Gorilla trekking Safaris in Volcanoes National Park
Gorilla trekking Safaris in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda are some of the luxury safaris in the country. Although gorilla trekking in Rwanda is expensive that has not deterred many travellers from trekking the rare mountain gorillas in Volcanoes national park.
A gorilla trekking safari in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda costs 1500 USD for a gorilla trekking permit alone. This way higher than what Rwanda’s neighbours charge i.e. Uganda charges 700 USD for Foreign Non-Residents and 600 USD for Foreign Residents, while Congo charges 400 USD for a gorilla trekking permit.
One of the main reasons as to why Rwanda receives a lot of visitors doing gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park is because its mountain gorilla are more habituated than those in Uganda and Congo.
Gorilla habituation is a process where the wild mountain gorillas are trained to get used to the human presence for trekking. The gorilla habituation experience takes a period of 2 to 3 years until the gorillas are used to human presence and it involves a group of trackers, researchers, park rangers, conservationists among others.
The mountain gorillas in Volcanoes national park have been habituated for a longer period of time which makes them friendlier towards trekkers. Visitors doing gorilla trekking in Rwanda have an opportunity to get much closer to these majestic primates which makes the entire gorilla trekking experience even more memorable.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park can take between 2 to 8 hours or more depending on which gorilla group you are tracking and how long you take to locate a specific gorilla group.
Gorilla trekking safaris in Volcanoes national park commence at the park headquarters in Kinigi. Visitors doing gorilla trekking in the park are expected to report at the park by 7am and sign into the visitors’ registrar.
Trekkers are then briefed by the park’s head ranger on the rules and regulations of gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park. Here are some of the rules and regulations to follow when trekking gorillas in the national park;
- Visitors should spend one hour in the presence of the mountain gorillas
- Visitors should be above the age of 15 years to participate in gorilla trekking
- You should keep 7meter distance from the gorillas because they can easily be infected by human diseases.
- Do not smoke or eat while in the presence of the gorillas
- You should stay in your group so as not to get lost while in the forest
- Gorilla trekking allows only 8 people to visit each habituated gorilla family
- Use a flash less camera when taking photos
- Keep your voices low while in the presence of the gorillas until you are about 200 meters away from the gorillas
- Do not touch the mountain gorillas because they are wild animals
- Do not leave rubbish while in the forest
- In case a gorilla charges crunch down slowly, do not look directly into its eyes, do not run because that will increase the risk of a gorilla attacking you.
- Visitors who are not feeling well with illnesses like cough, flue are advised not to engage in gorilla trekking because gorillas are vulnerable and can easily be infected by human diseases.
Trekkers are then placed in small trekking groups that consist of a maximum of eight people. Each group of trekkers is accompanied by a park guide and ranger. Actual gorilla trekking can start at around 8am or 8:30 am.
Volcanoes national park has 11 habituated gorilla groups, with 10 which are available for visitors to track. Some of the gorilla groups available for tracking in the park include; Susa, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Agashya, Bwenge, Ugenda, Amahoro, Umubano, Kwitonda, and Hirwa. The Titus gorilla group in Volcanoes national park is strictly meant for research purposes and is only available for trekking by tourists during the peak season when there is high demand for gorilla trekking activities in the park.
When preparing your gorilla trekking safari in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, it is crucial that you pack the following essential items like; a camera and extra batteries, a pair of long trousers and shirts, long elastic stockings, a water bottle, lunch, your gorilla trekking permit, a light raincoat or jacket, a hat or cap, binoculars and some sunscreen and insect repellent cream.
Gorilla trekking safaris in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda are best done during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During the dry season access roads to the park will be passable, there will be short shrubs in the jungle for easy viewing and the gorilla trekking trails will be passable compared to the wet season when the park receives heavy rainfall which makes gorilla trekking trails wet, muddy and slippery.
Though there is heavy rainfall in the park during the low season visitors who visit in the low season have an advantage of less crowds in the park during trekking, less competition of the gorilla trekking permits which favors visitors who want to book at the last minute and discounted prices for the lodges in the park.
Most visitors on gorilla trekking safaris in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda usually get to spend night or two in the park. There are a range of accommodation options in the park which range from luxury, mid-range and budget lodges; some of the accommodation facilities available in Volcanoes national park include; Bisate Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Five Volcanoes boutique hotel, Kinigi Guest House, Hotel Muhabura, Villa Gorilla, La Palme Hotel, Le Bamboo Gorilla Lodge, Garr Hotel, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel, Mountain Gorillas Nest Lodge among others.
In order to get to Volcanoes national park, visitors can travel to the park by road or air. The national is located in the northeastern part of Rwanda in Ruhengeri with Musanze as the nearest town to the park. By road, Volcanoes national park is situated approximately a 2 hour drive from Kigali. The park can also be accessed from Uganda through the Cyanika border which is about a 30 minute drive from the border post to the park.
Alternatively, visitors on gorilla trekking safaris in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda can always charter flights from Kigali International Airport to the national park. Check out Akagera Aviation Company website for more information regarding booking flights to national parks in Rwanda.