A Rwanda gorilla trekking tour takes you to a captivating world of great apes!
A Rwanda gorilla trekking safari, which is rarely experienced alone, pairs well with other East African destinations such as Uganda, Tanzania, or Kenya. Rwanda is more than meets the eye.
The world’s best primate tracking can be found in Rwanda. The Land of a Thousand Hills, as the country is often called, is surrounded by rolling hills, dense forests, and imposing mountain peaks. Rwanda is home to more than half of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world, so it makes sense that most wildlife enthusiasts travel there to track and observe these critically endangered primates up close.
We arrange the permits and everything needed for this thrilling trek, and you bring enthusiasm as we head into the deep jungle to see the gentle giants everyone loves. The first glimpse of the precious primates through the mist is one of those moments you never forget. It is mesmerizing to watch a family of gorillas who seem similar to humans in their interactions, movements and habits. Some might seem more curious than members of the safari group, while others might beat their chests in a show of dominance. Or some could be too busy picking the bugs off their mates to notice us with our cameras and big smiles.
The famed Volcanoes National Park serves as the focal point of almost all our Rwanda gorilla trekking tours and safaris; however, you may also find that some of the excursions we recommend also involve parts of neighboring Uganda due to Rwanda’s close geographic and ecological ties. This east-central African country is also home to the primate-filled Nyungwe Forest National Park, where boisterous chimps frolic and the skies are filled with many species of colourful birds. In low-lying eastern Rwanda, Akagera National Park provides impressive game viewing in a diverse savannah setting, with safari heavyweights such as lions and elephants.
Our unique trips in Rwanda will take you through a series of epic gorilla trekking adventures. To mention the highlights: you will explore the primate-rich Nyungwe Forest National Park to observe chimpanzees and birdlife that go well with a gorilla and golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes National Park. Akagera National Park will provide you with sightings of Big 5 safari animals as you game drive to see lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalos. In addition to stunning scenery, first-rate hiking, and spectacular canopy tours, Lake Kivu is a gem for birdwatching and canoeing. Why not combine a Rwanda gorilla trek with a wildebeest migration trip to the Serengeti, Masai Mara, and even the Spice Island of Zanzibar for much-needed beach relaxation? Perhaps you want to extend the trip to Uganda to see tree-climbing lions at Queen Elizabeth National Park and flamingos in Ngorongoro Crater. These destinations are included in our collection of the best Rwanda trekking tours and safaris.
Need help planning a Rwanda trekking tour? Our experts make planning your Rwanda trekking experience a walk in the park. To help you with trip planning, browse our travel guide to find expert advice on all things gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda and the Big 5 safaris. Get inspired with our sample itineraries and let our Wito experts customize a dream trip just for you!
When to Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Although gorilla trekking is considered a year-round activity because Rwanda and Uganda have similar climates, the best time to visit the rainforests is during one of the two dry seasons. The first one lasts roughly from mid-December to the end of February, while the second dry season lasts from early June to the end of September. While these times are the most comfortable for trekking, the weather is still very humid, wet, and muddy. Remember to take your gaiters!
The equatorial rainforest of the Congo Basin has three distinct seasons which are best described as wet, wetter, and wettest because rain is a crucial component of its delicate ecosystem. The greatest seasons to undertake gorilla trekking in Congo are during the “low rainfall” season, which lasts from June to September, and the “gentle rainfall” season, which lasts from December to February. The driest and coolest months of the year are generally considered to be July and August.
Planning your trek around the best times for a safari excursion is essential because many gorilla treks are done as an add-on to an East African safari. No matter when you decide to go gorilla trekking, superb guides, first-rate lodgings, and amiable locals who share your passion for the trip will guarantee a truly exceptional and unforgettable experience.
Select your preferred time to travel, then let a Wito Africa safari expert create an itinerary that meets your needs for a safari and incorporates the highlights of that season.
The ultimate guide to Rwanda gorilla trekking tours & safaris:
Gorilla trekking is a bucket list adventure for many people – so we feel the privilege to help deliver such a dream experience for our guests with purpose, precision and passion.
There are many factors to consider when planning a Rwanda gorilla trekking tour and safari. You should start by gathering enough information that will help you decide on the best destination.
Deciding which reliable tour operator (s) to use for your dream African safari experience is not an easy task. With a sea of general online tour operators out there, it is hard to find the ONE that truly speaks to your discerning tastes and genuinely understands your travel needs and expectations.
When planning a trip to Africa with an unreliable tour operator, you will be solely responsible to deal with ever-changing new requirements and regulations that you are not used to. You will be staying in hotels you don’t know of, you might get the visa but forget the travel insurance or yellow fever vaccination, and you might pack for winter when it is summertime in Africa. Not knowing what to expect can turn your once-in-a-lifetime into a complete disappointment.
