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Volcanoes NP Gorilla Trekking Tours

Volcanoes National Park protects the Rwandan portion of the Virungas, a spectacular chain of volcanoes that rises from the Rift Valley floor to a maximum elevation of 4,507m/14,787ft. Swathed in towering stands of bamboo and dense tropical rainforest, the Virungas are home to more than half the world’s mountain gorillas, most of which live within the Rwandan part of the range. Here, daily gorilla trekking excursions allow wildlife-lovers to come face-to-face with these magnificent gentle giants, which can weigh 200kg, share more than 95% of their DNA with humans, and spend most of their time sitting on the forest floor nibbling contentedly on bamboo shoots.

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1-20 of 237 gorilla tracking trips, holidays and vacation packages to Volcanoes National Park

6 Questions About Volcanoes NP Gorilla Trekking Tours


6 Questions About Volcanoes NP Gorilla Trekking Tours

Answered by Philip Briggs

How does gorilla trekking in Volcanoes NP compare to other parks?

“Volcanoes NP is generally regarded to be the easiest place to track mountain gorillas and a good choice for anyone who is unsure about their fitness. This is because the park’s habituated gorilla groups are predictably territorial and can usually be found quite close to the forest edge, which is reached along any of several relatively flat footpaths. Trekking conditions at Volcanoes NP’s main competitor, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable NP, are less inherently predictable and often involve long walks through steep and densely forested slopes. The main negative of Volcanoes NP is that the gorilla trekking permit costs US$1,500 per person as compared to US$600 in Uganda.”


How much time do you have with the gorillas?

“Trekkers can spend a maximum of one hour in the company of the gorillas on any given gorilla-watching outing. This does not include time spent hiking to find the gorillas or the descent back to the trailhead. Generally, if the gorillas are located in difficult terrain or the middle of a downpour, the guides will suggest you wait a while before joining the gorillas and starting the clock.”


What fitness level is required?

“You don't need to be super fit to go gorilla trekking in Volcanoes NP and moderately fit people under the age of 50 should not find it too taxing. In most cases, the ascent from the trailhead to the forest edge is quite flat and easy, though the altitude might leave you out of breath. Once in the forest, the terrain can be more challenging, but you generally won’t need to walk too far or too fast, and the porters are used to assisting struggling trekkers up the steep and slippery slopes. Travelers who are older than 50 and/or out of shape may find the trek more challenging. However, they can take heart from the fact that people of all ages and fitness levels have tracked gorillas in Volcanoes NP, and while sightings are not guaranteed, the success rate is in the ballpark of 99%. It helps that the guides usually have a good idea of how tough the hike to any given gorilla group will be on any given day, so they are able to allocate the easier options to elderly or less-fit trekkers.”


What preparations are advised for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes NP?

“Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes NP takes place at high altitudes (up to 3,000m/9,842ft) so it is worth spending a few days acclimatizing in the nearby highlands, especially if you are unused to hiking and/or live close to sea level. No special training is required, but if you’d be daunted by the prospect of a two-hour walk at home, then try to build yourself up to a level where you can cover that distance in your stride. Long sleeves are recommended to protect against stinging nettles, while long trousers tucked into long socks and solid walking shoes help deter biting ants. Don’t forget to carry a hat, sunblock, a rain jacket, and up to two liters of drinking water. A walking stick is very useful in the forest interior, but you don’t need to bring one from home, as you’ll be offered one before you set off on the trek. Porters are available to carry your day pack and to help push and pull you up any tricky slopes.”


How much will this tour cost?

“The cheapest 2-day, 1-night gorilla trekking safaris out of the Rwandan capital Kigali start at around US$2,000 per person. These are usually inclusive of transport from Kigali, a transfer to the trailhead, accommodation, meals and the US$1,500 trekking permit. Tours that use more luxurious accommodation or that are longer than 2 days will have a significantly higher price.”


Which other activities are available in Volcanoes NP?

“A wide variety of guided hikes and treks are available in Volcanoes National Park. These include golden monkey trekking in the bamboo zone, a moderately demanding day walk to Dian Fossey’s grave at the abandoned Karisoke Research Center, and a more challenging day hike to the crater lake at the 3,711m/12,175ft summit of Mount Bisoke. Easier walks include a subterranean stroll through the atmospheric Musanze Caves and a cultural tour into the sacred Buhanga Forest. Also recommended is the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, where a family-friendly multimedia installation highlights the ecology and conservation of Volcanoes NP’s gorillas and the pioneering research undertaken there by Dian Fossey.”


Volcanoes NP Holiday Reviews

4.6/5 12 Reviews
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.

Mountain gorillas, trekking and birding

Volcanoes National Park is the Rwandan sector of the 8000km² Virunga massif. The greater conservation area encompasses six active and three extinct volcanoes, straddling the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo....

Full Review

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.

Magical mountain gorillas

I’m fortunate through my work to have tracked mountain gorillas six times and it never disappoints – it is the ultimate wildlife encounter. In Volcanoes National Park it’s a very smooth and well-managed operation, with strict rules to...

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Moses Nezehose  –  
Rwanda RW
Reviewed: Aug 9, 2019
Our Gorillas Tracking was a trip to remember

Our Gorillas Tracking was a life changing trip because Our driver was very humble and the Weather was clear and Good , Gorillas was in an open place seeing the Kids playing with their mother , rolling up and down some times i don't have the...

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Valerie  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Jul 20, 2018

The Volcanoes National Park (in conjunction with the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda) is renown as a haven for the rare and endangered mountain gorilla and...

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Tom  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Oct 18, 2016
4 day gorilla and golden monkey treks

The gorilla and golden monkey treks are well planned by the park rangers. They segregate the tourists by age and physical fitness, so that everyone benefits from the experience. the slow don't hold up the fast and the aged/slow get to see...

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Simon and Val  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: May 28, 2015
Just a fantastic experience being so close to a family of gorillas

Virunga Lodge was extremely good with excellent food and wine and on a hill overlooking two lakes. The room was huge and after the gorilla trek our clothes and shoes were taken for cleaning Scenery amazing but the roads up into the hills...

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