Plan Your Gorilla Tracking Adventure in Rwanda With Expert Guidance

Seeing mountain gorillas in Rwanda's untamed mountain jungles is a hot adventure item finding growing popularity with intrepid travellers eying Africa for summer getaways. Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, bushwhacking through a seemingly boundless expanse of the thick misty jungle on the slopes of the imposing Virunga Mountains, is an experience like no other.

Set out on an exhilarating adventure through the untamed mountainous jungles of Rwanda, tracking gorillas, a popular choice for adventurous explorers seeking a thrilling wildlife vacation in Africa. The gorilla expedition occurs within Volcanoes National Park, accessed from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. It leads you through a seemingly endless expanse of misty forests on the slopes of the magnificent Virunga Mountains, providing an unparalleled and extraordinary experience.

Picture yourself crouching in respectful silence beneath the softly lit shelter of the forest canopy, just a few steps away from a commanding group of giant, dark-furred apes. Look into the deep chestnut eyes of a 200kg mature male, carefully studying your every move. Take in the mystical symphony of sounds created by the gorillas, from their soft grunts to the wet nibbles and the distinctive crunch of their jaws, their breath hanging heavily just inches away.

Feel the rush of adrenaline as excitement tingles in your arms. Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is an incomparable wildlife encounter, a true highlight of African adventures that will leave you with cherished memories of African jungle experiences.

We have put together an unparalleled guide for gorilla tracking expeditions in Rwanda, including all the essential information needed to plan a successful safari experience tailored to your summer vacation preferences.

Comprehensive Manual for Organizing a Successful Gorilla Tracking Vacation in Rwanda.

A view of the imposing Virungas and the wooded slopes from the Volcanoes National Park border at the base of the Volcanoes

Rwanda’s Gorilla Sanctuary: Volcanoes National Park

Nestled in the tranquil embrace of the Virunga Mountains, Volcanoes National Park is a stunning 160-square-kilometer Sanctuary for gorillas in Rwanda. This park is one of the four places where you can visit these incredible creatures. It’s part of a larger conservation effort that includes the Virunga National Park in Congo and Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park, collectively protecting the Virunga volcano chain. The park’s captivating landscape, framed by towering mountains ranging from 2,400 to 4,507 meters in height, showcases some of Africa’s most captivating natural beauty.

Volcanoes National Park is a sanctuary that safeguards endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, all surrounded by an incredible diversity of plant and animal species. This sanctuary was the starting point for the pioneering work of renowned primatologist Dian Fossey in gorilla conservation and tourism. Through her efforts, along with those of her contemporaries, the perception of gorillas shifted from being seen as aggressive brutes to animals that possess deep compassion and social intelligence, strikingly similar to our own behaviors.

Tracking Gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

Tracking mountain gorillas of Rwanda is one of the most exciting wildlife experiences in Africa, and Volcanoes National Park is probably the best spot to do it. In this park, there are more than a dozen gorilla groups that have gotten used to human presence, with 12 of these groups open for visitors (the rest have been trained for research). Each gorilla group has its own territory and family setup, making them quite unique.

If your budget allows, go on two different gorilla treks on separate days to get the raw experience. And it’s not just gorillas – you can also track friendly groups of golden monkeys only found in the Albertine Rift area. These monkeys are some of the most stunning in Africa, and their calm and gentle behavior adds to their charm. These monkeys have become very comfortable around people, so you can watch them play, eat, and go about their daily activities up close.

No one who looks into a gorilla’s eyes – intelligent, gentle, vulnerable – can remain unchanged, for the gap between ape and human vanishes; we know that the gorilla still lives within us. Do gorillas also recognize this ancient connection?

George Schaller

Other Activities & Wildlife in Volcanoes National Park

Beyond the immersive gorilla tracking adventure, the Virunga Mountains offer an array of exciting mountain climbing and hiking experiences in Rwanda. While fewer visitors opt for the challenging day treks up Bisoke, known for its stunning crater lake, or Muhabura, there’s an even smaller group that takes on the overnight hike to Karisimbi’s summit, the highest point in the range. Spending ample time in the Virungas is a must, as the park generously rewards those who take their time to explore.

