Rwanda Gorilla Trekking, Volcanoes National Park 2017/18

Welcome to the guide for Rwanda gorilla Trekking, visiting Volcanoes National Park, how to get there, where to say. Thinking of visiting Rwanda? There are few places in this world where you can see the Mountain gorillas, to be precise, its only possible in 2 African countries, that is Uganda and Rwanda. We present to you information and a clear guide on how you can get a mountain gorilla permit, book accommodation and choosing a safari company to organise your safari in Rwanda.

Spanning Rwanda, Uganda and DRC, the impressive Virunga Volcanoes are among the most inspiring sights to be enjoyed in East Africa. Dian Fossey long ago wrote that “You are so high up that you shiver more than you sweat”!. The rough series of 8 peaks projects so high to a height of 15,000 feet in some areas, and 5 of these peaks are sheltered within Rwanda. The bottom of each is sheltered with dense rainforest, which later gives way to the stunning  grassland and as alpine moorland as you move higher.

A small amount of gorilla trekking in Rwanda experiences can equate to  that of being  face – to – face with the peaceful eyes of a Mountain Gorillas, as they chew on bamboo shoots; and actually, it is almost certainly one of Africa’s undeniable best travel things to see. There are 8 habituated Gorilla groups living in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, each as charmingly chaotic and as unforgettable as the rest of them, although the walks to find them may vary considerably. Trekking through the verdant foothills of these Virungas, also be on the watch for the uncommon Golden Monkeys, a overabundance of vivid birds, and as the scent of  hard to pin down Buffaloes plus Elephants. Gorilla watching is the top tourist activity for anyone interested in Rwanda Safaris.

 

When To Go For Rwanda Gorilla Trekking?

It really does not matter when you want to tour the gorillas of Rwanda, you can see the gorillas all year round. Most visitors take on the months of June to September and then December to February since this is the time of the year where it does not rain heavily. During the peak season, July and August, the permits are always on high demand. Booking the trip 3 months to your trekking date is very important.

gorilla trekking

Where To Stay?

There are quite a number of cool places where you can stay before or after Rwanda gorilla trekking and other Rwanda safaris.  Its all about how much money you are willing to spend. From the luxury option to the moderate and budget safari lodges, every tourist is catered for. See our list of safari lodges in Volcanoes area that we recommend.

How Much Does It Cost To See The Rwanda Gorillas?

The most important fee is $ 1500 which is the actual cost of a gorilla permit per person per trek. Besides that, you have to spend on transport and accommodation. We do not encourage you to do it yourself since Rwanda has very reliable tour operators who can arrange for that. a 3 Day gorilla safari is the best itinerary you can have for your gorilla tour in Rwanda.

gorilla watching

Rwanda Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorilla (Gorilla berengei berengei) is among the two mainly endangered apes. (the Cross River Gorilla, Gorilla gorilla diehli). It is approximated that there are 720 mountain gorillas existing today, and these specifically live in the wild. They live in 2 small, sheltered afromontane forest areas in northwestern Rwanda, southwestern Uganda and as eastern DRC..

The stunning verdant Virunga Volcanoes found at the boarder of Rwanda and Uganda are one of  habitats to these famous mountain gorillas.
This park hosts the ‘gorillas in the mist’ to which Dian Fossey following years of research and study lost her life.
Close to 350 mountain gorillas are believed to be living in these moist forested slopes of  volcanic mountains so eco-tourism is among the ways to uphold their survival.
These slippery damp slopes of impressive Virunga Mountains are found in northeastern part of Rwanda.
This mountain range is characterized by peaks of up to 14,648ft / 4,507 meters extends further into the adjacent countries of Uganda; where you can also go for gorilla tracking, and DRC.
The park has a number of vegetation zones varying from the lowland forest all through to the Afro alpine and as the towering primary rainforest whose lower branches are roofed in lichen plus sporadic parasitic orchids.
Experiencing a close encounter with tranquil mountain gorillas is a gratifying experience that will remain memorable, neither is a hike through the moist fertile undergrowth, frequently dense with mist. However the challenges you go through while hike will all be forgotten when you set eyes for the first time on the Rwanda gorillas  and the impression of affiliation is very overpowering.
It makes more sense and thoughtfulness when you exchange glances with these mountain gorilla than doing so with any other animal.
There are stern regulations in place and every habituated gorilla group can be visited by a maximum of 8 people in a day. It is such a great privilege to come face to face with our distant cousins!
When exploring Rwanda – the Land of a Thousand Hills, you mustn’t miss out on the splendid chance to visit Volcanoes (PNV) comprising of 125 sq km of mountain forest as well as home to the 6 Virunga Volcanoes in addition to the internationally famed mountain gorillas. Sheltered within PNV, the verdant forested slopes of these mountains serve as a suitable vivid natural habitat for the Rwanda gorillas.

