Why Consider A Rwanda Gorilla Trek Tour?
A Rwanda gorilla trek is one of the most dazzling wildlife encounters you might experience with Tulambule. About 30% of the world’s mountain gorilla population – some 300 gorillas – live within the 160km2 Volcanoes National Park.
This Rwanda gorilla safari park protects Rwanda’s portion of the Virungas, a spectacular chain of volcanoes that rises from the floor of the Great Rift Valley to a maximum elevation of 4,507 m.
It is also where legendary primatologist Dian Fossey conducted her gorilla research for nearly 20 years. It offers an exceptional concentration of gorillas within a relatively small area.
Visits here are particularly special as the park is home to 12 gorilla families that are habituated or tolerant of the presence of small numbers of humans.
That means that after a certain amount of trekking with your Rwanda local guides (who are intimately familiar with the gorillas’ movements and habits, you and a maximum of 7 other people will be able to settle into a spot where you can quietly watch and take photographs of as many as 20 wild gorillas. You’ll see them as they go about their daily business; eating, grooming, dozing, and playing – for up to an hour.
In-Depth Learning About Gorillas
An integral part of our Rwanda gorilla trek tour is the thorough education you will receive about these awe-inspiring primates.
During your trek amid the rainforest jungle of the Volcanoes to find gorillas – and afterward, over meals and talks at your comfortable lodges – our guides will impart a wealth of gorilla-related wisdom.
You will learn more about these Great Apes’ formidable physical power and how according to studies, a male silverback can weigh more than 220 kilograms, has nine times the strength of an average human being, and can bite more forcefully than a lion.
You’ll also get to know that the mountain gorillas are fundamentally shy and gentle in nature.
You’ll learn about how they form long-lasting family bonds, dote on their young, and spend most of their waking lives peacefully foraging for plants to eat. Gorillas can consume up to 18 kilograms of leaves, bark, roots, and fruit per day.
You will also learn that gorillas are highly intelligent and intensely curious—which you may be lucky enough to witness firsthand if an inquisitive young gorilla tries to move close to your viewing group (for the gorillas’ safety and yours, park rules require keeping a distance of around 7 meters).
Attentive Guidance And Luxurious Lodges
A Rwanda gorilla trek can be difficult. While stunningly beautiful, teeming with lush vegetation and birdsong, the montane forests of Volcanoes National Park where the gorillas live are also steeply pitched, sometimes muddy, and can only be traversed on foot.
Reaching a spot where you can view gorillas might take a 2-hour hike each way (one reason why all trekkers in the Volcanoes National Park are required to be at least 15 years of age.
Still, the expert Rwanda gorilla trekking guides ensures you will have plenty of assistance along the hike. They will gladly help you navigate tricky trails.
Once you have finished your day’s adventure, you will get to relax, share stories and photos, and dine and drink in supreme comfort at one of the opulent safari lodges in Rwanda.
Whether you choose to unwind after your Rwanda gorilla trek with a long bath in your soaking tub at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge or a fireside glass of wine in your eco-chic pod at Bisate Lodge, you will feel pampered, revived, and ready for another day of gorilla adventures.
A Sample Of Our Best Rwanda gorilla trekking Packages
The below examples of Rwanda gorilla safari packages showcase a few ways of combining the attractions of this fascinating country. Please note however these are intended as a guide only and can be completely tailored to your specific requirements. Contact us for a bespoke quote.
Rwanda gorilla trek cost
A Rwanda gorilla trekking permit cost US$1,500 per person per trek.
Gorilla trekking is one of Africa’s top bucket-list wildlife viewing experiences and it comes at a hefty price. Is gorilla trekking worth the money? In one word, yes. If you can afford it, of course.
This is the fee paid to the national park, and proceeds are used to protect and develop Rwanda’s wildlife and protected areas. The cost of an overnight return trip from Kigali, including a gorilla trek, accommodation and transport, starts at about US$2,000 per person.
