There are 10 countries in Africa where gorillas can be found. These great apes can be seen in a few selected countries that have embraced the development of gorilla tourism. Here are the 5 best places where travelers can see the gorillas in Africa;
Uganda’s gorillas live in the epically named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a cloak of tangled green that covers the country’s south-west mountains. It’s more than a day’s drive from the capital Kampala or a quick flight so you’ll work a little harder to get there than in Rwanda, but it’s worth it! Bwindi is a World Heritage Site with over 350 bird species and 200 kinds of butterflies, its mountain gorilla population has grown by a third in recent years.
Trekking in Bwindi is well-established and if you have a couple of days to work with, gorilla sightings are more or less assured.
Fly into Entebbe International Airport to kick off your tailor-made tour. Accommodation, trekking permits and guides are all included, along with the option to add chimp trekking and game viewing.
Africa’s most straight-forward gorilla trekking is found in Rwanda, the tiny Central African country that punches way above its weight in sheer natural beauty reserve- Volcanoes National Park, lies only 80 kilometres and 50 miles from the capital’s airport and is home to about half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. You can even pay your respects at Dian Fossey’s grave. It’s a well protected and monitored reserve full of monkeys and forest birds where the chances of encountering gorillas are a reassuring 90 percent some revenue from tourism goes to community projects around the park, reinforcing the positive impact of gorilla trekking and making conservation of the great apes meaningful to rural communities in a very practical way. In fact, in some cases, reformed poachers are now employed by conservation projects that allow them to earn a legitimate income.
Fly into Kigali to start your gorilla trekking tour. You’ll be driven straight to Volcanoes National Park to check into a comfortable lodge. When you trek, you’ll be guided into the forest by expert guides and rangers.
Congo is not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): the two are distinct countries in Central Africa. And while the DRC is enormous, Congo is small but perfectly formed. Odzala National Park is still relatively little known but is attracting deserved re-known for its conservation of lowland gorillas. Unlike their mountain cousins, lowland gorillas are smaller and less shaggy, with softer fur. But like their altitude-dwelling relatives, they are always a joy to behold.
Another boon to Congo is that you can bracket your gorilla trek with big game viewing or highly satisfying birding. Congo is scattered with ‘bais’, a kind of clearing in a forest wetland where the plentiful water and good grazing attract forest elephants and buffalos, large antelope known as bongo and bush pigs.
Fly into the capital Kampala, and then be whisked off to one of two of Congo’s fly-in lodges, which have both been designed to have as light an environmental footprint as possible.
Cross River gorillas (CRGs) are found only in Cross River State, where the government has invested heavily in tourism infrastructure However, the chances of seeing gorillas here are still slim. Their total population now consists of less than 200 individuals, spread across an area of 12,000 km² which includes Afi Mountain, Mbe Mountain, and the Okwangwo Division of the Cross River National Park. For this reason, scientists are cautious about habituating any.
But visiting the habitat does help to conserve it, and two outstanding primate sanctuaries and reintroduction projects – Pandrillus for drill monkeys and chimpanzees, and Cercopan for numerous monkey species – are based in Calabar.
Gabon made a bold bid to diversify its economy by creating 13 national parks in 2002, most of them containing gorilla habitat. The WLG habituation programme at the Mikongo Conservation Centre in Lopé National Park was terminated in 2010. But although visitors are no longer taken on specific gorilla-spotting treks, visitors can still see them while looking for other wildlife.
Moukalaba-Doudou National Park has some of the highest densities of gorillas, and an eco-tourism project has begun there with help from The Gorilla Organization.
Since the loss of the habituated Lossi gorillas to Ebola in 2002, the nearby Odzala National Park now presents one of the best options for seeing WLGs. It is currently home to two habituated family groups that can be seen by visitors.
The most famous Bai is Mbeli Bai, in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, where about 100 gorillas have been monitored by the Wildlife Conservation Society for a decade; gorilla groups can be seen wading into the marsh to forage for water plants alongside forest elephants, buffalo and antelope such as Sitatunga.
Rescued gorilla orphans (WLG) are being rehabilitated back into the forest in the Léfini Reserve two hours’ drive north of Brazzaville, where visitors can view silverbacks on a forested island from a boat.