But when you allow us to plan a trip for you, we guarantee that your safari experience will be meticulously created just for you with your specific interests, travel style and schedule. Everything will be tailored to your preference, allowing you to enjoy a perfect balance of comfort, adventure and maximum wildlife viewing. We will only recommend the places we have stayed in and inspected thoroughly, and we can guarantee you will be safe.
Our unique approach to offering a stress-free safari experience starts with ensuring that you are well-informed about the specific requirements of the country you visit so you know exactly what to expect. Understanding how a safari operates, what is involved before and during, and what key points to consider when booking ensures an unforgettable safari adventure. Topics like when to visit, how to get there, and what to pack are addressed by safari experts.
Best Tips for Planning Your Rwanda Gorilla Trekking
One of life’s most unforgettable experiences is going gorilla trekking in Rwanda, but this extraordinary adventure may leave you wondering what to expect and how to plan for it. You will never forget looking into the eyes of one of the most magnificent creatures on the planet in a setting that seems so far from everyday life. Going on a gorilla trek, you can observe the majestic animals in their natural habitats as they exhibit their mannerisms and close family ties.
Knowing what to anticipate can help you have a once-in-a-lifetime experience on your African safari itinerary and make sure you are well-prepared for this extraordinary and life-changing experience. To ensure a memorable experience, careful planning is essential. Depending on where you go on your gorilla trek, different countries have different fees and regulations regarding permits.
Securing Your Rwanda Gorilla-Trekking Permit in Advance
The daily quota of gorilla-trekking permits in Rwanda is restricted to ensure gorilla conservation, so getting yours as soon as possible before your trip is essential to successful trekking. Knowing the facts is a crucial step in your planning process.
Rwanda permits start at a price significantly higher than Uganda permits, with the time of year dictating overall pricing. Depending on your travel dates, you may consider taking on this epic adventure outside the busiest trekking season.
Our Wito Africa safari experts will arrange the permits and everything needed for this thrilling trek so you can bring enthusiasm as we head into the deep jungle to see the gentle giants everyone loves. You will be guided by our professional advice to help you plan your trip to Rwanda with experts from start to finish. We’ll help secure your gorilla-trekking permit as soon as your travel dates are confirmed, giving you peace of mind.
Your Stay in Rwanda
Best Rwanda Accommodation
You can choose from a wide range of lodging options in Rwanda, from modest, home-away-from-home options to delightful tented delights and opulent lodges. The gorillas are the main attraction in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, which is reflected in many nearby lodging choices. Regardless of the type of lodging you select, the friendly staff will be happy to help you prepare for your trek, share stories and advice for the adventure ahead, and go over the day’s trek with you.
Take your time to enjoy the sounds, sights and smells of the enchanting natural forests while knowing that wherever you decide to stay, you will have a restful night’s sleep after an action-packed day in the jungle. After your trek, you can enjoy a soothing massage and other relaxing spa services. The staff ensures you will have a delicious meal awaiting you.
Your safety is a priority and guaranteed with good service delivery because lodge and camp locations are always carefully selected. If you need assistance, get in touch for guidance on choosing the best option for your needs and budget. Our selection of lodging options in Rwanda includes everything from budget-friendly tented camps to opulent lodges.
Visa and Passport Requirements
A 3 months valid passport is required for all travelers to Rwanda. Everyone except residents of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong, Kenya, and South Africa needs to apply for a visa in advance. You can purchase multiple-entry tourist visas at the embassy or consulate of Rwanda in your area. In Kigali, tourist visas can typically be renewed on a month-by-month payment basis after the initial three-month period.
If you’re planning to visit Uganda and Rwanda, an East African Tourist Visa is the best option, especially if you want to avoid paying twice for a single visa for each destination. Travel inside Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda is permitted with the East African Tourist Visa. You can apply for a visa online or get one when you arrive.
To complete the visa application online, we will provide you with specific information and all necessary links to the government website where you can apply for a tourist visa.
Recommendation for Your International Flights to Rwanda
If all you need to do is book your international flight to Africa, we can recommend several reliable and cost-effective options for you! While most of our guests choose DELTA/KLM direct through Europe, other popular airlines are Emirates, Turkish and Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya and Qatar Airways.
Please let us know your exact requirements and we’ll do everything we can to meet them. If needed, we can even book a business-class flight for you if you’d prefer. Trust us, you’ll be all booked and on your way in no time!