For those intrigued by animal conservation, a visit to the resting place of renowned primatologist Dian Fossey and the Ellen Degeneres Gorilla Fund Center is a compelling option, allowing you to step into the world of “Gorillas in the Mist.”

Volcanoes National Park hosts more than just gorillas. It’s also home to elusive forest elephants, giant forest hogs, buffalo, black-fronted duikers, spotted hyenas, bushbucks, and various small predators.

Additionally, bird enthusiasts will find a paradise here, with over 170 bird species documented. Among these, at least 13 species are unique to the Virungas, while 16 are exclusive to the Rwenzori Mountains. Some cherished bird sightings include the handsome francolin, vibrant Ruwenzori turaco, the charming Ruwenzori double-collared sunbird, the elusive Ruwenzori batis, the unique strange weaver, the dusky crimson-wing, the collared Apalis, the red-faced woodland warbler, and the captivating Archer’s round-robin.

The gorilla tracking experience in Volcanoes
A group of tourists and rangers (green uniform) trekking through the rainforest to find gorillas.

The Incredible Rwanda Gorilla Tracking Experience

Setting out on a gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park promises an unforgettable experience that kicks off early in the morning with excitement. As the sun rises, you’ll move to the visitor center, surrounded by fellow adventurers who share your eagerness to meet these remarkable primates. A briefing prepares you for the day ahead, and soon, you’re on your way, heading to the trailhead where your actual wilderness experience begins.

One moment, you’ll be forging a path through dense tangles of vines and bamboo, climbing steep slopes with slippery rocks, stubborn roots, and daunting ascents that test your trembling thighs. Suddenly, you emerge from the labyrinth of trees, and sunlight pierces through the leafy canopy, revealing dark masses against the vibrant green backdrop of the jungle. Even though you’ve anticipated this moment, you can’t help but gasp! Just about 32 feet away, you’ll spot some of the world’s last 1,000 mountain gorillas that call these dense forests home.

Face-to-face with the silverback gorilla - tracking in rwanda

Face-to-face with the silverback gorilla

The instant you come face to face with a mountain gorilla is a moment of sheer joy. Their rugged coats and imposing size might seem intimidating at first glance. However, as you watch them in their natural surroundings, you’ll uncover their gentle nature and their enjoyment of simple pleasures, like munching on succulent fruits. Witnessing their grand presence and realizing the deep connection we have with these extraordinary creatures is truly humbling.

Meeting a gorilla eye-to-eye is an encounter that transcends words. Their deep, kind eyes appear to hold a mystical sense of recognition as if they understand the bond we share. Sometimes, a gorilla might approach you closely, intently observing you, seeking a connection beyond explanation. Curiosity often sparks interaction as gorillas come closer to visitors and guides, almost as if acknowledging their presence and extending a warm welcome.

Similar to chimpanzees, mountain gorillas are our closest relatives among the apes. Spending an hour observing them is like uncovering a lost chapter in the story of our own evolution.

A ranger briefing trekkers before they set eyes on the gorillas. Gorilla tracking in Rwanda - volcanoes national park
A ranger briefing trekkers before they set eyes on the gorillas. Short briefings are standard during the trek to keep you informed.

Is it safe to trek and see gorillas in Rwanda?

Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is generally a safe and immersive wildlife adventure that requires responsible behavior on your part. Although mountain gorillas are massive and powerful creatures, they are innately gentle giants. They lack any inclination to harm humans and sustain themselves solely on vegetation such as fruits, leaves, and roots; their diet doesn’t involve fresh meat, although they occasionally consume insects. Despite their ability to defend themselves when provoked, gorillas are not inherently aggressive beings. They exhibit no interest in confronting humans unless provoked. Hence, sticking to the established guidelines for this experience is imperative.

Your encounters will be limited to habituated gorilla groups.

An added safety measure stems from the fact that the gorilla groups you will encounter during treks have been habituated to human presence. The habituation process involves gradually acclimatizing them to human presence over time. Consequently, they are less likely to be alarmed or agitated by your presence, as long as you stick to the defined duration of one hour for the visit. Research has shown that overstaying this duration could trigger hostility from the gorillas.

Guided treks ensure your safety.