A 3-day trip would be more recommended, since it means you don’t need to travel straight back to Kigali after your gorilla trek. With an extra day you can either do a second gorilla trek, a golden monkey tracking adventure, a volcano hike or a trek to Dian Fossey’s Tomb.
Mid-range 3-day Rwanda gorilla tours start at around US$3,000 per person. To see more of the country, you can do a 7-day Rwanda safari tour, which costs approximately US$8,500 per person.
Rwanda gorilla trekking age limit
Gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda are strictly restricted to 15 years and above. There is no maximum age limit. The minimum age restriction is in place due to several important factors;
1. Children may find it difficult to stay calm if a gorilla mock charges
While it is uncommon, a wild mountain gorilla may charge if it feels that any member of your trekking group poses a threat to them.
But a calm and knowledgeable guide can often deter a charging gorilla. Unfortunately, children may become terrified, scream, or want to run when faced with the intimidating bark of a 200 kg silverback. In such situations, a charging gorilla will give a chase to running guests.
On a gorilla trek, children also pose health risks to gorillas. This is because their developing immune systems make them more vulnerable to contagious diseases like flu. As these illnesses can easily be spread to the endangered gorillas, the consequences can be severe and potentially fatal.
3. Difficulty of the trek
Moreover, children may find it extremely difficult to finish the entire trek due to their limited stamina.
A Rwanda gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park requires navigating steep mountain slopes and demanding terrain. The activity needs a certain fitness level and determination, which mature travellers are more likely to possess. Generally speaking, adults are better equipped to deal with obstacles like muddy pathways, insects, dense forests, and steep inclines.
If you are visiting Rwanda with youngsters, you can book your stay at a lodge that provide child-minding services, special programs for kids, or even safe and child-friendly forest walks.
Rules For Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda
There are other strict rules and regulations set for Rwanda gorilla trekking. These rules are designed to protect the gorillas, the trackers and guides, as well as trekking tourists. Compliance with these rules is crucial to ensure the well-being of the gorillas and the safety of trekking groups. They include;
- Maintaining a minimum distance of seven metres
- Following instructions from park guides
- Speaking in low tones
- Avoiding direct eye contact with gorillas
- Never attempting to touch them
Best Time To Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
People mostly come to Rwanda for gorilla trekking tours, and sightings are pretty much guaranteed throughout the year. However, the Dry season months of June to late September and December to February offer the best trekking conditions.
During the Wet season months, trails tend to be more slippery and harder to navigate. As gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, it could be disappointing if it rained on the day. That said, the guides go out of their way to make the experience special, whatever the weather. If it rains hard, they might decide to wait somewhere for the weather to improve before approaching the gorillas.
Traveller FAQs Answered
1. How does Rwanda Gorilla treks compare to other countries?
Four national parks offer mountain gorilla trekking.The most famous and accessible are Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Volcanoes National Park is in the Virunga Volcanoes. Here the gorillas reside in a bamboo habitat. This setting tends to be less thick than the impenetrable rainforest of Bwindi. The youngsters love to play and climb in the bamboo sticks under the watchful eyes of the adults. Gorillas move around and, depending on where they are, the trek can be quite challenging in both countries.
However, the trekking is typically easier in Rwanda. Aside from gorilla trekking, Volcanoes has other activities unavailable in Bwindi. These include tracking the endemic golden monkeys, climbing the Virunga volcanic peaks, and cave exploration. Especially moving is the trek to the abandoned research station where primatologist Dian Fossey and several of the gorillas she studied are buried.
The gorilla trekking fees are also different. A permit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda costs US$1,500 per person, a Uganda gorilla permit cost US$700 per person and in Congo US$400 per person.
2. How much time do you have with the gorillas?
You can spend a maximum of one hour in the company of the gorillas on any given gorilla tour. This time does not include time spent trekking to find the gorillas or the descent back to the trailhead.
Usually, if the gorillas are positioned in difficult terrain or the middle of a downpour, your guides will suggest you wait a while before joining the gorillas and starting the clock.
3. How safe is gorilla trekking in Rwanda?
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is very safe. Although huge, these great apes are really gentle giants.
