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Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking - 11 Day Rwanda Special Tour

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Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Rwanda is one of only three countries in the world where the critically endangered mountain gorillas live. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is often described as “life changing” and with good reason. With only an estimated 880 Gorillas left in the world, seeing these gentle creatures in their natural habitat is a truly unique moment.

Gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo-covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. Trek to see them and you’ll be introduced by your expert trackers and guides to one of the fully-habituated families of mountain gorillas and you can stay with them for an awe-inspiring hour, often crouching just a few feet away, whilst the gorillas go about their daily lives.

Hikes in the mountains can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours + depending on the family allocated to your group and their location. The journey back can take just as long, but you are often carried along by the euphoria you feel after seeing the gorillas!

Expert guides give a pre-trek briefing on specific protocols and rules for visiting the gorillas that live within an altitude of 2500 and 4000m. Porters are available to help carry backpacks and cameras, as well as helping you with your footing along your hike which can be hard work, but well worth it.

Gorilla Permits

Gorilla permits can be booked at the RDB Tourism and Conservation Reservation Office in person, by telephone (252 57 65 14) or via email: reservation@rwandatourism.com. Gorilla permits cost as follows:

Price of a Rwanda Gorilla Permit

– $1500 – Non Residents, East African Residents, East African Citizens, Rwandan Residents, Rwandan Citizens

– 30% Discount (US$ 1,050) on gorilla permits if visiting other Rwanda national parks (Akagera national park, Nyungwe national park) for 3 days and more during the low season of November – May

– 15% discount (US$ 1,275) on conference guests who stay pre & post MICE events to see gorillas

– $15,000 for Private gorilla trekking of an entire group with an exclusive personalized tour guide service

– US$ 30,000 for a minimum of 3 visitors for 3 consecutive days (Behind the scenes)

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)

Booking a Rwanda Gorilla Permit through us.

Booking a Rwanda gorilla permit through our travel agency – Booking through Trek Gorilla Safaris is a reliable option of obtaining a Rwanda gorilla permit. We are a registered and liable tour operator in Rwanda and Uganda.

Important Note: Its highly advisable to book your permit earlier than your planned gorilla trekking date as permits tend to get finished early. Volcanoes national park is home to 10 mountain gorilla groups and each group can only have 1 group of 8 people visiting a day for only 1 hour. Today Rwanda is receiving so many visitors coming to tour gorillas. Its best to book early to guarantee your gorilla permits for the day interested to trek gorillas.

Refunds/Cancellation Guidelines

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) shall refund 50% of the gorilla tracking fee for any visitor showing signs of illness. Any sick visitor shall not be allowed to track the gorillas if declared unfit by the Warden in Charge. The only applies to visitors who have travelled all the way to the park.

Tracking Time Limit

Assembling for briefing from one of the park rangers at the Kinigi park headquarters starts is limited to 7:00 – 7:30 at latest. Gorilla trekking time is limited from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All visitors are expected back at the camp ground by 7:00 p.m.

Visitor’s Passport Information
After full confirmation of the booking, passport details of the trackers will be require at the UWA to enable writing out the gorilla permits. Please ensure the full names, passport number and country of passport issuance are sent.

Please note: You must be over 15 years of age to obtain a gorilla viewing permit.

Primate Trekking

Beyond the gorillas that made Rwanda famous, wildlife junkies will be thrilled to know that they can trek three more species of primates on their Rwandan holiday: Chimpanzees, Black-and-white colobus monkeys, and the endangered Golden monkey. Chimpanzee groups live high in the canopy of Nyungwe National Park, and catching your first glimpse of one crashing through the forest after hiking into their territory is astonishing. The black-and-white colobus live in Nyungwe as well, and these resplendent, long-haired creatures are every wildlife photographer’s dream.

Finally, like their neighbours the gorillas, the Golden monkey can be found in very few places outside of Volcanoes National Park, and their rich colors, energetic demeanour, and sizeable troupes of up to 30 individuals are truly a sight to behold. The gorillas may be what brought you to Rwanda, but it would be an unforgivable omission to leave without seeing one of the wonderful creatures they share a home with, the chimpanzees.

These cousins to humans can be found and tracked in Nyungwe National Forest. A beautiful guided hike through the forest will lead you to these fascinating creatures where you can watch them play and interact up close.Chimpanzee tracking can be done year-round in Nyungwe Forest, rain or shine, and while it is never guaranteed that you will see them, sightings are very common and guides are skillful in tracking them. The experience differs from gorilla tracking as the chimps are running around, so the sightings are a bit more sporadic and rushed, but worthwhile nonetheless.

Golden Monkey Trekking

These striking primates are a treat for the eyes. With their bright orange fur contrasting the green rainforests of the Virunga Mountains – it’s a photographers dream! Visitors meet with their guides at Volcanoes National Park’s Kinigi Headquarters and the visit is done once per day. Time for trekking is allocated after booking.

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Guidelines

  • 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.

Gorilla Families

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

When to go gorilla tracking - gorilla trekking in Uganda & RwandaBEST TIME TO GO

Gorilla Viewing: Gorilla trekking can take place at any time of year with April/May and November being wetter. However, be aware that rain occurs all year round. For general game viewing safaris, the best time to go is during the dry season (between June and September).

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