Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Rwanda

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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, via Rwanda’s capital Kigali, 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. Here, our safari specialists give you all the necessary information you need to plan your lifetime dream journey to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas.

RWANDA GORILLA SAFARI PACKAGES

These example Rwanda gorilla safari packages can be customised or tailor-made for any date, accommodation type, and duration, which determines the total price.

The Gorilla Trekking Experience

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is Rwanda's sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, an impressive number of animal and plant species, and was the base for the celebrated primatologist Dian Fossey to set the stage for gorilla tourism and conservation. Mountains gorillas get the most hype than anything else in this park.

Trip Planning Logistics

Work with our safari specialists to help you plan a successful gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda and skip the logistical stress. Nkuringo Safaris is a trusted tour operator that has been in business since 2007 and has experts that understand local logistics to book your permits, accommodation, transport, and meals.

TRAVELLING FOR A PURPOSE

Our Rwanda gorilla trekking safaris are directly rooted in community, a sustainable environment, and gorilla conservation.

Book your Rwanda gorilla trekking safari holiday with Nkuringo Safaris Ltd, a Destination Management Company whose journeys are rooted in sustainable community programs through its multi-award-winning property, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, since 2007.

TAILOR-MADE GORILLA SAFARI PACKAGES

These example Rwanda gorilla safari packages can be customised or tailor-made for any date, accommodation type, and duration, which determines the total price.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1When is the best time to go?

The best time for Rwanda gorilla trekking safaris, most importantly, is when you can get a gorilla trekking permit. They are like gold dust, often selling out over a year in advance in peak months. That is when you need our specialist to swoop the magical availability wand.

It rains heavily between October and November or March and May. Tourists tend to stay away during those times, but the gorillas are always there, although trekking in rain can be a very tusking.

The best weather for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is in the dry seasons, mid-December to early February, and June to September. It is during this time that trekking is more comfortable.

2How tough is gorilla trekking in Rwanda?

Rwanda gorilla trekking excursions have two distinct phases, and either can be tough or a simple walk to reach the gorillas. But toughness depends on many factors, especially the location of the mountain gorillas on the day you go.

The first phase is the hike from the closest car park to the park boundary, a 30-60-minute walk depending on the trekkers’ speed and the gorilla group’s location. This one can be relatively flat and undemanding.

The second phase is the trek into the forest, searching for the gorillas, which may take anything from 10 minutes to two hours. It is more difficult to predict because it depends on the exact location of the gorillas on the day of trekking and the steepness of the terrain en route.

Generally, trekking gorillas in Rwanda requires a bit of physical fitness. We recommend you work out or visit a gym at least two weeks before you come. And note that it happens in high altitudes of 7000 ft plus, so there may be some difficulty breathing.

3How do I get a gorilla trekking permit?

A Rwanda gorilla trekking permit, including park entrance, costs $1,500 per person. The pass is strictly for trekkers above 15.

You can buy the permit in advance through our reservations office. info@nkuringosafaris.com

You can also buy the gorilla permit at last-minute travel depending on availability. However, that’s far-fetching, especially during the peak seasonal months of June to September.

4Why is gorilla trekking so expensive?

The primary reason Rwanda gorilla trekking is expensive is that the conservation programme to save these great apes is very costly. The men and women involved in providing security, healthcare, and trekking services work in the remotest and most inhumane conditions. These people work many hours, days, and even weeks away from their families to ensure the gorillas get the attention to survive extinction.

Secondly, Rwanda has positioned itself as a high-end tourism destination, isolating itself from its neighbors to targeting the luxury traveler. With rich travel investors embracing the focus, Rwanda has some of the most luxurious hotels and safari lodges to serve indulgent travellers.

So yeah, seeing mountain gorillas in Rwanda is an expensive expedition reserved for high-maintenance travelers.

5Should I hire a porter?

You should definitely hire a porter on your Rwanda gorilla trekking excursion. The trek can be quite tuff for many people. The porters can be useful in helping you navigate challenging terrain by pulling your hand, pushing you up steep slopes, and sometimes carrying you when injured.

They also hold your pack or gear, so you can walk freely.

On a responsible travel note, hiring a porter is an excellent way to support the local communities directly. These men and women look to gorilla tourism for livelihood. The 20 bucks you pay can support an entire family for almost twenty days, which is quite something for low-income families.

