Is Ecotourism Saving Mountain Gorillas?

Mountain gorillas are the largest apes in the world and they are only found in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo. The population of mountain gorillas has recently increased from 880 to 1004 individuals according to the 2018 census results. Such increase is attributed to gorilla tourism which is the backbone of long term conservation efforts between the three countries.

However, despite the increase, threats to the survival of gorillas pose a challenge for conservation including loss of natural habitats, poaching, human diseases and conflicts. So it becomes evident that gorilla tourism through gorilla trekking safaris has been responsible for generating revenues to strike a balance between conservation and human needs.

There are 4 national parks where gorillas are protected. They include Bwindi impenetrable national park which is home to 400 individuals about half of the world’s gorilla numbers. The other parks are found in the Virunga Conservation Area which spans the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo including Volcanoes national park Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda.

High numbers of tourists visit these places for gorilla trekking safaris and go hiking through the dense forests to see the gorillas in their natural habitat. The gorilla parks are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna including birds, golden monkeys, forest elephants, butterflies.

Along with the gorillas, and other natural attractions, the gorilla parks are surrounded by dense populated indigenous communities of BaTwa, Bakiga and Bafumbira.

The dependence of these communities on natural resources for livelihood posses threats to the survival of gorillas such as habitat loss, human diseases, poaching and civil conflicts.

As tourists pay for the privilege to see mountain gorillas, the revenue earned in dollars is used to pay local rangers to manage and protect the parks and as well as supporting local community development to avert over-dependence on resources.

As much of what ecotourism relates to saving gorillas, eco tourism means responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well being of the local people and involves interpretation and education.

Therefore, gorilla tourism revenues are used to conserve and protect gorillas. Without doubt, eco tourism is largely responsible for the thriving number of mountain gorillas in the following ways;

Revenue sharing and community conservation projects

Through revenue sharing scheme, 20 percent of the gorilla trekking proceeds are injected into the adjacent communities to develop schools, hospitals, roads, clean water. Locals are also supported to set up sustainable farms such as vegetable growing, honey bee keeping, and pig and goat rearing which acts as a trade off for bush meat.

The gorilla parks provide employment to the locals such as guides, trackers and rangers. All this set up provides livelihood and has educated locals on the benefits of conserving gorillas rather than poaching and encroaching on the habitats. For example locals are empowered to manage human gorilla conflicts and also collect resources such as wood, medicinal herbs in dedicated zones of the park.

Law Enforcement, Security and trans-boundary collaboration

Political instability is one of the major threats to the survival of gorillas but let’s see how eco tourism has helped.

Gorilla parks are gazetted and protected by armed rangers which clearly help to protect gorillas and their habitats from illegal activities. Rangers also ensure security of tourists and monitoring the movement of gorillas using the ranger based monitoring system in the case where gorilla parks overlap borders. This has helped gorilla numbers to increase especially Virunga conservation has seen increase of gorillas from 480 to 604 according to 2018 gorilla census.

However, some years ago Congo experienced some political instability which led to killing of gorillas. And decline in tourist numbers visiting Virunga national park for gorilla trekking meant there loss of revenues to pay for Virunga park management. That is why there’s need for strong trans-boundary collaboration and security through creation of one strong force of Virunga rangers and organizations such as Virunga alliance, International Gorilla Conservation Program, Great Apes Survival Partnership do a lot of work to protect gorillas which would rather be difficult for a single country like DR Congo to manage. With the return of political stability in DR Congo, we see that once again Virunga national park is safe for gorilla trekking safaris and it does not only saving gorillas but also the lives of rangers.

In Rwanda, the gorilla naming ceremony dubbed Kwita Izina was initiated in 2005 to help raise awareness about conservation of gorillas both locally and internationally. Indeed, it has paid off in a way to keep records of newly born gorillas.

Mountain Gorilla Veterinary doctors

Due to increased tourist visits, there’s a high risk of human infectious disease transmission to gorillas. Gorilla doctors are therefore responsible for intervention to treat sick or injured gorillas.

Gorilla trekking rules and regulations

A set of 8 rules and regulations were developed to limit tourist interaction with gorillas. Some of the rules include maintaining a distance of 7 meters when observing and photographing gorillas and spending 1 hour with gorillas. Among other rules include, only 8 tourists can visit 1 gorilla family per day. This ensures that gorillas are not overwhelmed by tourists and secondary, the gorilla habitats are kept safe since few tourists are allowed to visit the gorillas.

