, the population of mountain gorillas is standing at 880 in the three countries.  Of these 1004 mountain gorillas, 500 Mountain gorillas are in Virunga Mastiff, shared between 3 countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC (Although the official results of the 2015/2016 gorilla census are not yet out, it is estimated that the population of the gorilla in Virunga Mastiff stands at 538 by 2015). There are additional 400 mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. In our previous articles, we discussed Trekking Gorillas. In this article, we shall also let you know about the remaining population of the mountain gorillas in DRC.

Tracking Gorillas in Congo - Sebagabo, a black back gorilla in Mapua group, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo

Sebagabo, a black back gorilla in Mapua group, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo

In DRC, the mountain gorillas are only found and tracked in Virunga National Park (Park National des Virunga). The Virunga National Park is part of the wider Virunga Mastiff shared between Volcanoes National Park in DRC and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda. The Virunga National park is located within the great Volcano region of the Congo basin. The gorilla trekking usually starts from the Bukima patrol post. The location, however, may change depending on where the gorillas spent the night. Just like in Uganda Safaris and Rwanda, you will be guided by an experienced guide and trackers provided by, Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, ICCN (the authority in charge of wildlife in DRC).

The Trekking Gorillas in DRC are lower; currently $ 400 for internationals and $150 for Congolese nationals. Trekking to and from the gorillas usually takes 1-2 hours of hiking, depending on where the mountain gorillas spent the previous night and the difficulty of the terrain.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in DRC is unique in that visitors are required to wear surgical masks (provided) when in the presence of gorillas. This is to safeguard the health of Virunga’s gorillas.

Whereas wearing the mask is not yet an issue in Uganda and Rwanda Safari, the park authority is in the early process of including this rule. In case you don’t feel well at the time of your scheduled trek (i.e. You have a cold, fever, diarrhea, or persistent sore throat) you are advised to cancel the activity. These gorillas are extremely susceptible to human illnesses.

They have died after being exposed to human respiratory viruses and other common ailments. This is a big reason for the surgical masks and keeping other gorilla viewing rules.

There are 8 mountain gorilla groups habituated in Virunga National Park. These are:

  • Kabirizi group,
  • Humba group,
  • Rugendo group,
  • Mapuwa group,
  • Lulengo group,
  • Munyaga group,
  • Nyakamwe group and
  • Bageni

The largest group is currently the Bageni group with 26 gorillas. In total, there are 115 habituated individual Mountain gorillas in DRC.

mountain gorillas in DRC

More often overshadowed by the iconic Uganda & Rwanda, Congo stays a little less focused. But we would recommend not underestimating this small country which has a lot to offer. Watching these playful gorillas and witnessing their human-like behaviour can be a memory to cheer throughout life. There are mostly gorilla trekking operators who avoid the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, being a front liner gorilla trekking company we offer finest itineraries for the Democratic Republic of Congo too. Come visit us to plan a great trip @ gorillatrips.net

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