During a gorilla trek, a trained guide accompanies you to provide knowledge about the visited gorilla troops and proper conduct during encounters. It is crucial to adhere to the ranger’s guidance and stay within the group. Compliance with instructions is essential, such as refraining from going too close to the silverback. By following the rules and using common sense, your safety during gorilla visits is assured. It is recommended to seek advice from the trek guide when unsure about any aspect, as they are committed to your safety and knowledgeable about the visited troop.

Follow Rwanda’s safety guidelines for gorilla tracking.

Naturally, there are regulations in place for observing gorillas to prevent disturbing, frightening, or upsetting them. Simple guidelines exist to facilitate smooth interactions with mountain gorillas:

  • Avoid using flash photography, as it could startle the animals.
  • Maintain the distance specified by the trek guide (typically no closer than 10 meters).
  • Refrain from sudden movements or loud noises that might agitate the gorillas.
  • Dress in muted colors and avoid strong scents.
  • If a gorilla approaches, adopt a submissive stance and avoid direct eye contact to prevent any perceived challenge.
  • Rwanda is a stable and secure destination.

Rwanda is a stable and secure country.

Rwanda and Uganda are known for their stability and thriving tourism sectors. These countries are among the safest in Africa for visitors. The locals are welcoming, and Volcanoes National Park – Rwanda’s gorilla sanctuary – is well-maintained and monitored. Visitor safety is paramount, with experienced guides accompanying every gorilla trek. Engaging in gorilla tracking in Rwanda places you in a secure environment.

A family of mountain gorillas in the bamboo forests of Volcanoes National Park, with the patriarchal silverback in the forefront. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Sitting 30 ft away from a family of mountain gorillas in the bamboo forest of Volcanoes National Park, with the patriarchal silverback in the forefront.

Physical Fitness Required for Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda

Tracking gorillas in Rwanda requires a certain level of physical fitness and determination. Trekking through hilly terrains, slippery paths, and dense vegetation at higher altitudes can be physically demanding. However, the incredible rewards more than make up for the effort.

Over the years, we’ve organized countless gorilla trekking experiences in Africa, and we’ve yet to meet someone who regretted the investment, both in terms of finances and physical exertion. The memories formed during that enchanting hour spent with gorillas are truly invaluable, leaving an everlasting impression on your spirit.

Mountain gorillas inhabit montane forests, necessitating walks along forest trails to encounter them. After all, the essence of a gorilla trek lies in observing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

The specifics of each forest trek, including length and difficulty, vary based on factors such as the section of the park you visit, weather conditions, and the assigned gorilla troop (troop locations are monitored by park rangers, and each trek group is designated a specific troop to visit).

A curious youngster ponderously stares into the lens, before wandering off, evidently satisfied. Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.
A curious youngster ponderously stares into the lens before wandering off, evidently satisfied.

How to balance your fitness with the experience.

In general, visitors can request to be assigned a troop closer or farther from the starting point. For instance, those less physically fit might prefer a shorter hike. Trek durations range from around thirty minutes to three or four hours. Overnight hikes are not part of the experience. Opting for longer treks is highly recommended, as the journey itself is a delightful experience. Walking through the stunning, untouched indigenous forest with its towering trees, ancient ferns, vibrant streams, butterflies, and bird calls is a unique and rewarding adventure, even without the presence of mountain gorillas.

It’s important to note that the path you traverse can be steep, muddy, and slippery in places. Sturdy hiking boots with good traction are essential. Considering trekking poles or a walking stick, as many others do, might also be beneficial.

You can also hire a porter who not only carries your backpack but also assists you in navigating challenging sections. Besides, it’s the best way to support the local communities directly.

Furthermore, the early mornings can be quite cold, while midday can be hot when there’s no cloud cover. Rain is also common, given the rainforest environment. Thus, you should be prepared for diverse weather conditions by having warm layers, a waterproof outer layer, sunscreen, and sunhat.

Embrace the adventure, equip yourself for the extraordinary, and embark on a gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park. This experience will deepen your appreciation for the marvels of the natural world and establish a profound connection with our evolutionary relatives – the majestic mountain gorillas.

How long are gorilla treks in Rwanda?

Once you arrive at the forest boundary, the trek to meet the gorillas usually takes around 20 minutes on a favorable day. However, on more challenging days, the search might extend to two hours or even longer in either direction. During the dry season, some visitors have reported spending up to 7 hours tracking down a habituated gorilla group.