What to Pack for Your Rwanda Gorilla Trekking and Safaris
Packing for a gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Preparation is key. Your gorilla trek will be successful as long as you are dressed appropriately. Pack long, thick pants and long-sleeved tops for your Rwanda trekking adventure. Include long socks or gaiters to wear over your pants to ward off ants. Take along a pair of light gloves to protect against nettles. A hat, a raincoat, and supportive, comfortable hiking boots are other things you should pack.
A change of clothes, a warm fleece, sunscreen, and insect repellent should all be packed in your day pack because it can get cold and wet in the mountains at altitude. When you come across a gorilla family, there will undoubtedly be dense patches of stinging nettles because they are one of the apes’ primary food sources. To prevent abrasions on your legs, we advise wearing the thickest pants you can, and to protect your hands, wear gardening or other types of gloves. The gloves will help as you hold on to vegetation from time to time to steady yourself on the trek.
Wearing overpowering fragrances should be avoided because animals have keen senses of smell and may flee from them. Dress in earthy hues like browns and greens. Bright colors, white, and bold patterns create a visible contrast against the background of the forest. Such colors make the animals keep their distance. Additionally, black and dark blue should be avoided because it draws mosquitoes and tsetse flies. You can use bug spray, but ensure it is environmentally friendly. It’s good to bring extra stationery and toys for village children.
All important destination details and specific information will be provided in a booklet (along with your itinerary) to help you prepare well for your gorilla trekking in Rwanda with us. See our Africa Safari Guide for more information on what to bring on a safari in other destinations.
Arrival & Getting Around Rwanda
Main International Airports
Other Local Airports
Kigali Internationa Airport, formerly known as Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport, sometimes referred to as Kanombe International Airport, is the main airport serving Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. The Volcanoes National Park, where you can go gorilla trekking, is about a 2.5-hour drive from Kigali.
Located just outside of Kigali, Kigali International Airport is the country’s main airport with regional importance as it serves Congolese, Burundian and Ugandan cities. Although 4X4 vehicles are frequently used for transfers in Rwanda, you can also travel from Kigali to Nyungwe Forest National Park by helicopter.
Due to its small size, the maximum driving time between all attractions in Rwanda is four to five hours. Using a local scooter to get around Kigali is one of the quickest and most authentic ways to experience the city and the local culture.
Meet & Greet – Wito Africa Rwanda Safari Team
Upon arrival in Rwanda, you’ll be met by your private driver/guide at the airport, holding a signboard with your group name on it and a big smile! A Wito Africa private safari guide will help you gather your belongings and hop into the vehicle for a road transfer to your first overnight accommodation in Rwanda.
Your Safari Vehicles in Rwanda
In Rwanda, game drives and guided road transfers are done in closed 4x4s with large windows and pop-up roofs. Depending on your itinerary and travel style, there are a few options where your stay in private camps and lodges will offer you open-sided vehicles.
This type of experience will typically offer you twice daily game drives (one game drive in the morning, relaxation and lunch at the camp, then followed by another one in the afternoon), and you will be sharing an open-sided safari vehicle and guide with at least 2-4 other people.
The vehicles we use for safaris offer maximum wildlife viewing and uninterrupted views of the African wilderness. Two to three rows of seats are typical in a closed 4×4 game drive vehicle, along with a pop-up roof hatch that can be raised for game viewing and taking pictures.
Depending on your travel party, we have two types of spacious, luxury Land Cruisers; a 6-passenger seater (three rows) and a sub-extended 4-passenger seater (two rows). The jeeps are driven by experienced safari guides and are fitted with everything one might need to enjoy game viewing or wildlife photography.
When you book exclusive use of a safari vehicle and private safari guide, there will not be any strangers/new members joining your safari in Uganda unless it has been previously arranged by the people travelling in your group.
To enhance your experience on safari in Uganda with us, we will also include a tea/coffee basket for your picnic while you are out and about in the bush, bottled drinking water, some snacks and soft drinks!
Rwanda Landscape & Wildlife
Rwanda’s Landscape & Wildlife
Rwanda is landlocked and geographically located in the center of Africa. Its neighbors are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania. Though much of the country’s hills and grasslands have been converted to terraced agriculture, Rwanda’s large animals are only allowed in its three reserves.
Rwanda is home to volcanoes, densely forested mountain ranges, lakes, and rivers. Its location on the Albertine Rift Valley places it at the center of one of the most bio-diverse environments in the world. Volcanoes National Park is the most well-known of parks in Rwanda, and it is also the prime location for gorilla trekking tours. It is home to half of the continent’s remaining mountain gorillas.
The country’s only savannah reserve is the little-visited Akagera National Park in the flatter and hotter east of Rwanda, where Nyungwe Forest is a haven for other primates, including chimpanzees. With about 670 species recorded, there are abundant birds all over the country.
