Dian Fossey was one of the foremost primatologists, studying the mountain gorillas in the forests of Rwanda for 18 years before her tragic death in 1985. In celebration of her birthday (January 16), we’re taking a look at some of our favorite gorilla safaris, not only in Rwanda, but in Uganda, and the Republic of Congo too.
The mountain gorillas of Volcanoes National Park were well-loved and researched by Dian Fossey. Gorilla safaris through the park are on the top of many adventurers’ lists. Home of half of the world’s population of wild gorillas, a gorilla safari in Volcanoes National Park is the cornerstone of the Rwanda experience for those lucky enough to snag one of the few tracking permits dispersed by the Rwandan government each day.
Within the park, there are 10 habituated families of mountain gorillas specifically tracked for visitor interaction. Like typical human family units, each gorilla family unit offers something unique, making no two gorilla treks the same. The experience of seeing the gorillas up close and personal is surreal and exhilarating.
Within the park, you can also find habituated golden monkeys. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund began habituating them in 2002 and started permitting interactions in 2003. Add another once-in-a-lifetime experience to your journey with a trek led by a private guide to see them in their natural habitat.
Suggested Itineraries: Gorillas in the Mist – a 4-night journey offering one of the rarest and sought-after safari opportunities: a chance to visit the mountain gorillas of Rwanda.
Rwanda Gorilla and Chimpanzee Trek – a 9-day journey to Rwanda trekking mountain gorillas and the chimpanzees of Nyungwe Forest National Park.
The Primate Safari – pair a gorilla safari in Rwanda with a Chimpanzee trek on this 16-day adventure.
Gorilla safaris through Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda ranks among one of the world’s premier wildlife encounters. The park, which is designated a World Heritage Site, is located on the rim of the Rift Valley in the southwestern region of Uganda. It is one of the few places in Africa to have survived and even flourished, through the last Ice Age. About 350 mountain gorillas make their home in the mist covered hillsides among a maze of a dense forest of trees and vines. Gorilla safaris through the park have long been considered a highlight for most people visiting Uganda. The magnificence of these animals is astounding, with adult and baby gorillas alike climbing the trees, sitting on the ground in human-like positions, and snacking on the nearby vegetation and banana trees.
In addition to its infamous gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park hosts about 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, 200 species of butterflies, 324 varieties of trees, over 360 species of birds, and rare mammals such as the forest elephant.
Suggested Itineraries: Uganda Gorilla Safari – a 10-night journey trekking to see gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, and boating in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Uganda Primate Safari – a 15-day luxury safari through Uganda’s major national parks trekking gorillas and chimpanzees, aboard river and lakes cruises, and on safari drives.
The Republic of Congo is a relatively undiscovered corner of Africa. But the remote jungles of Odzala-Kokoua National Park are home to one of the world’s highest populations of Western Lowland Gorillas, making the Congo not only one of our top places to travel in 2018 but also one of the best places to travel for gorilla safaris.
A trek through the Odzala-Kokoua National Park is a true journey into the wild, where the only trails through the uncut foliage are the well-worn paths forged by animals. A good guide through the park will make or break your safari here (and you can expect the best with Ker & Downey’s guides). The gorillas of the park are relatively new to habituation so they behave more cautiously than the larger silverbacks and mountain gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda. In addition to the western lowland gorillas, 15 other primates make their home in the park, including chimpanzees, black-and-white colobus, and mangabeys. In the Congo, you can expect a surprising and rewarding adventure through the Odzala-Kokoua National Park.
Suggested Itinerary: Congo Gorilla Safari – a nine-day journey through three unique environments within Odzala-Kokoua National Park, complete with restful nights at adventurous, comfortable lodges.