At last count, there were just over a thousand mountain gorillas in the wild. The entire population can be found in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over half, 604 to be precise, can be found straddling the border of these three countries, in the Virunga Massif. Virunga is a phenomenal area comprising volcanos, snow-capped mountains, and deep rainforest that covers the corner of these three countries. The remaining population, by some scientists considered a separate subspecies, is found in Uganda’s nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
One of the most popular questions we’re asked is, Where is it best to view gorillas? The first point to stress is that, solely from a direct experience point of view, there is no right answer. Spending time with any family, any group, in any country is equally rewarding, equally thrilling. Viewing a gorilla group is also 100 per cent guaranteed everywhere we operate trips; we’ve never designed a trip in which clients didn’t view the gorillas.
However, the wilder the destination – the Democratic Republic of the Congo being the wildest of the three – the ‘wilder’ the gorilla groups are. The DRC’s gorillas have simply spent less time with people, so their habituation is not nearly as advanced. The animals are more cautious around humans. For this reason, and obvious safety concerns of travelling to the DRC overall, for the vast majority of travellers the choice is between Uganda and Rwanda. Below, we’ve listed the top places we’d recommend for a gorilla safari in Africa.