Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is a thrilling once in a lifetime activity that attracts thousands of tourists every other year to visit Rwanda. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is the most done and sought after tourist activity, that sees a number of tourists visiting the country every other year. Gorilla trekking is an activity that involves hiking through the rainforest jungles in search of the gorillas in their natural habitat.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda takes travellers to the only gorilla destination in the country, Volcanoes National Park, to see the mountain gorillas which inhabit the park. Rwanda hosts only mountain gorillas, and is one of the only three countries in the world to inhabit mountain gorillas, an endangered gorilla species. mountain gorillas can only be found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda and the Virunga massifs which encompass the Virunga National Park of the Congo, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of Uganda again as well as Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda.

There are about 1000 or so mountain gorillas still left in the world, spread through the four mountain gorilla destinations with Bwindi Impenetrable National Park alone hosting about half the total world population of mountain gorillas. For gorilla trekking purposes, travellers only get to encounter the habituated gorillas, which live in troops commonly referred to as gorilla groups or gorilla families. Gorilla habituation is the process of making wild gorillas acquainted with human presence and interaction, done over a period of time of say 2-3 years.

Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda from where travellers can enjoy gorilla trekking in Rwanda safaris has 12 habituated gorilla families available for gorilla trekking. The habituated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park include Amahoro gorilla family, Kwitonda, Karisimbi, Hirwa, Umubano, Muhoza, Bwenge, Ugyenda, Agashya, Susa, Igisha and Sabinyo gorilla families. Gorilla families can consist of 5 to about 30 gorilla members, with a silverback being the head of the family. A dominant silverback heads a gorilla family, with all responsibility for the family solely lying on him say decision making of say where to eat and sleep on him, as well the protection of the family from attacks form foreigners which include wild gorillas and other silverbacks and black backs which want to assume head of the family position, as well as from humans say poachers. Silverbacks can protect their families with their own life.

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

With only 12 habituated gorilla families that travellers can visit every day, allowing only 8 trekkers per family per day, travellers are allowed a very intimate encounter with gorillas in their natural habitat. Only persons with Rwanda gorilla permits and at the age of 15 years and above can be allowed to encounter the gorillas, and ought not to be ill with contagious diseases like flue and cough, for the fact that gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases which can cost them their life.

To be able to encounter the gorillas while gorilla trekking in Rwanda, travellers need to purchase Rwanda gorilla permits. Rwanda gorilla permits cost $1500 per person per trek, and can be purchased from either online on the Rwanda Development Board website or through a reputable tour operator. Rwanda gorilla permits sell out very fast. Travellers are therefore urged to book way in advance their Rwanda gorilla permits, at least 3-6 months before your scheduled travel date so as to secure your permits, on your preferred dates.

Mountain gorillas, as their name suggests, are mountain or high altitude dwelling primates which move every day to higher altitudes depending on their dominant’s decision, thereby making gorilla trekking quite a strenuous activity that sees travellers hiking through high altitude areas in search of the gorillas in their natural habitat. With this in mind, travellers are encouraged to have some level of physical fitness so as to conquer the steep slopes and rugged terrain. Apart from physical fitness, travellers are encouraged to pre[pare mentally as well as pack the essential gorilla trekking gear like good sturdy hiking shoes, long sleeved shirts and safari trousers of nature friendly colours, rain jackets or ponchos, gaiters, garden gloves, insect repellent creams, sunscreen, waterproof backpack for your gadgets among others. Travellers are also encouraged to have energy giving snacks during their gorilla trekking in Rwanda actual adventure in the wild.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda experience

A typical gorilla trekking in Rwanda experience starts at 7am in Kinigi the Volcanoes National Park headquarters. After being briefed on protocols and rules you as a traveller ought to follow while gorilla trekking in Rwanda, you shall be placed in groups of 8 and then allocated a gorilla family to trek. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda shall see you hiking altitude ranges of 2500-4000m above sea level, taking anything from 30 minutes to four hours or more depending on the location of the gorillas and the terrain. When you do encounter the gorillas, you are allowed only 1 hour with the gorillas as you watch them live their life and doing various activities like feeding and playing by the infants and juveniles. After one hour has elapsed, travellers trek back to the starting point of the gorilla trek.

Because mountain gorillas are an endangered species, conservation for future generations is very key. To still have mountain gorillas in the world many years to come, there are a number of rules and guidelines stipulated to protect and conserve the gorillas, their habitat as well as you the traveller; habituated gorillas are still wild animals in the wild after all. Below are some of the rules and guidelines you are expected to adhere to while gorilla trekking in Rwanda;

  • Do not visit the gorillas if sick, especially with contagious diseases like flue and cough and now Covid-19. This is because mountain gorillas share a 98% DNA with humans and thus are very susceptible to human illnesses.
  • Only 8 persons can visit a single gorilla family per day. This is to limit the number of persons and length of stay so as to not stress out the gorillas.
  • Maintain a 7 meter distance away from the gorillas at all times.
  • Do not touch the gorillas, even the infants and juveniles whose inquisitive nature may have them come closer to you. Their mothers and the silverback are very protective.
  • Do not look straight in the eyes of the gorillas, they shall feel threatened.
  • Do not eat or drink near the gorillas. Eating and drinking should be done 200m away from the gorillas.
  • Do not smoke while with the gorillas or in the park itself unless there are designated areas for the same.
  • Do not litre the rainforest. Leave the wilderness as you found it. Keep all your rubbish including food wraps and tissue until you find a dustbin.
  • Do not use flash cameras.

When to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda. What is the best time for gorilla trekking in Rwanda?

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is an all year through tourist activity that has travellers visiting the Volcanoes National Park throughout the year to encounter the gorillas in their natural habitat. The best time for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is however during the dry season when the park routes and trails are much easily accessed and used, and the roads to the park are easy enough to navigate. The wet season has the paths quite slippery and muddy making it harder to hike to search for the gorillas, much as the rains do not fall all throughout the day allowing time for travellers to engage in different activities including gorilla trekking. Though the dry season is considered the best time to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking in Rwanda, the rains can still fall at any time of the day given the park is a rainforest. Packing right for your gorilla trekking safari is therefore very important.

Where to stay while gorilla trekking in Rwanda

While gorilla trekking in Rwanda, there are a number of accommodation travellers can choose from depending on their budget options. Much as Rwanda is marketed as a luxury gorilla destination, there are some mid-range and budget accommodation too that travellers of the same budget cam choose to stay in. just liaise with your tour operator of choice for the best accommodation for your gorilla trekking in Rwanda safari accommodation. Some of the accommodation that you can choose from include One&Only Lodge, Sabinyo Silverback Lodge, Hotel Muhabura, Le Bamboo Lodge, among others.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is an amazing tourist activity that sees the most visitors visiting Rwanda every other year to encounter the gorillas in their natural habitat. Other activities that you can choose to incorporate on your gorilla trekking in Rwanda safari include wildlife safaris in Akagera National Park, chimpanzee tracking and canopy walk in Nyungwe National Park among so many others. Also, you could have gorilla trekking in Rwanda as a climax to your Serengeti wildlife safari, Tanzania safari tour, Kenya safari or Uganda safari. Get in touch with a reputable tour operator to help you put together an amazing gorilla trekking in Rwanda safari for an opportunity to encounter the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, and more.