So we ask many questions when planning a Rwanda Gorilla trek and Encounter Africa safaris has all answers for you. There are many things to consider when booking Rwanda gorilla treks. Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is famous for gorilla trekking and it is among the most popular destinations in East Africa. The park is located in western Rwanda and part of the Virunga volcanoes which are shared between Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. The Virunga Mountains include Mountain Bisoke, Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Muhavura, Mountain Sabinyo and Mountain Karisimbi. This park is an evergreen bamboo forest with grassland areas, swamp, and heath in other areas.
Volcanoes National Park is also known as Parc Des Vulcan’s in French and Pariki Yigihugu yibirungu in Kinyarwanda (Local language). It is a habitat to the endangered primates that include the Mountain Gorillas and golden Monkeys, there also many species of birds, Monkeys, trees, forest hogs, bushbucks among others in the forest.
The mountain gorillas are the prime attraction in volcanoes national park with gorilla trekking happening throughout the year. Gorilla trekking is an activity that involves visiting the habituated endangered mountain gorillas in their natural environment, as you view the way they feed, move, rest and live in harmony. The chances of seeing the mountain gorillas are 99% as you are guided by trackers, guides and park rangers. The trek starts every day at 8:00am with briefing on guidelines to follow while on the trek, even though the gorillas have 99% DNA as the humans, they still remain wild and you are advised to follow the dos and don’ts from the guides. The gorilla trek can take 30 minutes to more hours depending on the movement and location of the gorillas in the forest. Booking a gorilla trek to volcanoes National Park is a life time experience to complete your bucket list, Encounter Africa safaris will help you book and tailor a gorilla trek tour that is affordable and memorable.
Most Popular Rwanda Gorilla trips Include
- 2 Day Rwanda Gorilla trek
- 3 Day Rwanda Gorilla Trek
- 4 Day Rwanda Gorilla double trek
- 4 Day Rwanda Gorilla trek and Golden Monkey tracking
- 4 Day Rwanda Gorilla trek and Cultural Tour
10 things to consider when booking Rwanda gorilla treks as follows;
How many Rwanda Gorilla permits are available each day?
The gorilla permits are very essential for a successful gorilla trek in volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. There are 80 gorilla permits available every day to allow you see the gorillas, encounter Africa safaris will help you in the process of booking and securing the permits. Once you contact us about your planned trek and desired dates, we shall check the availability of permits with Rwanda Development board online and if permits are available , we shall send you an invoice to make payment for the permits as they are top priority and if they are not available, you will choose other dates that have availability of permits. Once we receive payment, we shall book and secure your permits and send you copy of the receipt with booking ID to confirm your trek. Rwanda Gorilla permits is one of the 10 things to consider when booking Rwanda gorilla trek.
What is the cost of the Rwanda gorilla permits?
Rwanda has positioned itself as a luxury destination in the region and the cost of the permits is quit high compared to Uganda and Congo gorilla permits. The Rwanda gorilla permit costs USD1500 per person for all Nationals to trek the gorillas. There is also a special discount for one visiting all the national parks in the months of May to November, visiting Nyungwe National Park and volcanoes National park earns YOU 30% discount on the gorilla permit which is USD1050 per person and USD1250 per person for Delegates in the country. The Rwanda gorilla permit is paid for to Rwanda development board. There is also another offer of USD5000 per person to have three consecutive days’ treks of gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park. Gorilla permits can easily be purchased through travel agents, contact us as Encounter Africa safaris on email at to get your permit in the shortest time.
How many gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
There are ten gorilla families in volcanoes national park which are habituated for gorilla tourism and research, whereas others are not habituated. Each gorilla group is given a name depending on different circumstances and is led by a silverback. Some gorilla family groups are named after influential persons, situations, or even local names of places. When a young silverback challenges the dominant silverback, he must ‘steal’ some females from an existing group in order to form his own family, the gorilla families include; Amahoro gorilla group – Amahoro means “peaceful” and is led by the calm Ubumwe. The group mainly resides uphill which requires you to endure a steep climb to eventually come into its territory but as always, the climb is worth it. There is also Hirwa gorilla group emerged from different existing gorilla families including Group 13, Susa and Sabyinyo. Munyinya the silverback after leaving Susa with 2 females,
Sabyinyo gorilla group is led by Guhonda, named after one of the volcanoes which is Mountain Sabyinyo. This group is most times close to the park headquarters, if you are wary of tracking long distances, this is the group to request if available. Kwitonda gorilla group is led by silverback Kwitonda and the name is translated “humble one”. This gorilla group migrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo and settled ‘permanently’ in Rwanda. Group 13 / Agastya gorilla group had only 13 members during habituation hence its name. Currently, it has a membership of approximately 25 members and is led by silverback Agastya which explains the name change. Umubano gorilla group is led by silverback Charles who broke off from Amahoro gorilla group with some females to form Umubano. The name Umubano is translated ‘living together’. There is also Uganda gorilla group was named after its unique behaviour of roaming from place to place around the Karisimbi area, come ready to hike this volcano as you follow this gorilla group. Susa (A) gorilla group is the largest gorilla group in the park with 41 gorillas and is the group which was studied by Dian Fossey. The group is known for having the rare twins named Byishimo and Impano.
