What to know about gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park is the only home of gorilla trekking in Rwanda. This Park lies in the Northwestern part of Rwanda, neighboured by Mgahinga National Park in Uganda ad Virunga National Park in D.R.Congo.
This Park is one of the oldest gazette National Parks in Africa as in 1925, the Belgian Colonial Authorities took control of this historical Park.
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In 1967, an American primatologist called Dian Fossey staged her research in Rwanda and set up the Karisoke Research Center. She faced a lot of resentment from the locals for her unconditional mountain gorilla defense. This led to her brutal murder in 1985
The gorilla trekking safari genesis started with Dian Fossey’s tireless work. She brought the plight of almost varnishing mountain gorillas to the world after the 1980s census. The results showed that only 250 mountain gorillas were living worldwide by then.
Funds to help in supporting the conservation of the mountain gorillas were required. Humans had to be brought closer to the mountain gorillas so that they could learn to appreciate their existence.
Gorilla trekking was one of the options to support this noble cause, but gorilla habituation had to take place first. Gorilla habituation is the process of getting wild mountain gorillas used to the presence of humans.
The gorilla habituation process takes two years to more, depending on how quickly the mountain gorillas adapt to the presence of women.
The 1994 Rwanda genocide retarded gorilla trekking activities because this became one of the major battlefields. Currently, Volcanoes National Park has about 12 gorilla families open for tourism.
How To Book Gorilla Permits For Volcanoes National Park
Select a date when you wish to do gorilla trekking in Rwanda and the required permits. You can do gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park more than once.
You may contact the Rwanda Development Board or a credible tour operator like Encounter Africa Safaris. Our safari consultant has to check the gorilla permit availability on the Rwanda Development Board permit listing.
If availability is favorable, we require you to purchase them as soon as possible because they get sold out fast. They are secured according to first-come, first, served basis. Despite the demand for gorilla trekking permits, only 8 per gorilla family per day are released for public booking.
Later we require you to provide details like full names as indicated on the passport, nationality, date of birth, and passport expiry date.
What Is the Cost Of A Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Permit?
The Rwanda gorilla trekking permit costs $1500 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents, $500 for foreign residents, and $200 for East African residents.
The cost includes:
- Park fees.
- Ranger guide fees.
- Gorilla conservation support.
- Local community support.
- One hour with the mountain gorillas.
The Rwanda gorilla’s permit cost excludes tipping, transport, drinks, packed lunch, snacks, and any other items of personal nature.
Can I purchase Rwanda gorilla permits in installments?
It is possible to purchase the Rwanda gorilla permit in installments if you secure it 90m days before the trekking date.
Rwanda development board allows you to purchase the gorilla permit according to 30% of the total cost and 70% of the total permit cost.
You must remember to fully top up your gorilla permit 90 days before the trekking date or stand a chance of losing it.
Is the price of a Rwanda gorilla trekking permit worth it?
The Rwanda gorilla trekking permit costs $1500 per person, which may sound high, but worth every minute you are with the mountain gorillas.
Not only do you have one beautiful hour in front of the only leftover mountain gorillas in the world, but you also get an opportunity to see them indulge in their life.
You contribute to conserving the mountain gorillas that only live in East Africa.
Mountain gorillas have about 96% human DNA and are some of the closest relatives of humans in animal kingdoms.
You indirectly support the local community because about 10 of the annual revenue from selling Rwanda gorilla permits is injected into the local community to support their projects.
The International Visit Rwanda campaign is costly, so every gorilla permit you to purchase may contribute to it.
What Is the Cost Of Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safari?
The Rwanda gorilla trekking safari packages are quoted according to luxury, midrange, and budget.
The gorilla permit is the only universal cost whose price is common to all packages.
Other additional factors that make up the gorilla trekking package include:
The number of people joining your gorilla trekking party. The more people joining you for gorilla trekking, the less the cost per person. You can share some safari amenities like driver guide fees, gas, etc.
Time for booking the gorilla trekking safari for Rwanda, whereby the peak season attracts high costs while in low seasons, some service providers may offer discounts
Number of days on Rwanda safari whereby the more days on the Rwanda safari, the higher the safari cost.
Additional Rwanda activities to combine with gorilla trekking safari as Rwanda offers other activities. You may do a combo of gorilla trekking and game safari in Akagera National Park Rwanda, chimpanzee trekking, golden monkey trekking, and others.
When Is the Best Time to Book Gorilla Trekking Safari In Rwanda?
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is open all year round, but most people prefer the dry season, which is June to September and December to January, to do gorilla trekking.
Demand for gorilla permits during this season is very high, yet they are limited in number. As a result, each day, only eight gorilla permits per family are released for the public to book.
