Congo also called the Democratic Republic of Congo or Congo Kinshasa is one of the countries in Africa known for gorilla safaris. It is located in East Africa, neighbors with Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and other countries in the eastern and central regions of Africa. The borders among Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo are covered with the lush Virunga Mountains which is home to the remaining mountain gorillas, rare species of primate.
Gorilla permits are documents that allow tourists visit and meet gorillas in their natural habitats. The cost of eastern lowland gorilla permits particularly in Kahuzi-Biega National Park is USD400 for foreigners and USD200 for Congolese nationals.
Mountain gorilla permits in Virunga National Park cost USD450 for foreigners and USD250 for Congolese nationals. There are two subspecies of gorillas that are visited in Congo – mountain gorillas and Eastern low land gorillas. Each has their own home where they live which is determined by the terrain and climatic condition.
Mountain gorillas live in Virunga national park which is located in north-Kivu region in Virunga massif. As the name suggests, these gorillas live in mountains at an altitude of 8,000ft to 13,000ft above sea level. These are really cold areas but the long and thick fur on their body makes them survive in these areas. Unlike the eastern lowland gorillas which live in Kahuzi-Biega national park, they prefer lowland areas at an altitude of 2,100m to 2,500m above sea level. They are known to be the largest among the four subspecies of gorillas.
People can visit each of these gorillas through a gorilla trekking experience which involves the search for gorillas in their natural habitat after acquiring a gorilla trekking permit. The overall experience takes about 2 to 8 hours but it includes an hour spent in the presence of the gentle giants. The gorillas are called so because they are peaceful and try to be harmful in case they are threatened. They are amazing creatures to watch since they have a lot in common with human beings such behaviours are breastfeeding, movements and family composition.
Gorilla trekking is the most sought-after activity in Africa especially in D.R. Congo, one needs to acquire a gorilla trekking permit since it’s a ticket that allows visitors to visit the gorillas.
How to acquire Congo Gorilla Permits?
Anyone can acquire this permit through either a recognized tour operator or directly contact the Congolese authorities responsible for issuing the gorilla permits in respective national parks. This government authority is known as “Institut Congolais pour la conservation de la nature” (ICCN).
Gorilla trekking permits are highly demanded and competitive since they are the cheapest among all other gorilla destinations in Africa. Other destinations where gorilla trekking takes place include Mgahinga and Bwindi National Parks in Uganda and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. There is also a gorilla habituation experience which allows visitors to spend four hours following the gentle giants and this is only done in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Therefore, people are advised to book Congo gorilla permits in advance, at least 3 to 4 months before the trekking day mostly during the peak season. The peak season are dry months when everyone is interested in travelling – from June to September and December to February every year. This is when the skies are blue and a great time to meet gorillas without interruption of rainfalls and muddy trails.
Gorilla permits are non-refundable not transferred, but can be rescheduled to any future available date if unused. The Congo gorilla permit includes park entrance fees and guide fees. It excludes accommodation, porter hire fees and transport fares.
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