Rwanda People, Culture & Language
Rwanda is a lush, productive nation that has long been inhabited. It is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, with more than 12 million people crammed into a space smaller than Belgium. The pygmoid Twa, hunter-gatherers who first inhabited it, were driven out by emigrating Hutu farmers, who’re now, make up more than 80% of the population. The cattle-raising Tutsis, who controlled traditional power structures until independence, arrived next. Be aware that modern Rwanda tends to disregard such ethnic labels because of its history.
Over 40% of Rwandans are under 15 years of age. Catholics, a Christianity religion, make up most of the country’s population, with Protestants not far behind. The cultural scene is dominated by music (particularly drumming) and dance. There is a strong oral tradition that includes everything from poetry to folk tales.
Kinyarwanda, French, and English are the official languages of the nation. Rwanda is regarded as a simple, safe, and welcoming destination.
Rwanda History & Economy
This small, Central African nation, which was once home to pre-colonial kingdoms and strong cattle-owning dynasties, managed to escape the horrors of the slave trade but was later colonized, first by the Germans and then the Belgians. Although Rwanda gained its independence in 1962, its post-colonial history has been rocky. The genocide of 1994 was the low point, but since then, the nation has grown stronger and now dominates regional affairs.
Agriculture is the major industry, accounting for 40% of GDP and 90% of employment, but it is primarily subsistence farming with a little surplus. Even though cash crops like tea and coffee, as well as the mining of rare metals, do make money abroad, tourism is the biggest earner of foreign currency.
Weather in Rwanda
The average annual temperature ranges from 12°C (54°F) to 27°C (81°F). March through April and mid-October to mid-December are wet months. The best times to go gorilla trekking are from late December to early February and from June to September when it’s dry.
You can contact us by email or call to speak with one of our Botswana safari experts at 1-315-805-4040 to enquire about the best time to visit the country and how to best adapt to the climate.
How to Plan Your Rwanda gorilla trekking like a Pro
This is what you’ve come to see in Africa: a family of gorillas led by a watchful but kind silverback male, glossy black against the rainforest’s luminous green. Young gorillas wrestle each other like wrestlers. Maternal females cluster in grooming groups and periodically reprimand the young, while the patriarchal silverback keeps an eye out for their environment.
Since gorilla populations are only counted in the hundreds rather than the thousands, even in protected reserves, gorilla trekking offers one of Africa’s most profound wildlife encounters. Due to their small population, gorillas are so uncommon. Trackers can recognize each gorilla individually based on the names, faces, and personalities.
The last protected areas of the central rainforests are some of the parks on the continent where Africa’s great apes can still be found living in their natural habitat. Due to the money gained from tourists going on gorilla treks, populations are gradually expanding. Importantly, even scouts who may have formerly killed gorillas and other primates for their fur are now their protectors and make a living by protecting what they once killed. It is a success story for conservation, and gorilla trekking tourism must continue for the species to survive.
Your trip of a lifetime is calling. Are you ready to explore the jungles of Rwanda?
The most life-changing and intimate wildlife encounter in Africa is, without a doubt, spending time with gorillas in the wild. If you’re debating whether to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda, think about whether you’d want to go gorilla trekking as a stand-alone experience as an add-on after a safari or if you want an adventure that includes several activities in a particular country. Both nations are ideal for a gorilla trek, but knowing how long to stay in each place and why might help you choose.
When planning a Rwanda gorilla trekking tour, it’s crucial to have answers to frequently asked questions. Having all your pre-safari inquiries answered would make things easier for you as you start planning your journey to Africa. The best part is that you will have the assistance of your Wito Africa Safaris expert to plan everything.
We can save you time, money, headaches and heartache by helping you plan your dream safari. To start planning your Rwanda gorilla trekking adventure, please call us at 1-315.805.4040 or send our safari experts a message via email.
To help you prepare well for your trip to Rwanda, our Wito Africa safari experts have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answered everything for you, including:
How long should I spend on safari in Rwanda?
Visitors to Rwanda could explore the capital city of Kigali for a day or two (optional) before spending two or three nights in the Volcanoes National Park, where they can go gorilla trekking. Shorter trekking trails and less distance between attractions make for the ideal setting for a multi-day adventure. Consider taking a break before or after your trek and concluding your trip to Rwanda with a golden monkey trek.
Rwanda has a rich history, priceless cultural artefacts, and stunning natural beauty. Depending on your preferences for the length of your trip, when to travel, and which wildlife encounters are best for you (i.e. gorilla trekking, Big 5 and chimp tracking), our experts can help create an unforgettable experience just for you.
A Wito Africa safari expert can advise you on how many days to spend in each location when you’re ready to start planning your Rwanda gorilla trekking adventure.
