Rwanda has about half of the population of the Mountain gorillas in the whole world. Most of these gorillas are found in the volcanoes National park which is found in the Virunga region in the North western part of Rwanda. During your trek, gorilla family allocation depends on the fitness of the tourists, the accommodation that you will choose and the preference of the tourists since the different families act in a different way. The Zoologist Dian Fossey was at the epitome of saving the Mountain Gorillas in the National park from the poachers and after her death, the Dian Fossey foundation was set up so that these primates were taken care of and preserved for the future generations.
Gorilla trekking cost in Rwanda
The gorilla trekking in Rwanda costs depends on the number of days that you are going to spend while in the country. When it comes to the gorilla trekking days, we would suggest the 3 days gorilla trek tour in Rwanda. You should however note that the cost of the trek depends on a number of factors that is transportation, accommodation and food among others. A two gorilla trek in Rwanda cost also depends on the accommodation that you choose and the same applies to the three day gorilla trip.
Luxury gorilla trekking in Rwanda
There are majorly three major luxury accommodation facilities from where you can go while on a luxury gorilla trek in the country and these are the gorilla lodge, the Silverback Sabinyo and the Virunga lodge. These increase the cost of the trip to around 3580 US dollars for each person sharing a double room, 3370 US dollars per person for a quadruple room and 3400 US dollars per person sharing a room for three people but remember that these are just estimates and the cost can either increase or reduce depending on the different circumstances.
Mid-range gorilla trekking trip to Rwanda
A mid-range trip means that you are going to be spending the night in some of the mid-range accommodation facilities that are found near or within the Volcanoes national Park. An estimate of the costs per room include 2820 US dollars for one person, 2150 dollars per person sharing a quadruple room and 2150 US dollars per person for those sharing a triple room.
The volcanoes National Park
The volcanoes National park also known as the Parc National des Volcans is found in the Virunga region and it is a home to quite a large number of Mountain Gorillas which are endangered species. The volcanoes National park at the moment has twelve Mountain gorilla families at the moment and these have been habituated so that there is harmony when the tourists visit. These families are found in the different corners of the Volcanoes National Park.
Time spent on the Gorilla trek in Rwanda
The gorilla trekking in Rwanda does not take long and it is just an hour of pure silence as you meet the different gorilla families in the national park. Each time you go for that one hour of gorilla trekking, you will realize that it is different and that one hour will be the best time of your life. Every group that goes for Rwanda gorilla safari has a maximum of eight people for each hour.
Best time to go for gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Rwanda experiences two seasons that is the dry season and the wet season. Gorilla trekking can be done all throughout the year but the best time is during the dry season when the trek routes are not as muddy as they be during the wet season and the dry season is from June to September. During the dry season, most of the gorillas are found up the Mountains and you will need to hike up in order to be able to see them.
The wet season is experienced between the months of April and May. Gorilla trekking can also be done during this time although you should get ready for the slippery, muddy hike routes and the rains that come unannounced. The good thing about gorilla trekking during the rainy season is that it will be easy for you to see the different gorilla families because during this time, the gorillas leave the Mountains the Mountain tops and slope down.
What you need for gorilla trekking in Rwanda
This particular part deals with what you really need to have a successful gorilla trip in the country. You should note that gorilla trekking will take you through the deep jungles of the Virunga region in in order for you to get a glimpse of the gorillas and there are a few things that you will need some of which include:
- Good strong hiking boots and it will be better if you use ones that you have used before for security purposes.
- Carry a water proof jacket especially during the wet season because you can never know the rains come.
- A camera is allowed but you should not use the flash because it scares away the primates.
- If possible, get a walking stick before you get any further in your hike and this is because the hike routes are rather a bit muddy.
- Pack enough water for yourself and some snacks for the hike. However you will not be allowed to eat in the presence of the primates which means that you will have to wait for when your tour guide tells you to eat.
- When it comes to clothes, they should be at least long sleeved so as to avoid tree branch scratches and insect bites in the jungle.
- Hiring a potter should be one of the things that you should consider because it is practically impossible for one to trek with all their luggage and therefore you will need someone to carry for you at an agreed fee.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda Vs Uganda
Both countries are known to be the best destinations for a gorilla trekking experience although there are different factors and circumstances that make gorilla trekking in the two countries different. In both countries the gorillas are found high up in the Mountains.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done in the volcanoes national Park located within the Virunga region which is shared among three countries that is Uganda, DRC and Rwanda. A gorilla permit in Rwanda costs about 1500 US dollars after a hefty raise from the 750 US dollars that were paid before. Due to the increase in the price of the permit, Rwanda gorilla trekking is referred to as a luxury trip. Although the price of the permit is high, it comes with some of the best experiences while in Rwanda.
