With fewer than 1004 mountain gorillas that still thrive on earth today, Rwanda is that one unique country that offers you that golden opportunity to strike your imaginations with these massive and magnificent creatures while in their natural habitat. The others include Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Where to go for gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking is best described as lifetime experience and in Rwanda; you can take part in this rewarding primate adventure only in Volcanoes National Park. This stunning park lies suitably in northwestern side about 2 to 3 hours’ drive off Kigali capital city. While on safari in this park, you will be assigned to only one habituated gorilla families to track in a group of 8 visitors each day. In Volcanoes National Park, 10 groups have been habituated and readily available for visitor experiences.
Each of these groups reward travel endeavors with unique experiences and rare history. They include among others the Susa A, the Susa B-also famously called Karisimbi group, Group 13 which is also known as Agashya, Amahoro, Sabyinyo, Umubano, Ugenda, Kwitonda and many others.
Up on getting a family that is assigned to you, you have only an hour to strike your imaginations with these magnificent creatures, take as many photos as you can, explore their behaviors and body gestures. Usually, one is led by a dominant silverback gorilla whose responsibility is entirely depended on protecting the rest of the group members among others.
One group may consist of about 20 to 30 members and the numbers keep changing based on various factors especially fights amongst the leaders where other members leave the family while others join.
What is a trek like?
The length of trek varies depending on a number of factors. However, the trek may last you about 2 to 6 hours less or even more. Usually, the length of treks is determined by visitors’ hiking speed, location of gorillas in the course of the day and nature of the habitat among other factors. Your trek kick starts with early morning briefing on dos and don’ts that should be observed while you are in the jungles searching for these magnificent apes. Visitors are led by well-trained park guide and trackers.
The fact that treks start with briefing, you will be required to report to park headquarters early enough to join other visitors. Your gorilla trek involves you hiking through the dense vegetation and steep slopes in search of mountain gorillas. It is a strenuous experience that may require some physical wellness in you and this means, you need to do some exercise before the actual trek.
For those who may not be trust their energies and have heavy luggage, you can hire a porter to help you carry your luggage to allow you concentrate on your adventure. Porters can be hired at $15 or $20 and they can be found at the park headquarters.
Cost of gorilla permits in Rwanda
To take part in this life changing primate adventure, you must have a gorilla permit. That said, permits in Rwanda cost $1500 per person and each permit gives you opportunity to track only one habituated gorilla family. You can obtain one through a ground tour operator or through a reservationist at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
However, while on a trek, your permit isn’t limited to only mountain gorillas as you also have a chance to catch a glimpse at other primates as well as bird species that equally make your experience absolute. Given the fact that there is high demand for gorilla permits, visitors are advised to book their permits in advance before the actual trek to avoid any kind of disappointments.
Accommodation for visitor overnight stay while on gorilla safari in Rwanda
For a gorilla safari to be complete, you need that excellent and comfortable accommodation facility for you to spend a night on. That said, there are variety of lodging options that you can choose to spend a night while on gorilla safari in Rwanda Volcanoes National Park.
They range from budget to luxury and they include among others Bisate Safari Lodge, Kinigi Guesthouse, Mountain gorilla view lodge, Sabyinyo silverback lodge, Virunga Lodge, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel a mention but a few. While in Kigali, the notable hotels for you to spend a night include Marriott or Serena Hotel and others.
The rules and regulations for gorilla trekking in Rwanda
The fact that mountain gorillas are listed among the endangered species, a number of rules and regulations do apply and must be observed at all times by visitors while on gorilla trek. These restrictions are intended to safe guard the lives of these rare creatures and their habitat.
They include among others-only persons above 15 years are eligible to trek mountain gorillas, a distance of about 8 meters must be observed at all times off from gorillas, only an hour is given to you to track only one habituated family, only 8 visitors are assigned to only one group, turn off a flash light camera while taking photos of these creatures, no trekking gorillas if you are not feeling well, cover your mouth in case you are coughing or nose when sneezing and many others.
What to pack for gorilla trekking
To make your trek ideal, you need to pack appropriately for this adventure and in your packing list, you need to consider essentials first starting with water proof hiking boots, rain jacket or poncho, long sleeved shirts/t-shirt, camera with no flash light, sun screen, first aid kit, toiletries, gardening gloves, walking stick that you can find at the park headquarters or at your lodge.
When to go for gorilla trekking in Rwanda
For any plans to track mountain gorillas in Rwanda, there are two seasons that you need to consider-the dry and wet season. The dry season begins from June to September and December to February and this is usually considered as the most ideal as the ground remains relatively driers making it easier for you to trek gorillas.
However the challenge with this season is that, these creatures tend to roam to distant areas in search of what to eat and you will spend a bit longer hours while trekking. On the other hand, the wet season is equally ideal and usually starts from March to May and October to November.
The advantage with this season is that there is plenty of forage for these creatures to depend on but the challenge with it is that the ground usually tends to slippery and muddy thus making it a little bit challenging for one to trek through the thick rain forest and steep slopes.