Synonymous with a trip to Uganda is a luxury safari, and for very good reason. Aside from finding the source of the Nile here, countless sugar and tea plantations and some spectacular waterfalls, Uganda is a destination that offers visitors a unique chance to see magnificent wildlife up close and personal. Here you’ll likely witness Colobus monkeys, baboons, Red tailed and Vervet monkeys, other primates and even tree climbing lions, but it is the native Gorillas that set this country apart from the rest. On a Uganda safari you’ll be in one of the few destinations worldwide that’s able to show you Gorillas in in their truly stunning, natural habitats.
Perhaps our intrinsic fascination with Gorillas stems from the fact that they have a very similar DNA to that of a human, having diverged from a common ancestor about 7 million years ago. As the largest of all the primates they are our next closest relatives after chimpanzees. Like the other great apes gorillas can laugh, grieve, have “rich emotional lives” develop strong family bonds, can make and use tools, and can think about the past and future. Some studies claim that gorillas have spiritual feelings or religious inclinations. They are a highly intelligent species.
Gorillas are native to tropical and subtropical forests in Africa, and in Uganda they populate the area south west of Kampala – the ‘Pearl of Africa’ as Winston Churchill once dubbed it in his early travelling days. There are three main National Parks where these beautiful creatures roam undisturbed, and the Gorillas cover a wide range of elevations within the country. Bwindi National Park is home to the Mountain Gorilla where only three hundred of them live – a tiny but incredible half of the world’s estimated surviving population. This specie of Uganda Gorillas, known as the Gorilla berengei berengei, is one of the rarest animals on the planet.
The Mountain Gorilla can be found in the mountain cloud forests of the Virunga Volcanoes in the Albertine rift – an area that reaches up to 4,300m in altitude. In contrast to these Gorillas, there are also Lowland Gorillas who live in dense forests and lowland swamps, often as low as sea level. Eastern Lowland Gorillas inhabit the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whilst Western Lowland Gorillas can be found in Central West Africa.
A Gorilla safari is an unrivalled experience. The breathtaking views over their magnificent, lush rainforest backdrop can’t fail to leave you speechless. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in particular is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth. It is so ancient that it survived the last ice age, and has recently been awarded the status as a world heritage site. Watching Gorillas swing from vine to vine amongst this verdant green blanket of flora and tending to each other’s grooming and feeding needs has to be one of Africa’s ultimate highlights. Where else can you find yourself in the company of a fascinating local family – but not just any family, a family of Gorillas.