What are the best places to visit in Rwanda?
3 Best Places to Visit in Rwanda
1. Volcanoes National Park
Mountain gorilla tracking safaris have become synonymous with Volcanoes National Park, and no trip to the nation is complete without seeing these magnificent primates. Volcanoes National Park is the Rwandan section of the vast volcanic massif known as the Virunga Mountains, which straddles the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The massif includes three extinct and six active volcanoes over a vast area of more than 8,000 km2. Naturally, gorillas are known to cross international borders without a care, but many habituated groups can be found in Volcanoes National Park. Around 400 of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas live in the massif, making Rwanda likely the best country in Africa for a tracking safari.
Volcanoes National Park also has a long history of gorilla conservation. It served as the foundation for primatologist Dian Fossey’s groundbreaking work, which began in the late 1960s and is vividly depicted in the book and film Gorillas in the Mist.
2. Nyungwe national park
The vast, uncultivated Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda’s southwest is home to a high, dense canopy of tropical rainforest. Because of its remarkable biodiversity, Nyungwe is without a doubt deserving of its status as a national park. Nyungwe’s designation as a national park came about in 2004 as Rwanda sought to expand its tourism beyond the country’s mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.
The Nyungwe Forest’s interior resembles a scene from a fairy tale. You are towered over by tall old mahoganies, ebonies, and giant tree ferns, and every branch is covered in epiphytes like orchids. With 13 different species of primates residing here, Nyungwe is a place for those who enjoy primatology. Many visitors will go on at least one tracking experience, the most well-known of which is chimpanzee trekking. Chimpanzees are tracked in groups of eight beginning very early in the morning, and once they are found, you will only have an hour in their company. However, because they frequently stay in dense forests, sightings aren’t as reliable or visible as those of gorillas. Nevertheless, their endearing playfulness and human-like traits give a lot of satisfaction.
3. Akagera National Park
Compared to just 20 years ago, when it was on the verge of being lost forever, Akagera is almost unrecognizable today. Following the 1994 Genocide, peace was finally restored in the 1990s, but Akagera’s demise was just getting started. Refugees who fled the genocide and returned to Rwanda did so while still fighting for their survival. They turned to the forests for wood, the wildlife for protein, and the wild savannas for their livestock. The wildlife was displaced by ten of thousands of long-horned cattle, lions and rhinos being hunted to local extinction. Employment and tourism also practically disappeared along with biodiversity. The park’s value had naturally decreased, which makes its story of resurgence all the more amazing.
In collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), African Parks took over the management of Akagera in 2010. This development changed the park’s trajectory from one of oblivion to one of prosperity and hope. Thanks to the support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the historical return of 18 Eastern black rhinoceroses in 2017 after a 10-year absence was made possible after years of planning, effective law enforcement, and management. With the help of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), five more captive-bred black rhinos were relocated from Europe in June 2019 to increase their genetic diversity.
The lion population has increased by threefold since their initial reintroduction in 2015. To increase the genetic diversity of the expanding pride, two additional male lions were also relocated to Akagera in 2017. The wildlife populations in the park have continued to increase as poaching has stopped.
How can I fully enjoy a wildlife experience in Rwanda?
Your wildlife experience may take place in the comfort of a 4×4 vehicle, on foot, on a boat cruise, or a canoe, depending on where you go. The diverse location and modes of transportation present numerous incredible ways to experience wildlife and the beauty of Rwanda’s gorilla trekking safari. The drives in Akagera National Park take you through open landscapes and the ideal savannah for the Big 5 safari animals.
You can also explore the Magashi on a boat cruise. You will see hippos bobbing up and down by the lake and crocodiles sleeping on the banks. Walking safaris and night game drives are available at some lodges and camps.
What to Expect During Your Gorilla Trek
Even if you mentally and physically prepare for your trek, you should be ready to feel incredibly humbled when you finally encounter these gentle giants. You can expect to be led by a knowledgeable guide and assisted by friendly porters as you navigate trails that wind up through branches and bush by stepping up, over, around, and under dense vegetation. You will start your trek from a central location, where you can either drive to the trailhead or start your journey. As you enter the surreal surroundings of untamed jungle terrain, excitement will quickly increase.
The duration of the hike it takes to meet a family of gorillas can range from 30 minutes to three hours. During that hour, you will have the opportunity to observe their calm but potent presence. Eat your packed lunch on the mountainside before slowly descending the majestic terrain with your guide and porters.
Will I definitely see gorillas in Rwanda?
