When visiting the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’, one should not miss out on the magnificent opportunity to visit Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park (PNV) consisting of 125 km2 of mountain forest and home to the six Virunga Volcanoes and the world famous mountain gorillas. Protected within the PNV, the lushly forested slopes of the mountains form an appropriately dramatic natural setting for what is arguably the most poignant and memorable wildlife experience in the world: gorilla trekking.
The mountain gorillas are found in Parc National des Volcans and this is located in the Virunga and is joined with Mgahinga National Park. This national park is protected and managed by the Rwanda office for Tourism and national parks and its access begins in the lively town of Musanze which is situated at the base of the entrance of the park. This town has been the base point for gorilla visits and enters a stunning backdrop of Karisimbi, Bisoke, Mikeno, Sabyinyo, Mgahinga and Muhabura volcanoes. It’s a 90 minute drive from Rwanda’s capital city Kigali and one can get to this town from Kigali either by private vehicle or public taxi minibus.
The exhilarating climb to the gorilla’s natural habitat of shady bamboo forest offers fantastic views in all directions, before the trackers are immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colourful birds and the chattering of rare golden monkey. Nothing can prepare one for the impact of encountering a fully-grown silverback gorilla, up to three times the size of an average man, yet remarkably peaceable and tolerant of human visitors.
Book your permit : Gorilla permits can be booked at the RDB Tourism and Conservation Reservation Office in person, by telephone (252 57 65 14).
Costs for gorilla permits:
USD $1500 per person for all visitors
- EXCLUSIVE VISITS
US$ 15000 for personalized mountain gorilla visits for a targeted Gorilla family
US$ 30000 for a minimum of 3 visitors for 3 consecutive days(Behind the scenes)
- SPECIAL DISCOUNT PACKAGES
30% discount (US$ 1050) for combined trips within Rwanda National Parks (Gorilla trekking, Akagera and/or Nyungwe National Park) during the months of November-May
15% discount (US$ 1275) on conference delegates who stay pre and post MICE events to see gorillas.
- GORILLA FILMING AND PHOTOGRAPHY
USD$ 5000 for 3 consecutive days Mountain Gorilla filming and professional photography
USD$12,000 for filming and photography crew per day (maximum 8 people)
This is inclusive of park entry fees. It is advisable to organize your own transportation to take you up to the park boundaries. Access begins in the lively town of Musanze, situated 12km from Kinigi, the base of the entrance of the park. Musanze is a 90-minute drive from Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali.
One can get to Musanze from Kigali either by private vehicle or by public taxi minibus. If you intend to make a gorilla visit, you will need to organise your own transport from Musanze town to the park boundaries at Kinigi, where you will continue your trip on foot. Vehicles can be hired for this purpose in Musanze town.
On the day of you are scheduled to trek, you must present yourself for briefing at the RDB Tourism & Conservation offices situated at the prefecture offices in Kinigi at 7:00 AM.
RDB Tourism & Conservation currently has English and French speaking trained guides as well as a team of 80 trained gorilla trackers many of whom speak French or English.
- To minimize possible transmission of human diseases, visitors are asked to maintain a distance of 7m (about 22 feet) from the gorillas. If you are sick with a cold, flu or other contagious illness, please do not visit the gorillas.
- Viewing time is limited to one hour.
- Maximum 8 visitors per group.
- Spitting in the park is strictly prohibited.
- Should you need to cough, cover your mouth and turn away from the gorillas.
- When with the gorillas, keep your voice low.
- Try not to make rapid movements that may frighten the gorillas.
- If a gorilla should charge or vocalize at you, do not be alarmed, stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s directions.
- Do not litter.
To enhance your enjoyment:
- The security of our visitors is our highest priority. There is no need for concern about personal security.
- The climate in Musanze is changeable and you can generally expect both sun and rainfall during the day.
- Musanze, at 1,700m above sea level, is generally quite cold, particularly in the evening, so warm clothing is advised.
- Recommended clothing is long trousers and shirts when in the forest to avoid nettle stings.
- Steady walking shoes or hiking boots are essential. You may find raingear useful.
- Bring a water bottle and a small snack although eating, drinking and smoking near the gorillas is forbidden.
- Photographs are permitted, although you may not use flash.
- Porters are available to help you carry your daypack for a small charge.
- Mountain gorillas live at high altitude and this may cause difficulties for some visitors. You should walk slowly and drink plenty of water. No one should feel deterred from making this trip.
There are seven gorilla families available for tourists with 8 tourists allowed per group:
- Susa—the largest group with 41 gorillas. This family is the hardest to trek as it tends to range high into the mountains but RDB Tourism & Conservation trackers will know well in advance where the group is located. The group is also well- known for having rare 5 year old twins named Byishimo and Impano.
- Sabyinyo—Sabyinyo is an easily accessible group led by the powerful silverback Guhonda. There are fewer members within this family than in the other groups however they are equally impressive as a family.?
- Amahoro—led by the calm and easy going Ubumwe, Amahoro is made up of 17 members and means “peaceful”. To reach Amahoro one must endure a fairly steep climb however the climb is well worth it once in contact with this tranquil group.
- Group 13—when first habituated this group had only 13 members hence its name. Now the group has approximately 25 members, a very positive sign for conservation and the efforts put forward by RDB Tourism & Conservation to protect the gorillas’ habitat.
- Kwitonda—this 18-member group is led by Kwitonda which means “humble one” and has two silverbacks and one blackback. Having migrated from DRC, this group tends to range far making it a moderately difficult trek.
- Umubano—a family of 11, Umubano were originally Amahoro members but broke off after the dominant silverback was challenged by Charles, now the leader of Umubano. When a young silverback challenges the dominant silverback he must steal some females from the existing group in order to form his own family; thus Umubano was formed.
- Hirwa—this group emerged recently and was formed from different existing families, namely from Group 13 and Sabyinyo. Eventually more gorillas joined. Come witness this family continue to grow.