Although the Virunga area is renowned for receiving rain without warning, the mountain gorillas during the dry seasons are more active. This is because the forest doesn’t accept heavy humid conditions, and even other forest dwellers, like monkeys, are more excited to watch.
Taking photos is better in the dry season because of better lighting that penetrates through the forest leaves.
Walking through the trails to get to the mountain gorilla during the dry season in Volcanoes National Park is better because they are smooth and smooth.
From March to May, the Wet season has advantages when gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
There are chances of getting discounted safari costs because some service providers offer them to break even.
There are limited numbers of tourists in the forest, so this would be an excellent opportunity for those who hate crowds.
Chances of doing unprepared for a solo gorilla trekking safari are more open in the wet season. This is because, at times, you may be the only one booked for gorilla trekking that day.
How To Get To Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda?
Volcanoes National Park is about 3 hour’s drive from Kigali Airport. You drive through winding roads shaded with green vegetation. Public transport is available from Kigali city but ends in Musaze, so you must hire a vehicle to Volcanoes National Park.
Alternatively, one can charter from Kigali Airport to Volcanoes National Park.
How Long Is Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda?
The time of finding the mountain gorillas during the Rwanda trek is still being determined because of the free movement of the mountain gorillas in the forest. You may take about 2 hours to more time, depending on a number of factors prevailing in the woods.
Some of the factors that determine when to locate mountain gorillas include
The proximity of the gorilla feeding area
In case they feed from far, they may need help to locate. The mountain gorillas feed from a particular location for some time and depart after food is finished.
In case of a fight with another gorilla family
When gorilla families fight, the losers may be pushed into hiding, delaying tracing them in the wild.
Prevailing weather conditions during gorilla trekking
During a heavy rainy day, gorilla trekking in Rwanda may be delayed because of the slippery slopes on the highlands where mountain gorillas spend the day.
The pace of gorilla trekkers
You may need more time to locate the mountain gorillas if you are allocated a gorilla trekking group with slow trekkers. The ranger guide, however, follows the pace of the slowest trekker so that no one is forgotten in the wilderness.
How Difficult Is Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park
The topography of the volcanoes national Park is covered by five of six Virunga Volcanoes. The ground of Volcanoes National Park is steeper than other mountain gorilla habitats.
It would be best to have some fitness level to enjoy Rwanda’s entire gorilla trekking experience. This helps you complete the whole trek and stay caught up.
What Not To Do On Gorilla Trekking Adventure in Volcanoes National Park?
- No spitting on the ground or in the forest to avoid passing germs to the mountain gorillas.
- Keep quiet or use a low tone to locate the mountain gorillas during the trek.
- Only trekkers 15 years and above are allowed to do gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
- No, using flash photography when with mountain gorillas because this may scare them.
- Maintain a distance of about 8 meters from the mountain gorillas when you locate them.
- If you catch an infection, volunteer to stay behind so you do not pass this to the mountain gorillas. They are highly susceptible to human infections.
- When eating or smoking, do it at least 200 meters from the mountain gorillas?
- Only one hour is allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate them. This is because they are habituated to be in front of humans for just that time.
What else to do in Volcanoes National Park other than gorilla trekking?
Golden monkey safari
Volcanoes National Park is home to the golden monkeys. This is another unique monkey species, from its body structure to its looks. Golden monkeys have a body structure that is larger than other monkeys.
On the lower body, golden monkeys have golden brown hairs. They are some of the endangered primates, with about 20000 to 40000 believed to be living in the world.
They are exciting to follow because of their high energy and charming behavior. Although golden monkeys are habituated to human presence, they still showcase their wild behavior.
You must purchase a Rwanda golden monkey trekking permit to be allowed to participate in this adventure.
Dian Fossey hike
The remains of the fallen mountain gorilla heroin called Dian Fossey were buried amongst the gorillas she defended to her last breath. She was an American philanthropist and primatologist who dedicated her research to mountain gorillas since 1967.
In 1985 she was brutally killed by unknown assassinators at her residence. You can walk in the last steps of her existence by hiking where the remains were laid.
Birding in Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is one of the habitats for birding in Rwanda. This Park currently hosts over 200 bird species, including Albertine rift endemics. You need to hire a professional birding guide with Rwanda experience to help you with this Rwanda birding expedition.
Some of the birds you may get to spot include Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Archer’s Robin-chat, Dusky and Shelley’s crimson wings, and others.
Nature walk in Volcanoes National Park.
Volcanoes forest is excellent for taking nature walks where you may spot other monkey species like olive baboons, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and others.
You may identify a number of natural tree species that have survived a number of decades.
Mountaineering in Volcanoes National Park
The topography of Volcanoes National Park is composed of mountains where you can hike. These mountains include Mountain Gahinga, mountain Sabyinyo, mountain Muhabura, mountain Karisimbi, and Mountain Bisoke.
You can take a day’s hike to the peaks of any of these highlands.