How to celebrate your birthday with gorillas of Volcanoes National Park.
Gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park is the most popular activity in Rwanda. Volcanoes National Park is one of the four national parks in the world where gorilla trekking is done, and the others include Virunga National Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga National Park, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
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Gorilla trekking is an incredible activity and the best way to celebrate your birthday while on safari in Rwanda. The Volcanoes National Park is also referred to as Parc Des Volcans and Pariki Y’Igihugu Y’Ibirunga and is located in a village known as Musanze in the north-western part of Rwanda.
The park is home to about ten gorilla-habituated families available for daily trekking. The trek starts early morning with a briefing from the guide at the park headquarters, and after, the trek through the jungle for your assigned gorilla family starts.
How to book for your birthday gorilla trek safari in Volcanoes
We have experts ready to help you organize and plan your birthday safari with the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. The first step in booking a gorilla safari is to get in touch with a local tour operator who provides us with the details of your name as they appear on your passport and your desired trek dates so that we can help you check for the availability of gorilla trekking permits.
Or you can still check the availability of the gorilla permits online by visiting the Rwanda Development Board. If the permits are available on your desired dates, you can then proceed to make the full payment to book the permits (Never send money to a personal account, but make sure you always ask for the company’s bank account). If you reserve directly through the Rwanda Development Board, you pay directly to them, and they will send you a copy of the permit.
The Rwanda Development Board issues a gorilla permit which is the only way tourists can spend time with the gorillas. After purchase, a confirmation email will be sent with a copy of the trek permit. Ensure that the details sent (names, nationality, etc.) for booking the gorilla permit are the same because they must be verified upon arrival. Before starting the trek, the park authorities will collect the gorilla permits because they are still the government’s property.
A gorilla permit in the Volcanoes National Park is valid for only an hour, and after trekking, it becomes invalid and can no longer be used. Reschedules are allowed when you have a good reason, but all this must be done in advance.
The cost of a gorilla permit:
Tourists in Rwanda are divided into three categories, including foreign non-residents, foreign residents, and East African citizens, and all these pay for the gorilla permit depending on the category you belong to. Rwanda is known to have the most expensive gorilla trek permits, and the money from the permits is used to help conserve the gorillas and their natural habitat.
Foreign non-residents………………………………………………………………..…. $1500 per person
Foreign residents (citizens of other African countries)…………………… $500 per person
East African citizens………………………………………………………………………..$300 per person.
Unlike other countries like Uganda, Rwanda offers gorilla trek permit discounts of 30% between November and May, reducing the cost to $1050 for foreign non-residents, but this only applies to visitors who have booked to visit Akagera National Park and Nyungwe National Park. This was done to promote tourism in the country.
Gorilla trekking rules and regulations in Volcanoes
The conservation body Rwanda Development Board came up with clearly stated rules and regulations to protect the gorillas’ natural habitat while protecting the gorillas that were almost extinct. The law states that every person intending to participate in gorilla trekking has to follow these rules because failure to do so will lead to a person being banned from participating in the exercise.
Without gorilla trekking safaris and the rules set, the mountain gorillas would be extinct, and there are over 1070 mountain gorillas that are trekked in three countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The gorilla trekking rules and regulations in Volcanoes National Park include the following:
- A maximum of 8 people are allowed to trek a gorilla family in a day. This helps minimize disturbance from humans and reduces the risk of human disease exposure to the gorillas.
- There is a briefing that every trekker has to attend carried out by the lead guide on the morning of the trek day. You will be reminded about the rules and regulations, and this is also the time when trekkers are assigned their gorilla families.
- If you show sickness symptoms on the day of the trek, you will not be allowed to trek the gorillas to keep them safe.
- All tourists are supposed to wash their hands and sanitize them before the start of the trek, and this is to minimize the spread of diseases.
- Avoid leaving your rubbish within the park premises. The rule is to go with everything that you brought into the park and dispose of it in the right places.
- Try to keep your voice low during the trek and when with the gorillas. Listen to all the instructions given to you by the guides because as much as you are trekking gorillas, there is other wildlife within the park that you should be aware of.
- You can approach the gorillas with only a camera, binoculars, or a phone and keep 7 meters from the primates. You must leave your backpack and other items at least 50 meters before approaching the gorillas.
- You are to keep a distance of 7 to 10 meters from the gorillas after locating them, and although the gorillas might try to approach you, you should try all ways of avoiding contact and touching them. The more distance you put between you and the gorillas, the calmer the primates will be.
- When taking photos, move slowly and ensure the flash is off since flash photography is not allowed.
