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Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tours

4.3/5  –  12 Rwanda Reviews

Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda ranks as one of the most rewarding wildlife encounters in Africa. Coming eye to eye with a great ape touches a nerve in most of us. A big part of what makes it special, I guess, is that gorillas are so closely related to us humans (the difference in our nuclear DNA is about 1.6%). Mountain gorillas are also very rare. Their range is naturally restricted to a small niche area of forested highlands, and habitat loss due to the growing human population further threatens their future. Luckily money spent on mountain gorilla tourism goes a long way toward securing their survival.

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1-20 of 104 gorila trekking tours to Rwanda

6 Questions About Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tours

 
 

6 Questions About Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tours

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

How does gorilla trekking in Rwanda compare to other countries?

“Mountain gorillas have a small range that extends over Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but there are differences in the experience between the countries. Four parks offer mountain gorilla trekking. The most popular and accessible are Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Check before venturing into the DRC as there are ongoing security concerns. Volcanoes NP is in the Virunga Mountains, a range of active and dormant volcanoes. Here the gorillas live in a bamboo habitat. This setting tends to be less thick than the tangled rainforest of Bwindi. The young ones love to play and climb in the bamboo sticks under the watchful eyes of the adults. Gorillas move around and, depending on where they are, the trek can be quite challenging in both countries. However, the trekking is usually easier in Rwanda. That said, if you’re fit and you’d like the challenge, ask to visit the Susa group, which lives high up in the mountains. Aside from gorilla trekking, Volcanoes NP offers other activities unavailable in Bwindi. These include tracking a habituated troop of endemic golden monkeys, climbing the volcanic peaks of the Virungas, and caving. Especially moving is the hike to the abandoned research station where primatologist Dian Fossey and several of the gorillas she studied are buried. The fees for gorilla trekking also differ. In Rwanda it’s US$1,500 per person, in Uganda US$600 per person and in the DRC US$400 per person.”

1

Can I add gorilla trekking in Rwanda to a safari?

“It is easy to add a Rwanda gorilla trekking experience to a general safari in Kenya or Tanzania. A short flight gets you to Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. Time permitting, you can continue straight from the airport to Volcanoes NP. It’s an easy 2½-hour drive on a tar road. Otherwise, you can overnight in one of the comfortable city hotels or on the shore of Lake Kivu. While a gorilla trek is a perfect addition to a safari in some of the best East African parks and reserves, it also slots well into an extended holiday in Rwanda. The highlights of Rwanda packages include: Volcanoes NP for gorilla and golden monkey trekking, Akagera National Park for a classic Big Five safari, and Nyungwe National Park for chimpanzee trekking in pristine montane (mountain) rainforest. Wildlife densities in Akagera are not comparable to the most famous reserves in East Africa, but this off-the-beaten-track destination is incredibly scenic and rewarding in its own right.”

2

What fitness is required for gorilla trekking in Rwanda?

“Although gorilla trekking shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of fitness, an average level of fitness is usually sufficient. However, if you are physically not able, you have the option of booking a ‘gorilla chair’, which can be carried by strong porters to and from the position of the gorillas. The way it works in Rwanda is that visitors are allocated a gorilla group on the day of tracking. Some groups are easier to track than others. The rangers in charge will take into account your age and fitness level if at all possible. Ask your guide to put in a word for you if you are worried. Whether or not you’re fit and capable, it is important to come prepared. Wear good hiking shoes, a long-sleeved top and long trousers. Gloves are recommended to protect your hands from stinging nettles. You’ll be offered a hand-crafted walking stick, but bring your own if you have one; it’s a great help on slippery slopes. There are porters available at the start. They will carry your backpack with water, snacks and a camera. They will look after it while you are with the gorillas. Even if you don’t need a porter to carry your bag, you might consider hiring one to help you on the trail.”

3

Is gorilla trekking in Rwanda safe?

