Congo officially referred to as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) provides opportunities, for travelers seeking gorilla trekking experiences that are both thrilling and relatively unexplored. The country is home to two subspecies of gorillas; mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas specifically known as Grauers gorillas.
The primary destinations for engaging in gorilla trekking within the DRC are;
Virunga National Park
Considered Africas park Virunga holds the prestigious title of being a UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts exceptional biodiversity. Situated in the part of the country bordering Uganda and Rwanda this park is home to one third of the worlds mountain gorilla population. Currently there are eight habituated groups of gorillas that tourists can visit within Virunga National Park.
Kahuzi Biega National Park
This park serves as a haven for those in witnessing lowland or Grauers gorillas up close during their trekking experience. Located near Lake Kivus bank and neighboring Rwanda Kahuzi Biega is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It remains the destination where visitors can reliably encounter Grauers gorillas thriving in their habitat.
In terms of procedures and regulations engaging in gorilla trekking within the DRC follows a framework, to that found in Uganda and Rwanda. Treks are organized in groups led by rangers who provide guidance throughout this unforgettable journey.
To participate in gorilla trekking, in the DRC visitors need to be 15 years old and in good physical condition due to the demanding nature of the treks, which can last for several hours.
However there are factors to consider when it comes to gorilla trekking in the DRC;
1. Security; It’s important to note that security has been a concern in parts of the DRC in the eastern regions where these parks are situated. Nevertheless rest assured that the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) and park authorities take security matters seriously. To stay updated on any advisories or warnings it is recommended to refer to sources and consider engaging tour operators who have current knowledge of the local situation.
2. Accessibility; Compared to Rwanda and Uganda the infrastructure in the DRC is not as well developed which may pose some challenges when it comes to reaching these parks. However for those seeking experiences with crowds this can also be seen as an advantage.
3. Cost; As of 2023, gorilla trekking permits in the DRC are notably more affordable compared to those, in Rwanda. Nonetheless prices can change over time; therefore it is always wise to check for updated information regarding costs.
4. Diversity; The DRC offers an opportunity to observe both mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas. This allows for a understanding of their lives and behaviors.
Gorilla trekking in the DRC offers travelers an adventurous wildlife experience. It combines the excitement of encountering these creatures with the beauty of some of the most diverse and unspoiled ecosystems, on our planet.