- Every group gets to spend an hour with the gorillas, although in cases where the gorillas are agitated, the visit will be cut short because the gorillas’ health is essential.
- Do not smoke, eat, and drink unless you are about 300 meters from the gorillas. Eating and drinking might lead to crumbs falling on the ground, leading to the spread of diseases.
- When you feel the urge to cough or sneeze within close distance of the gorillas, turn your face away from the primates and cover your mouth with your hand to minimize the spread of bacteria.
- When you feel like using the toilet, ask the guide to help you with a panga (pangas are usually used to clear the bushes during the trek), dig a hole 30cm deep, and cover it all up when you are through.
What to bring for you Volcanoes gorilla safari
- Comfortable hike boots for the steep, muddy, and slippery routes within the national park. The strong hike boots should be ankle length and waterproof, and ensure that you try putting them and walking in them before the trek date to ensure you don’t get blisters during the trek.
- The rain gear is also needed on an excellent gorilla safari, including a waterproof rain jacket, warm sweater, gaiters, and insect repellent. The gaiters protect you from dirt, water, insects, and pebbles, protecting your legs from dangers within the jungle.
- Neutral-colored clothes to fit in the jungle. You will be trekking through the bush, and long-sleeved shirts and trousers are the best to protect your skin from insect bites and scratches.
- Camera and extra batteries: Photography is an essential part of a gorilla trek safari, and you need to keep your memories about celebrating your birthday with the gorillas. Although charging points for the cameras are available in the hotels, we advise that you carry extra batteries and memory for when you are in the jungle.
- Waterproof backpack to help you carry all day-to-day items. Tourists are advised to have only a few things in their day backpacks so that they get to enjoy a stress-free gorilla safari.
- Don’t forget a pair of binoculars to help you view the wildlife in the national park beside the mountain gorillas.
- Garden gloves are essential items that help protect your hands from scratches while trekking.
- Snacks, refillable water bottles, sunscreen, sunhat, a walking stick, and any personal items.
Gorilla trekking age limit in Rwanda
The minimum age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is 15 years, set up by the Rwanda Development Board to protect the gorillas. There is no maximum age limit for trekking. You can purchase a gorilla permit and participate in the exercise if you are fit and able. There are several reasons why the age limit was set at 15, and these are: children below the age of 15 are considered to be young, and they cannot easily participate in strenuous exercise. They are also harder to control due to their abrupt impulses, which might disrupt the gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are calm primates and only react when provoked, so we cannot tell whether children will follow all the guidelines set up, which is why ages 15 and below cannot trek gorillas in Rwanda. Age verification will be carried out by asking for copies of your passports before the purchase of the trekking permits is carried out. Young children can also slow down the trekking party. Some might need more time to be mentally ready to participate in the exercise.
What can I do if I travel with children under 15?
This is a question that is frequently asked. The answer is that children can engage in many exercises. At the same time, they enjoy the trek, including indoor games, watching movies, and guided walks around the hotel with the supervision of the hotel staff.
Accommodation in Volcanoes when celebrating your birthday with the gorillas
Lodges/hotels around Volcanoes National Park range from budget to mid-range and luxury accommodation facilities, so you can choose facilities that fit your budget. Some of the lodges we recommend include Mountain Gorillas’ Nest Lodge, Sabinyo Silverback Lodge, Five Volcanoes Hotel, Virunga Volcanoes, Bisate Lodge, Da Vinci Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Kinigi Lodge, Lebambou Gorilla Lodge, La Palme Hotel, Villa Gorilla, Faraja Hotel and Gorilla solution Lodge among others.
You can also engage in other activities while on your birthday celebrations in Volcanoes National Park. These include Golden Monkey trekking, bird watching is best carried out in the rainy season, guided nature walks, and participating in the Kwita Izina ceremony, which is carried out every year in August and attended by many dignitaries, including the president, and cultural trips among others.
Getting to Volcanoes National Park
The drive from Volcanoes National Park is 2 to 3 hours, depending on the traffic. Our driver guide will pick you up from the Kigali International Airport, and after a short briefing, you set off for the national park. If you are early, you can still get a chance to explore Kigali city before getting to Volcanoes for the trek day.
We are the best local safari company to help you plan your gorilla trek safari on your birthday, leading you through the trek and ensuring you enjoy your birthday celebrations. The key to having the best gorilla safari in Rwanda is to book early enough so that your desired dates are when you trek the endangered species.
Contact us through our website and read more reviews from our TripAdvisor. Please use our different contact resources for any gorilla trekking queries, and we will be glad to help you plan your safari the best way.