Increase of gorilla permit fees in Rwanda

Rwanda increased its gorilla permit fees from $750 to $1500 per person for seeing gorillas for 1 hour. Prior to the increase, there was tourist congestion leading to degradation of gorilla habitats in volcanoes national park. This strategy helps to limit people who can afford to track gorillas. thus it paves way for healthy habitats and population of gorillas.

Why Uganda is the Best Destination to See Gorillas in 2022

For decades now many have visited Africa and Uganda in particular as an obvious choice for gorilla safari experience despite the presence of many other gorilla tracking destinations in the region. Stop wondering  where  to go gorilla trekking in Africa yet Uganda  is a fascinating  country with a lot to see and explore.80% of travelers to Uganda come for gorilla tracking tours, something you should  will also do and explore the stunning forests of Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park. After gorilla tracking other travel plans will develop and you will enjoy every moment of your stay. If you Uganda isn’t on your rider, I believe it will be after getting a clue on what will make you visit the Pearl of Africa in 2018.

The live Version of Mountain Gorillas

Tracking gorillas in Uganda is reality and seeing them is a must. No trip to Uganda would be complete without a visit to spectacular Bwindi national park ,a home  to pretty primates you could hope to see in the thick wild forest on a clear day  in company of ranger guides and other trackers of the day.Bwindi forest national park close to Mgahinga national park , volcanoes, and virunga national all mountain gorilla parks offers the finest gorilla tracking safari experience second to none year round. Its really a live version watching the silverback and other gorillas chill and relax in the jungle as you witness their movements and nature.

Be prepared to explore the wild forest happily watching other primates, birds, reptiles, butterflies before meeting the mountain gorillas. After the trek a tracking certificate is given to every tracker on addition to the life time memories you carry home that never fade. Whether you are looking for a top safari gorilla lodge or budget friendly campsite, Bwindi forest is a place for everything.

Stable Gorilla Permit Prices

If you planning to book a gorilla safari in Africa, I suggest you reserve you gorilla permit in Uganda where gorilla permit prices are stable until 2019. Travelers are free to book Uganda gorilla safari tours ahead without any worry unlike other mountain gorilla safari destinations in Africa. The Uganda wildlife authority has plans of revising park rates in 2019 a good time allowance for travelers planning to track gorillas in 1-2 years time. I think this makes Uganda the best no Gorilla tour price changes once quoted.

Gorilla Permit Availability

Being a home to two gorilla tracking parks-Bwindi forest and Mgahinga national park, Uganda has many habituated gorilla families hence having bigger chances for gorilla permit availability due to high demand of gorilla tourism in the region. When Bwindi forest is fully booked atleast one can’t fail to find permit availability in Mgahinga national park .Alternatively, travelers visit other country attractions and track gorillas on the last days since the country has too much to keep visitors busy and happy. However, there are minimal chances of not getting permits if you book your gorilla tour in advance.

The Name of a Country “Uganda”

Believe me you will be excited by the magical name of the country “Uganda” though many know it as the “Pearl of Africa”. Uganda is a vibrant country full of history, life and amazing attractions that whoever chooses to discover its beauty smiles each day either in the city or remote areas. You wake up to the beautiful sounds of birds, breakfast in warmth of the sunrise, all day long in comfortable weather and retiring with incredible memories of the day. What every your travel interest could be Uganda has it all to satisfy your needs and desires.

Top 5 Exciting Wildlife Safari Experiences in Uganda

When looking for great memories and fan moments on an Africa holiday, Uganda in Africa is more than what you can imagine with lots of sweet safari ideas but gorilla trekking tours, Wildlife, birding and culture are the most trips that will excite you all through while in Uganda. With about 3-7 days in Uganda be d sure to explore the best tourist attractions of the country including mountain gorillas a base of Uganda tourism and safaris in the country.

Gorilla Trekking Tours

Uganda is one of the most exciting safari destinations in Africa for tracking mountain gorillas in a few minutes hike in the wild forest jungle to where giants could be and spending 60 minutes with the endangered mountain gorillas something  you can never forget in life Visitors love observing this great forest creatures and  the total cost of the trip is just worth the experience. The jungle forest is lush and well conserved filled with woodlands, trees, animals, birds and water falls to explore. Even after the trek the lovely traditional culture of the people is another thing to add on your gorilla trekking safari especially the Batwa people and others living close to the park. Remember tracking gorillas in Uganda benefits not only the tourists but also the local community, gorillas and the country revenue. In Uganda gorilla trekking is done only in the forests of Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national Park.

