Although it takes more effort, more time and more expense than a traditional safari, very many tourists travel to East Africa with Gorilla trekking as number one on their travel bucket lists. And like they say, “You get what you pay for”.
Trekking through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda has got to be one of the biggest encounters I have ever had to endure; for one it took me a lot of will and power.
My friends and I watched gorillas for a full hour, and at the end of the excursion we got ‘cool’ certificates for surviving the trek.
Gorillas are typically divided into two groups, that is, the mountain gorillas living in the mountainous regions and lowland gorillas living in the flat dense forests of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The first population of Gorillas is found at Mgahinga National Park which is part of the Tri-national Virunga conservation area.
Climbing to the top of Mt Sabinio where Uganda, Rwanda and DRC meet is an outstanding way to see the whole Mountain Gorilla kingdom.
The second population is found in Bwindi, which I visited and got a priceless experience.
Charismatic and intelligent animals, Gorillas share 98.3 percent of their DNA with humans in fact; they are our closest cousins after Chimpanzees.
Because of their intelligence, they can use simple tools and learn sign language.
Gorillas live in groups called troops or bands and they are led by a dominant male, baptized silver back, which can often be identified by a gray strip of hair on his back.
A troop of Gorillas can have as many as 50 members though sometimes a troop can consist of as few as two members.
Gorilla’s arms are longer than their legs which allows them to walk on all four limbs.
Mountain gorillas have longer hair while lowland gorillas have short soft hair.
A troop of Gorillas has its purpose for the day, mornings and evenings which are designated as feeding times.
In the middle of the day, Gorillas take a nap, play with other gorillas or groom one another, at night they all settle down in nests made from leaves and twigs to sleep.
Young gorillas often make their nests in trees and older gorillas make their nests on the ground.
Gorillas also often exhibit behavior and emotions similar to the humans experience laughter and sadness.
Most surprisingly, silver backs often fight for women to belong to their troops just like men do.
What Gorillas eat?
Gorillas are normally herbivores. What we may refer to as being lacto-vegetarians. They usually eat vegetation such as wild celery, bamboo shoots, roots, fruits, tree bark and stems.
They are also known to eat a variety of insects.
Gorillas don’t need to drink a lot of water from lakes or streams because they get all of the moisture they need from their food and morning dew.
A male gorilla can eat up to 18kgs of vegetation each day.
Gorillas eats a diet that is about 86 percent leaves , shoots and stems, 7 percent roots, 3 percent flowers, 2 percent fruits then 2 percent snails, ants and grubs.
Gestation period of a Gorilla
Female Gorillas have a gestation period of 8.5 months or 9 months and usually give birth to one infant at a time.
New born gorillas weigh about 1.8 kilograms from the time they are about 4 months to 2 or 3 years old.
Young gorillas ride on their mothers backs as a form of transportation and their mother’s nature them for several years.
At around 7 to 10 years, the young gorillas will become mature enough to have its own offspring’s.
Then when its fully grown will it leave the mothers group to find a mate and form a new family.
All in all the feeling when you first make sight of a gorilla in the near distance is one of awe and pure gratification.