Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda takes place in the much-celebrated Volcanoes National Park. Gorilla tours in Rwanda is the most sought after and done tourist activity that travelers from far and wide come to take part in irrespective of the price attached to it. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is highly marked as a luxury tourist activity but despite the heightened cost of a single gorilla permit or luxurious nature of most lodges in the park, tourists still flock the country in large numbers just to sight these endangered species.
These endangered mountain gorillas can only be found in three countries in the entire world say Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. Previously, gorillas were believed to be getting extinct in the near future given that there were very few of them still left in the world and threats to their existence were not so much addressed. The coming up of gorilla conservation groups and various government agencies that put the conservation of gorillas at the forefront has had them getting off from the critically endangered species list in 2018. Only about 1063 mountain gorillas are in the entire world and can be found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Virunga Conservation Area which encompasses Virunga National Park in the Congo, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
The Virunga Conservation Area has about 604 mountain gorillas. Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park has 12 habituated gorilla families that visitors can visit whilst on a gorilla trekking in Rwanda safari. Only 8 persons per gorilla family per day are allowed to encounter the gorillas for only one hour.
Rwanda Gorilla trekking starts early in the morning at 7am with a briefing over a cup of coffee or tea at the Kiningi tourist centre, the starting point of gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. The park officials brief travellers about what they are to expect whilst on a gorilla trekking in Rwanda adventure. Rules and guidelines are also shared at this point. Thereafter, travellers are placed in groups of 8 and then allocated a gorilla family to trek. Some gorilla families are near the park headquarters and can thus be found faster. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda can take anything between 30 minutes to 4 hours or more depending on the location of gorillas and terrain.
Given that mountain gorillas live in high altitude areas, trekking them can be quite strenuous. Travelers are advised to pace themselves, walk slowly, drink water and eat some energy giving snacks during the trek so as to return your lost energy during the trek. Preparing adequately enough before the trek is also advised, say doing some exercises like jogging months before you embark on your gorilla trekking in Rwanda safari.
For one to be able to take part in a gorilla trekking in Rwanda adventure, one needs to purchase a gorilla trekking permit. Rwanda gorilla trekking permits cost $1,500 per person per single entry. This fee is paid by all interested in gorilla trekking in Rwanda including the Rwandan nationals. Rwanda gorilla permits can be purchased from the Rwanda Development Board offices in Kigali Rwanda or through trusted tour operators. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is the most sought after activity that gorilla permits sell out very fast. Travellers are therefore advised to book gorilla permits way in advance to secure their spot least they miss out on their preferred gorilla trekking dates.
For a successful gorilla trekking in Rwanda experience, travellers are encouraged to have some levels of fitness given the terrain is quite steep and rugged. Travellers are also advised to carry essential gorilla trekking gear to facilitate their smooth gorilla trekking in Rwanda experience. These include among others;
Comfortable hiking shoes with a strong grip. Having them waterproof is an advantage that will have your feet dry throughout the trek when you do step into water puddles, mud, small rivers or when it rains. Shoes that you have ever used could be a better option.
Long sleeved t-shirts or shirts to protect your arms from the prickly long vegetation in the park and insect bites.
Long safari pants. These should be able to give you free movement during the trek.
Waterproof jackets or raincoats with a hood that will protect your head from getting wet when it rains
A hat and sunglasses
Garden gloves to protect your hands from reactive vegetation that you may touch. Garden gloves also give you a strong grip on the hiking stick or vegetation cover during the trek.
Waterproof backpack to safe-keep your essential items like phones and cameras
Insect repellent creams
Energy giving snacks like chocolate. These are to help you regain lost energy
Items of personal nature shouldn’t be forgotten. Travellers are also encouraged to make use of a hiking stick that can be gotten from the starting point of the gorilla trekking adventure or at the lodge or hotel of stay. Porters to help travellers during the trek with a push or pull or carrying the luggage can be got at the start of the trek.
There are a number of rules and regulations that travellers are expected to adhere to whist gorilla trekking in Rwanda and among them include;
Do not visit gorillas when sick. This is because gorillas are very susceptible to human infections.
Maintain a 7-meter distance away from the gorillas when you encounter the gorillas.
Only 8 persons per gorilla group can track per day for one hour only
Do not surround the gorillas, this threatens them that they could charge at you.
Do not look straight in the eyes of the gorillas
Do not touch the gorillas, especially the infants for their mothers and the silverback are very protective of them. You will be charged at.
Do not eat, drink or smoke near the gorillas. Eating should be done at least 200 meters away
Do not use flash cameras when taking pictures of gorillas.
Do not litre the forest. Leave the park as you found it. Carry all waste say food wraps, tissue, snack wraps among others, back to the park headquarters.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is for persons that are 15 years and above. There is no maximum age restriction to those who could take part in gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda can be done throughout the year, during both the dry and wet season. It is during the dry season though when travellers are most encouraged to visit Volcanoes National Park to enjoy a gorilla trekking in Rwanda experience that is thought to be the best in all the three countries that host the gorillas. The dry seasons is the peak season as well when most travellers take holidays and vacations, booking in advance is therefore very important to be guaranteed of your gorilla trekking safari. The dry or peak season runs through the months of June to September and December to February. The other months are considered as the wet season but travellers should remember that Volcanoes National Park is a densely forested area where rains falls at any time of the year. Packing appropriate clothes is therefore advised.
Travellers intending to take part in a gorilla trekking in Rwanda adventure should be assured of various comfortable accommodation facilities in and around the park. there are accommodation lodgings fit for all travellers’ preferences and budget. There are super luxury lodges for high-end travellers, midrange facilities as well as budget or basic lodges and campsites. Comfort, safety and good customer care should be expected in the various accommodation facilities.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda can be done alongside other tourist activities in Rwanda say a Kigali city tour, chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe National Park, game viewing in Akagera National Park among others in the country. Combining gorilla trekking in Rwanda with gorilla trekking in the Congo as well as a Nyiragongo volcano climb is very rewarding. Take time to reach out to a trusted tour operator to help you plan the best gorilla trekking in Rwanda safari.