What to expect on a gorilla safari in Virunga?
What to expect on a gorilla safari in Virunga? Virunga national park harbors a certain number of mountain gorillas left surviving in the whole world. The Park hosts 1/3 mountain gorilla population in the world and 8 gorilla families have been habituated within this park for tourism purposes. Other mountain gorillas can be encountered in volcanoes national park Rwanda, Mgahinga national park Uganda as well Bwindi impenetrable forest national park Uganda where you meet more than a half of the gorilla population.
On the day of gorilla trekking everyone is looking up to meeting endangered mountain gorillas in Virunga but it’s very important to know how the day will be. In this article, we are going to look at how the day looks like and what you should expect. We assume that you have finalized each and everything with your tour operator and now you have your gorilla trekking permit ready with you.
The gorilla trekking permit is what you present to the park wardens at the briefing point to assure them that you have been allowed to trek mountain gorillas. Your gorilla trekking permit will be compared to other of your documents like the passport to confirm that you are the real person. During that time, you get ready for a briefing as you get entertained by the traditional dancers before the park wardens brief you about the rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking activity.
Below is what you should expect on a gorilla safari in Virunga;
On the day of gorilla trekking: Trekkers will have to wake up early in the morning for breakfast at the lodge where they had a night. They will meet the drivers to transfer them to the park offices where they will meet the park wardens, ranger guides, and other trekkers. The wardens will take the trekkers through a briefing where they will learn about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity in Virunga national park. Later grouping will be done, each group will be allocated a family to trek, and armed ranger guides will lead the treks to protect participants from dangerous wild animals and rebels. To be part of the briefing and the gorilla trekking activity, you must have a gorilla trekking permit.
Hike in the jungle: After the briefing, the trekkers in groups of 8 are led by armed ranger guides who takes them through different trails in the park. The trekking activity takes 2-5 hours in Virunga national park and the time takes depends on the nature of the trials, the speed of the trekkers, and the nature of the trails. During the search, the trekkers are able to meet different park animals such as blue monkeys, duikers, elephants, buffaloes, giant forest hogs, chimpanzees, aardvark, topis, waterbucks, bongo, kobs, red-tailed monkeys, and olive baboons among others. Trekking mountain gorillas is not easy takes because sometimes it can take you through very steep slopes in case the mountain gorillas are on high attitude most especially in times when there is less food.
Meet and spend 1 hour with mountain gorillas: After trekking that takes 2-5 hours in Virunga national park, the trekkers will finally meet the mountain gorilla family they have been looking for. It’s always an exciting and joyful moment watching the young mountain gorillas that do share 98% human DNA. Trekkers will be able to see the mountain gorillas do daily activities like hunting, nesting, playing, traveling, breastfeeding, and much more. They will also be able to notice the ruling silverback as it’s always the one heading the gorilla family, showing them what to do and patrolling to see if there are any enemies coming.
You will keep the rules as taught at the briefing centre such as keeping the voices low, avoiding direct eye contact, using flashless cameras, turning your back when sneezing, and keeping a distance among others. Trekkers can be around the mountain gorillas for a maximum of 1 hour and thereafter they will have to move away from the gorilla group and trek out of the jungle.
Awarding certificate: In Virunga national park, when trekkers get out of the jungle, they are all awarded certificates of participation in mountain gorilla trekking.
Mountain gorilla trekking packing list to Virunga national park
While heading to Virunga national park for mountain gorilla trekking, you need to pack essential things in order to have a memorable safari. Some of the things you need to include on your list include waterproof hiking shoes, cotton stocks, long-sleeved pants, long-sleeved shirts, a pair of gaiters, a rain jacket, a sweater, scarf, a hat, sunscreen, a camera, a pair of binoculars, drinking water bottle, energy-giving snacks, insect repellents, facemask, sanitizer, and first aid kit.
When to visit Virunga for a gorilla safari?
Virunga gorilla trekking safaris can be done at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. The dry months are the best to visit Virunga because they are characterized by little or no rainfall that leaves the trekking trails dry, the vegetation is thin with clear views of the gorillas and the roads leading to the park are passable.
Trekkers can still do their gorilla safari in Virunga national park in the rainy season of June to September and December to February to enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities and gorilla trekking permits. Trekkers coming for a Virunga gorilla trek in the rainy season should note that there is plenty of rainfall that makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation is thick with unclear views of the park animals and the roads leading to the par are impassable.
Booking a gorilla safari to Virunga national park
There are 2 ways a traveler can book a gorilla safari to Virunga national park however the best way is to use a local tour operator. Africa Adventure Vacations helps travelers from different parts of the world by booking safaris to Virunga national park for gorillas trekking. What a traveler interested in visiting Virunga will do is send us an email containing the dates of the month and year they want to travel and using these dates, we shall check for the availability of the permits with the park authorities. When we find out the permits available, we send you an email containing bank details and when you send the money, we go-ahead to secure a trekking permit for you.