Gorillas Safaris and tours in Rwanda are apparently the country’s leading safari product both in adventure and revenue generation. Rwanda Gorilla Tours feature Volcanoes National Park as the main destination since it is only habitat for Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. The park is part of the Greater Virunga landscape where the 480 out of the 880 Mountain Gorilla population known to be left in the world thrive. Volcanoes National Park is 116km from Kigali and the drive range from 2 – 3 hours.
Planning a Gorilla Trekking Safari in Rwanda
When to go for Gorilla Trekking Safari in Rwanda
Gorilla Trekking Safari in Rwanda is possibly done in all year round though certain months might offer different experiences than others. During the wet season which occurs in the months of April, May and November, the gorilla forest flourishes with lots of food dense shrubs which means that Mountain Gorillas can dwell in closer ranges especially at the Mountain foothills since food is in abundance.
In the dry season Months of December, January, February, June, July, August and Mid September, the vegetation is not dense and the gorilla food stuff reduce at the lower layers. This prompts the gorillas to move higher the Mountain slopes to forage which in turn prolong the gorilla trekking encounter.
Permits for Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Rwanda
The high season Gorilla Permits require an advance booking as there is always high demand. Late booking may lead to missing out on the permit for the desired tracking date. The gorilla permits are solely sold by Rwanda Development Board and thus one can choose to book direct with the Board or book through a travel Agent.
Each Gorilla permit costs $750 and unlike the neighbouring Uganda, Rwanda does not offer discounted gorilla permits in the low season thus making her price uniform throughout the year.
The Rwanda Gorilla Permit booking and printing requires your passport details including the name, passport number, date of Birth and Nationality.
How much Fitness is required for Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Rwanda?
Volcanoes National Park is positioned in the gorilla highlands of the Greater Virunga landscape and since the Mountain Gorillas keep on moving, the relative hikes ranging from easy to hard can be expected. This therefore means that though no minimum fitness level is required for gorilla trekking, being fit is actually an advantage.
The Rwanda Development Board park ranger guides always make sure that the group is following the speed of the slowest trekker and breaks can always be made to allow for rejuvenation. Additionally, your Safari guide can forward your request to the park staff during the gorilla family allocation to allocate you an easy to trek gorilla group or even the most challenging group if interested though this is not guaranteed.
The general fitness exercises prior to your arrival for gorilla trek are important they help to prepare the body for the hiking adventure. The rainy season offers shorter treks as gorillas groups range in close ranges while the dry season offers prolonged treks as the gorillas would have moved to higher slopes in search of food.
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safari etiquette
Since the Mountain Gorillas and humans share 98% of their DNA, it means that they are susceptible to human infections especially the respiratory related infections.
To minimise such outbreaks, the Gorilla trekking rules and regulations are put in place and require observation
- Only 8 people are allowed to track each Gorilla family everyday
- The direct Mountain Gorilla viewing time is limited to one hour
- A person with a contagious infection like Flue is not supposed to go tracking and alternative tracking can be arranged the following day
- While with the Mountain Gorillas, the 7m distance from the gorillas has to be observed
- Noise in the Gorilla forest should be avoided but you can ask questions to the guide
- Eating and drinking while with the gorillas is prohibited
- Littering in the gorilla habitat is prohibited.
- Flash Photography is prohibited
What to Pack for Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safaris and Tours
- The sturdy shoes would help you traverse the steep and slippery surfaces
- The gardening gloves would shelter the hands from the bush thorns
- The long trousers are recommended to protect the legs against the vegetation scratches
- The waterproof jacket for rain moments
- Walking stick for extra support during challenging treks
- Lunch box along with sufficient water to keep you energised during the trek
- In case you have a heavy baggage, there are porters at the trail heads who can assist with the bag or heavy camera equipment.
Gorilla Families for Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safari Tours
The destination Rwanda features a range of ten (10) habituated gorilla groups from which the traveller on gorilla safari in Rwanda is allocated one to track; These include; Susa with 38 members, Sabyinyo with 16 members, Agashya with 22 members, Amahoro with 19 members, Umubano with 13 members, Hirwa with 18 members, Kwitonda with 22 members, Titus with 14 members, Kuryama with 14 members and Ugenda with 6 members.