gorilla tracking

How To Book your  Rwanda Gorilla  Trekking Permit

You can book Gorilla permits at the RDB Tourism & Conservation Reservation Office or through your tour operator. A gorilla permit is priced at $ 750 per individual for a single trek. You will be briefed at the RDB Tourism and Conservation offices located at the area offices within Kinigi by 7:00 am.
RDB Tourism & Conservation today has English and French speaking skilled guides plus a team of about 80 trained gorilla-trackers with majority of them speaking French / English.
3 Day gorilla safari trekking Rwanda tour here.

Where to see the Rwandan Gorillas ?

Gorilla safaris in Africa center on the endangered Eastern-Mountain Gorilla, and today there are about 720 remaining. These tranquil giant primates can only be  found in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. In these 3 countries there are majorly  two main habitats that  support the survival of  gorillas and these include the Virunga Mountains found border of Rwanda, Uganda and DRC,  and the Impenetrable Bwindi Forest found in Uganda.

Virunga Mountains

The Virunga Mountains of East Africa are a chain of volcanoes that are located on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and DRC. Extending  downward to the western part of the Great Rift Valley, the Mountain ranges are situated in what is referred to as the Albertine Rift and comprise  of 8 main peaks, with the highest towering to as high as 5,000 meters. Click here for great safari packages to Rwanda.

On the side of  DRC, the  Virunga Mountains sits in the Virunga National Park, extending over  an expanse of  7,800 sq km and is sheltered as a World Heritage Site. On the side of Rwanda, the small Parc National des Volcans (PNV), that covers about 120 sq km and also referred to as the Volcanoes. To the eastern side in Uganda is the impressive Mgahinga National Park, that stretches over an expanse of 34 sq km. unique about these is that these three sheltered area form the Virunga Conservation Area which serve as a habitat to about 380 mountain gorillas.

What to take and wear on a Rwanda Gorilla Tour

There are particular clothes that tourists must avoid when tracking the mountain gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda. The regular questions asked by the visitors include; what must I wear when tracking gorillas? What must I take on a gorilla adventure?, how must I get ready for Rwanda gorilla trek?, all these I have answered below;

Visitors are recommended to wear their strongest walking shoes, heavy trousers and as a long sleeved shirt for safety against biting nettles. Gorilla tours is primarily conducted in cold areas and for that reason it’s a wise decision to bring a sweatshirt or even jersey. It does not matter the color you decide to put on (bright or dull) as the Rwanda gorillas are accustomed to people. Chances are higher of dirtying your clothes as you track the Rwanda gorillas because of  continuous sliding and slithering in muddy paths, so, you can bring pre-muddied clothes for the tracking activity. While trekking, there are lots of cases of snatching the thorns but to avoid any injuries we recommend that you wear gardening gloves. If you feel better tracking using a walking stick, you will be availed with one of them before you begin tracking. More tips on gorilla wear or clothes

Because of weather changes, it’s perfect to bring a waterproof bag to protect you against the rain. Additionally, a raincoat plus a pocho could be worthy adding in your visitor’s day pack especially during the rainy season. Also a hat plus sunglasses are perfect whatever time of the year. Due to the lengthy distances you cover while tracking, you are likely to get thirsty and for that reason it’s perfect to bring along drinking water; at least one liter and a snack.

Visitors must likewise ensure that their camera gear is properly safeguarded and where possible, seal their camera gear inside a plastic bag.

When  trekking in Rwanda, you will not need binoculars. Binoculars are often used by those watching birds however this is theoretical since in practice, merely the dedicated will probably utilize them. Tracking is normally well guided and trekkers will ascend through the dense vegetation with the assurance of safety at the back of their minds.

For guests planning to carry additional gear plus water or food, it’s recommended to hire a porter; these are usually inside the park with the expectation of getting some work. The porters normally charge Ush 5,000 for each trek. Getting a porter does not necessarily mean you’re undermining or exploiting as some tourists assume. It nonetheless offers revenue to the poor local people thus enabling them to benefit from Rwanda’s tourism.

