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Where to See the Giant Gorillas Up-close

Increasingly driven out of their natural habitat by war, deforestation and poaching, today the two main subspecies of the gorilla, the Mountain Gorilla and the Western Lowland Gorilla are only found in isolated pockets across the central belt of Africa. Their ever-decreasing numbers mean that in order to view them or understand the behavior and human-like nature of these rare and ­­­­­­---precious primates (they share 98 per cent of our DNA, a close second in similarity to humans after chimpanzees, who share 99 per cent of our DNA), you must journey to where they roam.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the lowland gorilla is the most numerous and widespread of all gorilla subspecies. Populations can be found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea as well as in large areas in Gabon. The exact number of western lowland gorillas is not known because they inhabit some of the densest and remote rainforests in Africa. Significant populations still exist, including in isolated swamps and the remote swampy forests of the Republic of Congo.

The Western lowland gorillas can be distinguished from other gorilla subspecies by their slightly smaller size, their brown-grey coats and auburn chests. They also have wider skulls with more pronounced brow ridges and smaller ears.

The Mountain Gorilla on the other hand, is one of the subspecies of the eastern gorilla and one of the world’s largest living primates. These apes have muscular arms, a massive chest, and broad hands and feet and they have longer hair and shorter arms than their lowland cousins. Their thick black hair helps insulate them from cold weather.

So where can you see these creatures?

At Kumbukumbu Tours we are all about having a good time/experience through travel especially through unique wildlife encounters and there is nothing as exciting as seeing man’s closest relative up close? I mean who doesn’t want to be part of such an experience?

Political instability and lack of infrastructure and access prevent everybody except the most intrepid from seeing these creatures in many of the locations in which they are found - Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea, but in some locations you can trek these creatures in a safe and protective way.

Volcanoes National Park I Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which cannot be accessed at the moment due to the unrest)

In the neighbouring Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, they can be found in the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, which although very remote has comfortable accommodation available in either Mbeli Camp or Mondika Camp, and in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, proclaimed as one of Africa’s very first National Parks. Here the fortunate few can stay in relative luxury at both Mboko Camp and Ngaga Camp.

The critically-endangered Mountain Gorilla, of which there are fewer than 900 remaining, typically have troop sizes of between 5-30 females, and are normally presided over by a dominant male who has a striking streak of silver fur across his back. They are only found in 3 countries, one of which, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is off limits due to civil war and unrest, so the two big-hitting destinations for gorilla-viewing are Rwanda & Uganda,

The largest populations live in the Virunga Mountains, which stretch across all 3 countries, with the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda the most easily accessible, situated as it is just two hours drive from Kigali airport.

If you loved what you read and got interested in booking your next trip to Africa. Get in touch with us by calling +250 784 808 475 or email us on

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