Mountain Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is one of the typical activities that attract the highest number of tourists in Rwanda. So if you are planning to go for the gorilla trekking activity in Rwanda, it is recommended that you get the basic guide, tips, and practical information about the whole amazing gorilla trekking adventure in Rwanda so that your hopes and expectations hoist the more.
Therefore, Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is one of the most adventurous activities sought by travelers/tourists intending to spend a safari holiday in Africa. Key thing to know is that this activity is only done in three countries of Africa; Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo (DRC) in the whole of Africa, and gives enthusiastic travelers, a wholesome experience when they fulfill their ultimate needs on this trek since there are only an estimated 900 of these creatures left in the world.
To be able to participate in this high expectancy activity of gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park, all tourists are required to either book for the gorilla permits (A MUST) with help of a trusted tour operator (we can help you do that) or book directly with the Rwanda Development Board. A Gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda costs US$ 1500 per person for all visitors. Karisimbi Safaris can determine the overall cost of the entire itinerary trip including; the safari excursion(days), hotel/lodges to accommodate you, and the purchase of gorilla permits. Below, we unveil to you our interested and passionate traveler, the basic tips and guide to an awesome gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda is completely different from the normal wildlife and other primates tour packages where you embark on a safari vehicle and go on a game drive to view the wildlife species as they play, feed and live. The Gorillas are instead habituated, a process which makes them adapt to human presence in their habitats, and only a few people can see them at a time. That is why each gorilla group out of the 10 gorilla families in Rwanda is habituated by only 8 people strictly, and are allocated to utilize only one hour with the gorillas.
Gorilla trekking activity may take 1-6 hours hiking and climbing in search of gorillas in the mountain. This depends on the assigned gorilla family allocated to you and also their movement since they always move from place to place looking for food and a convenient environment for them.
Your gorilla permit is your pass for Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda. Therefore it is very important that before you even plan to transfer to the park headquarters for the briefing exercise, you MUST have your gorilla permit since it is one of the most key materials to participate in Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda.
As the trek is a strenuous one and may consume much of your calories, it is also advisable that you carry a packed lunch or energy giving snack which you will eat along the trek. We also advise packing other items such as drinking water(at least 2 liters), a hat, boots, long-sleeved shirt/blouse, rain jacket (poncho), insect repellent, a backpack to carry most of these things, lots of camera batteries, and a walking stick. Trekking through the forest can be hard sometimes.
Before you start on your so long awaited gorilla trekking adventure, all trekkers are briefed by the guides at the park headquarters on the trekking guidelines on what to do and not to do of the trekking adventure, and also be assigned an expert lead guide to take through the whole exercise, as well as answering your questions about these endangered creatures upon meeting them. The average tracking time is about 5 hours, but most interestingly, you will also get to see other animals in addition to the mountain gorillas; like the elephants, golden monkeys, etc. Porters are available to help carry backpacks and cameras, as well as helping you with your footing along your hike which can be hard work, but well worth it.
Currently 10 gorilla groups can be found residing in the Volcanoes National Park and they are fully habituated and and readily accessible for visits by the public.
Each group consists of a male Silverback (but sometimes may be as many and four), along with with several females and a group of baby gorillas. In brief, these groups are;
- Susa – The largest group with 38 gorillas. They’re hardest to trek as they tend to range high into the mountains. They have rare 5-year-old twins named Byishimo and Impano.
- Sabinyo – 17 members Sabyinyo is an easily accessible group led by the powerful silverback Guhonda.
- Amahoro – 19 gorillas, led by the calm and easy going Ubumwe. To reach Amahoro it’s usually a fairly steep climb but it is well worth it!
- Agashya – (formerly known as Group 13) today it has 22 members, a very positive sign for conservation.
- Kwitonda – 23 members led by Akarevuro, originally habituated in DRC so they tend to range quite far making it a moderately difficult trek.
- Umubano – a family of 13, who broke off from Amahoro with the leader, Charles,
- Hirwa – this group has 18 members and only fairly recently formed from former Group 13 and Sabyinyo family members. They are led by Munyinya.
Read More about these gorilla families here;
Rwanda is a tourist nation with other varying destinations that include the Nyungwe Forest National Park, Lake Kivu, and Akagera National Park. Nyungwe Forest National Park: listed among the oldest montane forests in Africa, has a humming 13 primates and a whopping 300 bird species plus several other mammal species that you can well visit and trek. Akagera National Park: will offer you a true wildlife experience, see the elephants, lion, buffalo, topi, zebra, antelope, monkeys, bushbuck, impala and so much more. Over 500 bird species here. An enthusiastic explore may as well visit and explore the beauty in Giswati Mukura National Park, one of the recent parks in Rwanda.
A number of options ranging from budget to mid-range and then luxury. The choice of your accommodation will determine the nature of your gorilla tour. Most companies will quote all the 3 options. Among the prominent safari lodges include Sabinyo Silver Back Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Mountain Gorilla Lodge, and so many others.