The bulkiest member of the primate family, the subspecies of the eastern gorilla stands up to 1.8 meters high and weighs up to 210 kg. This high-altitude creature is an Albertine rift endemic found only in two localities, that’s Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable national park and the Virunga Mountains shared by the democratic republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. There are about 1000 mountain gorillas left in the world, and half of them inhabit the Bwindi forest.

Like the name, these gorillas live in high altitudes between 8000-13000 feet, mountain gorillas are primarily vegetarians, feeding on leaves, shoots, fruits, and over 140 different plant species. Out of 100%, 2% of its diet is insects and other invertebrates with an estimated life expectancy of 35-50 years.



Mountain gorillas give birth in a range of 9 months like humans; it takes 6-8 years for a female gorilla to become sexually active. The female stays loyal to the male until he dies or until he loses his throne. Unlike their powerful parents, newborns are always tinny weighing 1-2 kg, and always supported by the mother’s fur for warmth.

These infants are entertaining between 2-3 years, where they spend most of their time swinging on branches, chasing one another, and copying a lot from the adults.

It takes the whole family to look after the young ones, however, the father and others are more protective. Juveniles spend most of their time playing and looking after the young ones this gives room to the mother to feed enough and relax a little bit.

It’s unusual to encounter a mountain gorilla giving birth all new babies have been reported while hours old, they are prone to death due to bad weather and falling off the bedding and branches.


 Social behavior and Alpha male

In the gorilla world dominance and territories mark the limits, it takes courage and strength to challenge the alpha, this is a battle of the titans, injuries, noise, death, stealing females from either group, and being kicked out of the family are major expectations. The winner of the battle takes over the troop, any new alpha male will kill all the infants to draw the mother’s focus on getting to oestrus faster. It’s no doubt that these animals sleep in cold environments, they possess long hair that helps keep them warm, and despite their size, they can climb up to the canopies for feeding, unlike the chimpanzees that sleep up the trees.  Mountain gorillas are however mostly seen on the ground feeding, mating, drinking water, and playing, it’s always a harem of about 30 individuals.

It’s the alpha male that determines where to feed from, and where to sleep in a radius of about 1-16 square miles. Mountain gorillas are friendly animals once they get used to humans, it’s only those that are fully habituated that are accessible for normal tracking.

What to carry while trekking to and tracking mountain gorillas

These are thick forests, there’s a need for good jungle shoes, long pants and shirts, rain jackets, insect repellants, gloves, and much more.

Based on the ultimate experience, you are required to carry with you enough drinking water and a snack; this gives you a chance to be ready for any time that will come out of the jungle.

For photographers, 2 sets of camera batteries, enough SD cards, and good rain gear for your gadgets.


When to visit

Mountain gorillas are accessed at any month of the year and are only tracked once in a day, this is done early morning, by 8 am till you are out of the forest. People travel for different targets, and photographers will get to know the picture they want and this determines their travel. 

In Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo, the months of March-May, September, and November are rainy and this might make the whole experience unpleasant for most travelers. However, June -August is dry, and good for anyone who doesn’t want the wet season.


Dos and don’ts while with the mountain gorillas

Feeding wildlife is punishable, and an 8-10 meter distance must be maintained while with gorillas, however, these animals can tend to be provocative, they don’t know the distance, and sometimes they come closer or even pass by. You must listen to your ranger guide if you can make a few steps back or behind or stand still not running and avoiding straight eye contact.

A face is a must-have, this is a measure to avoid any transmissions between 2 parties, and without one you are not eligible for the activity.

Single file -straight is required while trekking and while with the apes, getting closer to each other is key to avoid stressing these animals.

No flashlight and shutter noise is required while viewing the apes, you must keep your voice at a low tone, and keep your gadgets intact to avoid any grabbing.

Eating, smoking, drinking water, and littering are highly condemned while viewing the mountain gorillas, you must turn off the gorillas and cover your nose with your elbow and cough, for eating and drinking u must go at an average distance.


999 helicopter and gorilla tracking price

Gorilla tracking in Uganda costs 700$ for normal tracking -1500$ for the habituation experience, while in Rwanda its starts from 1500$ and above, with Congo having a minimum fee of 400$. All these destinations are rich in these apes however Congo is not much recommended due to the political instabilities.

The 999 helicopter is a stretcher that is designed to give help to those who are unable to make it to the gorillas, both the disabled and the tired ones, this comes at a negotiable minimum fee, size, and distance determine the money you will pay the porters who will gently take to the gorillas and bring back to the starting point.

This initiative was amended to enable all people to access the jungle and feel the cool breath as they view these great apes.

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