Gorilla trekking before or after a conference in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking before or after a conference in Kigali, Rwanda. Organizing a gorilla trek safari before or after a conference is one of the easiest things to do when you have the right tour operator to help you with the process. Conferences organized in Rwanda can be carried out any time of the year, depending on your desired itinerary. Volcanoes National Park in the north-western part of Rwanda is the gorilla trekking destination. It is part of the Virunga region and home to the gorillas, the country’s main tourist attraction.
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Tourists keep asking whether it is better to plan for the gorilla trek before or after the conference. The answer is either the time is good for the safari or because of the discount offered on the trek permits for conference tourists purchasing in bulk.
There are a lot of things that are involved in gorilla trekking, but some of the things you should avoid include not coming on the trek day itself; this is one of the most common mistakes made by trekkers: forgetting to carry your passport on the trek day, packing wrongly for the gorilla safari, delay in booking for the permits and being late. This article will discuss what you should expect on a gorilla trek and what is needed to organize one.
How to get a gorilla permit in Rwanda
When planning a gorilla trek safari to Rwanda, you need to book the gorilla permit because this is the only way you will be able to trek the gorillas. There are two easy steps that you can take to purchase a gorilla permit, which is directly through the Rwanda Development Bank or a trusted local tour operator. If you want to book the permit, contact the Rwanda Development Board online through their website. A link will be provided where you can check the permits’ availability. Please provide your details as they appear on either your passport for international tourists or national IDS for East African citizens because this information will appear on your permit and be used for age verification. Once you find your desired dates, pay directly to the RDB, and after confirmation of receipt of payment, a copy of the gorilla trek permit will be sent to you.
The same process applies when you book through a local tour operator. Still, unlike RDB, local tour operators, especially us, help you secure and purchase the gorilla permit, but we also help with organizing your safari for you.
Discounts on gorilla permits for conference visitors
Tourists planning on gorilla trekking before or after a conference are eligible for a 15% discount on the gorilla permits. The Rwanda Development Board introduced this to boost the country’s tourism sector as it is Rwanda’s top income earner. A 30% discount is also offered on permits to tourists who prebook for at least a day at the Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park.
There are a few things that you need to know before booking a discounted gorilla trek permit in Rwanda for conference visitors, and these include the following:
- The gorilla trek safari starts and ends in Kigali.
- The safari can be carried out before or after the conference, depending on the availability of the permits.
- The safari typically lasts three days, but you can still book a one-day gorilla trek safari to Volcanoes National Park.
- The [processing time for the permit is one day, and the fee depends on the type of permit that you need, but note that cash will not be accepted at the park.
- If you purchase gorilla permits for groups attending the conference, there will be a 30%discount on every 30 gorilla permits purchased.
How many permits are available per day?
Volcanoes National Park has ten habituated gorilla families that are open for trekking. Since there are only 8 people allowed to trek with a gorilla family, the Rwanda Development Board prints only 80 permits per day.
Gorilla trekking rules and regulations
- Gorilla trekking involves rules and regulations that need to be followed to be able to protect the gorillas. If these safety measures had not been implemented, the number of gorillas in the country and worldwide would have dwindled. The rules have been listed below, and they have to be followed by every trekker in Volcanoes National Park.
- 15 years is the minimum age limit for anyone participating in the gorilla trek experience. There is no maximum age limit, but you must be physically fit.
- A maximum of 8 people are allowed to trek a habituated gorilla family per day.
- Each group gets to spend an hour with the gorillas after tracking them. This limits the interaction between the gorillas and the humans, reducing the spread of diseases.
- Never leave rubbish in the national park because any garbage might cause harm to the primates. Every tourist is advised to go to the national park the way they found it by keeping it clean.
- You are advised to keep a distance of 7 to 10 meters between you and the gorillas. This is to limit the disturbance of the gorillas because once they are agitated, they tend to become aggressive, and that is why you are not to approach them and keep a distance.
- Avoid touching the gorillas, wash and sanitize your hands before the trek starts, eat and drink when next to the gorillas is prohibited, and smoke. You can eat if you are about 300 meters from the gorillas.
- Tourists who feel sick on the morning of the trek day are advised to volunteer to trek to prevent infections in the gorillas.
Pack list for a gorilla safari
- Pack appropriate clothing for the gorilla trek that is comfortable and fit for use in the jungle. Brightly colored clothes are not the best for trekking; blue is said to attract tsetse flies, black absorbs heat, and camouflage is associated with the army.