Guides generally know where the various families are because they are closely monitored and in contact with either researchers or trekkers daily. As a result, you have a 99% chance of seeing them. Although an overnight thunderstorm or an unexpected encounter with a predator could cause a troop to move unexpectedly in a completely different direction, scouts will pick up their trail again. On a gorilla trekking expedition, it is rare for tourists to miss the apes.
Your ranger will instruct you to leave everything but your camera when you eventually come across a gorilla family. Then, without threatening them, he will bring you close enough to observe the gorillas closely. There are no barriers standing between you and the gorillas, only respect. The gorillas have grown accustomed to human observers and are fearless when engaging in their normal jungle life/activities, such as foraging, grooming, and napping. The young ones’ constant curiosity about people and their playful demeanor try the patience of their teenage gorilla babysitters.
It’s lovely to see the gorilla family in their peaceful state, but keep in mind the family’s imposing silverback male patriarch is keenly aware of your presence. We advise you to spend some of your time with the gorillas taking pictures, but also set aside at least 20 minutes to observe them; you’ll feel much more like you’ve seen them in their natural environment.
What it's like to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda?
No matter how many times you’ve dreamed of it, it’s impossible to imagine your first encounter with a gorilla. It is hard to picture the scene, even though you have an idea of how they will appear and possibly what they will be doing. You are in a dense, unexplored forest, and the guides’ machetes have cut a small path through it to the gorillas. For many miles, there are no artificial sounds. You can smell the presence of the apes. Move a little bit nearer. She is there, bouncing around on two legs and displaying unquestionable dominance with her arms.
It is simple to take a few steps back with the arm waving and vicious stare. Goosebumps cover your arm as the guides grab you and shove you forward as the tension builds. Several troop members are now visible, all looking in your direction. As it emerges, the silverback is twice the size of the others, with muscles rippling beneath its dense black and silver hair. There are no fences or barriers present. To ensure you understand that this is their domain and you are merely a visitor in their home, the gorillas are speaking to you directly. Few things in the world can compare to the feeling of exclusivity and intimacy as a first impression.
The distance between you and the gorillas during the trek is seven meters. But since they do not follow human conventions, they may approach even closer. There is a lot to take in, so you gradually narrow your focus on the individuals by separating males from females whilst observing the gestures that bind the family together. You can take the postcard photos closer up, and the habituated troop can exhibit a wide range of behavior over an hour. As you make your way back to the trailhead, you’ll understand why this is one of the best wildlife encounters. It’s not only about the gorillas and their habitat; it’s also about the silent communication happening around you.
How fit do I have to be to participate in the gorilla & chimpanzee trekking?
Participation in gorilla and chimpanzee trekking activities requires only a basic level of mobility and fitness. The more fit you are, the better for any strenuous activity. However, this does not imply that if you want to go gorilla trekking, you must be able to bench press three times your body weight or compete in a triathlon. The trekkers will be divided into groups based on their age and fitness level, and those who are older and less fit will typically be assigned to the gorilla family closest to the trailhead. You won’t be separated from family or friends, but you will need to slow down to the pace of the slowest trekkers to maintain the group’s safety.
Your guides will pause when necessary for a break, to drink water, take in the scenery, or even to have a snack. They are very skilled at gauging how the group is doing. Water and possibly energizing foods like roasted cashews or peanuts, bananas, apples, chocolate bars, muffins, small sandwiches or bread rolls, and regional specialities like “rolled eggs,” it is a type of cold omelette, are included in packed lunches.
Trekking is always more convenient during the dry season. Mud can make trails slick and the hike more difficult during the rainy season. Additionally, primates may seek shelter from the rain in nests or trees, making them more elusive and difficult to spot. You may want to bring a pair of compact binoculars to get a clear view of their facial expressions and antics.
Since some gorilla families will be on the move constantly rather than just lounging around, munching leaves, and enjoying the sun, you’ll need to be able to keep up with them. Be advised that gorillas are much better suited to moving through their rainforest habitat than we are.
Why go gorilla trekking?
Because mountain gorillas in Africa can only be found in the wild and cannot be kept in zoos, trekking to see them in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The two prime places to see mountain gorillas are Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda. Their population has decreased to an estimated 900 individuals, mountain gorillas desperately clinging to life in these two remote sanctuaries. As a result of hunting and deforestation, they are seriously endangered.
Bush meat hunting and wood harvesting in Congo have caused a severe impact on the possibility of the western lowland gorilla surviving. Lowland gorillas, the smaller and less shaggy cousins of mountain gorillas, primarily live in lowland swampland and secondary forests. Gorillas in the lowlands are in grave danger. Research on primates and gorilla trekking tourism has made people who live adjacent to the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo cherish conservation more.
