All you need to know for a memorable Mountain Gorilla Safari
Mountain gorilla trekking is a wonderful experience that will give you a chance to get close to the largest primate also known as the gentle giants in its natural habitat.
The 2018 gorilla census shows that there are over 1000 mountain gorilla still in existence in the whole world today.
Mountain gorilla population has increased, there is a steady growth in the wild mountain gorillas for the past few years which is the greatest news for the conservationists in Africa and in the world.
Gorillas are also the closest living relatives to man, but then again humans are the greatest threat to the survival of these gorillas.
Understanding Mountain Gorillas
Gorillas are the largest of the great apes and share a percentage of their biological makeup with humans.
Gorillas used to inhabit a swathe of land that cut right across central Africa, but the last remaining eastern mountain gorillas’ number just over 1,000 gorillas reside in the Virunga Massif (Rwanda’s Virunga, Congo’s Volcanoes and Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park)
This is in accordance with the World Wildlife Fund and over 459 gorilla populations are found in the dense forests of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as of December 2018 according to the Bwindi Gorilla Census results released in December 2018.
When to go Mountain Gorilla Trekking?
There are no specific seasons or months you can trek mountain gorillas, this means you can go on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda and Rwanda at any time of your choosing.
The gorilla tracking experience will be incredible no matter when you go, but there are advantages to going at different times of the year.
It’s generally easier to track gorillas in the rainy season.
The busiest months in the mountains are from December to February and July to September.
Gorilla trekking experience in Uganda 2020
Uganda gorilla trekking is well known as a once in a lifetime experience giving you the opportunity to get a close encounter with mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
For your entire gorilla safari, Uganda remains the most affordable gorilla trekking destination compared to Rwanda where gorilla permit costs $1500 per person.
Where to Track Gorillas
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda)
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda)
Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda)
Virunga National Park (DR Congo)
Gorilla trekking permit costs-prices 2020
It is very true that Uganda does not invest so much in marketing its gorilla tourism but there has been a boom in the demand for Uganda gorilla permits, this is simply because of the highly competitive price.
Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs only $700 per trek, for those who are interested to know the price of a gorilla permit in Rwanda,
Rwanda gorilla trekking permit go for $1500 per person and you are allowed to spend one hour with mountain gorillas
DR-Congo has the cheapest gorilla permits, one permit can go for as low as $400 per person.
Fitness as a mountain gorilla trek requirement
With the combination of mud, steep hills and altitude, gorilla tracking is hard work.
Although gorillas sometimes wander near the visitor’s centers and might be found quickly, you’re far more likely to be hiking for two to four hours, and some trackers have wandered across the mountains for an entire day.
What to carry
For the most part, you don’t need anything special beyond the usual outdoor essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, and food and water (enough for the whole day, just in case).
Mountain boots are an important tool to carry.
Some people like rubber boots because they keep the mud and fire ants at bay, but they have no ankle support.
Plan for rain no matter what month you’re tracking because gorillas live in rainforests.
It’s recommended you also carry a sweeter.
You may have to trudge through thorns and stinging nettle, so trousers and long-sleeved shirts with some degree of heft may save you some irritation.
For the same reason, garden gloves can come in handy.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations
Anyone with an illness cannot track gorillas. In Rwanda, you’ll get a full refund if you cancel because of illness and produce a doctor’s note, while in Uganda, you’ll get back half.
Eating and smoking near the mountain gorillas are prohibited.
If you have to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and turn your head.
Flash photography is banned; turn off the auto-flash.
Speak quietly and don’t point at the gorillas or make sudden movements; they may see these as a threat.
Don’t litter in the park
Keep a few meters back from the gorillas and promptly follow your guide’s directions about where to walk.
When faced with a charging silverback, never, ever run away, crouch down until he cools off.
Children under 15 years of age aren’t allowed to visit the gorillas in the jungle.
A mountain gorilla safaris are one of the most memorable safaris one could every take. The journey also known as the “trek” to see the mountain gorillas can be a hectic one but very rewarding
Trust the experts to organize a mountain gorilla safari for you. Get in touch with us in case of any inquiries.
