Planning Your Travel to Visit the Gorillas
If you want to travel to Africa and see the gorillas, you should start planning in time – especially if this is your first visit to tropical Africa. This is crucial for your safety and health. Consult your travel agent not only for formalities, such as visas, but also for information how to order a gorilla permit, which may need to be obtained well before you fly to Africa. You should also consult your doctor in time; certain vaccinations or prevention’s may be recommended or necessary. Keep yourself informed on the situation in the country you want to visit before you start your trip (e.g. by checking AllAfrica).
For planning a trip to Uganda or Rwanda, you will find interesting and useful information on the website of the Ugandan Tourism Authority, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Office Rwandaise du Tourisme et des Parcs Nationaux, the Uganda Travel Planner and on the site of Lonely Planet.
For Gorilla Visitors
As gorillas are very sensitive animals, it is necessary that tourists follow certain rules. Disease transmission is a special danger for apes, so visitors must keep at a safe distance as long as they observe the gorillas.
Gorilla Tourism – pros and cons
In Uganda, gorilla tourism started with Walter Baumgaertel, who operated the Travelers Rest Hotel in Kisoro from 1955 to 1969. In 1978, the Mountain Gorilla Project in Rwanda started to habituate gorillas for tourists. From 1973 to 1989, the results of censuses of the Virunga gorillas increased from 261 to 324 individuals. Some people think that tourism is the reason for this positive development.
Currently, several areas offer the opportunity to visit eastern and western gorillas. In order to avoid stress for the apes, the number of tourists visiting a gorilla group is usually restricted to six and the time the tourists are allowed to spend with the gorillas is limited to one hour.
The rationale for tourist visits is to assist gorilla conservation by generating revenue from them. However, tourism can have a negative impact on the animals.