Karisimbi / Susa – B gorilla group split from the original Susa (A) group and has 2 silverbacks. This group is one of the hardest to trek, residing on the upper slopes of Mt Karisimbi. It is best for seasoned hikers who enjoy the hiking experience as much as sighting the gorillas. Titus gorilla group was named after silverback Titus which was born during the days of Dian Fossey’ research at Karisoke. Bwenge gorilla group was formed by silverback Bwenge after breaking away with females from other groups. Bwenge is translated ‘Wisdom’. The group occupies mainly the slopes between Karisimbi and Bisoke mountains.
How to Access Volcanoes National Park for a Rwanda Gorilla trek
Volcanoes national park is mostly accessible by road and it is a two hours’ drive from Kigali city Rwanda. To easily access volcanoes, you can fly into Kigali international Airport and then drive to the park, most visitors with limited time have opted to trek gorillas in volcanoes as the drive time is short.
You can as well access Volcanoes National park for gorilla trek from south western Uganda, you can opt to visit both countries and it is only a one hour drive to Volcanoes from the Uganda-Rwanda border Cyanika. Volcanoes national Park can also be accessed from DR Congo as the park is shared amongst these countries. It is very possible to visit Masai Mara in Kenya and fly to southwestern Uganda and then drive to Volcanoes National Park.
Where to stay while on Rwanda Gorilla trek
Planning a Rwanda gorilla trek, you should be sure where to stay with in Volcanoes national Park or even in the outskirts of the park. The least you nights you can spend is only one night in a lodge of your choice, Encounter Africa safaris will or organize you a two day trip for spend one night in Volcanoes as well as more nights as you prefer.
Depending on your budget, there are lodges in volcanoes national Park ranging from luxury to budget options. All lodges have single, double, Twin, triple and family rooms available to accommodate all of your interests. The luxury lodges include Virunga lodge, Sabinyo Silverback lodge and Bisate lodge, the midrange lodges, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge and Lebambou Gorilla Lodge, Davinci Lodge and they are worth a night stay. The budget options include Gorilla Solution Lodge, Villa Gorilla, Virunga Hotel, Faraji Hotel, Kinigi Hotel, Hotel Muhabura and La Palme Hotel or Home Inn. Let us know your budget and the lodge you would like to stay in and we shall advise accordingly for a service worth your budget.
What is the Packing List for Rwanda Gorilla Trek?
We always advise our visitors to pack as lightly as you can, you may have to travel in a group and baggage size and weight limits you depending on the car when booking Rwanda gorilla treks. Below are some the things that should not miss on your packing list.
- Hiking Boots, Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park involves trekking/hiking in search for the endangered mountain gorillas. Because of the nature of the forest plus the altitude and terrain, you need lightweight hiking boots for this activity. Hiking boots are a must as you decide on what to pack for your Rwanda gorilla trek in Rwanda’s volcanoes National Park.
- Garden Gloves, You will be required gloves to protect your hands during your gorilla trek. As you move in this forest, remember that it can get slippery and somehow you need to hold on something just in case such happens.
- Rain Jacket, You will never tell when it is going to rain so you need a rain jacket in order to be protected from the rain. Many clients prefer travelling in drier months of June, July, August and beginning of September and try to avoid rainy seasons of March, April and May but being a tropical rain forest, it can rain any time. This should be considered for your Rwanda gorilla trek.
- Long-Sleeved Shirts/Blouse/, you are required to have long-sleeved trousers/shirts/blouse for your gorilla trekking. Please ensure that you tack in your trousers in your hiking boots to avoid insects such as safari ants entering your trousers. Jeans trousers can do this better.
- Cameras and extra batteries, Photography is an important component of your Rwanda gorilla trek and thus make sure that you have your camera ready, charge your batteries very well and if necessary, carry extra batteries as you will need to take as many photographs in the one hour you will have with the gorillas. Please make sure that you switch off your flash while taking gorilla photographs.
- Hat and Sun Glasses, if it is hot, please carry a hat to protect you from the strong sun rays. You may also need to carry some sunglasses too. These are extra optional.
- Porters for your gorilla trek, this is an extra optional item and we advise all our clients to take a porter for their gorilla trekking. As earlier noted, gorilla trekking can be strenuous and thus you will need someone to give you a push or a pull on the way to the gorillas. These porters go for a fee but it is worth it. Remember that these porters are actually school going students either in their vacation or have been chased out of school due to school fees. By paying some money to have a porter with you, you will have contributed to community development indirectly.
Booking Rwanda Gorilla trek with Encounter Africa safaris
Encounter Africa safaris has been conducting safaris for more than 10 years with a professional team conducting safaris to a different part of East Africa including Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Kenya and Tanzania. Volcanoes National Park has alternatives to offer besides mountain gorilla trekking, you can do golden monkey trekking, Diane Fossey hike, Hiking Mountain Bisoke and Karisimbi, Cultural encounter and Birding. We can tailor all this for you and advise according to 10 things to consider when booking Rwanda Gorilla trek. Encounter Africa safaris is highly recommended on Trip advisor as well as Safari Bookings.