CHEAPEST GORILLA PERMIT
To be honest the only con I can think of was that it rained. Really nothing to worry about seeing as tho' it is a jungle!!
If you can go there, do it!
Philippe Rwangano Bitege was born in Kanombe, central Rwanda, in 1958. He is married and has 5 children. He started working in the park as a kitchen worker in 1997. His employer at that time, the Italy Zaire Tourism company, went bust and he was invited to become a Ranger. He once lost his weapon when he was charged and stalked by an angry buffalo....more
Martin is one of the 2 Rangers who guided me through the Parc National de Virunga to find the Mountain Gorillas. In fact it was Martin who whispered to me “we have crossed them” to let me know I was about to finally see one of these amazing creatures. Martin is a young Ranger and you may just want to step back a bit from him if he is using the...more
No. You do not get a choice. I have been asked about the mask in my photos. Older photos here on VT will show people near the Mountain Gorillas without any masks. Not any more. There are only 700 Mountain Gorillas in the world and they live here and just over the border in Rwanda and Uganda. While DRC has had an increase, it’s not by much. Only 81...more
Would you like to see the Mountain Gorillas? Cheaply and safely? The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a challenging place to visit, but the permits are the cheapest in the world to see the Gorillas and you can use the best guide in the business to guide you past any hassles in DRC. Kennedy Nari is your man! Kennedy, member kennedyrw on Virtual...more
This is a once in a lifetime experience. It doesnt come cheap - our permit alone was around 300USD....And boy did I feel guilty about spending that money on this trek once I saw the villages we were passing through.But, it gives locals jobs - so thats all good, and this is an experience that you wouldnt want to miss for anything. I think when we...more
You are in the jungle, there are no toilets. You are going to see a family of only 600 individuals left in the world. If you have a cold or are sick you might not be allowed to go. There is no smoking, no eating and no drinking around the gorillas - they dont want our habits.When you arrive there is only an hour with them - thats its - an hour -...more
We walked for hours to track the Gorillas, with armed guards through the rainforest/jungle....they had their walkie talkies and they knew roughly where the gorillas had been the day before. These animals can only wander a kilometre a day - not far at all really - but when you consider that you have been walking for 5 hours already its a long way!...more
I will always remember driving towards the rainforest where we were to track the gorillas.We drove through small villages, shacks which were the locals homes up against the potholed muddy road. Men were walking back from the hills with a dead chicken which they had bought home for their family, children were playing barefoot and barely dressed in...more
Crossing the border between Uganda and the former Zaire - now DR Congo was an easy experience, we had a bit of a wait for our day visas to be processed but once that had been done the only thing holding us up were ourselves as we were busy chatting to the friendly locals!I am always amazed at the difference as soon as you cross that invisible line...more
Although there are no restaurants in the Virunga National Park, we met some Overlanders from England and Australia who traded two T-shirts and a five gallon bucket for two pigs. They roasted the pigs over a spit, cooked up some vegitables, potatoes, bread, etc., ad we had the best feast I have ever eaten
Once you get to the boarder of Uganda and Zaire (DNC), you have to hoof it from there. We hired some local kids for $1.00 each (payment upon delivery) to lead us to the ranger station. Once we were about halfway there, an enterprising kid said they would each need another dollar to take us the rest of the way. We played hardball and took our packs back, saying we would find it ourselves. Luckily, they gave in and showed us the way for the original price. Incidently, we paid them $5.00 each on our arrival anyway, and had some hapy kids around for a few days.
The park is a natural rain forest near the Equator. That means it rains all year long. In fact they average 1975mm (77.7 inches or 6.5 feet) of rain! If you look closely at these photos you will see the rain. I took 3 cameras and used 2. Both were damaged to some extent. One dried up after a few days and works fine now. The other has zoom problems...more
DO NOT RUN OK. That sounds counter productive, but Gorillas can run at speeds of 25 mph (40 kmh) through dense jungle. They could easily see your running as a threat and rip off an arm or leg with very little effort. What you have to do is QUIETLY and slowly sink to the ground, preferably into a foetal position. This shows them that you are not a...more
I was very saddened to see this article on MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22627399/) about Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (fka Zaire). The park is now completely overrun by armed militia and the Rangers can't even go in to check on the status of the Gorillas. It is a real tragedy.more
If you want something in this National Park there are 2 rules:1) You have to bring it with you2) You have to take it back outThere are absolutely no facilities in the Park for humans in the Park except for one squat toilet at the entrance. Between the heat and humidity you will need at least 2 litres of water per person. Also food. I took some...more
Make sure you don't be completly stoopid like me and forget your waterproof jacket!! On our way back from the gorillas it started bucketing down and yes, I was extremely wet and cold.Long trousers and 3/4 - long sleeve shirts advisable, because of the sun and plants flinging on you and scratching. Good hiking boots are essential also.I had heard...more
In September 2005 I went on a day trip trekking through Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo with Africa Travel Company.
There is a lot of information floating around on different websites saying the Congo is a dangerous place to visit, you must be mad to visit there etc etc etc. I can only describe my experience and maybe help out with decision making when considering where to go gorilla trekking.
At no stage during my time in Virunga National Park, did I feel unsafe or threatened in any way or form. The border control was as any other border control in under developed countries, a little slow but overall no hassels at all. The villagers we met along the way were the most delightful and happy people you could wish to meet. Running alongside the vehicles, waving and saying hello. Yes, most likley wanting money or goodies, but they definately didn't seem that they would hurt us. Every local I spoke to had comments along the lines of "You going gorilla trekking, you bring money to our country'. They seem to realise that a proportion of the money from gorilla permits goes towards such projects as education and public health to name a couple.
I also rationalised that a reputable company like Africa Travel would not take clients into a dodgy area and risk their reputation. As anywhere in the world things can happen in the Congo and you do need to take care, but my experience whilst in the Congo was a positive and special time.
I normally carry around a large VT Flag. In fact 2 - and one is massive. So as I began to pack and plan my Gorilla Tracking in the DRC I thought:
“Do I really want to wave around a large white flag around a wild animal that could get mad and rip off one or more of my limbs? For fun.”
Also the idea of having a big white flag in mountains containing a complete rebel army did not seem like a good idea either.
To my rescue came my good and wonderful friend Gillybob. She posted me here small flag and into my backpack it went. When I finally came cross my first Silverback Gorilla in the wild it was a male. And he charged right at me! When he moved away again I removed my small, non-offensive flag and had some pictures taken.
I returned Gillybob’s flag just in time for her Christmas Markets Meeting in Manchester England upon my return to the UK.
THANK YOU GILLYBOB !!!!