The volcanoes National Park is located just about two hours away from the capital city of Rwanda Kigali making it easy for tourists to access the gorillas which is not the same when it comes to Uganda. The National Parks from which the trekking is done are more than 8 hours away which means that you will have to spend almost an extra cost of about 400 to 600 US dollars on transport only. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda can take a minimum of two days in Rwanda whereas in Uganda it can take a minimum of three days only.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the Bwindi impenetrable National Park. A gorilla permit used to go for around 600 US dollars but from the 1st of July 2020, the permit fees were raised to 700 US dollars per day. Unlike in Rwanda, Uganda safaris involving gorilla tours can take about 4 hours where you get to meet the different habituated gorilla families. And the beauty about gorilla trekking in Uganda is that you also get to go to other National Parks that have a wide range of wild animals including the big five. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a little bit harder than it is in Rwanda but the strain is worth it in the end.
The best experience for gorilla trekking cannot be determined by the country that you are going to have your trek in that is either in Uganda or Rwanda but it is determined by the way the different gorilla families behave.
Gorilla families in Rwanda
Rwanda has more than 500 Gorillas nestled in the volcanoes National Park and these are separated into different families scattered across the park. Some of the Gorilla families and some of the groups that you will get to see while in Rwanda include the following:
- The Ugenda Gorilla family
The Ugenda gorilla family has about 11 gorillas with 2 silverbacks and they are normally found around the Karisimbi Mountain. Ugenda in Kinyarwanda means “on the move” and these are extremely hard to see as they keep on moving up and down.
- The Susa Gorilla family
This is one of the best families to look at and it has been in existence since the Zoologist Dian Fossey. At the moment the Susa family has 28 members with 3 silverbacks although at first it had 46 gorillas some of which broke away to create a new group. It was named after the nearby Susa River and it is found in the upper parts of the Virunga Mountains and therefore you will have to hike up in order to get a close look at them
- The Hirwa gorilla family
This is a new gorilla family consisted of 13 gorillas at the time of its formation in 206 but at the moment they have 16 members twins inclusive and they live around the Sabinyo mountain. It is considered a lucky group because members joined in willingly and they have a large following at that. It is however a difficult group to track down.
- The Bwenge Family Group
The Bwenge group of gorillas has 11 members and it is led by a silverback. They can easily be spotted up the Karisoke Volcano hill and you should note that the steep slope is a muddy one and therefore you will need good hiking boots.
Gorilla permits in Rwanda
You cannot access the Volcanoes national park for Gorilla trekking if you do not have a permit with you. Rwanda releases about 86 permits per year and it is better if book for your gorilla trekking trip in advance. There are some questions that tourists always ask about when it comes to permits and a quick answer to this will leave you with the knowledge of what is needed for a gorilla permit in Rwanda.
- How important are the gorilla permits?
Gorilla permits are extremely important because you cannot get into the National Park for gorilla trekking without your gorilla permit, so all in all it is extremely important.
- When I purchase a gorilla permit, does it become mine?
The gorilla permits are the property of the government of Rwanda and it only acts a password that gets you into the National Park to see the gorillas but you do not own it and you do not go with it as well. The permits are collected at the entrance of the Park and that is the last time you see them.
- When should I book for my gorilla permit?
Since there are few gorilla permits released per day, it is better if you at least five to six months earlier before your intended arrival to the country. Gorilla permits are given out according to first come first serve and since gorilla trekking is the most participated in activity in the country, the earlier you book the better.
How hard is gorilla trekking in Rwanda?
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is extremely difficult but so does any activity that involves trekking and hiking. What makes it harder are the gorilla families that keep on moving from one place to another making it difficult to trek them but once you do a little bit of exercise and also follow the guidelines that are given to you by the guides, then you will have a difficult but enjoyable up gorilla land.
What is the age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda?
The age limit for gorilla for gorilla trekking is 15 years and above in Rwanda. This was put up because children normally are prone to diseases and you cannot be allowed to trek when you are sick and since the gorillas also have almost the same gene structure as humans, it is better if children are not taken for the trek to avoid infection to the gorillas.