Rwanda Gorilla trekking
Sharing around 96% of the same DNA as humans, gorillas are our closest relative. They are social, gentle and intelligent animals and it is said that observing them in the wild, truly shows this. There is something so special, yet quite daunting, about standing metres from a silverback weighing around 200kg! Give us a call to discuss your lifetime experience of Rwanda Gorilla Trekking!
When to go Rwanda gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is possible throughout the year but there are particular months that present better conditions for trekking through the forest and seeing the gorillas. A time to avoid would be March to May as this is the long, rainy season in Rwanda. The heavy and persistent rains are intensified in the rainforest and as a result, the terrain becomes extremely wet and muddy, making the hikes particularly challenging. The positive of heading this time of year is that the gorillas usually reside lower on the slopes of the forest, so although the hike can be tough, the actual distance you walk may be much shorter than other times of the year.
The period between June and October is the best time to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda as the months are dry and warm. This is also a great time to combine Rwanda’s gorilla trekking with other destinations in East Africa such as Tanzania’s Serengeti as the game viewing is the best during these months. Another great time to track the gorillas in December to March which also offers dry and warm conditions. Late October and the month of November brings short rains to Rwanda, which although less frequent and intense as the long rains in April and May, these rains can make the terrain wet and muddy for trekking.
To track and see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, you must have a permit. The cost of a permit is $1,500 per person and this is for one trek only. Although it seems like a significant upfront cost, a percentage of each permit goes back into the local community and is what essentially funds the conservation work and ongoing protection of these critically endangered mountain gorillas. When booking your trip, we will organise the gorilla permits for you and we do not charge a commission on this.
As the experience can be quite expensive, many visitors opt to just do one gorilla trek whilst in Rwanda. Once you have hiked through the mountains and found the gorilla family, you will be allowed only one hour to spend with them. Subject to availability, there is no limit on how many treks you can do whilst in Rwanda and the benefits of doing more than one is that you can track a different family and have yet again, another totally different experience. Many also say that a second trek is even more of a magical experience, as they are less focussed on getting the perfect picture.
Please note that an additional permit will need to be purchased for every trek with the Rwandan highland gorillas. Please also note that there is a limited number of gorilla permits available each day so we highly advise booking well in advance (particularly during the months between June and October, and over the festive period).
Rules of gorilla trekking
The guides leading the treks are extremely knowledgeable and experienced, many who have been doing it all their life. To make the trek as safe as possible, there are many rules and restrictions applied to Rwand gorilla trekking. These will be briefed to you the morning of the trek at the park headquarters so don’t worry about remembering them all.
Do you need to be fit?
Depending on what family of gorillas you are tracking may depend on the length and difficulty of the hike. Trekking to see the gorillas through the Volcanoes National Park can be anywhere from anywhere from 45 minutes to 6 or 7 hours but if you are reasonably fit, you should be fine! There are also local porters that you can pay to carry your bag or camera equipment.