5 Best Places to See Gorillas in Africa

Gorilla Habituation

Most people who go opt to see gorillas always look at visiting Uganda or Rwanda! however there are ten countries where gorillas can be seen in the wild. Here are ten places to see them for yourself.

1. Rwanda

Visitor infrastructure: 5/5
Chance of sighting: 5/5
Rwanda is a favorite to those looking to seeing the mountain gorillas in the wild. The mountain gorillas live in the Volcanoes National Park located in the northern part of Rwanda.
Rwanda is a small country in Central Africa, about the size of Wales. The country has developed good main roads (making it quick to get around) and a relatively well-developed infrastructure.  Today it is possible to take a gorilla trek in the park and return to Kigali for an evening night back home.

The work of Dian Fossey, dramatised in the film Gorillas in the Mist,have really maked Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park to be the most people’s first choice for a mountain gorilla safari in Africa. On a hike through the park it is easy to see the relaxed gorillas in a relatively open habitat – montane vegetation, often with stunning views. Rwanda offers more chances of good gorilla watching given that there is less hiking for most gorilla groups if compared with Uganda and the democratic Republic of Congo.

2. Uganda

Visitor infrastructure: 5/5
Chance of sighting: 5/5

Second in popularity to Rwanda, Uganda has two gorilla parks in the south-west of the country where one can see the mountain gorillas. These are Bwindi Impenetrable national Park and Mgahinga National Park. Travel through the dramatically winding roads and enjoy gorilla tracking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, a more biodiverse and at a lower altitude. Bwindi host the largest population of the mountain gorillas and today there are 13 gorilla groups that have been habituated for tourism, and research.

Mgahinga National Park is part of the larger Virunga Conservation Area, and it has habituated gorilla that freely roam into Rwanda and DRC. However, climbing to the top of Mt Sabinio, where Rwanda, Uganda and DRC meet, is an outstanding way to see the whole mountain gorilla kingdom – an island of forest surrounded by a sea of densely populated farmland.

To those looking for wildlife viewing, of Uganda’s real plus points is the range of other activities on offer: combine your gorilla tracking with the country’s other national parks and adventurous activities, from hiking the glaciers in the Rwenzori Mountains to white-water rafting on the Nile.

3. Congo

Visitor infrastructure: 2/5
Chance of sighting: 4/5

Often called Congo Brazzaville, Congo offers the travelers with the best choice to see the western lowland gorillas. However the country got a setback in 2002 with the loss of the habituated Lossi gorillas to Ebola. Today the nearby Odzala National Park offers one of the best options for seeing the Western lowland gorillas in Africa. There are two habituated family groups that can be seen by visitors. There are hides at  Bais from where you can watch the gorillas in the open clearings in the forest.

4. Central African Republic

Visitor infrastructure: 2/5
Chance of sighting: 4/5

For long Central African Republic has been one of the best places to see the western lowland gorillas. However with the emergence of political instablity in the country, tourism development has been affected in the country. One of the best places to track the western lowland gorillas is the Bai-Hokou in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park. The WWF project succeeded in habituating a gorilla group for viewing and a calm contact is likely, though the dense forest and low light beneath the canopy make photography challenging.

5. Democratic Republic of Congo

Visitor infrastructure: 1/5 (Western Lowland Gorilla), 3/5 (Eastern Lowland Gorilla and Mountain Gorilla)
Chance of sighting (security permitting): 1/5 (WLG), 3/5 (ELG), 5/5 (MG)

Three of the four sub-species of gorillas are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire). Gorilla tourism started in the md-1970s with habituation of several gorilla groups in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a stronghold of eastern lowland gorillas. This park still offers one of the best gorilla-viewing experiences to visitors yo Africa. Bukavu is the nearest town (with some beautiful lakeside hotels), but its is advisable to check the security situation. You can enter the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) easily from Gisenyi in Rwanda via la Corniche (Goma) and Kisoro in Uganda.

Mountain gorilla tourism in the Virunga National Park is also excellent. Though this was hampered by the existence of the M23 Rebels in the park, today the park is open for gorilla tourism after the surrender of these rebels to UN backed Congolese Army in 2012. However, even during the troubles many people visited the gorillas at Djomba on day trips from Kisoro, Uganda, because permits were available in the DRC and sold out in Uganda. Take advice on the spot – it can change from one week to the next.

Some western lowland gorillas survive in the far west of DRC in the beautiful Madiakoko Mountains, Bas-Congo, crossing back and forth from Cabinda (Angola), but you’d be a pioneer tourist here.

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Categorized as Africa

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