Mountain gorillas are one of the most iconic and fascinating animal species in the world, and also one of the most threatened. These majestic primates inhabit the mountains of Central Africa, in an area that encompasses parts of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are currently fewer than 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the wild, making them a critically endangered species.
The good news is that there are conservation initiatives and programs that are working to protect and preserve mountain gorillas. One of the most popular and effective ways to support these initiatives is to participate in a gorilla trek.
Gorilla trekking is a unique and exciting experience that allows visitors to get up close to mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, and see up close how they live, interact and behave. Most gorilla tours are conducted in small groups, led by trained local guides experienced in primate watching. The tours can last between one and four days, depending on the area and the chosen program.
One of the best recommendations for gorilla trekking is the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, home to some 480 mountain gorillas, which represents more than half of the total population of this species in the world. The park has ten groups of habituated gorillas, that is, groups that have previously been visited by humans and have become accustomed to their presence, which facilitates observation and interaction.
Before beginning the trekking, visitors receive an informative talk on the importance of the conservation of mountain gorillas and the safety measures they must take during the trek. Afterwards, the group goes to the starting point of the walk, from where the adventure begins.
The hike can be intense, as it involves going up and down steep and sometimes slippery trails. However, the reward is worth it: when the group reaches the gorilla area, visitors can spend up to an hour observing and photographing the gorillas up close, always under the supervision of the guides.
In addition to the excitement and adrenaline that the gorilla trekking experience produces, this activity has a positive impact on the conservation of the species. Revenues generated from gorilla tourism go to fund conservation, research and education projects in the region. In addition, the presence of tourists in the gorilla habitat is a deterrent to poaching and illegal logging, which are two of the main threats to the survival of the species.