Home Travel Where to Go Gorilla Trekking this Year? Top 3 Countries

Where to Go Gorilla Trekking this Year? Top 3 Countries

Source: realmafricasafaris.com

Mountain gorilla watching is, without a doubt, the key highlight of primate African safaris today. An encounter with the endangered mountain gorillas in the wild is such a captivating experience not to be missed on any African safari holiday.

Unlike other gorilla subspecies, mountain gorillas don’t live at the zoo, you can only encounter them while in their natural habitat. In the whole world, there are only three countries hosting the endangered mountain gorillas. That is; Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R. Congo.

The 3 East African countries offer refuge to the remaining 1063 mountain gorilla population. These are classified as endangered species and visiting them in the wild is possible on a gorilla safari to any of the above three East African countries.

Where to Go for Mountain Gorilla Watching

1. Rwanda

Source: nkuringosafaris.com

Rwanda, located in the heart of Africa; is a home to 30% of the 1063 mountain gorillas that still survive on earth today. The park is found in the Northwestern side of Rwanda and it was gazetted in 1925 which makes it the oldest in the Land of a Thousand of Hills.

The popular Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is a prime destination for gorilla watching. Located in northern Rwanda, the Volcanoes national park is a compact protected area that lies in the Virunga Mountains region. The park is located at the border of Rwanda with Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

There are twelve fully habituated mountain gorilla families that are open for tourism in the Volcanoes National Park alone. Popular families include the Susa A, Ugenda, Agashya/Group 13, Karisimbi/Susa B, Umubano family, Bwenge, Sabyinyo group, Amahoro, Titus, Isimbi, Pablo and others.

Of all gorilla parks, the park is the most accessible to tourists. From Kigali to Volcanoes National Park, it takes 2-3 hours of driving and preferably, it is recommended to take use of a 4×4 safari vehicle.

Rwanda is still the most popular gorilla trekking destination in Africa courtesy of the massive marketing by the Rwanda government through international brands such as Arsenal FC and PSG in France.

It is also the ultimate destination for luxury safaris and there are well established luxurious lodges that include Bisate Lodge, One and Only Gorilla Nest, Sabinyo Silverback Lodge, Singita Kwitonda and more.

2. Uganda

Source: gorilla-tracking-uganda.com

Uganda comes second among the most popular gorilla watching destinations in the world. There are two important locations where gorilla watching is always carried out in Uganda. These are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

The two destinations have a total of 20 habituated gorilla families that can be visited by tourists. Tracking these large apes in Uganda is possible in five regions also known as sectors or areas that are located far from each other. Four of these are found Bwindi impenetrable national park and only one sector is found in the Mgahinga gorilla national park.

Gorilla passes in Uganda are issued according to your preferred sector, citizenship and country of residence. Foreign non-residents permits are issued at USD700, foreign residents gorilla permits go for USD600 and you will watch the mountain gorillas for up to one hour within the thick tropical rain forest.

Uganda also offers a gorilla habituation experience. This kind of trek gives you a behind the scenes experience on how gorillas get used to having people as part of their wild environment. Similar to gorilla trekking, gorilla habituation permits are a prerequisite and have to be booked well in advance.

Gorilla habituation permits cost US$1500 per person in the category of foreign non-residents and foreign residents gorilla habituation permits go for US$1000 per person and US$200 for East African citizens.

3. Democratic Republic of Congo

Source: bbc.com

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the third destination where mountain gorillas live and they can be watched. It is also an ideal place to see the Eastern lowland gorillas in that are protected in two protected areas; Kahuzi Biega National Park and Maiko National Park.

The mountain gorillas are protected in the Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest national park. The park is part of the Virunga Region that stretches over Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. The park sits on the land area of about 7800sq.kms and it is also a home to the world’s powerful volcano, Nyiragongo that last erupted in May 2021.

There are several habituated mountain gorilla families in the Virunga National Park and these include Rugendo family, Lulengo, Kabirizi, Bageni, Mapuwa, Humba, Munyanga group among others.

Virunga National Park is the biggest park of the four national parks where mountain gorillas are protected in Africa.

A valid gorilla permits each costing USD450 is a prerequisite for tracking the mountain gorillas in Virunga national park.

Source: geoex.com

Unlike Uganda and Rwanda; gorilla trekking in the Democratic republic of Congo has a few technicalities involved. Sometimes the park is closed due to the civil wars in Congo. Currently the park is still closed due to the ongoing war between the M23 rebels and the Congolese National Army.

An advisory from a licensed tour operator would come in handy when planning for a gorilla safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is important to contact the park authorities or a local tour operator who operates in Eastern Congo.

Apart from gorilla trekking in the Virunga National Park, you can also hike to the Nyiragongo Mountains, visit the Senkwekwe Chimpanzee Orphanage etc.

TIP: If you are traveling to DR Congo, it is recommended to book an insured gorilla safari so that in case of any cancellation you do not lose your money when the park is temporarily closed.


There are other gorilla trekking locations on the African continent. But these three locations are the only places where you can expect to encounter the gorillas on any given day as long as you have your permit secured.

The Kahuzi Biega National Park in eastern Congo is also a prime location where you can visit the eastern lowland gorillas in their natural habitat.