 

Mountain Gorilla Tracking in Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda

This interesting activity today remains the most prominent in this park, with a sum of close to 40 gorilla permits being issued every day, with 8 assigned to each  5 habituated groups.  However Volcanoes National Park is not only focuses on gorilla watching, but also conducts additional activities such as trekking and hiking which today are well organized, varying from 2 day ascent of  impressive Karisimbi to a non – tiring nature walk to a group of stunning crater lakes, although the most thrilling innovation is that today tourists can actually visit the habituated groups of endemic golden monkeys.

Hiking in Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda

Fortunately, Hikes today are being offered to the various visitors that come to this park.  Climbing the Karisimbi is a 2 day expedition priced at US$150; ORTPN offers guides though trekkers must have appropriate clothing and camping equipment.  Nonetheless a shorter alternative priced at US$50 is the climb of Mount Visoke all the way to its stunning crater lake found at 3,711 meters; the ascent goes for close to 2 hours.  For the less physically fit walks of close to 2 or 3 hours priced at US$30 to the closer crater lakes and the verdant forest are quite enjoyable and in addition will be mostly rewarding to those interested in watching birds.

In addition, it is probable to stopover at Dian Fossey’s burial place and the nearby gorilla cemetery found at the previous Karisoke Research-Camp.

How To Get There ?

The usual foundation for visiting the fascinating Volcanoes Park is Musanze previously well-known as Ruhengeri, which can simply be accessed by public transport starting from Gisenyi or Kigali on the very day of your tracking. You will be required to arrive at the headquarters of ORTPN in Kinigi, at the park entrance, by 7:00 am, although this is not a very dependable option for those who hope to arrive by public transport.  However, there isn’t any public transport from Musanze to  Kinigi.

Where to Stay on Gorilla Adventure in Rwanda ?

Hotels and safari lodges in Rwanda.

The park possesses no accommodation and overnight camping is not allowed.  You can inquire with ORTPN concerning the camping possibilities close by.  For persons on a limited budget, the finest alternative is to spend a night in Musanze, although smarter and far convenient accommodation facilities are available close to the headquarters  or at the greater though more far-away Virunga Lodge that overlooks Lake Burera.  It is actually probable to alternatively be accommodated in Gisenyi or in Kigali the night prior to the trek, although this is not so reasonable at present day since the time for assembly was changed from 8:00 am to 7:00 am, yet you require at least 2 hours for the somewhat lengthy drive from the capital Kigali ;  ninety minutes from Gisenyi, meaning that you are likely to be late in case of a puncture or even a breakdown.

Gorilla Adventure Frequently Asked Questions

Gorilla safaris aren’t as different as the basic safaris although there are a couple of differences worth knowing
For instance most of your trip will be enjoyed on foot because of the nature of the landscape that the Rwanda gorillas stay in . even so trying to see the gorillas is not as tiring as you can think of.

Do I have to be fit to take part in tracking the gorillas of Rwanda?

Gorillas stay up In montane forest therefore trekking them is done on the hgiher altitude that offers  a diversified vegetation and landscape.
You’ll need a good fitness level and the will to climb the slippery slopes through the dense undergrowth.

In which months should I visit these mountain gorillas?

You may visit them through out the year, however, due to the rainforest climate, it may rain any day of the year, therefore, there isn’t a particular time that you should not trek

What kind of clothes must I wear while trekking the gorillas?

When going to track expect  to be hit by rain and traverse muddy paths, therefore carry a raincoat.
Bring layered clothes to keep you  warm, wear long trousers to protect your legs from insect bites and long sleeved tops/ t-shirts.
Have a water-proof back pack to carry your camera, snacks plus drinking water. For a small price, you can hire porters to carry your backpack and assist you on the sheer slopes.

What is the minimum and maximum age for tracking gorillas?

The minimum age for visiting the gorillas is 16 years and this is the standard limit. It applies in Uganda and Rwanda and it is strongly enforced in all the National Parks. However there isn’t a maximum age for gorilla seeing in Rwanda.

How To get A Gorilla Tracking Permit To Rwanda?

Yes you have to get  a permit in order to track gorillas and each day, 8 people are allowed to visit a single gorilla family so the permits are limited
A tour agent will secure a permit for you in advance at least 4 months to your intended day of trekking.  Currently the permits go for US$750 per individual and you will have an hour to spend with the gorillas.
The proceeds obtained are used in  conservation of  gorilla sanctuary, fight poaching and to  educate the surrounding local communities there.

