Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is an exciting and adventurous activity for any tourists on a Rwanda safari. Trekking the mountain gorillas of Rwanda marks the highlight of any gorilla trekking tour in the country. Trekking gorillas in Rwanda can only be done in Volcanoes National Park, which is home to 7 habituated gorilla groups. It is no wonder that the national park is a central hub for all gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda.

Volcanoes National Park – Gorilla Trekking

Volcanoes National Park is the most visited national park in Rwanda and this is precise because of the mountain gorillas that reside within the park. The park is one of the three national parks in Rwanda and is located in Ruhengeri district, just a 1½ hours’ drive from Kigali City. The national park is situated in the northwestern part of Rwanda and was first established as a national park in 1925.

Rwanda gorilla trekking activities in Volcanoes National Park begin from Kinigi, where the park’s headquarters are located. All gorilla trekking activities in the park begin at 8 am every day, so it is important for visitors to always keep time when on a gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda.

Rwanda gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park involves tracking trans-boundary mountain gorillas because the national park is bordered by Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park involves trekkers hiking through 160km² of bamboo and Afro-montane rain forest. This makes trekking gorillas in Rwanda a bit more cumbersome as compared to Uganda and Congo. While trekking gorillas in Volcanoes, tourists can also have an opportunity to see other attractions in the national park such as the Volcano Mountains that fall under the Virunga volcano massif. These include; Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Gahinga, Muhabura, and Bisoke mountains.

Visitors doing gorilla trekking can also engage in other activities in the national park such as; hiking mount Karisimbi and Bisoke, Hiking to Dian Fossey tomb, golden monkey tracking, nature walks, visiting the Musanze Caves, Community walks, visiting the twin lakes Ruhondo and Burera and Iby’iwacu community tour. 

Gorilla Trekking: The term gorilla trekking is a physically thrilling and adventurous activity that involves a tourist traveling to a gorilla habitat, hiking through forest cover and locating gorilla groups. Gorilla trekking involves trekkers walking through thick forest vegetation and on steep and slippery trails while tracking the footprints of a gorilla and spotting fresh gorilla feces with the aim of locating a given gorilla group.

Gorilla expeditions in Rwanda happen in groups of eight individuals who are going to tack the same gorilla group or family. Each tourist is provided with a well trained and experienced park ranger who are in constant communication with scouts and follow their course of direction.

How difficult is Gorilla trekking

Gorilla Trekking requires one to be physically and mentally fit for the challenging activity. Trekking gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park also needs one to be patient as you might hike and track for hours until you finally located a gorilla family. However, there are provisions for those tourists who are physically disabled to trek gorillas as porters are availed to carry them on stretchers for an extra fee.

Rwanda gorilla trekking tours involve tourists tracking gorillas for about 1- 8 hours depending on how easily the gorillas are located. When the gorillas are spotted, tourists are allowed to spend only an hour with the gorillas.

Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park can be done by tourists starting from the age of 18 years.

Price of Gorilla Trekking Permits in Rwanda.

Gorilla Trekking permits in Rwanda can be got at Volcanoes National Park offices at a fee of USD 1500 per person and does not include park entrance and porter fees. However, tourists can also make bookings for gorilla trekking using a trusted Tour Operator in Rwanda. Visitors need to make sure that the tour operator/ company you are using is registered with the government of Rwanda and the Association of Tour Operators in Rwanda. It is recommended that tourists book for gorilla trekking permits 6 months before travel.

Is it safe for visitors to trek gorillas in Rwanda

There is no cause for alarm for any visitor trekking gorillas in Rwanda. Rwanda is a safe country with no political instabilities in the country or areas where her national parks are located; and in addition to this, the people of Rwanda are friendly and welcoming to foreigners in the country. Therefore, it goes without saying that it is totally safe for a tourist to go on a gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda.

Best Time to go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

The best time of the year to do gorilla trekking in Rwanda is during the dry season which is between June-September, and December-February. However, gorilla trekking in Rwanda can be done throughout the year.

Rules and Regulations of Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Before tourists embark on their journey to track mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, they are briefed by a head ranger at the Park’s Offices and also taken through the rules and regulations. These rules and regulations of tracking gorillas in the park are as follows;

  • Every tourist must have acquired a gorilla trekking permit before visiting the park.
  • Gorilla Trekking can be done by adults 18 years and above.
  • Tourists can interact with gorillas for only an hour.
  • There is a maximum of 8 visitors per day per group.
  • No use of flashes in cameras when taking photos of gorillas as this can easily disorient them.
  • A safe distance of 7 meters should be maintained between the tourist and gorillas.
  • Only tourists who are healthy are permitted to trek gorillas so as to reduce the chances of spreading diseases between the tourist and gorillas.
  • Tourists are advised to lower your voices when in the forest and when in close proximity to the gorillas.
  • Do not litter the park.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when in the presence of gorillas.
  • Limit unnecessary movement when with gorillas.
  • Do not spit when in the park as it may lead to the transmission of diseases.
  • Always hid to the advice given by your ranger given that they are experienced guides.

Where to Stay When Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

There are quite a number of accommodation facilities in Rwanda that a tourist can opt to stay at when on a gorilla trekking safari in Volcanoes National Park. These include; Bisate Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Sabyinyo silverback Lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Kinigi guesthouse, Mountain Gorilla View and Gorilla Volcanoes Lodge.

A traveler enjoys Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
A traveler enjoys Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

What to Wear When Going Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

When going Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park, please do carry the following items with you;

  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent.
  • Hut or cap.
  • Wear trousers and long sleeved shirts.
  • A poncho or raincoat in case it rains while you are trekking gorillas.
  • Hiking boots.

How to Get to Rwanda

All gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda being from Kigali International Airport. The airport is the main entry point for most travelers visiting Rwanda. Upon arrival at Kigali airport, visitors are picked by a tour guide and transferred to Volcanoes National Park in Ruhengeri. The national park is situated about 116 km from Kigali Airport, which is about a 2½ hour drive till the park’s headquarters in Kinigi. The park is about 20 minutes away from Musanze town, which is the nearest town. 

Travelers can also visit Rwanda from Uganda using the Cyanika or Katuna borders. Cyanika international border post with Uganda is 30-minutes’ drive-by road and an easy way to extend safaris between the two countries.  Volcanoes National Park can also be accessed by air with charter flight options to Kinigi that are offered by Akagera Aviation. Akagera Aviation offers faster helicopter charter flights to Kinigi.

Trekking gorillas in Rwanda can be a vigorous activity and yet rewarding experience for any tourist trekking mountain gorillas in the country. Do contact us if you have and inquires or wish to book one of our exciting Rwanda gorilla trekking safaris. 

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