What to expect when you trek mountain gorillas in Rwanda : An hour with a group of mountain gorillas in the wild is truly a magical and the most thrilling experience that comes once in a lifetime. While it is exciting to spend time with these critically endangered species, they also feature distinct traits, behaviours, social structure which calls for keen attention while you are on actual trek. There are about 900 mountain gorillas that are left in the world today and this requires you to pay maximum attention so as to reduce any likely risks that may cost their lives. That said, a distance of about 7 to 8 meters must be kept at all times, cover your mouth as you cough and don’t spit or eat while in the jungle.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is only conducted in Volcanoes National Park, north western side of the country. This lifetime adventure involves hiking through the tropical rainforest, steep slopes to look out for a habituated group. Most of the gorilla families are distributed around the Gahinga, Sabinyo, Bisoke, Karisimbi and Muhabura Volcanoes and this denotes that every family rewards you with distinct experiences. The hike to your gorilla family lasts from 1 to 8 hours or even more but at end of it all, you will be rewarded by magical encounters. However, there are trackers who are always sent to the forest to trace where these apes are located prior the next group of trekkers is set off to the forest for their actual trek. Gorilla traces consist of hand and footprints, remains of plants that these unique primates have eaten, bent vegetation and several signs, What to expect when you trek mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Each sign is of great significance to trekkers and trackers as it directs you to where a group of gorillas are found. This adventure is unpredictable a fact that these primates are like any wild animals which you don’t expect to be stationery in one point. This calls for patience among visitors while trekking them.

If you are a first time or repeat trekker, a face to face encounter with these apes is ideally the most memorable experience. You will be amazed to see these magnificent creatures as they blend themselves with the thick vegetation. Until you get very close that you will realize how massive these creatures are and you will be thrilled thereafter. The interesting thing is that, they are humble, huge weighing about 180 kilograms. Mature male gorillas are known as silverbacks and they feature a gray hair on their backs and they are huge in size unlike females.

Avoid direct eye contact with gorillas as they may take this as if you are threatening them and they can charge against you. At this point, you must lower down your eyes to show signs of submission. However, these primates are habituated and they are used to human presence meaning they can easily be tracked by visitors. There are also dos and don’ts that every trekker must follow while in the jungles with these rare apes. A distance of 7 to 8 meters must be kept at all times while you enjoy a glimpse at these creatures in the wild. This is one way in which spread of human infectious diseases can be minimized. In case they draw near you, ensure that you stand still and allow them to pass. For cases where you approach you, make sure that you slow down your movement and maintain a distance of 7 or 8 meters. However, the trackers are available to help you out for cases where you are not sure of what to be done.

What to expect when you trek mountain gorillas in Rwanda
Rwanda Gorillas

What gorillas do

Mountain gorillas are among the most amazing creatures to look at especially as they feed as most of them get distributed to utilize variety of plants. They are dependent on plants especially leaves, roots, shoots, stems, fruits and flowers. Besides, they also depend on ants though this is rare. In order for them to obtain maximum nutrition, they need about 40 to 80 pounds of vegetation each day. At times, they get closer while feeding and usually backed by pig grunts sounds that they make as they feed, What to expect when you trek mountain gorillas in Rwanda. The pig grunts are some of the ways in which the gorillas communicate with each other. This specific vocalization is mainly to reinforce the dominance hierarchies. Like other creatures, gorillas also take a rest from whatever they do in the course of the day and amazingly, this is the perfect moment for you to strike your imaginations with most of these rare species. You will have a chance to explore more about their social interactions as they usually get together. As the adults retire, the young ones are normally spotted as they play by chasing and tickling each other though the behaviour may appear like they are wrestling. They tend to make ‘play vocalizations that sound like that of human laughter. Playing is usually fairly hard work and they sometimes take breaks from play as a way to regain strength. This is a significant stage youngster development though all gorillas despite their ages can be part of this.

Behaviour of gorillas

Bear in mind that there are different ways in which gorillas interact among themselves in the habitat and one of them is through vocalizations, gestures and particular actions. A clear indication of this is when one is displaced by the other from say a resting or feeding area which makes the other the dominant in the group. Such information is taken note of by field researchers as way to help them observe their behaviour in the family. They groom one another and gentle posture includes cleaning the hair. Mothers are always seen grooming infants and this usually leaves memories among trekkers. As they rest, you will find them sleeping, relaxing, playing and grooming and you won’t miss to hear make a belch vocalization that indicates that they are fine. This behaviour is at times experienced especially when they are enjoying the best of their food and usually, trackers and park guides tend to imitate them as they make sounds. Usually, silverback leads the rest of the members when it is time to move or search for food. Note that not all these creatures are peaceful, a fact that they are wild animals, expect them to also to have emotions just like humans.

What to expect when you trek mountain gorillas in Rwanda
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Visitors are only allowed an hour to strike their imaginations with these unique wild creatures, take photos and observe every kind of behaviour they display in the wild. Permits are sold differently depending on which destination you are in. In Uganda, you can obtain a permit at $700, Rwanda at $1500 and for those of you wish to pay a visit to Democratic Republic of Congo, permits are sold at $400. Besides permits, consider appropriate packing for this lifetime adventure starting with long sleeved shirts, water proof hiking boots, socks, insect repellents, gardening gloves, sunglass, sun screen, daypack, sweaters and others.

In conclusion, gorilla trekking is truly one of the most exciting adventures but there is need for you to be keen on certain aspects most of which are explained above. We hope that the above information will help you have the most enjoyable gorilla trip in the Rwanda Volcanoes National Park and other destinations like Uganda for Uganda tours and the Democratic Republic of Congo.