Gorilla trekking is the leading wildlife experience not only in this the Volcanoes National Park but also in Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills. This is a thrilling outdoor wildlife adventure where tourists go to visit already habituated gorilla group family in the park.
Unlike the usual African big game safaris, gorilla trekking in Rwanda involves active participation where you will engage in a trek through the forest, steep slopes, at times in muddy floor to search for a gorilla group. It is long day trekking before you come a gorilla group in Volcanoes National Park and then you spend one hour face to face with mountain gorillas.
Volcanoes National Park, its Location and gorilla families
The Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is located in the North-western side of the country, about 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali. The park is located in Ruhengeri/Musanze district, close to the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Over 80% of travelers who go on Rwanda safaris do not miss going on gorilla treks in the Volcanoes National Park.
The Volcanoes National Park is positioned within the Virunga Region making it one of the Virunga Conservation Areas (VCAs). This Rwanda safari park was gazetted in 1925 and its boundaries spread covering up to only 160sq.kms, inhabiting some hundreds of the remaining 1063 mountain gorillas.
Of about 18 gorilla groups in the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, 12 of them are fully habituated and ready for tracking each day. The gorilla groups include Karisimbi gorilla family, Agashya, Sabyinyo, Susa A, Kwitonda, Hirwa, Amahoro gorilla family, Titus, Ugenda, Bwenge, Umubano, etc.
Gorilla trekking in the volcanoes begins early morning after briefing at Kinigi offices. Strictly eight tourists are allocated to visit a single gorilla group. The grouping of visitors is done during the briefing time at the park offices and experienced ranger guide will lead each group.
From 8:00am, the park guide will take you through a search for your gorilla group a trek most likely to last for 2 to 6 hours but this may depend on your physical fitness level, location of gorillas, etc.
Getting to Rwanda Volcanoes National Park for gorilla trekking
The Volcanoes National Park is located a short distance drive from Kigali, about 2-3 hours and from Bwindi or Mgahinga in Uganda, about 3-5 hours’ drive. A comfortable 4×4 vehicle is more preferable for all your road trips to the park.
Gorilla Trekking permits in Rwanda
To go gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park, you must have a valid gorilla permit. Each of gorilla trekking permits for Volcanoes National Park costs US Dollars 1500 per person and they can be booked via the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or through the reliable local tour company/operator.
Is Rwanda gorilla tracking safe?
All Rwanda gorilla safaris are safe and secure for all tourists on gorilla tour. All treks to see mountain gorillas are done in gorilla groups that have undergone through habituation (this takes a period of 2 years to make these apes get used to human presence before they are fully opened for tracking). For visitor and gorilla safety, there are gorilla trekking rules to be observed while on a visit to see gorillas; they include among others:
• Strictly 1 hour should be spent during a close encounter with gorillas upon locating them.
• No visiting a gorilla group when sick or ill
• No photography using flashlight camera
• You can be allowed to buy a gorilla permit or visit gorillas if you are 15 years and above.
• Valid gorilla permits are a must to book for all Rwanda gorilla safaris.
• Shouting in the wild while on a trek is highly prohibited.
• Wearing facemasks is mandatory to limit spread of COVID-19.
• Continuously wash or hand sanitize before and while in the forest to see gorillas.
When is the best time to visit Volcanoes National Park Rwanda to see gorillas?
Rwanda mountain gorillas can be trekked at any time of the year, but the dry season stands out as the most favorable time. This falls in June, July, August, September and December, January to February of every year, when low or no rains are recorded and the ground floor remains drier. This makes the dry season the best for trekkers to smoothly navigate via the dry trails rather than muddy floor during the wet season from March to May or October to November.
What carry and wear for gorilla tracking in Rwanda?
The essentials every safari traveler should have when visiting the Volcanoes National Park for mountain gorilla trekking include long socks, trousers, long sleeved shirts, daypack, waterproof walking/hiking/trekking boots/shoes, waterproof rain jacket/raincoat, insect repellent, camera with no flashlight, bottled drinking water, basic first aid kit, snacks, toiletries, sweater and others.
Is Rwanda gorilla trekking worth it?
Mountain gorilla trekking is a wildlife experience that comes once in a lifetime. Visiting mountain gorillas in the wild is such a thrilling experience offered to tourists in only four parks. Besides the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, the other gorilla parks include Mgahinga Gorilla National Park & Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda as well as the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). A close encounter with a family of massive mountain gorillas in the wild is priceless.
Where to stay on gorilla safari in Rwanda?
The Volcanoes National Park is a complete gorilla tourism destination with all kinds of accommodation choices- budget, mid-range and luxury. The accommodation in and around Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park include La Palme Hotel, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Bisate Lodge, Five Volcanoes National Park, Hotel Muhabura, Gorilla Solution Lodge, Kinigi Guesthouse, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Mountain Gorillas Nest Lodge, Villa Gorilla Lodge, Virunga Volcanoes Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, etc.