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Visiting the mountain gorillas is a magical encounter with some of the most beautiful creatures - and some of our closest relatives (with DNA of gorillas being 98% identical to humans).
Usually decent paths up to the national park border, but then some strenuous scrambling can be necessary. Decent footwear and long pants are recommended, also a pair of gloves can be helpful to avoid stinging plants.
Hazards and warnings
The hike can be anything from 30min to 4hrs, depending where the gorilla family is currently living.
The mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) were made famous by Dain Fossey, who studied the Susa group (also protecting them and eventually being killed by poachers) - and the movie "Gorillas in the Mist".
The visit must be organized in advance at ORTPN (http://www.rwandatourism.com/), as only 56 gorilla permits are available each day (in Rwanda), which can be sold out long in advance.
While the hike to the gorillas is not easy, the permits are not cheap (500$ in 2008), and also visits are limited to one hour - this visit is an absolutely memorable experience, thus its really worth it.
Of the 7 groups open for visits, the Susa group is the largest with 39 members, even though we did never see more than some 15 of these friendly animals at once - but its wonderfully chaotic to hear & see gorillas all around you.
While the other groups are smaller, visiting them also guarantes an unforgettable experience.
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