- Long-sleeved shirts are the best because the extra material layer protects you from insect bites, sun, and scratches when trekking. Trousers are the best, but avoid jeans because when they soak through, they slow you down.
- Although trousers also protect your skin, gaiters are also needed to protect the upper part of your legs from pebbles, dust, water, and bugs in the jungle.
- Strong hike boots should be ankle-length and waterproof. They can be familiar, but make sure they fit well and are comfortable because you are unsure of the time you will spend in the jungle.
- Garden gloves, sometimes called hiking gloves, protect your hands from scratches. Ensure the gloves are thick enough to avoid damage to your fingers.
- Refillable water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellent to protect your skin, a sun hat, snacks, especially energy bars, and a first aid kit if you can get one.
- A waterproof day back to help you carry the items that you might need when gorilla trekking.
- A good camera is an essential part of your safari, and you should also carry extra memory for the camera, lenses, a tripod, and extra batteries.
- Remember to carry binoculars to help you spot gorillas and other wildlife found in the Volcanoes National Park from a distance.
Other activities in Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is best known for being home to over 400 gorillas and ten habituated gorilla families; however, if you are interested in other wildlife and activities in Volcanoes National Park, there are plenty that you can engage in after the gorilla trek, and these are:
Mountain hiking: Volcanoes National Park is part of the Virunga region and is home to various dormant volcanoes that can be hiked on your safari. If you are looking for a more challenging hike, Mount Bisoke is the one for you; you can also hike up Karisimbi Mountain, which has the highest summit in the Virunga region or go for the Muhabura hike. Each has a beautiful and unique view of Bisoke with the Crater Lake and great views of the surrounding areas.
Dian Fossey grave: Dain Fossey is well known for championing the conservation of the mountain gorillas that the locals were poached on, almost leading to their extinction. She set camp in the forest to learn more about the gorillas and opened up research on how to keep them safe and get them used to humans. A poacher killed her, and tourists can trek to her grave after a gorilla trek in the park.
Bird watching: Volcanoes National Park is home to over 170 recorded bird species, 13 endemic to the Virunga region and 16 to the Rwenzori Mountain. Some bird species to look out for include the Archer’s round robin, collared Apalis, Ruwenzori Turaco, and dusky crimsonwing.
Golden monkey trekking: also carried out in Mgahinga National Park, golden monkey trekking is one of the activities you can engage in while on a gorilla safari to Volcanoes National Park. You can also see other primates, including vervet, red-tailed, black and white colobus, and wildlife, including spotted hyenas, forest elephants, black-fronted duikers, bushbucks, and forest hogs.
I have frequently asked questions about gorilla trekking before or after a conference.
Should I plan to go for gorilla trekking before or after a conference?
This depends on the availability of the gorilla permits on specific days, but you can go before or after, depending on your schedule. Some tourists prefer to relax and enjoy the gorilla trek after the conference, whereas others do it before the meeting.
When should I go for gorilla trekking?
Mountain gorillas can be trekked all year round; however, the best time is during the dry season (June to September, December to February) because participating in the trek during the drier months is much more enjoyable with drier trek routes and the ease with which you can navigate through the forest. It will also depend on when the conference is taking place.
How long does gorilla trekking take?
On a good day, it can take less than 30 minutes to track the assigned gorilla group; however, it sometimes takes two hours or even longer, depending on the location of the gorillas and the weather. Gorillas rarely venture out far from where they were seen on the previous day, but to avoid taking longer hours, guides constantly communicate on radio calls about which routes to take as you track the gorillas.
Do I need to be physically fit to join the trek?
Yes, trekking through the hilly terrain within Volcanoes National Park needs little fitness. The trek is physically draining, especially if you, the assigned family, wandered off, and that is why if you are not physically fit, you can ask for a shorter trek trail during the briefing session.
Is it safe to trek the Rwanda gorillas?
Trekking gorillas in Rwanda is highly safe, and some measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of the primates and the tourists. Gorillas are generally calm and gentle primates until provoked, which is why the rules and regulations were set up.
Gorilla trekking is one activity everyone should engage in, and the time you choose will always be good since the primates can be visited all year round.
Contact us for more information about how to organize a gorilla trek safari before or after a conference in Rwanda, and we will help you accordingly.