Perhaps you have always been left to think that to see gorillas, it is only Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that you have to visit but this latter isn’t true. Africa is one of the most endowed continents in the world with very many destinations for you to see not only mountain gorillas but also the lowland gorillas. For any plans of organizing a gorilla tour to meet these rare primate species, the following places should be a must to include in your travel plan;
With not more than 1004 mountain gorillas that are left on earth today, Uganda is one of the only 3 African states where you can catch a glimpse at these rare creatures while they are in their natural habitat. In Uganda, you can pay a visit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, southwestern part of the country. Currently, there are 17 gorilla families that have been set for tracking and research purposes. You can secure your permit in Uganda at $600.
In Rwanda, meet these humble giants at Volcanoes National Park in the northwestern. This park is also famous for Dian Fossey’s works as she conducted her research on mountain gorillas for a period of about 18 years which also helped to spread their plight to the world. Today, the world boast of these rare creatures and in Volcanoes National Park, visitors can track one of the 10 that have been habituated for gorilla trekking. Through a local tour operator or Rwanda Development Board, book your permit at $1500 and have lifetime experiences in Africa this coming season.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
While on safari in the DR Congo, have a chance to strike your eyes with the critically endangered mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park. This park is suitably located in the eastern part of DR Congo. About eight groups have been habituated and readily available for you to track. A side from mountain gorillas, have opportunity to explore more about the eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park and Maiko National Park. You can secure a permit in DRC at $400 through ground tour operator or park authority. However, make sure that you have up to date information on the security situation of this country before your actual trip.
Set around the Atlantic coast just between Gabon and Cameroon straddles Equatorial Guinea one of Africa’s most stunning countries. Not only is it popular for its architectural and landscape but also a home to lowland gorillas that are worth exploring while you are on safari in Africa. You can catch a glimpse at these creatures in Monte Alen National Park-one of a few spectacular and rugged protected areas. However, no habituated families are available for visitor experiences and tourism infrastructure is in its early stages of development and trained local residents have kick started to aid in guided day treks.
Besides oil exploration, Gabon also boasts of its 13 newly established national parks with most of them inhabiting the western lowland gorillas. Habituation programme on these gorilla species was on going at the Mikongo conservation center in the Lope National Park and ended in 2010. Whereas tourists aren’t taken on gorilla tour, they can catch a glimpse at numerous wildlife species. Moukalaba Doudon National Park is one of the main areas with a vast number of gorillas. Loango National Park equally offers refuge to lowland gorillas, chimpanzees and forest elephants.
This is also credited for the wild lowland gorillas that are found in Cabinda enclave-northern mouth of River Congo. This country can be best visited during the dry season and there are many accommodation options for you to choose for overnight stay right from budget to luxury.
Central African Republic
This straddles within heart of Africa and largely composed of savanna plateau and southwestern equatorial forest. It still remains untapped destination with amazing attractions for you to enjoy. If you are interested in gorilla experiences, you can track the lowland gorillas in this country mostly in Bai Hokou within Dzanga Ndoki National Park. Interestingly, the WWF has succeeded in habituating gorilla families.
While on gorilla safari in Africa, do not miss to explore the cross river gorillas which are found within the Cross River in Nigeria. Unlike mountain gorillas, with the Cross River gorillas, they are widely distributed over the 12000 kilometer including the Okwangwo division, Afi Mountain as well as Mbe Mountain of the Cross River National Park.
After the death of the habituated Lossi gorillas because of Ebola in 2002, the Odzala National Park is one of the best places you can visit to see the western lowland gorillas. Odzala Kokoua lies at the border with Gabon and features as one of the oldest parks in Africa with significant number of western lowland gorillas. About two groups have been habituated and can be tracked in Bai in Nouabale Ndoki national park.