Experience Uganda’s cultural history on a memorable Safari
Uganda is a country very rich in culture having the most cultural tribes or people as Batwa Pygmies, Karamojong, Acholi, and the Ankole. A multiplicity of ethnicity, languages, foods, people, beliefs and many other traditional norms are comprised in the Ugandan culture.
Uganda’s cultural safaris will avail opportunities to explore; and enjoy unexplored Uganda’s culture and the hidden treasure in learning it.
The Batwa Pygmies turn out to be the most interesting tribe with interesting history.
You will also experience Uganda’s history and a great origin right from the pre-colonial Uganda up to the post-independent (post-colonial) Uganda.
The pre-colonial Uganda includes viewing the ancient shrines, kingdoms, and palaces, a thrilling narration about Uganda’s past
Cultural tours in Uganda include visits to the local communities where you will discover unique and interesting cultures including that of the Batwa pygmies.
The Batwa pygmies are widely believed to be the indigenous people of Uganda’s forests before national parks were gazetted.
They lived as hunter-gatherers and supported their diet with fruits, and hunted meat.
A visit to the Batwa pygmies in Bwindi and Mgahinga is something to look forward to on your cultural encounter among other Ugandan delights.
The Karamojong are found in far Northeast near Kidepo national park and a visit to this special community while visiting Kidepo national park is a worthy addition that will spice up your safari.
The Ugandan museums is also another interesting cultural center where you can find historical tools and numerous artifacts that were used in the past.
That is from the pre-historical ages to the recent past and the royal drums. Most of these found at the National Museum and other regional museums
There are a variety of historical monuments and statues scattered within Kampala city presenting great personalities, historical events and many other significant situations in the nation’s past.
Among these monuments are the independence monument, Kabaka Muteesa I statue, Sir. Apollo Kaggwa monument, the liberation statue, and many others.
The Bwindi cultural trail has helped diversify the experience of visiting Bwindi and tourists now have more to see and explore in addition to tracking Mountain Gorillas. Tourists get to sleep in tents, enjoy bonfire barbeque and eat crayfish from the lake.
A visit to Kabale Arts Centre is a great way to learn about the “Bakiga” tribe of Uganda. This small museum has historical and traditional highlights of how the Bakiga resisted the colonialists among many other things regarding the way of life of the Bakiga.
Murchison falls national park is located in the North-Western part of Uganda, it’s the largest national park in the country covering an area of about 4000 square kilometers squared. Murchison falls national park is situated in an area of diverse groups of people in Uganda, the Acholi dominate the North Eastern area, Banyoro in the south and the Alur in the North-Western part.
All these tribes have very different cultural values and beliefs, you can also have thrilling performances from the Alur tribe, they use a locally made guitar for producing sound the guitar is made of cowhide and twine.
Inconclusion, Uganda has got such a vibrant and rich culture that people from around the world visit the country every year for a memorable experience. Cultural Tourism in Uganda is at its peak throughout the year and visits can be done any time of the year.
Uganda has got many other cultural sites which include; the Kabaka’s Palace, Kasubi tombs, Ndere Center, Namugongo Martyr’s Shrine, Uganda Museum among many others.
Uganda ranked as one of the most hospitable and welcoming countries in Africa. Come and prove this myth yourself by interacting with Uganda’s natives, Friendly Gorillas Safaris will be more than happy to arrange your stay in Uganda. If you have questions please click here and we will get back to you after receiving your query.
Encounter the Batwa pygmies of Bwindi on an unforgettable Uganda historical Safari
The Batwa are an indigenous group of people who originally lived in the ancient Bwindi forest in Uganda until it was gazetted as a National park. The Batwa are believed to have migrated from the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo in search of wild animals to hunt.
The Batwa lived in harmony in the jungle with forest animals including the mountain gorillas.
The Batwa were regarded as the Keepers of the forest. They have a low life expectancy and a high infant mortality rate.
The Batwa lived a lifestyle of gathering fruit and plant and hunting in the forest using bows and arrows.