To better prepare mentally for the trek, you can inquire about the previous day’s tracking results at the Kihingi visitor center. Generally, gorillas do not venture too far in a single day, so this information can help set expectations for your journey.

Wearing a facemask is compulsory when seeing mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park.
Wearing a facemask is compulsory when observing mountain gorillas.

Booking the Rwanda gorilla permit

To Join the daily gorilla treks in Rwanda, you must pre-book a gorilla trekking permit from RDB. The gorilla permit is a government-issued ticket to a guided tour. The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) issues 96 permits daily for visitors to experience gorilla encounters in Volcanoes National Park. These permits are divided among twelve gorilla groups, with eight tickets available for each group.

When you acquire a permit, you won’t be assigned a specific gorilla group right away. Guides at the visitor center assess your physical fitness and try to match you with a suitable gorilla group. Some groups, like Sabyinyo and Agashya, offer less challenging hikes, whereas groups like Susa, Isimbi, and Karisimbi involve more demanding treks.

Permit Price

The cost of a gorilla tracking permit in Rwanda is $1,500. This fee covers the park entrance and applies to individuals aged 15 and above. You can secure permits in advance through various channels, including the RDB office in Kigali, the official IREMBO website, or the highly recommended use of a licensed tour operator like Nkuringo Safaris. Remember that last-minute availability is virtually nonexistent, especially during the peak months from June to September, and only a local operator can help with nagging local logistics.

Gorilla permits might not be available every day, but they tend to be more accessible during the primary rainy season of April and May when there are fewer visitors. In contrast, during the busy season from June to September, you might need to wait several days or weeks for a permit. To ensure you get a permit, it’s highly recommended to book 6-12 months ahead of your desired trekking date. Additionally, park regulations dictate that all trekkers must check in at the park headquarters in Kinigi by 07:00 in the morning.

Find out more about gorilla permits and booking terms.

All-inclusive tailor-made adventures

Seeing mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Tourists can only approach gorilla groups that have been habituated for tourism. Rwanda has 12 habituated gorillas groups available for tourism and a few for research.
Tourists can only approach gorilla groups that have been habituated for tourism. Rwanda has 12 habituated gorilla groups for tourism and a few for research.

Habituated Gorilla Groups in Rwanda

Susa Group (19 Members)

Among the habituated gorilla groups in Rwanda, the Susa Group stands out for being more difficult to access. Initially observed by Dian Fossey on Mount Karisimbi’s slopes, this group used to be one of the largest, with over 40 individuals, including four adult silverback males. However, divisions in 2010 and 2014 led to the creation of the Karisimbi Group (with 10 members) and the Igisha Group (with 35 members), reducing the Susa Group to 19 members. While physically fit visitors often opt for this group, tracking the Susa group involves a 90-minute drive from Kinigi and a demanding hike. The hike includes a one-hour uphill climb from the car park to the forest boundary.

Sabinyo Group (15 Members)

On the other end of the difficulty scale is the trek to the Sabyinyo Group, whose territory lies within the Volcanoes National Park on a lightly forested saddle between Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Gahinga. The walk from the car park to the forest boundary is relatively flat or gently sloping, depending on the gorillas’ location, typically taking 20-30 minutes. Once inside the forest, it may take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to encounter the gorillas. The slopes in this area are generally manageable, although they can be slippery after rainfall.

The Sabyinyo Group consists of 15 individuals with two silverbacks. It is led by the dominant male, Gihishamwosti, who, in 2020, took over from Guhondo, the heaviest gorilla (of any race) ever measured, at 220kg. 

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Agasha Group, aka Group Thirteen (26 members)

The Agashya Group (also known as Group Thirteen) spends most of its time on the same saddle as the Sabyinyo Group. It is usually as easy to reach as the Sabyinyo Group in that area. Still, it sometimes moves deeper into the mountains, and the hike can be significantly longer. 

Group Thirteen’s former name dates back to the first habituation date when they numbered 13 gorillas. Still, today it numbers an impressive 26 individuals. It includes 13 adult females serviced by an ultra-promiscuous silverback, who acquired all the females from the Nyakagezi Group on the Ugandan side.

