Gorilla Trekking in Congo
Gorilla Trekking in Congo is one of the biggest tourist activities that has sold the Democratic Republic of Congo to the world since it inhabits Mountain Gorillas. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country in Central Africa named after the Congo River which flows throughout the country. Despite the civil war that raved the country, Congo is gradually appreciating the value of security and is currently a relatively peaceful country and tourism is at the forefront as the country tries to get back its peace and stability.
Congo is a land of diversity and is one of the most amazing places for an African adventure. Animal species like the forest elephants, Okapi Basenji and various primates like the chimpanzees and gorillas alongside various bird species and plant life all attract tourists to visit the country. The Congo has a number of attractions with gorilla trekking as one of the much sought after activity. Gorilla trekking in Congo offers a rewarding gorilla experience. Congo offers a diversity of gorillas for tracking including mountain gorillas and the lowland gorillas located in a number of national parks. Whereas the Virunga national park is home to over 250 habituated mountain gorillas, the Eastern lowland gorillas can be found in Kahuzi Beiga National park, Maiko National Park and the Western lowland gorillas are in Noubale Ndoki National park and Ntokou Pikounda National Park. All these parks offer a thrilling and distinctive experience, visiting one or more of them could be rewarding.
Virunga National Park
The park is the most visited by those travelers that are interested in mountain gorilla trekking specifically in the Congo. Located in Kinshasa the capital city of Congo, the park can be easily accessed with less strenuous and long drives. The park is not only home to the mountain gorillas but also has the Nyiragongo mountain, Mikeno Mountain, mount Sabinyo and mountNyamuragira which attracts the tourists. While in Virunga National Park, be sure to see apart from the mountain gorillas different bird species like the Ruwenzori double collared sunbird, the handsome francolin among others not forgetting animals like the antelope, pelicans, hippos and many more.
Kahuzi Beiga National Park
Kahuzi Beiga national park is located near Bukavu town, and consists of the dormant volcanoes of Mount Kahuzi and Mount Beiga. The park is home to the eastern lowland gorillas, an attraction that sees a number of persons visiting the park, and they can be tracked by travelers.
Ntokou Pikounda national park
This park inhabits the western lowland gorillas and the number of gorillas found here are estimated to be very high. Tourists visit the park mainly for gorilla trekking but there are other animals that would interest them as well say the chimpanzees and elephants that they can spot while on the gorilla trekking expedition.
Nouebale Ndoki National Park
The park has a relatively high number of lowland gorillas that tourists can opt to trek. Gorilla trekking in Nouebale Ndoki National Park is done at Mbeli bay. There is other wildlife to be spotted though, including the African leopard, African forest buffalos, elephants among others.
Maiko National Park
Also located in Kinshasa, the park is found in the remote forests of the Congo. The number of primates here is high with gorillas and chimpanzees located in the same park. There are a number of endemic animal species like the Congo peafowl that can be looked out for while visiting.
Congo gorilla trekking permits
Gorilla trekking permits for travelers intending to trek gorillas from Congo should be purchased from the park headquarters directly, say Virunga and Kahuzi Beige National Parks. The gorilla trekking permits go for $400 for all persons intending to trek, while the Congo citizens pay only $150 to be able to trek the gorillas.
Essentials to participate in gorilla trekking in Congo
Tourists are advised to receive yellow fever vaccination before arriving in the country ad one must move along with that card for reference purposes. In addition, tourists ought to be disease-free say from meningitis, mumps, colds and the like so that they do not pass the diseases to the gorillas-which are very vulnerable to human illnesses as they can acquire them too.
To have a successful gorilla trekking trip in Congo just like in Uganda and Rwanda, travelers are advised to carry the following items;
- Hiking boots
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Waterproof hat
- Waterproof backpack to safeguard your important items like the camera
- Garden Gloves to keep your hands from plant pricks and reactions from some vegetation
- Camera for the pictures
- Waterproof jacket to shield one from the rains
- Energy giving snacks and enough water
Gorilla trekking procedure
Upon securing a gorilla trekking permit, you are transported to the park headquarters where the gorilla trek begins from. It is here that you present your permit and you join a group of other trackers for a particular group. You are then briefed on what you should expect on the whole and rules and guidelines that ought to be adhered to are presented to you. You will be told about the gorilla family you are to visit in brief.
After the brief, you then embark on a trekking spree alongside guides and rangers who are there to not only provide you with information as you move along but also protect you from harm. When you are almost reaching the exact location of the gorillas, the guides and rangers will inform you. Upon reaching them, you are given a maximum of one hour in their presence after which you trek back to the park headquarters where you will meet your driver-guide to return you to the lodge.
Guidelines for a successful and sustainable gorilla trek in Congo
Below are the guidelines that tourists must follow while on a gorilla trek or planning to embark on one;
- A 7 meters’ distance away from the mountain gorillas must be observed
- Keep within your group
- Noise is not allowed and whispers if you really need to speak
- Avoid direct eye contact with the gorillas, this threatens them.
- Keep calm when a mountain gorilla charges. Follow whatever instructions your guide/ranger instructs you to do.
- Do not throw rubbish in the park. Carry back all that you came with.
- Do not eat near the mountain gorillas. Eating should be done at least 200 meters away.
- Do not touch the gorillas.
- Persons below 15 years are not allowed to trek
- Unhealthy tourists with contagious diseases must not trek the gorillas. Kindly volunteer to not to if you fall sick on the day of the trek.
Gorilla trekking can best be done in the dry months’ spell say from June-September and December-February where the trails are less slippery. It should, however, be noted that the rains can fall at any time irrespective of the season given that the parks are in rainforests and mountainous places. Take time to book a gorilla trekking safari to Congo with the help of a trusted tour operator that will take your safety and experience satisfaction as a priority.