Time taken for gorilla trekking activities
Normal Gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking is the most common encounter with the gorillas. this involves going to the habitats of the gorillas under the stewardship of the gorilla patron and thereafter interact with the gorillas as you watch them feed, play, communicate amongst themselves and also take photos of the gorillas. The time spend with the gorillas is strictly one hour and then lead out of the gorilla habitats.
Gorilla habituation is the process of making wild mountain gorillas getting used to human visits. Gorilla habituation is only done in Uganda at the southern sector of Bwindi impenetrable national park Rushaga. There are only two gorilla families where the habituation activity is done and these are Byikingi and Bushaho families. Like gorilla trekking the maximum number of people that take up the activity is 8 people but these spend more time with the gorillas and this is a maximum of four good hours.
Watching the gorillas in the wild is one of the most magical experiences a person can ever have and capturing every moment on the camera is an important part of the experience as this crisps the story about the gorilla experience when you get back home.
A decent quality digital SLR with a lenses of long telephoto zoom are the best tool for gorilla photography as this has the ability to work perfectly under lowlight which you will find yourself when doing gorilla trekking. While with the gorillas, you supposed to make a 7 meter gap and also when taking pictures flashlights of the cameras must be off since the gorillas are light sensitive.
The briefings take place at the national park headquarters and normally start at 8am in the morning. In the briefings the gorilla permits are verified by the gorilla patrons and then you are allocated to groups of 8 people as you are told the gorilla family you are to track. You are told the basic rules of gorilla trekking and how to behave in the jungle so that you do not destruct the fragile environment. The briefing normally takes around one hour and then you are driven to the tracking points.
Where to stay during gorilla trekking safari
There are very many eco-lodges around the different gorilla national parks as this range from economy, mid-range and luxury accommodation the onus is on you to stay in a lodge of your choice. The local operator is always at will to help book a lodge on your behalf. Note that at Virunga national park, there are no nice lodges so when you do gorilla trekking in Congo, you will be staying in Rwanda or Uganda.
What to pack for gorilla trekking
Like any other safari expedition, there are specific items or equipments one has to carry while going for gorilla trekking and they are as follow
One has to pack trekking boots with very good grips. The trails that lead to the gorilla habitats are so steep and sloppy of which require jungle shoes to pass on the trail with some ease.
The clothing have to be long and also with regular colours. The jungles are full of thrones and nettles that can easily piercing your body. The colour of the clothes also matter as the gorillas are colour sensitive with weird colours they might mistaken you for an enemies and eventually attack you. A rain coat must also be carried as in the tropics it can rain at any time.
You should also carry insect repellents as there are mosquitoes and beetles that are attracted to human body.
Do not forget to carry a camera with a good lens to capture every moment of gorilla trekking. A rain proof camera jacket should also be carried.
While heading to the jungle you should also carry enough water and also pack lunch or dry foods that you will eat as gorilla trekking consumes a lot of time whereby you will need a bite in the due course.
Gorilla trekking encounter
Early in the morning, you are driven to the head quarter of the national park for briefing, after you driven to the gorilla tracking points where you lead to the tropical rainforests and the montane forest in search for the gorillas under the guidance of the gorilla patron.
While in the jungle you are able to see different wildlife species other the gorillas that is variety of bird species, tree ferns and different species of monkeys. Still in search of the gorillas, the gorilla patron narrates you stories about the specific gorilla family you are about to meet.
After a 2-6 hour search of the gorillas, you find them in a group of 8-30 individual foraging. The silverback is the one that welcomes the tracker as it gives them a serious gaze that leaves the trackers nerve cracking. While with the gorillas, you watch them feed, play; communicate amongst themselves and at times the young ones come play with you. You also take photos of the gorillas. After an hour of interaction with the gorillas you lead back out of the jungle.