Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park
Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park is one of the biggest Rwanda Safari activities that is loved by most travelers exploring Rwanda. Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is one of the four natural habitats of the endangered mountain gorillas in the world. The park that is part of the Virunga Massif, covers an area of about 433 sq kilometers and its home to ten mountain gorilla families that are have been habituated for purposes of mountain gorilla trekking activities.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is one of the most fulfilling Rwanda safari experiences one can have on a trip to Rwanda because it’s a combination of adventurous activities like trekking the forested volcanoes massif, seeing varieties of fauna and forest species topped with spending an hour with the unique mountain gorillas. These experiences are worth every bit of your time and money, because they give you, life-time memories.
The mountain gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park takes place all year round and on a day about 40 – 80 people are known to trek the endangered gorillas with a gorilla family receiving eight visitors a day for one hour.
Each of the 8 trekkers who gets an opportunity to see a family of the mountain gorillas will have to obtain a mountain gorilla permit at least 3 months prior to the trekking experience. A volcanoes mountain gorilla trekking permit currently costs 1500 USD per permit per person for one trek. This permit gives you access to the gorilla trekking terrains and a chance to spend an hour with the mountain gorillas; It’s wise for you to book your permit at least 3 months or more in advance because of the high demand of this fascinating activity.
Mountain gorilla trekking permits are obtained either directly from the Rwanda Development Board or through a tour operator.
The habituated mountain gorilla families in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park that are trekked through the year are:-
- Sabyinyo family
- Susa family
- Karisimbi family
- Umubano family
- Amahoro family
- Kwitonda family
- Bwenge family
- Agashya family
- Ugyenda family
- Hirwa family (which has currently migrated to Mgahinga National Park in Uganda)
On your gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National park, you will be sure to interact with either one of the above gorilla families and each family gives its trekkers a unique experience. The mountain gorilla trekking activities in Volcanoes National Park, start early in the morning at 7am; at that time you will converge at the park offices for a briefing session and after you head to the forest with a ranger who is assigned to your group of eight people. The ranger leads you into the forest to locate the mountain gorillas and he/she will be your guide through the whole trek to help you observe the gorilla trekking guidelines for a successful trekking experience, for your safety and for the continued preservation of the gorillas.
Some of the guidelines to follow on your trekking experience include:-
- Always maintain a 7 meters distance between you and the gorillas
- Don’t feed the gorillas
- Don’t use flashes to take pictures of the gorillas
- Have minimal or zero eye contact with the gorillas
- Don’t try to overstay beyond one hour
- Don’t fight or have arguments in front of the gorillas
- Don’t not trek while you are sick.
- Don’t cough or sneeze directly into the gorillas
- Do your best to leave the habitat as you found it
- Always follow the ranger’s instructions.
The whole mountain gorilla trekking experience takes about 4 – 6 hours and trekkers are normally back to the park offices by mid-morning or early afternoon. The forest trails in volcanoes national park are not as strenuous as the ones in Uganda and DRC so they can easily be trekked by anyone; however it’s still very key that you’re fit enough before you embark on this trekking adventure.
Also anyone below 15 years is not allowed to take part in the trekking experience.
Volcanoes National Park is about 2 – 3 hours from Kigali Rwanda’s capital in the country’s Northern Province Musanze District, Ruhengeri. You can get to the park by road either by bus or by private car that is provided to you by a tour operator.
For your accommodation, on your trip to Volcanoes National park, you will have an array of options of well-vanished accommodation facilities to suit your sleeping and feeding needs on your trekking experience. The options range from budget, midrange and luxury and they include:-
- Le Bambou gorilla lodge
- Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel
- Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
- Mountain Gorillas’ Nest Lodge
- Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge
- La Palme Hotel
- Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
- Bisate Lodge
- Gorilla Solution Lodge,
- Villa Gorilla
- The Bishops’ house Rwanda
- Virunga Lodge
- Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel
- Best View Hotel
- Singita Kwitonda Lodge
- Garden Place Hotel
- Kinigi Guest House
- Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel
- Hotel Muhabura
- Garden Place Hotel, Garr hotel
- Faraja Hotel
- Virunga Lodge