Gorilla trekking is such a once-in-a-lifetime experience. From mountain gorillas to Cross River gorillas, seeing these large primates in their natural habitat is truly an experience that you will never forget. Found in central Africa, gorillas are the largest living primates on the planet.
Whether you want to spot gorillas on a day trek or longer, there are companies who will help to arrange a permit and send you gorilla trekking with knowledgable guides. Having seen these majestic primates in the wild was such a magical experience and I recommend it to everyone.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to see these giant gorillas up close and personal, here are the best places for gorilla trekking.
Spotting a gorilla is never guaranteed so choosing a country with a high probability of spotting gorillas will increase your chances of seeing one of these awe-inspiring primates. Mountain gorillas are an endangered species and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is one of the most popular places for tourists to see them. This National Park has more than ten gorilla families within its bamboo forests so taking a safari here is well worth the money.
For the cultural solo, there are cultural sites to visit and you can learn about Rwanda’s poignant history. If you fancy seeing more than just gorillas (although they are amazing just on their own), why not look at spotting golden monkeys as well? Or climb Mount Bishoke to see its crater lake and make the most of your Rwanda adventure.
Rwanda gorilla tours aren't just limited to gorilla trekking either as you can combine your trip with spotting other wildlife such as rare golden monkeys or even bird spotting. To make the most of your time here, stay for at least 72 hours to experience the best of the wildlife in this park. If you are short on time you can take a short gorilla tracking tour for one or two days but with a volcano park to explore, it’s definitely worth staying longer.
Along with Rwanda, Uganda is one of the best countries to see the few remaining mountain gorillas within their natural habitat. Half of the world's mountain gorillas are in Uganda.
When you go Uganda gorilla trekking, you can see the mountain gorilla kingdom in all its splendour as you climb to the top of Mount Sabinio. This forested area is where Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo meet. Being part of the tri-national Virunga Conservation Area means Mgahinga National Park is an ideal place to gorilla trek. The second spot is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It’s not as high in altitude and the gorillas here are slightly different to those in the Virunga area so if you have time, visit both areas to compare.
Uganda is also a great place if you love adventure. Get wet whilst white-water rafting down the Nile or hike a glacier during your trip. There’s enough here to keep you active for a week and with a choice of two parks to gorilla trek in, you’ll have a unique experience whichever one you choose.
It Rwanda or Uganda isn't your first choice, there are some lesser-known African regions where you can also gorilla trek. You won’t find mountain gorillas here, instead the Cameroon primates are Cross River gorillas, which live in the area bordering Nigeria. This western gorilla subspecies live in human-populated areas and have slight differences in their skulls.
You can see orphaned Cameroon gorillas at Mefou National Park within forest enclosures. Pay a visit to Limbe Wildlife Centre at the foot of Mount Cameroon to see how they are caring for orphaned gorillas and helping to rehabilitate them and other primates back into the wild.
Situated on the Atlantic coast of Africa, Gabon has plenty of gorilla habitats within its national parks. The largest density can be found in Moukalaba-Doudou national park, one of the Gabon National parks where you can take a three-day trip to explore this natural rainforest.
Not only does the costal terrain offer a good chance to see gorillas but it’s also an eco-tourism destination offering more than just large primates during your visit. Expect to see whales, hippos and even elephants during your exploration. Gabon is an emerging destination but there is plenty of wildlife to see in this African beach and rainforest destination. Arrange your trip beforehand.
So there you have it, four best places to see gorillas. Although there may be a high chance of seeing a gorilla or two, don't forget that it’s never guaranteed. Plan your gorilla trek in advance especially if you’re planning on travelling during peak seasons (Dec-Jan, June-Sept). Uganda and Rwanda are the safest countries for seeing gorillas and offer year-round trekking.