Thanks to investments and employment development in the area, communities are working together on research and tourist projects for a better future for the Congo Basin and all its citizens. Odzala-Kokoua National Park is home to one of Africa’s most diverse primate populations and about 100 variety mammal species. Sitting a few meters away from a family of gorillas and observing your humanity reflected in their social rituals and warm brown eyes is one of the most therapeutic and intimate wildlife interactions you can have in Africa, if not the entire globe.
Most importantly, we feel inspired to take guests to these remote areas of East Africa as it allows a chance to connect them with nature up close and personal whilst supporting conservation efforts. The conservation fees you pay to access the parks provide the funds necessary to protect these endangered gentle apes and help empower local communities that work in tourism. Thanks for helping us make a difference!
Can I touch gorillas?
No. You run the risk of being seriously hurt because they are powerful wild animals and unpredictable. In addition to being highly vulnerable to human diseases, gorilla populations are already gravely threatened by logging, poaching, and human encroachment on their natural habitat. You are not only not allowed to interact with them, but you may also be required to wear a face mask in some situations and maintain a constant distance of at least seven meters (22 feet) from them. Make sure you are in excellent health before you travel and take precautions not to pick up any diseases during your flight because you won’t be allowed to go on a gorilla trek if you’re sick.
To avoid upsetting the gorillas, keep in mind that you are only permitted to spend an hour with them after you locate them. The opportunity to see these creatures in the wild is extremely rare, so don’t spend your entire time behind a camera. Instead, put your camera down after a few minutes and simply observe them.
When is the best time to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking?
Although gorilla trekking is considered a year-round activity, the best time to visit Rwanda’s rainforests is during one of the two dry seasons. The first dry season lasts roughly from mid-December to the end of February, while the second lasts from early June to the end of September. While these times are the most comfortable for trekking, the weather is still very humid, wet, and muddy. Remember to take your gaiters!
While December and January provide another opportunity for dryer conditions, October’s brief rains do not significantly affect trekking conditions. Planning your trek around the best times for a safari excursion is essential because many gorilla treks are done as an add-on to an East African safari.
No matter when you decide to trek, superb guides, first-rate lodgings, and amiable locals who share your passion for the trip will guarantee a truly exceptional and unforgettable experience.
Select your preferred time to travel, then let a Wito Africa safari expert create an itinerary that meets your needs for a safari and incorporates the top attractions of that season.
Do I have to use a porter?
Even if you feel fit enough to handle the terrain, altitude, humidity, and even the daypack during your gorilla trek, we strongly advise you to use a porter if their services are made available to you. You will be supplying a living for many villagers in the neighborhood for a small sum of money—roughly $20.
Former poachers become porters. Many will be forced to return to finding and capturing or killing gorillas for bush meat or the illegal wildlife-trafficking trade if they can’t find work or make a living in the gorilla conservation field. Poaching syndicates’ incentives can be very profitable for underprivileged villagers with few other options for making a living. It is preferable to kindly accept their assistance, pay the fee (equivalent to a few coffees back home), and contribute to the ongoing preservation of gorillas.
How does my trip help local communities in Rwanda and Uganda?
We are a local tour operating company. We grew up in the African tourism industry, so we understand that tourism can be a force for good. Our mission is to help contribute to the local economy by ensuring that the money from tourism stays in the area.
While our company is headquartered in Tanzania, all the team members—including the guide and driver—are natives of either Uganda or Rwanda. This is a legal requirement to obtain permits, and it also aligns with our corporate values. The restaurants, lodges, and other establishments we will be visiting are all locally owned, so the money spent on the trip will go directly to support the communities you will be visiting.
What medication do I need to take for a trip to Rwanda?
Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss any necessary travel vaccinations and other medications, such as those to prevent malaria or yellow fever, that you may need to take both before and during the trip. You may also need a Yellow Fever certificate if your travel takes you to other African countries; you can find out more information on the CDC website.
If necessary, talk to your doctor or a travel clinic about getting the right shots and taking medication to help you deal with the altitude. If you get car sick, we recommend bringing anti-motion sickness medication since many of the country’s roads are “twisty” or windy.
How should I fly in and out of Rwanda?
Located just outside of Kigali, Kigali International Airport serves as Rwanda’s point of entry. The Volcanoes National Park, where you can go gorilla trekking, is about a 2.5-hour drive from Kigali.
Although 4X4 vehicles are frequently used for transfers in Rwanda, you can also travel from Kigali to Nyungwe Forest National Park by helicopter. Due to its small size, the maximum driving time between attractions in Rwanda is four to five hours. Using a local scooter to get around Kigali is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to experience the city and the local culture.
Can Wito Africa Safaris help me with flights?