“Gorilla watching in Rwanda is very safe. Although enormous, these great apes are really gentle giants. Incidents with travelers are almost unheard of. The gorillas you’ll visit are habituated and they know that humans are no threat to them. Be sure to pay attention during the safety briefing before your trek. It is also important to listen to the instructions given by your guide, especially in the unlikely event of a gorilla mock charging or other interactions, such as an inquisitive baby coming up to you.”

4

What is the cost of a gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda?

“The fee for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is US$1,500 per person. Gorilla trekking is one of Africa’s top bucket-list wildlife encounters and it comes at a hefty price. Is it worth it? In one word, yes. If you can afford it, of course. This is the fee paid to the national park, and proceeds are used to protect and develop Rwanda’s wildlife and protected areas. The price for an overnight return trip from Kigali, including a gorilla trek, accommodation and transport, starts at about US$2,000 per person. A 3-day trip would be more recommended, since it means you don’t need to travel straight back to Kigali after your gorilla trek. With an extra day you can either do a second gorilla trek, a golden monkey trek, or one of the other activities on offer in the park. Mid-range 3-day gorilla tours start at around US$3,000 per person. To see more of the country, you can do a 7-day highlights tour, which costs around US$8,500 per person.”

5

Are gorilla sightings guaranteed on a Rwanda gorilla trekking trip?

“Sightings on a Rwanda gorilla trekking trip can never be totally guaranteed. Although habituated, the gorillas are totally wild. They move daily in search of food and they end the day with making a nest for the night. Having said that, you’re near certain to see gorillas as long as you’re able to complete the hike. To make this possible, trackers stay with the gorillas throughout most of the day. So when the trackers leave the forest in the evening, they know where the gorillas have made their nest. At dawn, they set out to find them again before you’ve even left with your guide. They will then send the guide the coordinates of the location by radio. So a lot of this smooth operation depends on the dedication and hard work of the trackers behind the scenes.”

6

Rwanda Reviews

4.3/5 12 Reviews
Expert
Stephen Cunliffe  –  
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

Not your stereotypical safari destination
4/5

There is much more to the ‘the country of a thousand hills’ than initially meets the eye. Small, compact and easy to travel around, friendly Rwanda has well and truly consigned the tragic genocide of 1994 to history. The country has...

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Expert
Sue Watt  –  
United Kingdom UK

Sue is an award-winning writer who specializes in African travel and conservation. She writes for national newspapers, magazines, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet.

Reconciliation and renaissance
4/5

Rwanda is one of the most inspiring countries I’ve visited. I first went in 2004 and have returned many times since: each time, I’ve been amazed at the country’s ongoing regeneration and resilience. Rwanda is known for two things:...

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evimeyer  –  
United States US
Reviewed: May 4, 2020
Rwanda is a hidden gem for wildlife observation
5/5

Our group of three pretty active seniors (63 ,66, 72) were traveling to Rwanda to observe mountain gorillas and do a more traditional safari. Two of us were birders, so naturally we focused on avian creatures a lot, but saw plenty of other...

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Christophe Iradukunda  –  
Rwanda RW
Reviewed: Aug 28, 2019
I had an amazing experience about Rwanda
4/5

About wildlife in Rwanda is good as in National Parks there are animals that can't be found any where in world, like Mountain Gorillas in Virunga Park, Lions, Rhinos and other wild animals in Akagera National park. In Nyungwe national park...

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Dalonda  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Feb 3, 2017
A definite "bucket list" adventure and I would do it again!
5/5

The entire trip was a positive overwhelming experience. It is one of the cleanest countries I have visited. The people seemed to be happy and proud of the culture and their country. I was never concerned for my safety. It is about a 3...

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Gail McKay Reviewed: Apr 21, 2015
Life-changing, life-affirming!
5/5

Foremost, the individualized attention that I received was incredible - from personal pick-up and transportation to the orientation and assisted itinerary. It was almost fate to be taken to a local restaurant - the Ogopogo - how terrific...

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