Incidents with travelers are almost unheard of. The gorillas you will visit on a Rwanda gorilla trek are habituated and they know that humans are no threat to them.
Be sure to pay attention during the gorilla trekking safety briefing. It is also important to listen to the instructions of ranger guide, especially in the unlikely event of a gorilla mock charging or other interactions, such as an inquisitive baby coming up to you.
4. Are gorilla sightings guaranteed on A Rwanda Gorilla Trek?
Sightings of gorillas on a Rwanda gorilla trek tour can never be totally guaranteed. While habituated, the gorillas are completely wild.
They move daily looking for food and they end the day with making a nest for the night. Having said that, you are near certain to see the mountain gorillas as long as you are able to complete the trek. To make this possible, trackers stay with the gorillas through most of the day.
So when the trackers leave the forest in the evening, they know where the gorillas have made their nest. At dawn, they set out to find them again before you have even left with your ranger guide.
They will then send the guide the coordinates of the location by radio. So a lot of this smooth operation depends on the dedication and hard work of the trackers behind the scenes.
5. What fitness level is required for a Rwanda Gorilla trek?
Moderately fit people should not find it too difficult trek gorillas in Rwanda.
In most cases, the ascent from the trailhead to the forest edge is quite flat and easy, though the altitude might leave you out of breath. Inside the forest, the terrain can be more challenging, but you generally won’t need to walk too far or too fast, and the porters are used to assisting struggling trekkers up the steep and slippery slopes.
Travelers who are older than 50 and/or out of shape may find the gorilla trek challenging. But, they can take heart from the fact that people of all ages and fitness levels have tracked gorillas in Rwanda.
It helps that the guides typically have a good idea of how tough the hike to any given gorilla family will be on any given day, so they are able to allocate the easier options to elderly or less-fit trekkers.
6. What preparations are advised for gorilla trekking in Rwanda?
A Rwanda gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park takes place at high altitudes of up to 3,000 meters / 9,842 feet. It is worth spending a few days acclimatizing in the nearby highlands, especially if you are unused to hiking and/or live close to sea level.
No special training is need, but if you would be daunted by the prospect of a two-hour walk at home, then tries to build yourself up to a level where you can cover that distance in your stride.
Long sleeves are recommended to protect against stinging nettles, while long trousers tucked into long socks and solid walking shoes help deter biting ants. Remember to bring a hat, sunblock, a rain jacket, and up to two liters of drinking water.
A walking stick is very beneficial in the interior of the forest, but you don’t need to bring one from home, as you will be offered one before you set off on the trek. Porters are also available to carry your day pack and to help push and pull you up any tricky slopes.
7. Which other activities are available in Volcanoes National Park?
A variety of guided hikes and treks are available.
These include golden monkey trekking in the bamboo forest zone, a moderately demanding day hike to Dian Fossey’s grave, and a more challenging day hike to the Crater Lake at the 3,711 meter summit of Mount Bisoke. Easier walks include an underground stroll through the atmospheric Musanze Caves and a cultural tour to the Gorilla Guardian Village.
Also recommended is the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, where a family-friendly multimedia installation highlights the ecology and conservation of Volcanoes National Park’s gorillas and the pioneering research undertaken there by Dian Fossey.
8. Can I add A Rwanda gorilla Trek to a general safari?
A short flight gets you to Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. Time permitting, you can continue straight from the airport to Volcanoes National Park. It is an easy 2½-hour drive on a tarmacked road. Otherwise, you can overnight in one of the comfortable city hotels or on the shore of Lake Kivu.
While a gorilla trek is a perfect addition to a safari in some of the best East African parks and reserves, it also slots well into an extended holiday in Rwanda. The highlights of Rwanda packages include: Volcanoes National Park for gorilla and golden monkey trekking, Akagera National Park for a classic Big Five safari, and Nyungwe National Park for chimpanzee trekking in pristine montane rainforest.
The density of wildlife in Akagera are not comparable to the most famous reserves in East Africa, but this off-the-beaten-track destination is incredibly scenic and rewarding in its own right.