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Gorilla Gifts

Gorillas are the largest of the living primates. They are ground-dwelling and predominantly herbivorous. They inhabit the forests of central Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species and either four or five subspecies. The DNA of gorillas is 98%99% identical to that of a human, and they are the next closest living relatives to humans after the two chimpanzee species. Gorillas live in tropical or subtropical forests. Although their range covers a small percentage of Africa, gorillas cover a wide range of elevations.

Silverbacks are the strong, dominant troop leaders. Each typically leads a troop (group size ranges from 5 to 30) and is in the center of the troop's attention, making all the decisions, mediating conflicts, determining the movements of the group, leading the others to feeding sites and taking responsibility for the safety and well-being of the troop. Blackbacks may serve as backup protection.

Uganda vs Rwanda Gorilla Safaris

The mountain gorilla is a highly endangered primate with an estimated population of 720 individuals left in the world today and spending an hour with a family of habituated gorillas is an experience that everyone should do at some point in their lives. They are the largest of all the primates and the rarest of all three subspecies.

Predominantly ground dwelling, mountain gorillas prefer open canopy forests that allow light to reach the forest floor; their diet consists of bamboo, roots, stems, leaves and vines. They live in family groups of about 9 individuals, led by the older, stronger and more experienced silverbacks that can weigh up to 220 kg.

They have a limited home range making them easier to track and habituate for tourism and research possibilities. Only present in moist tropical or subtropical forests in the Virunga Mountains along the borders of south west Uganda, north west Rwanda and eastern DRC. Their habitat is under constant threat from logging and civil unrest in DRC and poaching is also still a threat.

At World Primate Safaris, we specialize in safaris to track these remarkable animals in their natural habitat and we get asked all the time, "where is the best place to track and see the mountain gorilla?" This is always a tricky question to answer as it always comes down to each itinerary and client that we deal with, but there are a couple of things that make the differences.

Once described as "the Pearl of Africa" by Winston Churchill, Uganda is fast returning to its former glory as one of the principle destinations of East Africa. In contrast to Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda is a rich fertile country which can offer both the savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park as well as the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi. Where else in the world can you experience tracking the endangered mountain gorilla through the mountain forests and the same day (if you're quick!) be on the plains in scorching heat searching for the elusive tree climbing lions...

The variety of Uganda is astonishing when compared to the savannah countries of east Africa; not only does one have access to the majority of the savannah game that you would see in the Serengeti or the Mara but you also have over a thousand species of bird, 2 national parks where you can track the mountain gorilla, a variety of habitats where you can track chimpanzees and a wide variety of forests, lakes and mountains.

Tracking gorillas in the famous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a challenge in itself, with the gorillas living in a mountainous area covered in a thick, and as the name suggests, impenetrable forest. Tracking can take anything from a couple of hours up to 8 hours depending on the group and where they have decided to move to during the day. Often they are in the thick forest and so photography is quite difficult in the low light.

With a maximum of 8 people per group (same in Rwanda), there are times when you have to scramble to get to the front, but the guide will always ensure that everybody gets a chance.

Rwanda offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in Africa whether it be the dramatic Virunga volcanoes bordering Uganda and DRC or the forest of Nyungwe, one of the largest montane forests in Central Africa, home to chimpanzees and large groups of Colobus monkeys.

Since the genocide of 1994 Rwanda has progressed enormously, and with approximately half of the world's mountain gorillas accessible through the Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda's tourism is booming.

Tracking gorillas in Rwanda is a highlight of the country, but as far as other main attractions goes it is quite limited. Tracking of the gorillas takes place on the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes, sometimes with amazing views of the peaks towering above you and can take anything from 2 - 4 hours depending on the group and where they have moved to, but the vegetation is generally more open than in Uganda which makes walking easier.

Once you find the group you only have one hour to spend with them, which is the same as it is in Uganda, but because the vegetation is more open you can see them better and photography is a lot easier.

From the above comparisons you can see that each destination offers something slightly different, but in short whether you track them in Uganda or Rwanda you will not be disappointed.

If you are limited to time them Rwanda is the best option for you, but if you have the time and are interested in seeing gorillas, chimpanzees, plains game and some incredible scenery then you should consider Uganda. The beauty of both Uganda and Rwanda is they can combine very easily giving you the chance to track the gorillas in both countries which gives you the chance to make your own mind up......................

World Primate Safaris




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