Want more from your next holiday? Amp up the adventure with one of these wild experiences, says Stacey Lane.
Gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
If you think staring at the gorilla enclosure at the zoo is pretty cool, this tour takes it to the next level, as if you’re entering another world in which humans didn’t win the race for dominance.
Treks usually take a few hours of hiking while your guides seek out the gorillas, dependent on where the great apes spent the previous night and the difficulty of the terrain. Expect to scale forested slopes, trudge through muddy pastures and over exposed lava (you’ll be hiking dormant volcano terrain) – fitness and determination are a must.
Mountain gorilla families are nomadic, spending just enough time in an area to clear it of food before moving on. They’re now a protected species in great decline due to poaching and environmental depletion, making any close brush with these majestic, imposing creatures a privileged experience.
In Virunga National Park, group treks are usually limited to four tourists. You must wear surgical masks to avoid passing on human disease and a 7m distance rule applies when you stumble across a gorilla family made up of mothers and babies, juveniles and silverbacks keeping a watchful eye.
As the DRC has been affected by some political conflict, it’s advisable to check the situation before travelling. Other gorilla treks can be had in the East African countries of Rwanda and Uganda. All these areas require yellow fever vaccination proof upon entry.