The establishment of the forest as a National Park with an aim of protecting the rare mountain gorillas let to the eviction of the Batwa from the forests.
They had to change their lifestyle because they had been introduced to a life they were not used to.
It was very hard for them to get used to the new environment because they had no money to survive or even land.
Since the Batwa are not allowed to stay in the forests, the Batwa culture had started to diminish since 1992 after their eviction.
Nevertheless, things began to change by 2011 where the Uganda Wildlife in conjunction with USAID plus the Embassy of Netherlands in Kampala started the Batwa Cultural Trail found in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
On this trail the tourists that visit the park and are interested in culture are led by Batwa locals through the jungle, they basically teach the tourists their ancient gathering and hunting ways.
After the visit Batwa Guides head back to their community, the Batwa also receive a percentage of the Batwa Trail Fees.
The Kellerman Foundation also set up the Batwa Experience just outside Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Visitors can enjoy this experience after trekking gorillas.
Way of living of the Batwa
The Batwa men and women rise to an average of four feet or less in height, the tallest man among the Batwa would be the shortest among the other Ugandan tribes.
According to a study undertaken in 1996, the Batwa reside in about 53 separate settlements falling within 41 villages. On average each settlement is composed of about 10 households. The household sizes range from single to 17 member households.
Marriages normally take place within the clans, and marriage among members of an individual settlement is rare.
Honey is the most important food and product for the Batwa, in addition to wild fruits and herbs. Stingless bee honey was always considered a delicacy, as well as a medicine that makes people immune to several illnesses. This tradition is just one of the slowly disappearing cultures and activities of the Batwa in their new settlements.
In conclusion, the Batwa communities are still struggling to reintroduce the production of honey, despite the several challenges attached to the current way of life they are being forced to live.
Groups of Batwa people together with other supportive partner organizations are working tirelessly to lobby the National Forestry Authority and the Uganda Wildlife Authority to periodically allow some communities to raise their traditional bee-hives at the fringes of the forests and national parks.
The old Batwa men also spend time teaching the children how to detect wild honey, as well as demonstrating the construction of traditional bee-hives, while women mostly deal with a collection of tubers and fruits as well as foraging. Why miss out on this wonderful encounter, book your Batwa Pygmy safari now with Friendly gorillas Safaris or click here for more information.
The African big 5! What are they and where can they be found?
If you’ve gone or planning on going on an African safari, chances are you’ve heard of the African Big Five.
You may hear some terms related to a safari that is puzzling. For instance, why does everyone keep talking about “game”?
The term ‘game’ in African Safaris refers to ‘wildlife’. This also gives rise to the terms ‘game drive’ and ‘game viewing’.
The term Big Five comes from the days of the colonial white hunters during the last century. While these animals are undoubtedly impressive, please remember that there are many different species of wildlife that are just as fascinating.
The Big Five were the animals that the hunters considered to be their biggest challenge to hunt. They are animals that can be the most dangerous in Africa, especially if wounded.
On an African safari, you will most likely encounter them from the safety of a safari vehicle or in the company of an armed guard.
The African elephant is the largest of the Big Five and also the largest land animal in the world. It can live up to 70 years in the wild.
Elephants have bad eyesight, however, the largest brains in the animal kingdom. Elephants can give birth every 3 to 4 years and their gestation period is 2 years.
Adult African elephants eat up to 170 kilograms of plant material and 50 gallons of water a day, and the young(calf) are breastfed up to the age of four or five years.
They are found in 37 sub-Saharan countries and are capable of surviving in a wide range of different habitats, from lush wetlands to semi-arid deserts.
Elephants live in groups that number up to 100 individuals and communicate using a variety of low-frequency rumbles that can travel for many miles.
Female calves usually stay with the herd throughout their life, while young males leave to form bachelor groups and to eventually create herds of their own.
In Uganda, elephants can be seen inQueen Elizabeth Park and Murchison Falls Park.
The African Rhino
There are two types of rhino in Africa, the black and the white rhino. The black rhino is highly endangered and threatened by poachers.
Their population is currently estimated to be only 4,000 throughout Africa, white rhinos are estimated to be about 5,000 although out Africa.
