Best places to see gorillas: Gorillas are special creatures on earth, sharing over 98% of their DNA with humans and largely behave like humans. They are massive, powerful but generally humble. Globally, gorillas are native to Africa, comprising of species that include the Eastern and Western gorillas.
Each of the main gorilla species (the Eastern and Western) are further divided into 2 sub-species where the Eastern gorilla species is composed of the Mountain gorillas and Eastern Lowland gorillas. The Westerns gorillas are further divided into the Cross River gorilla and Western Lowland gorillas. Here are the best places to see gorillas in Africa;
Uganda is remarkably one of the leading mountain gorilla destinations, protecting half of the remaining population of these rare species. 1063 mountain gorillas are said to be still thriving but half of them all live in the 2 Uganda National Parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the far South-west, 8-9hrs drive off Kampala capital.
21 families of mountain gorillas have been habituated in Uganda so far and you can have a chance to meet these dramatic creatures in the country’s jungles during the normal gorilla trekking or while on mountain gorilla habituation experience which is only done in Bwindi N/Park. As of 2021, Uganda gorilla permits are open for booking at USD700 for nonresidents, foreign residents at USD600, and Shs.250,000 East Africa Nationals.
Rwanda is with no doubt one of the best places where gorillas can be seen in the wild. The compact landlocked country of a Thousand Hills protects 30% of the endangered mountain gorilla population. In Rwanda, 30% of the world’s mountain gorillas live in the Volcanoes National Park, Northwest and this is where the popular primatologist Dian Fossey set a base for her studies on gorilla behaviors in the 1960s.
Today, gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is undeniably the leading adventure attracting thousands of Rwanda safari travelers each year. Rwanda is a small country almost the size of Wales and it can be explored in just 1 day, 2days, 3 days while on a gorilla safari. 13 habituated families of mountain gorillas have been opened for tracking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes NP, and gorilla permits are issued by Rwanda Development Board at USD1500.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
DR Congo is an exceptional gorilla destination that houses both mountain gorillas and the eastern lowland gorillas. The mountain gorillas in D.R. Congo live only in the Virunga National Park and Eastern lowland gorillas are in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Maiko National Park though currently trekked in only Kahuzi-Biega NP. All gorilla permits for D.R. Congo cost USD450 per trek per person.
Cameroon in West Africa is home to western gorillas-sheltering both the eastern lowland and western lowland gorillas. The cross-river gorillas thrive along the extreme border between Cameroon and Nigeria just at Limbe Wildlife Centre. The western lowland gorillas in Cameroon live within Campo-Ma’an National Park while orphaned lowland gorillas are protected at the Mefou National Park.
About 300 cross river gorillas thrive within Nigeria and are often visited by conservationists and researchers. Nigeria protects only the cross river gorillas and they live in expansive 3000sq. miles area that includes Mbe Mountain, Afi Mountain, and Okwangwo Division of the Cross River National Park.
Gabon is comprised of 13 National Park with the majority protecting the western lowland gorillas. At the country’s Mikongo Conservation Centre in Lope National Park the western lowland gorilla habituation project was terminated in 2010 but there is an opportunity for Gabon holidaymakers to visit to see the gorillas while searching for other species of wildlife. Other beautiful places that protect a good number of the western lowland gorillas in Gabon include Moukalaba-Doudou National Park and Loango National Park which provides refuge to gorillas, forest elephants, and chimpanzees, etc.
Central Africa Republic
The Central Africa Republic protects a significant population of the western lowland gorillas. Habituation of these apes has been successfully done at Dzanga-Ndoki National Park where currently 1 family is open for tracking.
Congo Brazaville/Republic of Congo
The Republic of Congo is one of the 10 best places to see gorillas. Western lowland gorillas thrive in the different parts of this country with 2 habituated groups already open for tourists. About 100 lowland gorillas live in the country’s popular Bai/Mbeli Bai in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, Odzala National Park while orphaned gorillas live in the Lefini Reserve.
Equatorial Guinea is another incredible place protecting a significant number of the remaining Western lowland gorilla population. These amazing apes thrive in the country’s Monte Alen National Park though gorilla tourism isn’t developed like it is in Uganda and Rwanda. However, you can undertake a trek via the dense forest with the experienced locals and have a chance to see these interesting species.
Angola is home to Western lowland gorillas which thrive along the Northern side and only in Cabinda Enclave next to Congo. Like Equatorial Guinea, gorilla tourism in Angola isn’t yet developed.