Group Thirteen seems to be a favorite of many guides because its silverback is more relaxed and approachable than those in other groups. 

Amahoro Family ( 21 members) and Umubano Family (14 members)

The Amahoro Group, numbering 21, and the Umubano Group, with 14 individuals, share an overlapping territory on Mount Bisoke. Umubano has eight silverbacks, one blackjack, and four adult females. The hikes to reach them are typically intermediate in difficulty between Susa and Sabyinyo. 

Despite their territorial overlap, the Amahoro (Peace) and Umubano (togetherness) groups have a harmonious relationship, probably because they have solid familial links. Several individuals have brothers and sisters in the other group.

One indicator that conservation efforts are now bearing fruit is the proliferation of new gorilla groups. The increasing population encourages splits in older groups. Several new groups are open to tourist visits, including the most recent, Geisha and Isimbi. 

Hirwa Group (13 Members)

The Hirwa Group, comprising 13 individuals, was formed in 2006 by a silverback who had broken away from the Susa group about two years earlier. It usually inhabits the foothills of Mount Sabyinyo on the Gahinga side. At about the same time, the Kwitonda Group crossed into Uganda from DR Congo, probably due to the Congolese civil war. It stayed in Mgahinga National Park for a while, forcing the smaller Uganda-based Nyakagezi Group to cross into Rwanda. 

Kwitonda Group (17 Members)

The Kwitonda Group strolled back into Rwanda in late 2006. It now inhabits the lower slopes of Mount Muhabura, a relatively easy hike (comparable to that for the Sabyinyo Group).

In May 2021, the Kwitonda group split into two sub-groups, with Karevuro keeping 20 gorillas and Kigoma taking 20, an unusual peaceful splitting. Kwitonda Gorilla family remained with two silverbacks, 8 females, 2 black-backs, 3 juveniles, and 4 infants.

Kwisanga Group (18 Members)

The latest addition to Rwanda’s gorilla groups available for trekking is the Kwisanga group, with 18 members, formed by gorillas that split from the Kwitonda family in May 2021.

The great apes of these rolling hills have interesting territorial shifts; the Nyakagezi Group clashed several times with Agashya/ Group Thirteen, whose silverback poached all the Nyakagezi females. The rest of the group retreated to Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park. 

Therefore the time it takes from the trailhead to reach the gorillas depends on the movements of the various groups.

Rwanda currently has twelve habituated gorilla groups frequently visited by tourists, including Susa, Karisimbi, Isimbi, Igisha, Amahoro, Umubano, Sabyinyo, Agasha, Muhoza, Hirwa, Kwitonda, and the latest addition, Kwisanga. However, there are a handful of other groups left for research and are sometimes visited, including;

  • Muhoza (ten members, one silverback)
  • Isabukuru (14 members, one silverback)
  • Mafunzo (12 members, one silverback)
  • Musilikare (19 members, three silverbacks) 
  • Ntambara (11 members, one silverback) 
  • Pablo (24 members, three silverbacks)

Therefore the time it takes from the trailhead to reach the gorillas depends on the movements of the various groups.

get quote from best tour company for gorilla trekking safaris in uganda
get quote from best tour company for gorilla trekking safaris in uganda
The drive through Rwanda splendid countryside to the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park is something to look forward to. Adventure safari in Rwanda to see gorillas and how to get there.
The drive through Rwanda’s splendid countryside to the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park is something to look forward to.

How to get to the gorillas in Rwanda and around

Gorilla tracking and other exciting activities in Rwanda begin from the Volcanoes National Park headquarters visitor center, located in the charming village of Kinigi. Perched at an elevation of 2,200 meters on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains adorned with eucalyptus trees, Kinigi marks the starting point for unforgettable adventures. To reach Kinigi, travel north about 12 kilometers from Musanze/Ruhengeri on a well-surfaced road. After approximately 300 meters past the Centre Pastoral Notre Dame de Fatima, turn left from Cyanika Road.

It’s vital for everyone participating in gorilla tracking and hikes to arrive at the park headquarters by 07:00 to ensure the validity of their pre-purchased permits. Many comprehensive private safaris stay in one of the mid-range to upscale lodges in and around Kinigi the night before their trek. This arrangement eases the pressure of an early morning arrival. For budget-conscious travelers, Musanze is often selected as a base for their activities. However, there are now affordable accommodation options near the park headquarters as well.

