Planning a low-budget gorilla safari in Rwanda
Do you have a limited budget for a gorilla safari in Rwanda? You need to book the gorilla permit first.
The gorilla permit is a ticket that allows you to participate in searching for mountain gorillas in the wilderness and have just one hour with the fully habituated gorilla family.
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The Rwanda Development Board is the Gorilla selling and regulating body. Volcanoes National Park is the only home of mountain gorillas in Rwanda, but so far, only 96 gorilla permits with 15 gorilla families have been opened to public viewing. Some of the gorilla families in Volcanoes national park include Susa family, Hirwa family, Amahoro family, Karisimbi family, Umubano family, Agashya family, Muhoza family and others.
One needs a gorilla permit for Rwanda to be part of this safari.
How To Plan Low-Budget Gorilla Safari in Rwanda
- Book Rwanda Gorilla Permit
You need to check gorilla permit availability from Rwanda Development Board. The current cost of a Rwanda gorilla permit is $1500 per person per trek. You must have a date when you wish to do a gorilla safari in Rwanda with the number of people you hope to travel with in case of a group safari.
When you enquire from a tour operator like Encounter Africa Safaris about gorilla permit availability, our tours consultant checks availability from the Rwanda Development Board listing and gets to you as soon as possible. You can directly check availability from Rwanda Development Board, although expect a long queue of calls.
As soon as the tourist acknowledges positive availability, we advise the person to purchase their gorilla permit as soon as possible because of the limited number of permits issued per gorilla family. Each day, a maximum of 8 gorilla permits are opened to the public per day per family.
Present some passport details too before issuing the gorilla permit, that is, full names as presented on the passport, nationality, date of birth, and passport expiry date.
What is included in the Cost of the Rwanda Gorilla Permit?
The cost of a gorilla permit is $1500 per person per trek, and this includes the ranger guide fee, security during gorilla trekking, park entrance fees, local community support, gorilla conservation support, and one hour in the presence of the mountain gorillas.
What is excluded from the cost of the Rwanda gorilla Permit?
Porter fee, a porter is a person who helps you carry your gorilla trekking gear and give you a push when exhausted. Tips, transport, accommodation, and any other items of personal nature
At Encounter Africa Safaris, we help you book safari amenities like accommodation, transport, and additional safari activities as required by you and according to your safari time. We have accumulated the Africa safari credit for over the 10 years of our existence. We collaborate with a number of service providers like accommodation facilities and may get credit prices for our clients where applicable.
Can I purchase the Rwanda Gorilla Permit in Instalment?
Purchasing the gorilla permit in full would be the best idea; however, sometimes, you may not be in a position to do so. Rwanda Development Board allows installment gorilla permit purchases in portions of 30% and 70%, respectively.
This is only applicable when you book gorilla permits 90 days before the gorilla trekking date and top-up 90 days before the trekking date. Failure to top up the gorilla permits attracts a penalty.
When Is the Best Time to Book a Rwanda Gorilla Permit?
Booking the Rwanda gorilla permit at least 6 months to a year before the gorilla trekking date is the safest choice, especially for peak season. The peak safari season in Rwanda is normally June, July, August, September, December, and January. It is quite hard to find last-minute gorilla permits for the high season in Rwanda because of the high demand worldwide.
The low safari season for Rwanda is normally March, April, May, and November, so chances of last-minute gorilla permits may be possible in this season. At times Rwanda Development Board offer discounted gorilla permits in the low season, but this is not a must.
- Book Accommodations For Gorilla Safari in Rwanda
You can overnight in accommodation closer to Volcanoes National Park or Kigali City, which is about 2 hours and half away.
Some of the budget accommodations you can book during the Rwanda gorilla safari include
Kinigi Guest House, Hotel Muhabura, Villa Gorilla
- Hire transport For Gorilla trekking
You can travel by land to go gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. The drive time from Kigali International Airport to Volcanoes National Park is about 3 hours.
You can hire a minivan or airport taxi to Volcanoes National Park because the roads are fairly good, and scenic winding roads as you move passed highlands covered with green cover.
- Take antimalarial before gorilla trekking.
Rwanda is a tropical country where mosquitos that spread malaria exist. Although it is generally a cold country, where the mosquitos are not likely to breed. Swallow antimalarial to stay safe.
- Do some exercises before the gorilla trekking safari.
The topography of Volcanoes National Park is ragged, with very steep slopes that you may need to hike to get where the mountain gorillas may be feeding or lounging. Stretching your muscles a little more to keep fit so you can stay longer in the wilderness is helpful. You do not need to keep in the gym constantly but do step-by-step exercises to get no muscle pulls during gorilla trekking.
- Purchase International Flights To Kigali airport In Advance.
Book your international air ticket to Kigali airport in advance so that you have nothing stopping you from driving to Volcanoes National Park. When you miss gorilla trekking, your ticket is deemed invalid. The validity of the gorilla permit lasts up to the day it is booked.
- Select Additional activities to Combine with Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda.
