Primate Safaris - Gorillas: Q&A
Q. What is the difference between gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda?
A. The difference is mainly in the terrain. Rwanda is traditionally thought of as the easier gorilla trekking destination because the vegetation is thinner, thus allowing easier viewing and hiking. In Uganda the gorillas live in thick rainforest which makes for tougher hiking. If time is an issue, it is important to note that the gorilla parks in Rwanda are also easier to reach from the airport by vehicle.
Q. How fit do I need to be to track gorillas?
A. A gorilla tracking excursion can last anywhere from 40 minutes to seven hours. Anyone who is reasonably fit should be fine, but bear in mind that you can reach altitudes of over 6,500 feet and that the paths can be steep and slippery at times. Human illnesses passed onto gorillas can be fatal, so it is essential that you are free from illness at the time of your trek.
Q. What are the chances of not seeing the gorillas?
A. Over the last ten years, our clients have had a 100% success rate in seeing the gorillas. If you happen to be unlucky enough not to see them on your trek, your permit money will be refunded. In order to avoid any disappointment, we always suggest you plan to track the gorillas twice.
Q. What is the minimum age for gorilla trekking?
A. The minimum age is 15 years.
Q. What are the accommodations like in gorilla trekking areas?
A. They vary from simple to luxurious. Please refer to the when and where page for further details.
Q. How long may I spend with the gorillas?
A. The permit entitles you to spend one hour with the group you track.
Q. How do I secure my gorilla trekking permit?
A. We are unable to hold them as a reservation. Permits are only confirmed on receipt of payment.
Q. Can I ask to see a specific gorilla family group?
A. In Uganda, the permit is for a fixed gorilla group and can’t be changed. In Rwanda, clients are assigned to a gorilla family on the morning of the trek, so requests will be accommodated if possible.
Q. Do I need a porter (assistant)?
A. This really depends on your personal fitness. However, we would often recommend you do take a porter. Not only is it a good way of supporting the local economy as you will pay a set fee directly to your porter, but on longer gorilla treks your day pack (containing cameras, water, spare clothing etc.) can feel quite heavy after a while.
Q. Can I take photographs of the gorillas?
A. Yes, but you must make sure the flash mode is turned off. With modern digital cameras you will still be able to get great gorilla photos without using a flash.
Q. What equipment do I need?
A. Aside from the usual safari kit, you must have sturdy walking/hiking shoes and a pair of gardening gloves to trek gorillas. Sturdy shoes help because the paths can be rough and slippery, and gardening gloves protect your hands if you have to grab slippery and/or thorny plants to assist the walking.
Q. Is gorilla trekking safe?
A. Very safe. Both Rwanda and Uganda have been successfully operating gorilla trekking operations for many years. You will always be accompanied by experienced National Park guides and armed game scouts.
Q. How many days should I trek for?
A. We suggest that you track gorillas twice during your trip. During the first gorilla encounter, most people will spend time taking photos from behind their cameras. If you track them again you have time to actually observe these wonderful creatures properly. Furthermore, in the extremely unlikely event of missing the gorillas on your first day, there is then at least the opportunity to look for them the next day.
Q. How do the guides know where the gorillas are?
A. There are trackers who stay with the gorillas until they find their nest for the evening. Once settled, the gorillas do not leave until morning, when the trackers are back and ready to follow them. Your guides have constant communication with the trackers, so it is therefore highly likely that you will see the gorillas.
Q. How close will I get to the gorillas?
A. Your guides will ask you to stay at least 15 to 20 feet away from the gorillas. You may find yourself much nearer though, if a gorilla decides to inspect you more closely.
Q. Other than tracking the gorillas, what can we do?
A. Depending on your location, you can see golden monkeys, walk to Dian Fossey’s grave, observe superb bird life, climb a volcano, and visit local orphanages and villages.
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