Public transportation doesn’t operate from the park headquarters to the trailhead, where the gorilla tracking adventure commences. While hitching a ride with another tourist group might be an option, it’s not guaranteed. Hence, if you rely on public transport to get to Musanze or Kinigi, renting a 4×4 vehicle with a driver to take you to the trailhead is advisable. The cost for a vehicle, which includes waiting time, is roughly USD 100 for a round trip. You can arrange this in advance through tour operators or your lodging.

Traveling from far-off locations

If you’re planning to drive to Kinigi from Rubavu/Gisenyi or Kigali with your own vehicle on your trek day, it’s recommended to start early and arrive at the assembly point by 07:00. Allocate at least 2 hours from Kigali or about 1 hour from Rubavu for the journey. Many travelers opt for gorilla trekking in Uganda through Kigali, as it provides easier access to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and more affordable gorilla permits. The drive from Entebbe International Airport to Bwindi can take nearly 10 hours, whereas the journey from Kigali, border checks included, typically takes 3-5 hours to reach Bwindi.

Accommodation in Volcanoes National Park, where to stay and eat for the gorilla trekking adventure.
Luxury Gorilla’s Nest Lodge perched in woodland.

Accommodation: where to stay and eat

There is no accommodation, even overnight camping, within Volcanoes National Park—however, several lodges catering to all budgets are spread within a few kilometers of the Kinigi visitor center. On a restricted budget, overnighters in Musanze make their way to Kinigi early in the morning. In contrast, those with limited time and a high tolerance for early mornings sometimes base themselves further off at a hotel in Gisenyi. 

Exclusive Accommodation

Exclusive lodges at the base of the Virungas offer superb accommodation in woodland cabins with stunning views over a boundless vista of wooded mountains unmarked by human hands.

Bisate Lodge 

From USD 1,750 Per person per night, sharing

Styled in dome-shaped villas sprinkled on a 43-ha hillside property overlooking Bisate Village and the Virungas, Bisate Lodge singlehandedly raises the bar for accommodation in Rwanda and would rightfully rank among the finest safari lodges in East Africa. 

Getting to the lodge requires climbing several steps, but it’s a piece of cake compared to gorilla trekking. Suppose you’re after a bit more walking. In that case, you’ll be interested in the two nature trails on the property following an eroded crater rim, which is excellent for birding. 

Room rate includes a complimentary 20min massage, village visit, & all food & drink except premium spirits.

One&Only Gorilla’s Nest 

From $750 per person per night, sharing

Nestled in swaying eucalyptus trees, Gorilla’s Nest is undoubtedly a perfect wilderness resort. Individual free-standing suites sit suspended over sprawling gardens at eye level with the tall eucalyptus trees and volcanic surroundings.

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge 

From $970 per person per night, sharing

Silverback Lodge is one of the swishiest lodges near Kinigi, set on community land at an altitude of 2,515m on the foot slopes of Mount Sabyinyo, only a 10min drive from the park headquarters. The Sacola Community Trust, which owns the land, leased it to Governors’ Camp. The long-serving & award-winning Kenyan luxury safari camp operator built the lodge & also manages it. They levy a community fee of roughly US$100pp/night, and the community also receives a cut of the lodge’s profits. 

Rates include full-board accommodation but exclude massage treatments, premium spirits, gorilla-tracking permits, transfers to/from Kigali & community fees. 

Singita Kwitonda Lodge

From $1,950 per adult per night, sharing

Set on the edge of Volcanoes National Park, Singita Kitonda’s eight luxurious suites feature woven ceilings and terracotta brickwork crafted by local artisans and a farm-to-table culinary experience. Kwitonda is the closest to the park border.

Virunga Lodge

From $1,210 per person per night, sharing

Virunga Lodge offers a bush-chic experiences and luxury suites with massive bathrooms overlooking a stunning lake and mountain views. It is about a 45-minute drive to the briefing point.

Mountain Gorilla View Lodge in Rwanda
Mountain gorilla view lodge stands on the breezy open saddle that connects Sabyinyo & Bisoke.