While we will help you book all your domestic flights within Africa, our personalized service takes the hassle out of finding and booking the best international flights for your upcoming vacation. Our Wito Africa experts will help you through the entire planning of your safari experience.
Finding the ideal flight for your trip is made simple by using the same personalized service you can get from planning a trip with Wito Africa. We offer support and a free consultation on flights and ticketing.
Why book gorilla permits in advance?
Gorilla permits can be scarce and could get sold out, especially during the peak season. We recommend booking your gorilla permits six months in advance. The daily quota of issued permits in Rwanda and Uganda is restricted to ensure gorilla conservation. So, get yours as soon as possible before your trip is essential to a successful gorilla trek.
Since gorillas are in grave danger of extinction, trekking is strictly controlled in Africa’s gorilla parks. Permits are expensive and difficult to obtain. It takes the kind of firsthand knowledge and local expertise you get from our Wito Africa safari experts to travel to such remote locations and guarantee the best chances for a successful gorilla trek. Please speak with our Wito Africa safari experts; they will be happy to help.
How long will I spend with the gorillas?
There are strict guidelines regarding how long you may be with the animals for your safety and that of the animals. Trek details will be given to you by your ranger during the morning briefing at the park headquarters, but the maximum time spent by visitors with the gorillas is one hour.
Can children go gorilla trekking?
The age restriction for the gorilla trek is 15 years old. The authorities in Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo DRC have restricted children under 15 years from going on a gorilla trek because kids may not be able to remain calm when encountering the great apes.
Do I need travel insurance?
Once you’ve committed to your ideal safari adventure, it’s strongly advised that you get travel insurance. You must have comprehensive coverage for the unexpected, and starting your journey with that peace of mind is a wise choice.
What do I need to know before going on my first gorilla trekking?
Trekking for gorillas in a mountainous rainforest involves hours of walking through a thick jungle following a scout who uses a machete to cut a path through the undergrowth. The guides will ensure you take plenty of breaks, so you should be at least walking fit and equipped for a challenging environment. We advise donning thick cotton outer socks, knee-high gaiters, and well-worn hiking boots that cover your ankles.
Because gorillas are particularly susceptible to human illnesses, you will not be allowed to embark on a gorilla walk if you have a cold or any other contagious sickness.
What type of clothing should I wear?
When you reserve your safari with Wito Africa, you’ll get paperwork that includes a thorough packing list. But suffice it to say that you should dress comfortably and casually. Wearing clothing in shades of khaki, olive, brown, and tan improves your chances of spotting wildlife and has the added advantage of hiding dirt. Additionally, you should resist the urge to overpack because laundry services will be available in a lot of the locations we visit.
Will someone meet me at the airport?
Absolutely. A warm welcome will be extended to you as one of our valued visitors to our country. After clearing customs at the airport of your arrival, a member of the Wito Africa Safaris staff will welcome you and drive you as quickly as possible to the convenience of your hotel.
Will the lodges and camps have WiFi?
All the places you’ll be staying have WiFi, but it’s typically only accessible in the main common area or has bandwidth and speed restrictions. This is because camps try to minimize their effects. It can be difficult to connect in the bush. We encourage you to use this chance to detach from your always-on life and live in the present.
What currency does Rwanda use?
The official currency of Rwanda is the franc. We advise bringing US dollars (only bills printed after 2003) or euros instead of traveler’s checks because they typically offer poor exchange rates. There are few options outside Rwanda’s capital for banking and conducting any necessary transactions. Bureau de change facilities typically will offer the best exchange rates. In Kigali, a few of the most luxurious hotels and restaurants will accept credit cards, especially MasterCard, but not many other businesses do.
Your Wito Africa safari expert will be able to guide you on the amount of cash you should have at hand.
How does tipping work on a Rwanda gorilla trekking tour?
Rwanda doesn’t generally practice tipping except for a few upscale eateries in the city, where 10% of the total bill is the norm. Tipping is not required but is greatly appreciated if you’re going on a gorilla trek. Amounts vary depending on the size of your group and the level of assistance needed.
The highest tip should typically go to your porter (if you choose to use one), and a second tip should be split between your guides, trackers, and security staff. Remember that some tour operators, trackers, and porters were once poachers who now depend on tourists for income. Your kindness enables them to recognize the importance of conserving gorillas and chimpanzees.
It is advisable to hire a porter to assist you on the trek because the porter can guide you through challenging terrain and carry your daypack if you become weary on the return trip. Give your porter a good tip for their excellent work.
Your Wito Africa safari expert will advise you on general tipping guidelines at the point of booking. However, tipping is not compulsory. It should be done at your discretion.
What if I have a question that is not listed here?
If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, we invite you to contact us by email. We’ll always get back to you within 12 – 24 hours.
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