A visit to a mountain gorilla family is a life changing experience. Mountain gorillas are highly intelligent, good natured, and fascinating to observe. The silverback’s powerful presence is awe-inspiring, yet his calm demeanour clearly earns him the title of 'GENTLE GIANT'. People are equally struck by the tenderness and care that mothers show their young. And then, of course, there are the juveniles who spend almost every waking hour at play and never cease to make visitors smile. Treks to visit these magnificent creatures occur in the equatorial montane forests of the Virunga Mountains, a chain of volcanoes that cover D.R.C., Uganda and Rwanda. A geologically and equatorially unique area called the Albertine Rift. These rainforests receive a lot of rainfall, and therefore don’t be surprised if you get wet.
Mountain gorillas , have longer and thicker fur than the other gorilla species, to provide additional warmth within the colder climates that they live. They are usually smaller than their close cousins the Eastern lowland gorilla. To the untrained eye, all gorillas may appear very similar in appearance, but they have unique nose prints that help to identify individuals. Gorillas will move between different altitudinal habitats on the slopes on the mountains, depending on food availability. There are only just over 1,000 individuals left in the entire world, earning them a critically endangered title, with a significant population living within Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. There are currently 10 habituated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park that you can visit. Each Gorilla Group Family has their own distinct personality and that is why that many people choose to trek more than one gorilla group.
The cost per permit per person is US$1,500 per person. After meeting at the Volcanoes National Park headquarter, following a briefing, 80 people in total a day are allowed to trek. The groups are divied into 8 people per group and graded according to their level of fitness in order to determine which group will visit which family on each day. After ther rangers have determined the location of each gorilla family, the groups will depart with a Rwandan park ranger.
The treks can take between 2– 7 hours, depending on where the mountain gorillas you are visiting on that day are located, and then based on the level of difficulty of the terrain you will be trekking. This includes the time needed to find the gorillas, 1 hour allocated to spending with the gorillas and then the return trek back to the headquarters. Porters are available to assist in carrying your gear and helping you through the tricky terrain at us$10 a porter carrying a maximum if 15kgs each.