Rwanda is home to an abundance of excellent wildlife diversity. Its modest size means that getting between places of interest is relatively quick and simple, which is just as well given the vast array of spectacular places to visit in Rwanda.
Despite the country’s small size, Rwanda’s breath-taking environment and kind, welcoming people provide one-of-a-kind experiences. With incredible species inhabiting its volcanoes, highland rain forests, and wide plains, you will be sure to encounter many endemic animals on safari tours in Rwanda.
The capital city of Kigali is the country’s entry and exit point for prime gorilla trekking in Rwanda. You will fly in from East Africa’s logistics hubs such as Entebbe or Nairobi and, depending on your itinerary, will either transfer straight to the Volcanoes National Park or overnight in this compact and safe city for immersive and captivating Kigali tours and safaris on offer.
Gorilla trekking is Rwanda’s unrivaled main attraction, and the Volcanoes National Park is where to stay in Rwanda to do it. Its mountainous terrain and dense forests make for tough walking conditions, but the rewards are matchless: butterflies, birds and primates, headlined of course by families of habituated mountain gorillas.
Volcanoes National Park is the site of primatologist Dian Fossey’s Karisoke Research Station, where she led a team to study gorillas in the wild. You can undertake about a 2-hour hike to her tomb, which is – like so much in Rwanda – both moving and inspiring, or discover more about the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. The hike is considered one of the best, most intimate tours in Rwanda, and offers a great opportunity to look out for primates, hogs, forest elephants and a plethora of bird species.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is a peerless wildlife experience and one of Africa’s indisputable adventure highlights. No place is better suited for a jungle adventure mix of superb gorilla trekking and conservation tourism than Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. And with an insane price tag on trekking permits at $1500, expect royal treatment throughout your whole adventure experience.
The Volcanoes National Park is one of only four forest reserves in the world that protect mountain gorillas and where gorilla trekking adventures occur. The park gives visitors a unique opportunity to trek and spend intimate moments with the critically endangered mountain gorillas on trekking adventures within the untamed jungle.
The park heavily protects 12 human-habituated gorilla family groups available for tourism and others reserved for research. Tourists can visit any one of the groups for a permit price of $1,500. A maximum of 8 people is allowed to see each group daily.
The best time for gorilla trekking is during Rwanda’s two dry seasons: December to early February and June to September. The drier months make for a more pleasant (and less muddy) hike. Note that the gorilla tickets are scarce during the high season, and lodging is expensive, so secure your gorilla permit and where to stay well in advance to avoid rush-hour logistics.
The rainy months don’t have traffic, and visitors can take advantage of low-season pricing. And oh, temperate can be fickle regardless of when you go, so pack a jacket and rain coat for those gloomy hours.
Visitors gather at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters in Kinigi at 07am, and are allocated a family group on the day according to fitness levels, as well as being briefed on protocols and rules for visiting the gorillas.
Hikes up to their various locations can last anything from 30 minutes to four or more hours, reaching an altitude of between 2,500m and 4,000m. Porters are available to carry backpacks and cameras, as well as to offer a helping hand along the route.
10% of the revenue from the permits is channeled towards local communities, to build schools and health centres, as well as roads. There is a compensation fund for local farmers should any gorillas damage their crops, which helps to ensure peaceful co-existence.
One of the things you will have to consider while planning your gorilla tour is where to sleep. All the lodges for gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda are high quality lodges. Your choice of accommodation will depend on your budget.
The guide will take you to the headquarters in the park by 8 am for beefing. Later begin on the amazing adventure which is gorilla tracking, in most cases this activity requires some physical fitness by the hikers.
On several occasions it takes between 1 to 6hours to trek and trekkers are permitted to be with the gorillas for 1 hour. It is really a nice experience seeing them play, guard each other, feed among others. While trekking hikers will be in line to also see other animals like the golden monkeys, elephants, buffaloes as well as birds.
After trekking, you will be escorted back and head to the lodge; have lunch and opt for a visit to the twin lakes; Burera and Ruhondo or take a walk in the community and watch traditional dances of the locals or if you just relax in the afternoon at your lodge.
A visit with the park’s population of golden monkeys is worth the USD 100 permit. These hyper, cherub-cheeked primates swing through the bamboo forests, occasionally swooping down to the forest floor for a particular choice bamboo shoot. Be warned that catching them on camera can prove tricky. Volcanoes are also home to forest elephants, buffalo, spotted hyenas, and nearly 200 bird species.
The golden monkey trek is a full day engaging activity that starts as early as 7:30 am with a morning brief ahead of the experience and this is done at the Volcanoes National Park offices and you are told about what to expect from the trek and the expected code of conduct for the trek while in the forest.