The white rhino has a large square-lipped mouth. It is also the most social of all rhino species.
Three subspecies of black rhino have been declared extinct, while the northern white rhino is now extinct in the wild.
Despite their names, there is no difference in color between the black and the white rhino. These rhinos are distinguished by their lips, the black rhino has a pointed and prehensile lip, while the white rhino has a flat and wide lip.
Black rhinos are usually solitary and have a reputation for being bad-tempered, while white rhinos often live in pairs.
The African buffalo is one of Africa’s most dangerous animals as it has killed more hunters than any other animal.
The African Buffalos live in large herds of up to 1,000 animals, they can’t go without water and they’re usually found around water bodies.
They protect their calves by placing them in the middle of the herd.
These hefty, cow-like animals often congregate by the thousands in Africa’s game parks; forming large groups is one defense against predators.
Male and female buffalo both have horns, but the males’ curve upward and fuse in the center, forming a solid bony plate called a boss. These horns help these animals in defense.
In Uganda, buffalos can be seen in Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park.
The African Leopard
The leopard is common in many of the African national parks, but it’s a master of disguise. It’s very hard to spot.
They have a gestation period of 90 to 105 days. Cubs are breastfed for 3 months and kept hidden for up to 8 weeks.
Leopards have the largest territory of all the big cats. This ability has ensured their survival in various geographic areas.
The African leopard is the most elusive of the Big Five animals. Leopards are excellent climbers; they use trees to sight prey and to store fresh kills away from scavengers.
Their skin is perfect for camouflage, as it has a series of black spots, or rosettes that resemble the surroundings.
Their hunting majorly relies on their ability to run at speeds of over 56 kilometers per hour. They can also jump over 10 feet into the air and they are excellent swimmers.
In reserves, they have become more used to the presence of humans and vehicles, so today it is easier to see them.
In Uganda, Leopard can be seen in Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Murchison Falls National Park.
The African Lion
Commonly known as the animal king, the African lion is the world’s second-largest cat after the tiger.
The African Lion is the second largest cat in the world the Tiger being the largest. Lions are social and live in groups called a Pride.
A pride can have up to 3 males and the rest will be females and their young. A pride’s territory can extend as far as 260 square kilometers
Although lions sometimes hunt during the day, they are typically more active at night which is why most daytime safari sightings are of cats sleeping in the shade. Lions can sleep for up to 20 hours a day.
Lions can live to around 14 years of age since they have a few natural predators. Man is the Lion’s biggest threat with his traditional hunting customs and big game hunting.
In Uganda, Lions can be seen in Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
An African safari can never truly be a safari until you encounter the amazing members of the big five. It is exciting to see the lion hunt to feed its young, though lions hardly hunt during the day.
Visit the beautify land of Uganda and you will get to see all the big five members in action. Friendly Gorillas Safaris is more than ready to receive you on an exciting experience of the ‘African big Five” Please get back to us for more inquires.
The Mountain Gorilla diets, what do Gorillas Eat and what are the Gorilla subspecies?
Gorillas are the largest living primates on earth, they are majorly found in central and east Africa. They function in a well-developed social structure and often exhibit behavior and emotions similar to that of humans.
The two gorilla species are further categorized into four subspecies; western gorillas are comprised of the western lowland subspecies and the cross-river subspecies while eastern gorillas are made up of the mountain subspecies and the eastern lowland subspecies.
Each of the four subspecies of the gorilla has a distinctive dietary characteristic. The different types of diets in the gorilla’s subspecies are attributed to the differences in the type of vegetation found in their respective ranges of habitats.
A Silverback Gorilla is a mature male Mountain Gorilla of East Africa. It weighs between 136 and 195 kg. He is incredibly strong and lean. He has massive canines’ teeth and the female gorillas are about 169.5 kg.
Gorillas move in groups that can range from four individuals to more than 40 individuals. A Silverback leads and holds the position of being a leader and alpha male of the group for years.
What Do Gorillas Eat Meat?