Bird Watching Safaris

Go bird watching now in Africa and see more than 1000 bird species in different amazing birding safari destinations of the country. It may sound not real but incredible birding safaris are experienced in Uganda  especially on the shores of lake Victoria, source of the Nile, Bwindi forest, kibale forest, Murchison falls,mabamba wet land, Entebbe botanical gardens and much more. Every day is a fantastic day bird watching safaris in Uganda and it’s one of the bird watching destinations in Africa just like south Africa, Kenya, Tanzania etc.Uganda has many ample opportunities of watching your favorite species Most bird watching visitors to Uganda stand chances of heading out on a free bird watching trip to the city and even spot many amazing bird species since wandering around the city is free.

Wildlife Safaris in National Park

Surely Uganda has quality affordable wildlife safaris that excite all through with lots of wildlife viewing experiences. Mornings and evening game drives take you to the most concentrated points of wildlife in most Uganda wildlife parks.

If you a wildlife lover would recommend you to visit Murchison falls national park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Queen Elizabeth National park, Lake Mburo National Park for perfect Uganda wildlife tours. Visitors on wildlife safaris also explore other park tour activities like boat cruise, chimpanzee trekking, bird watching, horse riding, hikes to the falls and leisure as they chill outside their lodge of residence. Looking for great safari holidays in Africa, Uganda is a country that has it all and any trip to Uganda is just fan and memories.

6 Awesome Animals to See in Uganda

The world distinguished gorilla trekking destination Uganda offers the finest safari experience in Africa. Are you planning a vacation tour in Uganda and you very much want to see animals all through?. Uganda is a blessed country with variety of wildlife like Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, Rhinos, Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Golden monkeys among others. The country has different national parks with various wildlife; therefore the choice is yours to visit the one with your favorite animals.

The most Incredible National parks for wildlife in Uganda include Bwindi forest National Park, Kibale forest National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison falls National Park, Kidepo National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Semuliki National Park. You may have a list of animals you want to see on your safari in Uganda  but the big 5 is a must as well as the best unique primate species in the world especially the mountain gorillas.

Uganda has a large selection of wildlife safari tours available in all wildlife game reserves and itineraries are designed depending on one’s interest. These guided safari tours normally depart from Entebbe international airport just after arrival or Kampala the capital city of Uganda.

1. Mountain Gorillas – The Silver of Western Uganda

Gorilla tourism in Uganda takes place in Bwindi forest National Park and Mgahinga National park home to over half of the living mountain gorillas in the world. These forest creatures are real beautiful and amazing to look at all the time. If you looking for exclusive gorilla trekking experience in wild jungle forested environment Uganda is the answer though gorillas also love in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

2. Golden Monkeys – Meet the Gold in the Wild

 Mgahinga National Park a famous point for gold and silver is the only place in Uganda to experience golden monkey habituation and trekking an exciting primate encounter in the jungle forest also a home for mountain gorillas. Trekking golden monkeys and gorillas have similar procedures. The activity starts at 7.00am after briefing in small groups of not more than eight and spend one hour with the monkeys once you find them. The interesting creatures that jump from tree to tree made Mgahinga National park exceptional for gorillas and golden monkey treks just like Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

3. The Beautiful Kobs

Uganda has plenty of beautiful Kobs a common type of antelopes found in almost every Uganda wildlife safari park. They roam freely in the eco system and its one of the beautiful animals you can’t miss on your trip to Uganda wildlife parks. Due to its wonderful beauty, the country used it on its coat of arms.

4. Lions – the Kings of the Jungle

The famous large carnivore that is a must see for those interested in viewing the big five  and are always scattered  throughout the park grassland best spotted during morning hours  and late evening. However, after getting a bite of the day they take rest until when they get hungry again. The best places to see lions in Uganda are Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison falls National Park, Kidepo National Park but most amazing moment is watching the tree climbing lions of Ishasha.

5. Thrilling Hippopotamus

These animals can be seen in large numbers on the Kazinga channel of Queen Elizabeth National Park, on the might Nile of Murchison falls National Park and along the shores of Lake Mburo. Since they spend most of their time in water, they are sometimes seen in along the bank and shores. Visitors to Uganda enjoy viewing these creatures during the afternoon boat ride the perfect way to discover the lake beauties. While on the boat ride still expect to see some crocodiles, birds and many other attractive wildlife.

6. Elephants in Uganda

The elephants are one of the beautiful wild creatures in Uganda found in various wildlife safari parks like Kidepo valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Murchison falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Semuliki National Park, Tourists to Uganda have many chances of spotting elephants in different locations and safari destinations.  Carry your camera and meet them during the morning and evening game drive which is always an amazing experience for every visitor to the country.

Other amazing animals to see in Uganda include  chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, Buffaloes, giraffe, topis, waterbucks, baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, Rhino, leopard, cheetah, Zebras, warthog, Impalas among others.