Where to see gorillas in Africa – Rwanda Uganda and Congo

Which country to visit the gorillas, safe destinations to see gorillas in Africa and can children trek the gorillas and whats the age limit for gorilla trekking on this primate Safari experience with destination company offering Primate Trekking.

In this article , we feature key destinations that are deemed safe for gorilla trekking in Africa and recommended to visit while on gorilla safari.  There are over 5 countries that host the Mountain Gorillas, Western lowland gorillas , Eastern Lowland gorillas and cross river gorillas although not all destinations are recommended to explore on gorilla trekking since some are not safe for this primate trekking.

We also offer the comprehensive analysis of the cost benefit vs the time spent on Mountain Gorillas trekking and which places host the Mountain Gorillas like Uganda vs Rwanda vs Democratic republic of Congo that host these primates and other destinations like Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria , Angola and Gabon.

We engage in detailed analysis of these national parks that are conserving the gorillas and the body responsible for the conservation of the gorillas, See the top 9 National Parks where to see the gorillas in Africa.

  1. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  2. Mgahinga National Park
  3. Volcanoes National Park
  4. Virunga National Park
  5. kahuzi Biega National Park
  6. Maiko National Park
  7. Odzala Kokoua National Park
  8. Dzanga Sangha National Park
  9. Loango National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable national park is located in southwestern Uganda, with thick vegetation like its name suggests. Every day when tourists go out for the famous gorilla trekking adventure the ranger guides have to cut vegetation for trackers to access way to where gorillas nested the previous night. It is the true African jungle with droplets of the sun coming through the think forest cover giving you a feeling of being in paradise with zero pollution from several emissions common to our daily environment.

The weather in Bwindi is chilly because of the immerse canopy, you are advised to carry some warm clothing for evenings and long-sleeved shirts/trousers for trekking. For the ultimate experience to anyone who chooses to trek the mountain gorillas or search for birds, butterflies or shrubs, you need to be in good physical condition to go up and down the terrain. It lies at an altitude between 1160m-2607m above sea level.

You are advised to book your permit at least 3 months prior to secure your day especially if you prefer a certain location. Only 8 individuals from 15 years of age are permitted to visit a gorilla family per day. You need to be in good health condition otherwise you will not track because humans and Gorillas can easily pass diseases to each other. You will be briefed by your guide way before tracking and advises to stay at least 8m from the gorillas, do not use flash photography and do not look directly in the eyes of the gorilla for an extended period of time. You need to wear long sleeved pants and shirts to avoid scratches as you trek through the forest, carry a rain poncho, seasoned boots, lots of water, lunch (sometimes it takes an entire day to locate them) and finally consider hiring a potter because the terrain can be difficult.

Mgahinga National Park

Mgahinga is the smallest national park in Uganda and covers an area of 34 square kilometers. The park gets its name from a Kinyarwanda word “Gahinga” referring to the small lava stones common in gardens at the foot of the mountain.

About 80 mountain gorillas are found in Mgahinga National Park. Because they stay in high altitudes, the gorillas in Mgahinga have developed more fuzzy coats than those in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Only the Nyakagezi gorilla group is open to tourism in Mgahinga. The Nyakagezi group is one of the two largest habituated mountain gorilla groups in Uganda, Congo and Rwanda. The group used to be very mobile with a tendency to cross to Rwanda and even Congo but have for the past five years settled in Uganda. It takes a shorter time locating the Nyakagezi group than some families in Bwindi.

Volcanoes national Park Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is best known for mountain gorilla trekking but the park is also rich with many other exotic activities to engage in. This park is part of the Virunga volcanoes which are shared between Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. This park is an evergreen bamboo forest with grassland areas, swamp and heath in other areas.

The mountain gorillas are the prime attraction in volcanoes national park with gorilla trekking happening all year round. Because of the high altitude it is generally cold, especially early morning and the evenings, you are advised to carry a light sweater for these times. The park is located only 2 hours from Kigali in the north of Rwanda.

There are several gorilla families in volcanoes national park, with some habituated for gorilla tourism and others for research, whereas others are not habituated. To track gorillas, you need to purchase a gorilla permit through your tour operator with specific dates before embarking on this fulfilling bucket list experience. Each gorilla group is given a name depending on different circumstances and is lead by a silverback. When a young silverback challenges the dominant silverback, he must ‘steal’ some females from an existing group in order to form his own family.

Virunga National Park Congo

A safari in the Virunga national park is incomplete without visiting the endangered mountain gorillas. There are eight habituated Gorilla families in Virunga National Park with the most common and largest family being the Kabirizi family with 32 members. Regardless of which gorilla group you track, gorilla trekking usually starts with a briefing early in the morning.

After the briefing, trekkers are led by Park Rangers to search for the gorilla family. Finding the group takes between one to four hours. You have one hour to observe and photograph the group members as they feed, groom, and care for the young.

Congo’s gorilla permits cost 450USD, much less than Uganda’s 800USD and Rwanda’s 1500USD. It is important to book your gorilla permits early enough before showing up for the safari.

