We tracked the gorillas on two days - one with the Kahungye group and one with the Nshongi group. The Nshongi group has been habituated for many years, and the Kahungye group was habituated much more recently. I'd strongly recommend going with a group that's been habituated for a long time. They're less shy, so you see much more of them, and get much better pictures. They even touched a couple of people in our group!
Be prepared for a pretty hard-core hike! Some of it is on trail and like typical hiking, but then there's a bit of off-trail hiking where the guides are hacking through the rainforest and you're climbing up mountains in mud, using a hiking stick in one hand and holding onto vines with the other hand. It's 6-9 hours of hiking, waiting, and seeing the gorillas depending on where they are. I highly recommend bringing leather gloves (something like gardening gloves would be fine) so you can be comfortable grabbing things without worrying too much about thorns. Also, good rain gear and good hiking boots are key!
We had Robert Basima of Engagi Safaris take us. He was great - happy to point out great spots for photos, tell us stories, and answer all sorts of questions. He was a great driver on the rough roads we had to take to get to the Kahungye group. His English is perfect. Highly recommended!
Gorillas- Gorillas are shy and peaceful primates on the verge of extinction. They are found in the rainforests and woodlands of western and central Africa. Males are larger than females at 5-6 ft, 400 lbs, and 4-5 ft, 200 lbs respectively. Their arms are longer than their legs and they too have opposable thumbs and big toes. Each gorilla has a specialized ‘nose print’ comparable to our fingerprint. Gorillas are herbivores. They rarely drink water. They have never been seen using tools in the wild. Gorillas are fully grown at 10-12 years. The gestation period is 8-9.5 months. The child stays with its mother until age four. Gorillas live approximately 50 years in captivity and 35 in the wild. They are unable to swim. Each gorilla has to build its own sleeping next daily. They live in groups of 6-20 called bands and communicate with sounds and gestures.