Gorillas mainly stick to a vegetarian diet, feeding on stems, bamboo shoots, and fruits. Western lowland gorillas, however, also have an appetite for termites and ants, and break open termite nests to eat the larvae.
A study in Cameroon by Isra Deblauwe showed that gorillas have a high frequency of insect-eating and a high prey diversity, even higher than those of chimpanzees.
An adult gorilla can consume 18 to 20 kilograms of vegetation and fruit a day.
To be able to process these masses of plant material, gorillas have very strong chewing muscles. Their teeth are much like human teeth, except for the very long, pointed canines of adult gorilla males.
The males do not use those teeth for feeding but for fighting against competing males.
Gorillas do not eat meat.
As the name suggests, mountain gorillas are a subspecies of gorilla that inhabits mountainous regions of East and Central Africa.
It is estimated that there are 1000 individuals of this subspecies remaining and they are found in Virunga range of extinct volcanic mountains on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda, and in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
The extensive variety of plants in the mountain gorilla’s diet is the largest variety that has been recorded in any gorilla subspecies.
The mountain gorilla’s diet is made up of stems and leaves which account for an estimated 86% of the mountain gorilla’s diet.
The mountain Gorillas also eat plant roots and flowers. While the mountain gorilla primarily subsists on a vegetarian diet, the subspecies also occasionally feed on grubs, snails, and ants.
Cross River Gorillas
One of the two subspecies which make up the western gorilla species is the cross-river subspecies which get its name from their habitat as they are found in the Cross River’s upstream area.
The subspecies are the rarest in the world with its wild population being comprised of an estimated 250 individuals making it a critically endangered species.
While closely related to the western lowland subspecies, the cross river gorilla has distinctive characteristics including a few morphological characteristics seen in its skull and cranial vaults.
The cross-river subspecies reside in the forests of western Africa usually preferring areas found between 328 feet and 6,683 feet in altitude.
Cross river gorilla feeds on fruits, however, in the months between September and January when fruits are scarce, the gorillas move to a different diet made up of stems, leaves, and tree barks.
Western Lowland Gorillas
This is known to be the smallest gorilla subspecies. The adult male Gorillas weigh an average of 140 kilograms and the adult female weighs an average of 90 kilograms.
However, the subspecies have the most extensive area range of all gorillas which encompasses part of Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Cameroon, and the Republic of Congo.
This species is still listed as critically endangered. Western lowland gorillas are exceptional in their ability to make tools from basic materials such as twigs, something that is yet to be observed in other gorilla subspecies in the wild.
Part of this subspecies diet are termites, ants, and other invertebrates which they dig up from holes in the ground.
Like all other gorillas, the western lowland subspecies are primarily herbivorous and mainly feed on fruits.
When fruits become scarce, the gorillas will feed on shoots, tree bark, and roots.
Eastern Lowland Gorillas
These gorillas are made up of two subspecies of mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas. Eastern lowland gorillas are found in the forests of Central and East Africa and usually inhabit areas of diverse altitudes ranging from lowland forests to mountainous rainforests.
Like all other gorillas, the eastern lowland subspecies are predominantly herbivorous and feed on fruits, stems, and leaves.
This subspecies does not feed on bananas, it only destroys banana plants to feed on the pith. This dietary behavior of the subspecies puts them in constant collision with humans particularly in areas where their natural range overlaps human settlement.
Inconclusion, Gorilla is considered to be the largest primate on earth and its diet is made up of a large number of leaves and some of them eat termites, ants, and break open termite nests to eat the larvae.
Taking up a wild gorilla’s eating habits can dramatically improve your health or may even add years to your life. Eating or including vegetables and fruits to your diet can reduce your risk for killer diseases like diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and dementia.
I wouldn’t recommend adding termites, ants and termite larvae to your diet, at least I know I wouldn’t add them to mine.
Karuma falls has a name derived from the Luo local language meaning ‘Great Spirit‘. The local people believe it is the spirit that positioned the rocks on which the water hits to form the white waters of karuma falls.
These roaring waterfalls found on the beautiful Victoria Nile are among the most impressive and leading tourist attractions in Uganda.
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