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Gorillas in the Congo

Uniquely The Congo has three sub-species of Gorillas within its National Parks - the Western Lowland, the Eastern Lowland and the Mountain Gorilla.

The seriously large Eastern Lowland Gorilla is endemic to the Congo and while it occurs in Virunga the best place to see it is Kahuzi-Biéga National Park.

Thirty years ago the Virunga NP was the place to track Mountain Gorillas - George Schaller undertook his pioneering study here and it is where Dian Fossey started out. Intervening years of civil strife has seen Rwanda and Uganda overtake the Congo as the destination of choice for viewing this iconic ape - however it is now possible to visit several seperate family groups of Gorillas once again and so the question is -

Why the Congo?

1/. Diversity - no other Park anywhere gets close to the variety found within the Virunga NP, the Park's bird list is longer than the whole of Rwanda and it on a week-long expedition to see Mountain Gorilla it is also possible to undertake a classic walking safari amongst elephants and buffalo and climb an active volcano.

2/. Availability of Permits - at US$400 per person per day the Gorilla permits in the Congo are somewhat less expensive than those in Rwanda (US$750) or Uganda (US$500) but it would be a false economy to choose the Congo on this basis over its much more accessible neighbours. Crucially however there is likely to be more chance of securing a permit at fairly short notice while in Rwanda particularly the permits are often booked out over a year in advance.

3/. The quality of the experience - spending time with these Great Apes is very special anywhere - but Bukima is unique in that you stay yards from the trail head and the experience remains fresh and raw.

Posted by: Rod Tether

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