By Jenna Jolie
Rwanda is among three nations globally where you can encounter a large number of mountain gorillas, the world's largest primate. Remarkably, the 2018 census revealed that their population has surged by an impressive 25 percent in a mere eight years, now exceeding 1,000 individuals, owing to the country's dedicated conservation efforts.
That's why Rwanda is an ideal destination for travelers to embark on one of the most extraordinary adventures, called gorilla trekking. This unique and awe-inspiring experience allows visitors to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. This article will provide you with all the essential information regarding Rwanda Gorilla Trekking, including where to experience gorilla trekking, the best time to embark on this journey, and the cost to help you plan your once-in-a-lifetime gorilla encounter.
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for travelers
The Best Time For Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda
Generally, gorilla trekking in Rwanda can be done throughout the year. However, travelers should refrain from embarking on their journey in rainy seasons, as the hiking experience may be more complex and risky.
Generally, the best time for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is during the dry seasons, which typically run from June to mid-September and December to February. These months offer stable weather conditions, making the trekking trails more accessible and the overall experience more comfortable.
On the other hand, the slippery road may make trekking more challenging during the rainy seasons (March to May and October to November). Still, the lush vegetation provides a unique and vibrant backdrop for your adventure.
It's important to note that Rwanda gorilla trekking experiences are highly regulated, and a limited number of permits are issued each day to minimize the impact on the gorillas and their habitat. Therefore, it's advisable to book your permits well in advance to secure your spot on the trek.
Experience Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
The Volcanoes National Park is the only place for travelers to experience gorilla trekking in Rwanda and one of the premier destinations for gorilla trekking in the world. Located in the northern part of the country, the park is a haven for a large number of mountain gorillas, which spans Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is an awe-inspiring adventure for travelers that can hardly be found anywhere in the world. What makes this experience unique is the opportunity to encounter giant mountain gorillas in the dense forests. Within Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, several habituated gorilla families are accustomed to human presence, making it an ideal place for visitors to observe and learn about these remarkable animals. Some well-known gorilla groups include the Susa, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Kwitonda, and Hirwa families, each offering a unique and captivating experience.
Travelers embark on a gorilla trekking journey in the Volcanoes National Park
The journey begins with a thrilling hike through bamboo forests and steep mountain slopes, in which the professional staff guides you to locate one of Rwanda's precious gorilla families. The climax of this exhilarating endeavor is the heart-pounding moment when you finally come face to face with these magnificent primates. This encounter ranks among the most thrilling and cherished wildlife experiences across the African continent.
For those seeking the best of both worlds, they have the option of indulging in a double gorilla trekking adventure by crossing the border into Uganda. And for the most intrepid of travelers, they can also visit the gorillas in Virunga National Park of Congo. For the ultimate wildlife enthusiast, witnessing both mountain gorillas and Eastern Lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park in Congo is exciting. While tracking gorillas demands effort and perseverance, the reward of finally gazing upon these incredible creatures makes every challenge worthwhile.
Cost of Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Securing a Rwanda gorilla permit is essential to this incredible adventure, and booking in advance is highly advisable to guarantee your spot for gorilla trekking on a specific date. Especially during peak seasons, from June to September and December to March, purchasing these permits can be exceedingly challenging due to their limited availability.
In Rwanda, the current cost of a gorilla permit stands at $1500, though it's important to note that this represents just a fraction of the overall price of Rwanda gorilla trekking tours. The fee includes the park entry, a guided trek with experienced trackers, and one hour of direct observation with the gorilla family. Much of the funds collected from gorilla permits are used to support gorilla conservation efforts and community programs, underscoring this tourism activity's sustainable and positive impact.
Permits can be secured through a tour operator or directly through the Rwanda Development Board, with the prerequisite of providing passport details during the booking process. In Rwanda, there are 10 gorilla families available for trekking, with a strict limit of only 8 visitors allowed to visit a particular group in a single day. This effectively means that only 80 gorilla permits are available each day, distributed across the various habituated gorilla groups, further emphasizing the exclusivity and conservation-minded approach of gorilla trekking in Uganda.
In addition to the gorilla permits, you should also consider additional expenses such as accommodation, transportation, and meals as part of your overall budget.
Cost of Rwanda gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda
Preparing for Your Gorilla Trek
Gorilla trekking is physically demanding, and being adequately prepared is vital. Travelers going on a gorilla trekking adventure in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park should be well-prepared to adhere to the rules and regulations that govern this extraordinary experience. Here are some important regulations travelers should be aware of to ensure an exciting journey while seeing mountain gorillas at a close distance:
To get up close to these magnificent primates, individuals must be 15 or older, as children under this age are not permitted near the gorillas. This precaution is in place to prevent transmitting diseases like flu and cough, which can threaten the gorillas' health. That's why tourists are required to provide their passport details when booking a gorilla trekking trip. With only around 1,000 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild, these measures are crucial to protect this endangered species from potential diseases.
Physical Fitness: Gorilla trekking often involves hiking through dense forests and hilly terrain. It's essential to be in reasonably good physical shape to enjoy the experience fully.
Pack Appropriately: Wear comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing and sturdy, waterproof hiking boots. Don't forget to bring rain gear and layers, as weather conditions can change quickly.
Permits and Documentation: Ensure you have a valid gorilla trekking permit, and carry your passport as identification. Your tour operator can assist with these details.
Respect the Gorillas: Once you encounter the gorilla family, maintain a safe distance, and follow the instructions of your guides. Flash photography is not allowed, and loud noises should be avoided.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is a life-changing experience that allows you to connect with these incredible creatures in their natural habitat while contributing to their conservation. The breathtaking scenery, unique wildlife, and the opportunity to observe these gentle giants up close make it an adventure like no other.
Last but not least, don’t forget to obtain the “Rwanda entry ticket” before traveling to the land of a thousand hills. The Rwanda visa processing has been made easier thanks to the online system at Rwanda Immigration Services. Within 24 hours, you can possess a valid visa and embark on the journey of discovering the life environment of giant gorillas in Rwanda.