Moderate Accommodation

Amakoro Songa Lodge

From USD 720 per person

Amakoro Songa Lodge opened at the end of 2016 and sits about 3km off the road to the Kinigi visitor center. 

Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel 

From USD 300 per person 

The lodge is the first accommodation you reach entering Kinigi from Musanze and offers a selection of small and appealing rooms built from lava stones. The rooms have heating, AC, mini-fridge, tea/coffee facilities, & garden-facing terraces out front. 

Mountain Gorilla View Lodge

From USD 230 per person per night

The lodge stands on the breezy open saddle that connects Sabyinyo & Bisoke & offers superb views of all 6 volcanoes in the Rwandan part of the Virungas. 

get quote from best tour company for gorilla trekking safaris in uganda
get quote from best tour company for gorilla trekking safaris in uganda

Best time of the year to see gorillas in Rwanda

Most importantly, the best time to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda is whenever you can secure a gorilla tracking permit. These permits are in high demand and often get sold out over a year in advance, especially during peak months. This is where specialized tour operators step in, securing permits in advance and keeping some for last-minute bookings.

Rainfall is consistent throughout the Virunga Mountains between November, March, and May. During these months, tourists tend to avoid visiting, but the gorillas remain present. Gorilla tours in Rwanda are available throughout the year and have a remarkable history of successful sightings; the rain mainly discourages tourists from coming.

The most favorable weather for gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park occurs during the dry seasons, from mid-December to early February and from June to September. This period offers more comfortable trekking conditions.

Don’t entirely dismiss visiting during the rainy periods of November and March to May. During these times, you’ll have a unique experience with the forests and mountains mostly to yourself, along with the guides and the gorillas.

Here’s a detailed month-by-month account of the best time to go.

What to wear for the gorilla trekking adventure: The cap, light waterproof jacket, hiking shoes, gaiters and walking stick are essential for this adventure
What to wear: The cap, light waterproof jacket, hiking shoes, gaiters, and walking stick are essential for this adventure.

What to wear and take

For gorilla tracking tours, essential gear includes lightweight and durable hiking boots or walking shoes, thick trousers, gaiters, and a long-sleeved top to protect against stinging nettles. Layering with a sweatshirt or jersey is advisable, as it can get cold during the trek. Gorillas are accustomed to visitors, so clothing colors matter little, but expect your clothes to get muddy and stained from the terrain.

For added protection, consider carrying old gardening gloves when grasping thorny vegetation and a walking stick or staff for stability. Travel light with a simple backpack, leaving your hands free, and bring a poncho or raincoat in case of rain. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are also essential for sun protection.

Ensure your camera gear is sealed in a plastic ziplock or carried in a waterproof backpack. During the trek, it is highly recommended to carry snacks such as energy bars and biscuits in your backpack. Additionally, some lodges may provide a sumptuous lunch pack for your convenience. Ensuring you have an ample supply of drinking water is essential, especially when visiting the Susa Group during the dry season. Be sure to carry at least one liter, and consider bringing more to stay hydrated throughout the adventure.

Binoculars are unnecessary to see the gorillas up close, as the trek is directed, and walking through the dense vegetation captures your attention. Consider hiring a porter if you have heavy gear, as it provides income to local communities and is not exploitative. Remember to bring your passport for check-in at the park.

What To Pack For The Gorilla Trekking Safari - Ultimate Packing List

Get your packing list for trekking gorillas.

Download a list of what to pack.

How to book a Rwanda gorilla tracking safari

Independent travelers can put together a Rwanda gorilla safari in a couple of days. However, the logistical stress of securing accommodation, transport, and the gorilla permit may prove quite challenging for someone with little knowledge of local logistics, even with all the available information on the internet.

You can trust Nkuringo Safaris Ltd to plan (with you) a tailor-made Rwanda gorilla tracking safari using age-old expertise that has an excellent trail. We’ll take care of all the local logistics, pick you up from the airport, manage your journey, and ensure you’re at the airport for your flight back home. Your trip manager will be in direct contact with you throughout your journey, and you’ll be traveling in private vehicles, and staying in private rooms.

Send us an email at

get quote from best tour company for gorilla trekking safaris in uganda
get quote from best tour company for gorilla trekking safaris in uganda

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