Kahuzi Beiga National Park

Eastern lowland gorilla trekking is famous in Kahuzi Biega national park in Congo. The Eastern lowland gorilla is distinguished from all other gorilla types by their thick bodies, large hands and short muzzles. It mainly feeds on fruits and other herbaceous materials. In Kahuzi Biega national park, two eastern lowland gorilla families have been habituated for gorilla trekking tourism. Other gorilla families are wild and can harm humans since they are not used to human presence at all; therefore, you will not be tracking these.

Gorilla trekking in Congo‘s Kahuzi Biega National Park involves following different trails depending on where they slept the night before. Gorilla trekking lasts about 30 minutes to 5 hours, and once the gorillas have been located, you will be able to spend an hour with them.

Odzala-Kokoua National park

Odzala-Kokoua National Park (or Odzala National Park) is a national park in the Republic of the Congo. The park is comprised of the vast Congo Basin which contains the second-largest unspoilt biodiverse tropical rainforest in the world, which creates the ideal environment for these majestic creatures to thrive in.

Visitors come to this park for an experience of a lifetime- catching a glimpse of the western lowland gorilla in the wild. Jump on a safari adventure and discover the stretches of open savannah, remote pristine rainforest and crystal-clear streams.

Maiko national park

Maiko National Park is the second destination that is hosting the Eastern Lowland gorillas. However, the park is not open for Eastern lowland gorilla trekking except Kahuzi Biega National Park.

Maiko National Park lies in one of the most remote rain forest areas of Congo. It covers an area of 10,885 km2 (4,203 sq mi). The park is divided into three sectors, straddling the states of North Kivu, Province Orientale, and Maniema. This is a clear indication that travelers planning to visit Gorillas in Maiko national park can have safari extensions to cover Virunga National Park & Kahuzi Biega National Park for the comparison of the Mountain Gorillas & the Eastern lowland gorillas in the wilderness of Congo.

Among the top things to see & do in Maiko include Eastern Lowland gorillas Okapi Wildlife Watching, Eastern Chimpanzee and Congo Peafowl which is among the rare Species in Africa.

Other Destinations for Gorilla Trekking

Cross river national park

Cross River National Park is a large lowland and submontane rainforest in south-east Nigeria which is contiguous with Cameroon’s Korup National Park. One of Nigeria’s most diverse sites, it holds over 350 bird species including the Vulnerable Grey-necked Picathartes ores and Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata. Hence its recognition by Birdlife as an IBA. It holds no less than 18 primate’s species, including the critically endangered Lowland Gorilla.

Hunted almost to extinction fewer than 300 Cross River gorillas survive in nine sites within a small mountainous area of about 12,000 km² at the headwaters of the River Cross straddling the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.

Lobéké National Park

The Lobéké National Park is a gorilla protected region in Cameroon, known for several western lowland gorillas in Africa that live in the dense forest s of the Congo River basin in southern Cameroon. This Cameroon Park is bordered by Boumba National Park in the North West and Sangha River in east which separates Cameroon from CAR and Congo.

Combine a trip to Lobéké with Nouabalé-Ndoki, both home to western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. Gorilla trekking here is very remote, but with fewer ‘habituated’ gorillas and also very few tourists.

Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park

In the Republic of Congo, the Mbeli Bai area is home to western lowland gorillas. The park is one part of the Congo Basin Sangha River Tri-national Protected area (STN), the two others being Dzanga Sangha Special Reserve in Central African Republic and Lobéké National Park in Cameroon. Gorilla trekking here is extremely remote, and poaching still prolific, so it is important to support their preservation through tourism.

Monte alen national park

You can spot western lowland gorillas in Monte alen national park in Equatorial Guinea. Even though gorilla trekking and related tourism are a little developed, you can go Gorilla trekking with the help of locals. They are regarded as severely endangered because there are fewer than 316,0OO gorillas left in the world. During the dry season, that is, December to February is the best time for a gorilla safari.

Loango National Park

The native Gabon gorillas are the western lowland gorilla population, which is native to Gabon, thriving, and Loango National Park is home to the main habituated troop. But gorilla trekking has yet to be developed in Gabon. The uniqueness of Gabon is the large number of primates it has. Western lowland gorillas thrive at Loango National Park, a great environment. Loango National Park stretches to the Atlantic Ocean with a rich biodiversity.

Visitors can witness dolphins, whales, and hippos along the ocean shoreline or venture into the forest to observe chimpanzees, forest elephants, and gorillas. It offers a combination of forest and sea life. Apart from gorilla safaris, Gabon provides several other wildlife experiences, such as Rainforest Exploration and marine life. May to September is the best time to visit Loango National Park for gorilla trekking.

Cabinda enclave area

There are gorillas in the Cabinda enclave area of Angola. In Angola, we can find western lowland gorillas in the northern part of the country. Mainly in Cabinda enclave near the River Congo. This is the only place you will find gorillas in Angola. The gorilla safari is not so developed in Angola, and the chances of seeing a gorilla are also low. The best time to visit Angola for gorilla trekking is June to October.

In conclusion

It’s essential to note that gorilla trekking permits can be in high demand, especially during the peak tourist seasons, so it’s advisable to book well in advance. Additionally, while the dry seasons are generally more popular for gorilla trekking, visiting during the rainy seasons can offer unique opportunities for photography and wildlife viewing in a less crowded environment.