Mountain Gorillas are of course the best known inhabitants of the Virungas. They are the true stars of the Virunga forests and have made the region famous around the world.
There are four subspecies of gorillas leaving in Africa. The mountain Gorilla ( Gorilla beringei beringei ) is the biggest of them, mature adult males ( known as “ silverbacks” due to the presence of grey hair on their massive back. ) can reach over 200 kg. The virunga forest is the only place in the world where mountain gorillas still survive , together with Bwindi ( the impenetrable”) forest national park in Uganda , situated some 50 km away from the virunga forest , but that has been separated from it by a growing “ocean” of intensively cultivated land (a process that probably started as early as 500 years ago.)
Almost 500 mountain gorillas live in the virunga forest straddling across the three countries of the virunga range. The latest detailed census ( performed in 2010 by teams of volcanoes national park and Karisoke Research Centre ) revealed that the mountain gorillas population in volcanoes national park increased by more than 20% during the last decade. These highly social apes live in family groups led by one dominant silverback accompanied by females , juveniles and infants (as well as, in certain groups, other subordinate males.) The largest group of mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park- in the world- is currently (2010) group pablo , with 44 gorillas.
Mountain gorillas have established home ranges that sometimes overlap with the ones of other neighbouring groups. Interactions can become violent when two silverback males fight with each other , but most often they will avoid violent confrontation. The groups move also according to the seasons, they tend to spend much more time in the bamboo forests when bamboo shoots are plenty , while in the dry season they have to move much more in order to find enough food of good quality. At the time of the year , they sometimes climb much higher on the slopes of the volcanoes.
The Virunga region comprise of three national parks that protect the endangered gorillas. Learn about each park, location – directions/map, history, weather conditions and more.
Virunga National Park
Also refered to as Parc National des Virungas, this is the first place where gorilla tourism was started. Find information on gorilla tourism in the park, location – directions/map, history, weather conditions and more.
Mgahinga National Park
The Mgahinga National Park protects the Ugandan part of the Virunga. It is one of the most scenic places. Learn about location, getting there, things to see & do, weather & climate, directions/map and more.
Volcanoes National Park
Since 1980s, this is the best place to view the mountain gorillas in the wild. Learn about Volcanoes National Park, location – directions/map, history, weather conditions and more.
Gorilla tracking is the main activity that brings tourists to the Virunga region. Get started with planning a gorilla trek in the Virunga Region, best places to go, how to book gorilla permits or all inclusive gorilla safaris and more.