Rwanda has other activities you can combine with gorilla trekking, like game drives in Akagera National Park, Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe National Park, Kigali city tour, genocide memorial tour, and golden monkey trekking.
With a well-tailored Rwanda Safari itinerary and holiday time in Rwanda, you can make the best of your visit to Rwanda other than a gorilla trekking safari.
- Pack The Right Gorilla Trekking Gears
Pack the right gorilla trekking gear that is safe to use in the wilderness. Pack baggage that you can carry even without help. Packing in a duffel bag helps you lift your belongings quicker. Even if some gorilla trekking gear can be hire from ORTPN, you may not feel comfortable using them as personal ones.
You can pack gorilla trekking gear like insect repellants, safari boots, safari attire, safari hat, energy bites, etc.
- Join A gorilla Trekking Group in Rwanda.
In case you find it comfortable to share your gorilla trekking safari with others, you can join a group gorilla safari. The scheduled group, gorilla trekking groups, have a fixed program that is hard to bend if you wish to do your activity. Scheduled gorilla safaris have fixed dates, too, limit how many people are supposed to be in the group before it starts, have an age limit, and others.
As a group, you share some safari expenses as a group, like vehicle hire, driver guide fee, gas, accommodation in case of twin rooms, and others.
As a solo tourist on a budget gorilla safari, you incur all the expenses of the Rwanda gorilla safari.
What Is The Best Season For Booking Budget Gorilla Safari In Rwanda?
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is open all year round. However, it would be best if you had people who prefer the dry season when the mountain gorillas are more active. Even other forest dwellers, like monkeys, birds, and butterflies, are more active in the dry season. Rwanda’s safari dry season is normally June to September and December to January.
The cost of Rwanda gorilla safari supporting amenities is competitive in the dry season so booking is very important before options are reduced.
The low season, which is normally March, April, May, and November, may come with discounts like on gorilla permits which can be used by someone with a low budget. Even service providers like accommodation facilities, vehicle hire, and driver guides sometimes reduce their prices in the low season.
The chances of upgrading from a low-service provider to a better facility are higher in the low safari season, depending on your bargaining power.
How Safe is Rwanda For Gorilla Safari?
Rwanda is safe for Gorilla trekking safari as rangers are well trained to protect the mountain gorillas, other forest dwellers and defend tourists. Volcanoes National Park has other Rwandan security agencies that keep law and order in this area cooperating with ranger guides.
You must pay attention to personal security by not entering Volcanoes National Park without an escorting ranger guide. The other forest dwellers are not habituated to human presence.
Try not to count a lot of money in public that can attract the wrong people to follow you.
Ensure you stay close to the gorilla trekkers you are allocated so you are not lost in the wilderness. The ranger guide follows the pace of the slowest trekker.
Never provoke the mountain gorilla, even if they are known to be serene. They also have mood swings depending on what is done to them.
Is Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda Difficult?
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done in a volcanic area with jagged mountains and steep slopes where mountain gorillas sometimes spend their day. It would be best if you had some fitness level to get where the mountain gorillas may be or use a sedan chair or woven stretcher for those physically impaired.
Wearing the right safari boots during gorilla trekking protects your feet from injury in the wilderness. Applying insect repellant protects you from stinging insects in the wilderness.
The ranger guide moves with a machete to trim creepers that may obstruct you from crossing over to where the mountain gorillas may be spending the day.
How Long Is Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda?
It is difficult to determine how long gorilla trekking may take because of the nature of the topography of this area which you have to walk over to the mountain gorillas. If the mountain gorillas fight with another family, they may be pushed into the deeper forest when they lose.
During the severe rainy season, the highland slopes get slippery, and trails are soggy from a combo of water and decomposing matter. You need to walk slower over the dense network of rivers that overflow at times to flood ground.
Are Mountain Gorilla Dangerous?
In nature, mountain gorillas are serene primates despite their huge size and hairy body. They walk by knuckle movement, which appears as if they are about to grab you. At a glance the mountain gorillas’ outlook is frightening at first sight, but they are calm primates that mind their own business even in your presence.
Do not provoke the mountain gorillas because you may push them into hiding.
Touching the infants of the mountain gorillas may agitate them and cause a stampede in the forest. When angry, the mountain gorillas hoot, thump their chests, pull grass around them, and retreat into hiding.
What Can I Pack For Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda?
- Safari boots are comfortable for going through the soggy ground.
- Warm sweater or poncho, as it gets cold in this area/
- Safar convertible trousers and a long-sleeved shirt
- Waterproof backpack
- Foldable water bottle
- A pair of binoculars.
- Insect repellant
- First Aid kit with emergency care
- A pair of stockings
- Extra fully charged batteries
- Garden gloves in case you touch stinging nettles in the wilderness
- Raincoat or poncho in case it rains without warning
- Pajamas warm enough for the cold night
- Flip flops to change into after gorilla trekking
- Travel adapter and charger in case you need them
- Torch for lighting in case light run low. Solar power is the main source of energy. At times it does shine enough to power the solar batteries.
Contact us for more information about low budget gorilla safaris.