Is this going to be covered by my travel insurance?
Certainly you need to check with your insurance company to make sure that you are well covered although they might ask for an extra premium payment.

This is among the most regularly asked questions concerning Rwanda gorilla trekking. And it is as well possibly the hardest to answer. There are many variables involved, and in case they all connive against you, you may be in for a really tiring outing (indeed on uncommon occasions, the guides have at times have to carry the tourists). however in case everything is in your favour, the voyage will be rather very demanding than the well-known walk inside the park.

Trekking has two distinct phases. The first is the hike from the closest car park to the forest and national park boundary, which usually takes 30-60 minutes depending on the speed  and the group they are visiting. The second is trek into the forest in search of  gorillas, which will usually have been located by the advance trackers by the time reach the forest edge.

The national park covers an area of 160 sq km and it shelters the Rwandan part of  Virunga Mountains, 6 extinct and 3 active volcanoes that overlap the borders of Rwanda with Uganda plus the DRC. The impressive Volcanoes Park is a section of the adjacent 433 sq km Trans border conservation area that in addition comprises of  Virunga National Park and Mgahinga National Park, which shelters the Ugandan plus the DRC fraction of  ranges respectively. The 3 national parks are actually managed disjointedly today. At independence time, Rwanda’s newly elected leaders established that they would certainly maintain the mountain gorillas which are today already being famed internationally regardless of thei urgent difficulty of overpopulation. the Volcanoes National Park has an altitude that ranges from 2400 km to 4507 km. the chain of sheer, all free-standing mountains is connected by fertile lumber which were actually formed by hardened  lava flows , and is among the most thrilling and unforgettable sights. in East Africa.

The Karisimbi is the most elevated mountain on this chain and is situated on Rwanda’s border with DRC. traveling eastward, you will find other major peaks in this national park among which are the Visoke on the border of DRC; Sabinyo at the meeting of  DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, and the Gahinga and Muhabura on the border of  Uganda. The Volcanoes National Park is renowned to the exterior world as the destination where nearly for 20 years Dian Fossey an American primatologist conducted her ground-breaking studies about the behavior of the mountain gorillas. 3 years following her death, Dian Fossey’s work was uncovered to a crowd audience with the launch of “Gorilla in the mist”, a cinematic story of her impressive life filmed right on location within the Volcanoes Park. The “Gorilla in the Mist” attracted international attention to the troubles of the mountain gorillas and created unparalleled awareness in the gorilla-tourism program which had been launched about 10 years earlier. Back in 1990, the impressive Volcanoes Park was actually the most organized and most popular mountain gorilla habitats in Africa and so gorilla tourism was perhaps the leading earner of Rwanda’s tourist revenue.

In June 1993, The park was re-opened to tourism although in 1994  April the park was evacuated due to the genocide.  Towards the finish of 1995, it again re-opened to the tourism industry, and unfortunately close few months afterwards.  Gorilla tracking was at last recommenced permanent in  July 1999, and since then, the number of visitors traveling to the Virungas had greatly increased.  You will find additional details about gorillas and gorilla-tracking in this very section. Other than Gorillas plus golden monkeys, primates are not well represented as compared to other forested areas in Rwanda and Western Uganda.  Less details about the current standing of large mammals is available, although more than 70 species have actually been recorded in adjacent Mgahinga National Park found in Uganda, most of which perhaps are only found in  bigger Rwanda part of these Virungas.  Elephants plus buffaloes are still somewhat uncommon; basing on the sum of spoor met on forest paths, although is very shy and rarely observed. In addition present are huge forest hogs, spotted hyenas, bush pigs, black-fronted duikers and bush bucks, in addition to a number of various small predators.  Latest extinctions, most likely resulting from deforestation, include the leopard plus the yellow-backed duiker.

Birds in Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park brought together a sum of 180 bird species in 1980.  Close to 15 formerly recorded bird species were eminent during a biodiversity survey conducted in 2004, however it is probable that a number of additional forest specialists have actually gone off track since the year 1980.  the Grauer’s rush  warbler a vulnerable local bird species living in the swamp, whereas at least sixteen Albertine Rift endemic are also present, among which are the handsome francolin, Archer’s ground robin, dusky crimson-wing, Rwenzori turaco, red-faced woodland warbler , Rwenzori double collared sunbird, collared apalis, Rwenzori batis and the strange weaver.

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  1. I Realy Attracted To Make A Trip In Virunga

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