Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda– a complete guide to gorilla viewing the endangered mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is all about setting foot into the untamed montane forest to find a group of mountain gorillas.

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Best place to go for gorilla trekking in Rwanda

Seeing mountain gorillas in Rwanda is only possible while on a gorilla tour in Volcanoes National Park. Volcanoes Park is Rwanda’s only destination to consider for mountain gorilla encounters, and this park is found in the Northwestern part of the country. It is one of the 3 Virunga Conservation Areas (VCA), and the other 2 include Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Virunga National Park.

Over 30% of 1063 endangered mountain gorillas in the world, live in Volcanoes National Park. This park was founded in the same period Virunga National Park in the D.R. Congo was created, and that was in 1925. It occupies a compact land area in the Northern province of Rwanda, about 160sq.km.

Beyond the massive mountain gorillas, the Volcanoes National Park also supports a diversity of other animal species and other attractions. The park has a mix of vegetation that also serve as habitats for different wildlife, and they include dominant afro-montane forest, savanna grassland, swamps, bamboo forest, and others.

Five of the eight Virunga Volcanoes all exist at this park, and they include Mount Karisimbi (4507m), Bisoke volcano (3711m), Mount Gahinga (3474m), Sabyinyo (3669m), and Muhabura (4127m). Other animals that live within Volcanoes NP include bushbucks, spotted hyenas, duikers, buffaloes, golden monkeys, forest hogs, etc.

Birds – over 200 birds including a majority of Albertine rift endemic and forest species all call Volcanoes Park their home. The bird watchers on Rwanda safaris to Volcanoes NP can enjoy the sight of birds such as scarlet-tufted sunbird, Grauer’s swamp warblers, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, Dusky turtle dove, brown-necked parrot, brown woodland warblers, African long-eared owl, Rwenzori nightjars, handsome francolins, etc.

Gorilla trekking permits -Volcanoes Park

Gorilla permits are essential for all gorilla tours to Volcanoes National Park (PNV) in Rwanda. One gorilla permit is issued at USD1500 per visitor with the intention to explore mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Booking gorilla permits is easier, connect with your tour operator on the ground – Rwanda Safari Booking to assist you in the overall planning of your gorilla tour. Ensure that your permit is obtained in advance, at least 2-4 months before an actual tour to see mountain gorillas.

PNV in Rwanda has 12 habituated gorilla families to be visited, and they include Sabyinyo, Hirwa, Ugenda, Umubano, Amahoro, Kwitonda, Karisimbi, Susa A, etc. In a day, eight tourists are allocated to a single gorilla group family, the 12 groups translate to 96 gorilla permits.

How is gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s PNV like

Tracking with Rwanda mountain gorillas begins in the morning after breakfast and briefing about gorilla trekking rules. An actual visit to see gorillas commences at 8:00 am, and you will trek through the high elevation of 2400-4507m. The day gorilla trek can last for 2 or 6 hours, depending on the location of gorilla families and the nature of habitats. Your physical fitness level also plays a significant part, and this is why we encourage you to exercise before you travel to Rwanda for gorilla trekking.

When to travel to Volcanoes Park for gorilla trekking?

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is open all year round. But most tourists prefer the drier months since they are characterized by low or no rain. These are favorable months of the year to enjoy a guided mountain gorilla trekking adventure in Volcanoes NP. The dry months in PNV occur from June to August, and December to February, and they are also best referred to as the peak months of the year.

What to carry

Carry only essentials for your gorilla tracking tour in Volcanoes NP. These should include waterproof hiking boots, cameras free from flashlights, daypack-waterproof, long-sleeved shirts, trousers, pairs of socks, insect repellents, sunglasses, snacks, bottled water, and others.

Gorilla trekking regulations – PNV

  • Each day, the park authority allows a maximum of 8 visitors to track one habituated gorilla family.
  • After the long day trek, and finally, you come across gorillas, you will spend a maximum of one hour – taking pictures, and learning more about gorillas.
  • Don’t use a flashlight camera during photography with gorillas because the flashlight can scare away or irritate gorillas thus making them charge at you.
  • You must be 15 to purchase a gorilla permit or participate in a gorilla trekking adventure.
  • Don’t go to visit gorillas when or if you aren’t feeling well/sick.

Other tourist activities to enjoy besides gorilla trekking

Golden monkey tracking- this is a lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in the jungles to see golden monkeys in the wild. It is a 2-4 hours primate adventure, and permits are available for booking at USD100 per person.

Visit the Dian Fossey tomb site, and get to explore more about Dian Fossey, a great conservation personality who dedicated 18 years of her life researching gorillas in the Virunga volcanoes.

You can also add on different experiences in and around Volcanoes N/Park including birding, a tour Musanze caves, volcano climbing, a cultural tour to Iby’Iwacu cultural village, or visit Nyungwe Forest National Park for chimpanzee tracking, Akagera National Park for wildlife viewing and other sites.

Where to stay

Choose a comfortable place for your overnight sleep on Rwanda safaris from several accommodation choices in and around Volcanoes National Park. There are luxury, budget, and midrange lodges, all worth booking for relaxation and overnight stay. They include Five Volcanoes Lodge, Virunga Hotel, Da Vinci, Bisate Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, and others.