Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safaris are the most iconic Rwanda safari adventures that do not only generate remarkable safari memories but also generate considerable revenue for national economic development and conservation. The Only Rwanda Gorilla Safari habitat – the Volcanoes National Park to the North West of the country feature ten habituated gorilla groups which are part of the Greater Virunga landscape apparently protecting 480 out of the 880 total mountain gorillas known to be left in the world.
Planning a Gorilla Safari in Rwanda
Planning a Gorilla Trekking Safari in Rwanda
When to go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
The Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safaris and Tours are possible all-year round. However, during the rain season, the slopes of the gorilla highlands can be slippery, rain can always hit the trekkers and the vegetation growth is high. The rainy months include; April, May and November. But during this season, the Bamboo is in abundance especially at the lower slopes thus attracting the gorillas to feed from such areas and this result into short gorilla treks.
In the dry season which occurs in the months of December, January, February, June, July, August and Mid September feature less rains thus offering a more dry trek on dry surfaces and the vegetation is not dense thus better gorilla viewing possibilities. But in this period, the gorillas tend to forage at higher mountain slopes presenting an extended gorilla trek.
Rwanda Gorilla Permits
Booking the gorilla permit in Rwanda can be done direct with Rwanda Development Board or through a Travel Agent. The Rwanda Development Board is the sole primary seller of the gorilla permits in Rwanda and it avails each permit at $750.
Volcanoes National Park which is the only gorilla habitat in the whole of Rwanda has 80 gorilla permits every day. In the high season which is normally in the dry months, these permits can be sold off completely. Therefore, world travellers interested in Rwanda gorilla safari during this time require an advance booking of at least 3 months to avoid missing out.
More Rwanda Gorilla Info
It can be noted that there is no required degree of fitness for any traveller intending to take up a trek to the Rwanda’s gorilla highlands. This is because during the gorilla tracking, the rangers always walk at the pace of the slowest person and breaks can always be made should there be need.
In addition, there are easy to trek gorilla groups and if the traveller is not interested in extended treks, the guide can liaise with the park warden for a shorter and easy group to trek. But this depends on the discretion of the park staff and it’s not mandatory.
The gorilla groups that thrive at raised slopes of the Volcanic mountains require some level of fitness as it would involve traversing steep slopes and jumping over some rocks before approaching them.
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking etiquette
Mountain Gorillas feature 98% DNA close to humans thus showing that they are susceptible to human transmitted infections. Additionally, the mountain gorilla population is low around 880 world over and yet their females can only give birth every after four years which indicates that their multiplication is slow. The Mountain gorilla habitat is very fragile and specific a reason why they are only limited in Bwindi and Virunga Highlands in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo on world scale.
Putting in consideration of all the above, the range of gorilla trekking rules and regulations are put in place to maintain control of their interaction with humans.
Only 8 people are allowed to track each gorilla group per day and the total time with the gorillas is limited to one hour.
The person who is carrying a contagious disease like cold is required to stay behind as it can easily be transmitted to the Mountain gorillas.
A minimum of 7m distance has to be maintained while with the Mountain gorillas to avoid contact. In the event of the gorilla approaching, the trekker is supposed to slowly step back to maintain distance and avoid contact.
The Voices have to be kept very low while in the gorilla forest and avoid unnecessary movements while wit the gorillas. Eating while with the gorillas is prohibited and littering in the gorilla forest is strictly prohibited.
What to Pack for a Gorilla Trekking Safari
A traveller intending to take up a gorilla safari in Rwanda can consider the following the packing list;
The sturdy and comfortable shoes to navigate steep and slippery surfaces
The Gardening gloves to cover the hands from bush thorns
The long trousers and long sleeved shirt to cover the body thorny vegetation and shrubs that have itching element
The rain jacket, the hat and the Sunscreen to keep the body moisturized.
Lunch box and sufficient water
Porters can assist with the heavy baggage including the Camera equipment. The porters are from within the local community thus by hiring them; you contribute directly to community development.
Photography on Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safari Tours
Mountain gorilla photography is allowed but the use of flash light is strictly prohibited. The absence of flash can at times be a challenge when the gorillas are in deep layers of the forest where there is no enough light for the camera. The good thing with Rwanda is that unlike Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda, Volcanoes National Park features short vegetation that allows better photographic opportunities.
Gorilla Families for Rwanda
Gorilla Families for Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safari Tours
Sabinyo: This has 16 members and it is the most easily accessible family led by the powerful Guhonda Silverback.
Susa: This is the largest group with 38 members featuring two (2) sets of twins and presents a challenging trek to the mountains.
Agashya: This was initially known as Group 13 and this has now increased to 22 members.
Umubano: This has thirteen (13) members and is noted to have broken off from Amahoro gorilla family led by Charles – the Silverback.
Amahoro: This Rwanda Gorilla Safari family has 19 members led by the Ubumwe Silverback one the five (5) Silverbacks. The group presents a relatively steep climb.
Hirwa: This has eighteen (18) members gathered from Group 13 and the Sabinyo groups. It has 5 year old twins. The silverback is called Muyinda.
Titus: The gorilla family features fourteen (14) members including 3 Silverbacks and the dominant Silverback is called Turakora and tends to dwell on Mount Bisoke slopes.
Kwitonda: This features 22 members led by the Silverback Akerevuro and it was initially habituated in the Democratic Democrat Republic of Congo presenting moderately difficult trek.
Ugenda: This is a small gorilla family with six (6) members and its name literally translates as being on the move led by the Silverback Ugenda.
Kuryama: This has fourteen (14) members with two (2) Silverbacks. The main Silverback is called Kirahure.