Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is a captivating and unforgettable experience that allows you to encounter endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda ranks as one of the most rewarding wildlife encounters experience in Africa. Coming eye to eye with a great ape touches a nerve in most of humans. A big part of what makes it special, is that gorillas are so closely related to humans (the difference in our nuclear DNA is about 1.6%). Gorillas are also very rare. Their range is naturally restricted to a small niche area of forested highlands, and habitat loss due to the growing human population further threatens their future. Luckily money spent on mountain gorilla tourism goes a long way toward securing their survival. Rwanda is renowned for its conservation efforts and is home to several habituated gorilla families. Here’s some information to help you plan your gorilla trekking adventure in Rwanda
Rwanda Gorilla trekking takes place in Volcanoes National Park, which is located in the northwestern part of the country. The park is part of the Virunga Massif, a volcanic mountain range shared by Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To participate in gorilla trekking, you must obtain a permit issued by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Permits are limited and need to be secured in advance. It is advisable to book your permit well in advance due to high demand, as the number of permits per gorilla group is limited. Gorilla trekking permits in Volcanoes national park cost 1500 USD per person for all nationalities. Rwanda also offers promotional or discounted gorilla trekking permits for nationals, foreign residents, east Africans, Africans and MICE travelers which are valid to December 31st2023. Independent travelers who want to book a gorilla permit directly can do so online through the Rwanda Development Board website. If you’re traveling with an operator, however, it is more usual to allow them to make the booking. Please Note the trekking permits it does not include porter fees, tips to trackers and guides, or any costs relating to accommodation, transport, meals or other activities.
Gorilla trekking involves hiking through the dense forests of Volcanoes National Park in search of a designated gorilla family. Treks can range from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the gorilla family’s location and movement patterns. The trek can be physically demanding and requires a moderate level of fitness.
Once you locate the gorilla family, you will have a strictly regulated time (usually one hour) to observe and photograph the gorillas from a close but safe distance. Experienced guides and trackers will accompany you throughout the trek, ensuring your safety and providing insights into gorilla behavior and conservation efforts.
Conservation and Responsible Tourism:
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is part of a conservation-focused effort aimed at protecting these endangered primates and their habitats. Strict guidelines are in place to minimize the impact on the gorillas and their environment. It is important to follow the instructions of your guides and adhere to the rules and regulations set by the RDB to ensure the well-being of the gorillas.
When planning your trip, consider factors such as obtaining a valid visa for Rwanda, arranging transportation to Volcanoes National Park, and ensuring you have appropriate travel insurance. Consult your healthcare provider regarding any necessary vaccinations or health precautions for visiting Rwanda.
Cultural Experiences and Additional Activities:
Rwanda is known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills” and offers breathtaking landscapes, cultural experiences, and wildlife encounters. You can visit nearby communities, explore local markets, and learn about Rwandan traditions and customs. Additionally, Volcanoes National Park is surrounded by beautiful scenery, and other activities such as golden monkey trekking, birdwatching, and hiking are also available. Additionally, Volcanoes National Park is surrounded by stunning landscapes and offers opportunities, including the ascent of Mount Bisoke.
Volcanoes National Park is home to several habituated gorilla families available for trekking. Each family consists of several individuals, including a dominant silverback, adult females, juveniles, and infants. The number of trekkers allowed per gorilla family per day is limited to ensure the well-being of the gorillas and minimise human impact.
Best Time to Go:
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda can be done throughout the year. However, the dry seasons from June to September and December to February are generally considered the best times to visit. During these months, the hiking trails are less muddy, and the weather is relatively favorable. Nonetheless, gorilla trekking is possible year-round, and each season has its unique charms.
Is It Possible To Cancel a Gorilla Trekking Permit?:
Should you cancel your trip to Rwanda or fail to turn up on the day, for whatever reason, the cost of your gorilla permit will not be refunded. It is also not permitted to sell or give a permit to somebody else, as your passport details will be checked against the permit before you go gorilla trekking. However, if you book your permit through an operator, then it is usually possible to reschedule to another day with a minimum of 30 days’ notice. An exception to the above is that people who fail to track due to unexpected movement of their allocated gorilla group will be given the choice of trying again the next day or receiving a full refund. If you track all day and fail to make contact with any gorillas, a 75% refund is due.
What to Pack:
When preparing for gorilla trekking, consider packing the following essential items: