Trekking mountain gorillas is one of the most sought tourist’s activities in Africa, gorillas can only be found in Virunga national park in Congo, Bwindi, and Mgahinga national park in Uganda and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. Gorillas live at the foothills of the forested Virunga Mountains that is; Mount Karasimbi, Mount Mikeno, Mount Bisoke, Mount Sabinyo, Mount Nyamuragira, Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Muhabura and Mount Gahinga.
There are less than 1000 mountain gorillas left in the world with Bwindi impenetrable national park harbouring half of the population. Tourists can compliment their safari of gorilla trekking by conquering the summits some of the Virunga volcanoes for spectacular views like in mount Sabinyo where you can stand in three countries at once.
Mountain Gorilla Characteristics
Gorillas inhabit tropical forests with thick bamboo with thick bamboo trees and they can hardly survive in zoos, the gorillas found in zoos are lowland gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are very gentle animals but it shouldn’t be forgotten that their wild animals so they will charge severely if they sense danger.
Mountain gorillas have short trunks with wide shoulders and chests, the eyes and ears are dwarfed by a large muscle and the head.
Mountain gorillas can be identified with their nose prints and just like humans, their nose prints are identical to each individual.
Gorillas move in groups of 5-30 members and each family is led by a dominant silverback that dictates and makes rules in the group.
Mountain gorillas stay in higher altitudes that sometimes get very cold so they have thick hair and fur in their bodies that can help them to adapt to the environment.
Gorillas can fetch food like ants using stems from holes and can also store foodstuff in their mouths
When gorillas charge, they will scream, stamp the ground, tear vegetation, and stand on hind legs and the silverback makes signals to the rest of the family.
A female mountain gorilla will give birth to 2-5 offspring’s in a lifetime, they start giving birth at the age of 10 years and the gestation period is for about 8-9 months.
Mountain gorillas also have milk teeth that are later replaced by permanent teeth. The teeth of gorillas are 32 in number just like humans.
Gorillas are bound to be affected by diseases like cold, flu, pneumonia, Ebola and so much more. They mostly get diseases through transmission from human beings or from climatic changes like when it’s too cold they can acquire pneumonia.
Mountain gorillas share 98% DNA with humans this makes them human’s closest relatives with chimpanzees; they also have feet like for humans.
The baby mountain gorillas are born weighing 4 pounds just like humans, they always breastfeed for 1 year and normally cling to their mother’s backs from the age of 2-4 years.
The dominating silverback gorillas will protect their families even if it will cost death and the female mountain gorillas will also protect their babies to death.
Mountain gorillas eat arrange of foods like bamboo, shoot, stems, fruits, flowers, leaves, bulbs, tree bark and also complement their diet with termites and ants.
Gorillas rarely take water this because most of the food they consume contains large amounts of water. They also fear water and can only cross streams by placing logs to use for crossing.
Mount gorillas make up new nests every evening made of plant materials and leaves, the nests can only be shared by a mother and a baby while the males sleep in their own nests.
Female mountain gorilla groom the baby gorillas and the baby gorillas groom themselves
The male mountain gorillas are called silverback because of the silverback hair they develop on their backs as they age just like humans who develop grey hair on their backs.
Trekking Mountain Gorillas
Trekking mountain gorillas will require one to obtain a gorilla permit which costs $600 in Uganda, $1500 in Rwanda and $450 in Congo if you are going to trek in the high season it’s always advisable to buy a gorilla permit 3 months before trekking.
The best time to trek mountain gorillas is during the dry season of June to September and December to February when the roads to the parks are easily accessible. If you are going to trek gorillas in the wet season then you will need to use a four-wheel drive car.
Climate at the Virunga conservation area can sometimes be unpredictable; it can sometimes rain in the dry season so you will need to pack hiking boots, garden gloves, energy snacks, insect repellents, rain coats, warm clothes, drinking water and so much more.