Gorilla trekking in Africa offers incredible opportunities to witness different gorilla species in their natural habitats. Even though there are a number of gorilla species, mountain gorillas still stand as the most popular species among travelers.
However, here are the best respective destinations for trekking different gorilla species in Africa.
Lowland gorillas are another species of mountain gorillas and they are primarily inhabited in lowland tropical rain forests and swamp forests. The “lowland” in their name refers to their natural habitat, which is the dense forests found in the lowland areas of Central and West Africa. Unlike their counterparts, the mountain gorillas, who inhabit high-altitude mountainous regions, lowland gorillas are adapted to life in the lower, flatland areas with milder climates and less rugged terrain. These lowland tropical rain forests provide a rich variety of vegetation, which forms the basis of their diet, consisting mainly of fruits, leaves, and shoots.
Due to the vast and dense nature of the lowland forests, lowland gorillas can be challenging to observe and study. However, researchers and conservationists have made significant efforts to learn about and protect these gentle giants. Like mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas are also classified as critically endangered, primarily due to habitat loss, poaching, and disease.
Lowland gorillas are native to the central and western regions of Africa, including countries such as Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They occupy a range of diverse habitats, including primary and secondary forests, secondary regrowth, and swampy areas near rivers and streams.
Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the most popular homes of the lowland gorillas (eastern lowland) while Odzala-Kokoua National Park is a fantastic destination for observing western lowland gorillas in their natural habitat also in DR Congo. The park offers guided walks and boat safaris to track these gorillas, and the experience also includes encounters with other diverse wildlife and pristine wilderness.
The most popular of the further sub species is the mountain gorilla that belong to the Eastern Gorilla and is scientifically known as Gorilla beringei beringei. They are called so because they primarily inhabit high-altitude mountainous regions. The “mountain” in their name refers to their natural habitat, which is the dense forests and bamboo forests found in the volcanic slopes and mountain ranges of the Virunga Massif and the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda. The best destinations for mountain gorilla safaris include;
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
Bwindi is renowned for its vast population of mountain gorillas and is another top destination for gorilla trekking. The park’s rugged terrain and dense rainforests provide a challenging but rewarding trekking experience. Bwindi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a critical part of mountain gorilla conservation efforts. However, Uganda gorilla trek safaris can also be conducted in Mgahinga National Park that is a part of the Virunga conservation area.
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
As mentioned before, Volcanoes National Park is a prime location for luxury mountain gorilla treks. The park is easily accessible from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, and offers well-established trekking programs with experienced guides and luxurious accommodation. It is home to several habituated gorilla families, making encounters with these majestic creatures an unforgettable experience.
Cross River Gorillas
Cross River gorillas are the fourth sub-species of gorillas and are called so because they are primarily found in the region surrounding the Cross River, a river that flows through the border region between Nigeria and Cameroon. They are a subspecies of the western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), with the scientific name Gorilla gorilla diehli.
The Cross River gorillas are one of the most endangered gorilla subspecies only remaining not more than 300 individuals, and their habitat is limited to the mountainous and lowland forests within the Cross River basin. The region is characterized by rugged terrain, dense vegetation, and a network of rivers, including the Cross River itself. These gorillas have adapted to the challenging conditions of this environment.
Due to their restricted range and the remote and inaccessible nature of their habitat, the Cross River gorillas have received limited scientific attention until relatively recent times. As researchers and conservationists began to focus on studying and protecting these gorillas, they became known as “Cross River gorillas” to reflect their unique habitat and distribution along the Cross River region.
The Cross River National Park in Nigeria and the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary in Cameroon are the primary locations where conservation efforts are focused. Gorilla trekking in these areas is limited, and sightings are rare due to their elusive nature and small population.