1What should I pack gorilla trekking?
  • Yellow fever and Covid-19 vaccination card
  • Tourist visa ($50 per person, East African Visa for Kenya, Uganda, & Rwanda is $100)
  • Lightweight, waterproof hiking or walking shoes
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho
  • Hiking trousers and a long-sleeved shirt
  • Hiking gloves, sunhat or cape
  • A fleece or light-wool sweater for cold mornings
  • Waterproof backpack to carry drinking water, packed lunch and your gadgets
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Camera and binoculars
  • Walking poles or staff; UWA provides a walking stick at the trailhead.
  • At least one litre of drinking water and packed lunch (upmarket lodges provide packed lunch)
  • A pair of disposable facemasks
  • A basic first aid kit may come in handy: antiseptic wipes, antihistamine cream, insect repellent, plasters, painkillers, antimalarials and rehydration sachets.
Find the the complete packing-list here.
2Is gorilla trekking safe?

Close contact with human-habituated mountain gorillas is considered safe by experts in the field. But you have to maintain a 10-meter (32 ft) distance.

Although the gorilla groups for tourism are habituated gradually to introduce them to human presence in the natural environment, researchers have developed ground rules to protect humans, gorillas and other animals in the protected reserve.

Firstly, all trekkers must stay ten metres (32 ft) from the gorillas and follow ranger guidelines during their visit to avoid any hostility and spreading of infectious diseases.

Other basic trekking rules include,
  • Wear a facemask and gloves when near the gorillas
  • No going into the gorilla forest when you have signs of infectious illness like fever or a cold.
  • Avoid staring directly into a gorilla's eyes (the lead silverback may mistake it for hostility
  • Staying still, or moving and talking quietly - when a gorilla comes close
  • Not eating, drinking, or excreting near the gorillas
3Uganda or Rwanda, which is the best?

Both countries, Uganda and Rwanda, offer excellent trekking experiences, but your choice comes down to a few options, including the terrain for physical fitness, driving distance from the airport, accommodation choices, permit pricing, and entry restrictions.

Pricing: Uganda is cheaper than Rwanda. If you have the money and want a luxury hotel treatment, come to Rwanda. Although Uganda offers an equally luxurious trip.

Access: Rwanda has an easier access to gorillas from the airport, which is about 3-hour drive. Compared to Uganda, you can drive close to 10 hours to the park or take a local flight which adds to your trip expenses.

Variety: Uganda offers a wider variety of what to see, where to stay, and safari activities than Rwanda. Uganda has 10 national parks compared to Rwanda's 4.

Gorillas: Uganda has two parks and five tracking points compared to Rwanda's single park with one trekking point. Additionally, Uganda has two populations of gorillas, with more than half of the last mountain gorillas within its borders.

Read better comparisons between Uganda and Rwanda.

4Am I guaranteed to see the gorillas?

Joining the daily guided Rwanda gorilla trekking excursions guarantees a 97% chance of seeing the mountain gorillas.

Almost everyone on the expedition never leaves the forest without spotting the endangered great apes.

A team of rangers goes out at dawn to find the gorillas before they leave the nest they built the previous evening. They stay with them and send back position coordinates to your lead trackers, who pinpoint their position via walkie-talkie. The lead tracker/guide will lead the tourists to where they will spend their time with the giant beasts.

5How much should I tip the rangers and porters?

Although tipping is not mandatory, please be so kind as to tip the gorilla rangers, guides and porters based on your level of satisfaction.

Here's a rough guide on how much to tip on a mountain gorilla tour;

  • Transfer driver - $5
  • Service staff at safari lodge/camp - $15 per couple per day
  • Trackers - $15 per couple per day
  • Porter - $20 per person (This is the standard hiring fee per person)
  • Butler - $15 per couple per day

These are just standard rates we see with many travellers, but you can give a bigger tip if you desire.

Tips should be in small US dollar bills (dated post-2006), but most would prefer local currency. Visit the airport Forex shop or bank before going to the countryside to get local currencies and understand the exchange rate.

 

Our local safari specialists are waiting to help you plan your gorilla trekking safari in Volcanoes National Park at your own pace and without obligation. Fill out the form below.


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