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Of all the dazzling wildlife encounters you might experience with Micato, coming face-to-face with rare and magnificent mountain gorillas is surely one of the most exceptional. Given their remote habitat (the high cloud forests of central Africa’s Virunga Mountains) and their endangered status (only about 1,000 are estimated to exist in the wild), seeing these elusive wild creatures can require some extra exertion. But as those who have experienced one of our gorilla treks can attest, the rewards far outweigh the effort. Here are just a few reasons why.
Almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population—some 400 gorillas—live within the 62-square-mile preserve of Rwanda’s Parc Nacional des Volcans. This park, where legendary primatologist Dian Fossey conducted her gorilla research for almost 20 years, offers an exceptional concentration of gorillas within a relatively small area. Visits here are particularly special because the park is home to ten distinct gorilla groups that are habituated—in other words, familiar with, and tolerant of, the presence of small numbers of humans.
That means that after a certain amount of trekking with your Micato guides (who are intimately familiar with the gorillas’ movements and habits) you and a maximum of seven other people will be able to settle into a spot where you can quietly watch and photograph as many as 20 wild gorillas going about their business—eating, grooming one another, dozing, and playing—for up to an hour.
An integral part of every Micato gorilla-trekking itinerary is the thorough education you’ll receive about these awe-inspiring yet fragile creatures. During your hikes amid the verdant jungles of the Virunga to find gorillas—and afterward, over meals and talks at your luxury accommodations—your guides will impart a wealth of gorilla-related wisdom. You’ll learn about the apes’ formidable physical power; how, according to studies, a male silverback can weigh more than 450 pounds, has nine times the strength of a human man, and can bite more forcefully than a lion.
You’ll also learn about gorillas’ fundamentally shy, gentle nature; how they form long-lasting family bonds, dote on their young, and spend most of their waking lives peacefully foraging for plants to eat (they can consume up to 40 pounds of leaves, bark, roots, and fruit per day). You’ll also learn that they’re highly intelligent and intensely curious—which you may be lucky enough to witness firsthand if an inquisitive gorilla youngster tries to venture close to your viewing group (for the gorillas’ safety and yours, park rules require keeping a distance of about 20 feet).
Mountain-gorilla treks can be strenuous. While primevally beautiful, teeming with lush foliage and copious birdsong, the cloud forests where the gorillas live are also steeply pitched, sometimes muddy, and can only be traversed on foot. Reaching a spot where you can view gorillas might take a two-hour hike each way (one reason why all trekkers in the Parc Nacional des Volcans are required to be at least 15 years of age). Still, gorilla trekking with Micato ensures you’ll have plenty of assistance along the journey; your guides will gladly help you navigate tricky terrain and carry your gear too.
Once you’ve finished your day’s excursion, you’ll get to relax, share stories and photos, and dine and drink in supreme comfort at one of Micato’s opulent partner lodges in Rwanda. Whether you choose to unwind after your adventure with a long bath in your soaking tub at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge or a fireside glass of wine in your eco-chic pod at Bisate Lodge, you’ll feel pampered, revived, and ready for another day of gorilla encounters.
To learn more about once-in-a-lifetime visits with wild mountain gorillas, contact one of Micato’s safari specialists today.