Gorilla trekking is a life time event and a gorilla safari is more than that and fortunately they are found in African countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There also lowland gorillas found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea as well as in large areas in Gabon and the Republic of Congo.
Gorilla trekking is one of the major tourist activities in many countries however, some tourists find it a challenging activity in the following ways:
Gorilla Trekking Duration – Since Gorillas are wild animals which moves freely in their natural habitat, trekkers also hustle to find them especially on day when they move far to search for feeds. It’s estimated that gorilla trekking takes between 3-7hrs and some times a full day which looks strenuous to the trekkers.
Weather – changes in weather some times affect trekkers positively or negatively. In rainy season, the process of gorilla trekking turns hectic as a result of slippery gorilla trekking trails, rapid vegetation growth, flooding waterbodies in the gorilla habitats which affects trekkers’ movement and sometime hinders access to the gorilla groups. For that case, dry seasons are marked the best time to go gorilla trekking. In many parts of Africa, dry season prevails from December to February and from June to August.
Thick and thorny vegetation – it’s difficult to maneuver through thick and thorny vegetation however it be noted that trekkers go through a mixed type of vegetation. In areas with unfriendly vegetation, access to gorilla families turns hectic and sometimes delays movement. Some times game rangers first clear the trail for trekkers to walk to meet gorillas.
The land terrain – in many areas hosting mountain gorillas, the land terrains are hilly or mountainous. Its hard to meet gorillas situated in uplands like in Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is situated in far south western Uganda, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park situated in northern Rwanda and Virunga National Park in north of Lake Kivu among others. In such relief, the trekkers are expected to exhibit high level of fitness.
Unpredictable gorilla behaviors – sometimes gorillas charge and no meeting them on such days. Gorilla behaviors affects the travelers’ safari programs especially on days when trekking is rescheduled to another day.
Cost of the gorilla trekking pass – in most of the countries hosting gorillas, the cost of trekking is extremely high. Rwanda charges US$1500 per gorilla permit, Uganda at US$700 each, DRC at US$400 and so on. The high cost eliminates many people wishing to meet gorillas.
Forest pastes like mosquitoes, tsetse flies, caterpillars among others. Such insects do bite trekkers thus we recommend thick, long-sleeved shirts and trousers during gorilla trekking. Alternatively, trekkers can smear insect repellent to control insect bites that causes disease like Malaria and sleeping sickness among others.
Catching up with quick moving gorillas – some times gorillas move quickly from one place to another while looking for pastures. Moreso, weak trekkers may fail to catch up with quick moving members during gorilla trekkers.
In conclusion, all trekkers first under go gorilla trekking briefing by the ranger guides to minimize the challenges experienced during the actual gorilla trek.