7Go­rilla Moun­tain

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Wildlife -

RANGE: A ten-year sur­vey in west­ern equa­to­rial Africa found over 360,000 go­ril­las in­habit the re­gion, though num­bers are fall­ing

THE EX­PE­RI­ENCE: A sil­ver­back is a for­mi­da­ble sight. You ex­pect it to be ‘big’, but it’s the power that blows you away. And while there’s a whole lot of rules (sit low, don’t point, don’t stare) when you see one, it can be hard to re­call any­thing in the mo­ment. Still, it’s worth it to wit­ness the in­tri­cate fam­ily dy­nam­ics of a pri­mate still liv­ing on the brink of sur­vival.

NEED TO KNOW: Spot­ting go­ril­las in the wild isn’t straight­for­ward. Tours are the only way to see them and these are sub­ject to strict time lim­its (typ­i­cally an hour), while per­mits must be se­cured in ad­vance. Nor will you be al­lowed on a tour if you’re sick, as in­fec­tions can be passed on to the pri­mates. You need to be fit, too, as you’ll be walk­ing at al­ti­tude with no paths and hikes can take from 30 min­utes to ten hours. Vis­its are eas­i­est in the drier months (Jan–feb; Jun–aug); dis­counts on per­mits can be found in wet­ter pe­ri­ods (Apr, May & Nov) but be warned that the con­di­tions are much harder go­ing.

BEST PLACE TO SEE… In the north of Bwindi Im­pen­e­tra­ble For­est, Uganda, where three of the na­tion’s 11 ha­bit­u­ated go­rilla fam­i­lies live, ex­tended vis­its (four hours) are per­mit­ted. Else­where, Rwanda’s Vol­ca­noes NP is famed for its go­ril­las, but vis­its come at a cost (per­mit: US$1,500 com­pared to Uganda’s US$450+). For a truly re­mote es­cape, Odzala-kok­oua NP in Congo-braz­zav­ille has a trio of fly-in camps, with ⊲ treks into its dense bio­di­verse forests re­veal­ing fam­i­lies of west­ern low­land go­ril­las – a truly wild sight.

Wary won­der A dom­i­nant male moun­tain go­rilla sur­veys his au­di­ence in Bwindi Im­pen­e­tra­ble For­est Na­tional Park, Uganda

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