Why did you go see the Gorillas in the DRC? OK. Actually friends and family asked “DRC? Are you crazy?”
The reasons (plural) I decided on DRC were:
• I had not visited the DRC before
• I wanted to see the Mountain Gorillas
• Saving money would be helpful
• Few people have visited there and the DRC pages on VT need new info
• I had arranged an economical and safe Tour Guide from Hakuna Matata Tours to get me there
In recent years the Parc National de Virunga has been plagued by armed rebel groups, poachers and even volcanic eruptions. Right now it’s not. You also get to go very close to an active volcano before you see the Gorillas. Something you cannot do in Uganda and Rwanda which jointly share the park. The permits are also $100 cheaper than the other 2 countries. And the best reason:
I WAS THE ONLY TOURIST IN THE PARC NATIONAL DE VIRUNGA THE WEEK I VISITED
I did not know this would happen ahead of time. It was apparent when they asked me to sign into the Visitor’s Book. That meant it was just me, my 2 Ranger escorts and the Humba Family of Gorillas. There were 12 of them. I had a friend who saw the Gorillas in Rwanda and the visitors outnumbered the Gorillas they saw on the day.
So all that bad press keeps the crowds away. Also if you visit here, your fees support the protection efforts of the Rangers in the DRC as well.
If you have any questions about this fantastic adventure – please email me!
Happy to help,
Warnings Or Dangers Reviews
"YOUR CAMERA IS GOING TO GET WET"
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 now. If you can think of a way to shelter your camera, do so before you go. I had a hat that absolutely did no good during heavier spells of rain. You only get to spend 1 hour with the Gorillas when you find them and they move constantly. You really have to keep moving, sliding, climbing and falling to keep within eyesight and get those pictures. There are less than 750 if these magnificent animals in the world and all you photos will be priceless. If you have very expensive equipment you should discuss this issue with your local camera shop. Not only direct rainfall, but humidity will affect your equipment and lenses.
I would also recommend disposable, one-use, lens cleaners as a cloth will be useless within minutes.
No matter what you do – you are 100% likely to get wet.
"IF A GORILLA CHARGES AT YOU !"
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 threat in any way. It also establishes for them that you have acknowledged their territory and that they have nothing further to fear from you.
The first Gorilla I saw was a male and he charged. Please see the video on the Videos tab of my page. The Ranger and I lay down on the ground and this essentially teen aged male stood over me, beating his chest, and made a lot of noise. He then moved off and joined the larger group.
I asked the Ranger if a Gorilla had ever hurt a Visitor. He said no, but that no one had ever stood up or run before either.
Gorillas are essentially non-aggressive, but they will defend themselves against perceived threats. So get ready to drop down on the ground.
WEAR A SURGICAL MASK
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 live here in the park and about 130 elsewhere in DRC. Apes (Gorillas) and Chimpanzees are very closely related to humans and diseases can be transmitted between them. The very scary disease, Ebola, has wiped out 1/3 of all gorillas in the last 20 years. Ebola is also sometimes fatal to humans as well. Further, there is a possibility they can catch strains of Flu from us as well.
So that mask is a good idea for protecting the endangered Gorillas here. You will be issued with a new one before you begin any tracking of the Gorillas and the Rangers carry spares. I found out when my pack decided to open and drop my VT Hat and mask. When we found the Gorillas the Rangers ask you to put on your mask. That’s how I know they carry spares.
If you find my VT hat, please let me know !
THE BEST TOUR GUIDE TO SEE THE GORILLAS
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 kennedyrw on Virtual Tourist, can organise your Gorilla permit, entry to DRC, escort at all times, great accommodation and all transportation. All this at fantastic prices!
Kennedy is Congolese, but was born where DRC, Rwanda and Uganda meet. It is also the location of the rare Mountain Gorillas and the Virunga Volcano National Park. He organised my full day of Gorilla Tracking in the DRC where these photos were taken. He organised everything via email before my arrival in Rwanda and met me personally in Gisenyi, Rwanda. One of his senior guides then escorted me across to DRC and my visit with the Gorillas. He is able to organise any sort of tour you would like and match any budget you have. Throughout my stay in East Africa Kennedy was in touch with me and my guides at all times.
I found him to be very friendly, professional and organised. I would absolutely recommend his tour company to anyone visiting East Africa. His company has a fantastic 12 day tour of Rwanda, Burundi and DRC including the gorillas if you want a super tour. He can also organise a (live) volcanoe tour, viewing of Golden monkeys, safaris in Kenya or Tanzania as well as land transport and accommodation.
You can find Kennedy on Facebook as well.
Other Contact: EMAIL ON THE WEBSITE/CONTACTS
Phone: +250 782160547
Website: click here Hakuna Matata Tours