If you’re looking for a unique, daring vacation that’s sure to remain a vivid memory for many years, a Gorilla Safari is certainly an option. In considering this trip, there are two ways to travel. One is going it alone, but the travel industry doesn’t really recommend it for a variety of reasons. For one, you need different permits for various parts of the country, suitable transportation and a fair amount of outdoor gear that quite simply doesn’t pack well.
Instead, most people opt for an agent and/or a tour operator, who are usually two different people. The agent does your booking while the tour operator makes sure you have everything at the local level that’s required and provides the tour. Thanks to the internet, it’s relatively easy to review previous travelers reports about tour operators, check their credentials, and especially watch for membership in regional tour organizations (who have specific requirements that govern their members). Don’t forget to review payment policies, ask if you’ll have a dedicated cook and a good store of emergency provisions. Also see if they’re ecologically friendly, and consider whether the tour company supports local economy. Why? If you want others to be able to enjoy this amazing experience long into the future, ecology and economy can’t be overlooked.
Many people who go on a safari report that it left them awestruck. It changes your perception of the world, and particularly of these grand creatures – Gorillas. Most tour operators focus on seeking gorillas in Uganda (Bwindi National Park) and Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park). These tours are often successful thanks to local trackers who feed the information back to groups. Traveling the Congo also often yields good sightings, but the political structure of that region makes the journey very dangerous.
Bwindi National Park covers 200 miles of Rainforest. Coming here allows you to see buffalo, golden monkeys and leopards too. Volcanoes National Park is about 46 square miles. This park is more easily navigated than Bwindi for those with mobility limits.
NOTE: There are very strict rules about tracking:
• No one under the age of 15 may go
• People MUST be healthy (the gorillas are susceptible to human disease)
• You must stay 5 meters away from the gorillas and limit your visit to one hour
• No flash photography or eating/drinking
• No touching the gorillas
In terms of when to travel, May to September is the driest time. This is a rainforest, and the remaining make for very soggy going. If you have to travel during rainy seasons bring good hiking boots. In Bwindi there are campgrounds, lodges and budget rooms fairly close to the entrance gate. For Rwanda, accommodations are best about two hours away in Ruhengeri and there are both buses and taxis that go to the Park.
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