Rwanda gorilla trekking
Rwanda gorilla trekking/ gorilla trekking in rwanda : Gorilla trekking is an exciting and adventurous activity where you move into the forest in search of the habituated gorilla families and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking is one of the popular activities in Rwanda and it’s carried out in Volcanoes national park which is situated in the northwestern part of the country in Musanze village bordering with Uganda in the north and Democratic Republic of Congo in the west.
Volcanoes national park was gazetted in 1925 mainly to conserve the endangered mountain gorillas and it also harbors other wildlife species including animals like forest elephants, buffaloes, bush pigs, hyenas, black fronted duiker, primates like golden monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, baboons, bird species like handsome francolin, long crested eagle, paradise flycatcher, red faced woodland warbler, Rwenzori batis, volcanic mountains which include Mount Bisoke, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Muhabura and Mount Gahinga.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park
Volcanoes national park is a home of about 18 habituated gorilla families where some families have been reserved for research and 12 families open for trekking. the gorilla families that are available for trekking on a daily basis include Amahoro, Kurira, Igisha, Agashya, Sabinyo, Umubano, Kwitonda, Bwenge, Ugenda, Hirwa, Muhoza and Isimbi families. Gorilla trekking in volcanoes national park starts in the morning with a briefing about the rules and regulations at Kinigi park headquarters. After the briefing you will be grouped into 8 people and allocated a gorilla family to trek. Grouping of individuals is however done according to age, personal preference, physical fitness among others so that visitors who are not physically fit are allocated a gorilla group that is easy to trek.
Each group is allocated a park guide who is well informed about the mountain gorillas, trekking trails and trekking starts at around 8:00am. Gorilla trekking takes 30 minutes to 7 hours depending on the location of the mountain gorillas and during trekking you will be able to view some bird species, animals, other primates, plant species among others. Once the gorillas are found, you will spend one hour with them in their natural habitat learning more about their lifestyle, habits, behaviors, taking photos, recording videos, watching them carry out their daily activities among others.
Gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda
A gorilla trekking permit is a legal document that is issued by Rwanda Development Board to any visitor above the age of fifteen allowing him or her to visit a habituated gorilla family in Volcanoes national park. a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda costs $1500 per person for all nationalities and it’s the most expensive permit compared to other gorilla destinations for example Democratic Republic of Congo where a gorilla trekking permit costs $400 for foreign non-residents and $200 discounted gorilla trekking permit for the low season and Uganda where a gorilla trekking permit costs $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African citizens.
Booking a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda
Booking a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda is easy as long as you follow the right procedure and there are two options of booking a permit. The first option is booking directly through Rwanda Development Board (RDB) a government body in charge of tourism in Rwanda and when booking directly you will contact the offices via telephone calls or email. The second option is booking through a trusted tour operator, there are various tour operators which offer safaris to volcanoes national park and I recommend Achieve Global Safaris. When booking through Achieve global safaris you will contact us with the date, month and year when you want to trek the gorillas. We will check for availability and get back to you. If there are available permits you will be asked to make a deposit for the permit. You will also be asked to send a scanned copy of your passport details which will be used to register for the permit. Money transfer takes about 2 to 3 working days and once we receive the money we will acquire the gorilla trekking permit and send you a scanned copy of the receipt as confirmation. Booking through a tour operator is the best option to use in that we will save you all the hustle and also plan for your entire gorilla trekking safari which includes meals, accommodation, transportation among others.
When to book a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is one of the major activities that attracts large numbers of visitors daily therefore gorilla trekking permits should be booked 3 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date because the permits are competitive and get sold out especially during the dry season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February therefore in order to avoid disappointments at the last minute visitors are advised to book in advance.
What to carry for your Rwanda gorilla trekking safari
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park in done in the dense tropical rain forests which means that you will be trekking in the thick forests and it might rain anytime of the day regardless of the season therefore you are advised to carry various gorilla trekking equipment’s like hiking shoes to keep your feet dry when trekking in muddy an slippery grounds, garden gloves to protect your hands from germs, insect repellent to protect your body from biting insects, long sleeved shirt and trousers to give you warmth, rain jacket/poncho to protect you from rainfall, backpack to carry your equipment’s, camera to take photos and record the moments, a pair of binoculars to view far species like birds among others.
Where to stay on your Rwanda gorilla trekking safari
There are a number of accommodations in Volcanoes national park where you can stay on your gorilla trekking safari ranging from luxury, midrange and budget. The lodges include Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorillas Nest Lodge, Best View Hotel, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Hotel Muhabura, Gorilla Solution Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel, Le Bamboo Gorilla Village, La Palme Hotel, Kinigi Guest House, Garr Hotel, Villa Gorilla lodge among others.
Best time to go for gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park Rwanda can be done all year round especially during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February because during this period there is less rainfall in the forest therefore the gorilla trekking trails in the jungle will be passable hence making trekking successful, access roads to the park will be passable and there will be short shrubs for easy viewing of the mountain gorillas and other wildlife species.
How to get to Volcanoes national park
Volcanoes national park is located in the northwestern part of Rwanda and can be accessed by private, self-drive or public means of transport. When using private means you will fly to Kigali international airport and then connect to the park by road which takes about 2 hours’ drive. Visitors using public means of transport will fly to Kigali international airport and then board a bus to Musanze town where they will hire a private taxi to the park headquarters because there are no public means of transport to the park.
Other activities in Volcanoes national park Rwanda
Apart from gorilla trekking, Volcanoes national park offers other interesting and adventurous activities including golden monkey trekking, mountain climbing, guided nature walk/hiking, bird watching, Musanze cave exploration, community tour, Dian Fossy hike, visiting the twin lake among others.