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Volcanoes NP Budget Gorilla Trekking Tours

Volcanoes National Park ranks among East Africa's most scenic protected areas. It protects Rwanda’s portion of the Virunga Mountains, a spectacular series of volcanoes that rises from the Rift Valley escarpment to a high point of 4,507m/14,787ft. It was here, in the 1960s, that the primatologist Dian Fossey began the pioneering study celebrated in the Oscar-winning movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’. Today, the forested slopes of the Virunga are home to more than half the world's mountain gorillas, and Volcanoes National Park is arguably the best place in the world to track these charismatic apes in their natural habitat. Here, we look at the options for travelers hoping to undertake this iconic activity without breaking the bank.

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1-20 of 59 cheap gorilla trekking tours to Volcanoes National Park

5 Questions About Volcanoes NP Budget Gorilla Trekking Tours


5 Questions About Volcanoes NP Budget Gorilla Trekking Tours

Answered by Philip Briggs

Are budget tours available to see gorillas in Volcanoes National Park?

“Even the cheapest gorilla trekking tours to Volcanoes National Park are, by most measures, expensive. This is because the baseline price for any such tour will include the cost of a gorilla trekking permit, which is fixed at US$1,500 in Rwanda. The price will also need to include transport costs from the capital Kigali, which leaves accommodation as the main variable when costing a gorilla trekking tour to Volcanoes NP. As a result, the price gap between budget and upmarket tours with a similar duration and itinerary tends to be fairly insignificant. The most affordable tours that incorporate Volcanoes NP do not include gorilla trekking there. One option is a stand-alone tour that focuses on other activities such as golden monkey trekking, visiting Dian Fossey's grave and climbing Mt Bisoke. A more popular option is an itinerary that combines golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes NP with gorilla trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable or Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks. The reason this combination is so popular is that gorilla trekking permits in Uganda are relatively inexpensive at US$600. It is occasionally possible to cross from Rwanda into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where gorilla trekking permits in Virunga National Park are even more cheap. However, this park is often closed for long periods due to security issues.”


What activities other than gorilla trekking are available in Volcanoes NP?

“The second most popular activity in Volcanoes NP is tracking the golden monkey, an endangered primate whose range is restricted to bamboo forests in and around the Virunga Mountains. Also popular is the day hike to Dian Fossey’s grave at the abandoned Karisoke Research Center, which stands on a saddle between Mounts Bisoke and Karisimbi. For dedicated hikers, there is the steep hike up the forested slopes of Bisoke, whose 3,711m/12,175ft summit overlooks a beautiful crater lake. It is possible to summit Karisimbi, which is the tallest of the Virunga volcanoes at 4,507m/14,787ft, but this is an overnight hike that requires you to camp on the mountain.”


Which other parks should I visit on a trip that includes a gorilla trek in Volcanoes NP?

“Rwanda has two other well-established national parks and visiting all three allows you a unique opportunity to see gorillas and chimps as well as all the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) on one holiday package. The country's most conventional safari destination is Akagera National Park. This is a savannah reserve that also incorporates some extensive lakes and wetlands fed by the Akagera River. Lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, black rhino, white rhino, giraffe and hippo are all present in Akagera, along with a good variety of antelope and aquatic birds. By contrast, Nyungwe National Park protects a vast tract of rainforest set on hills that roll down to the border with Burundi. Here, you can track habituated chimpanzees, wobble across East Africa's tallest canopy walkway, and go on guided hikes to see waterfalls, forest birds and half a dozen different types of monkey. A little-known alternative to Nyungwe is the recently gazetted Gishwati-Mukura National Park. Because it is far closer to Volcanoes NP, Gishwati-Mukura is more convenient than Nyungwe for those with very limited time. Wildlife here includes chimpanzee, golden monkey, l’Hoest’s monkey and a wealth of forest birds.”


What is usually included in a Volcanoes National Park budget safari?

“A Volcanoes National Park budget safari should be more or less all-inclusive, but it is advisable to check this before you book. It will usually include road transport from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda and site of its only international airport. Packages of 2 days or longer should include accommodation in a budget hotel and all meals. They should also cover all park fees associated with activities listed in the itinerary, including a gorilla trekking permit (assuming that you are doing this activity). Extras that will generally not be included in the tour price are drinks, optional porter fees and tips.”


How much does a budget safari in Volcanoes National Park cost?

“The cheapest gorilla trekking tours to Volcanoes NP are day trips from Kigali, which cost around US$1,650 to US$1,800 per person. These generally leave Kigali at 4 AM and return there the same afternoon, which makes for a long day. Accommodation and meals other than lunch are excluded from the price. Budget 2-day gorilla trekking tours to Volcanoes NP start at US$2,000, while 3- or 4-day budget tours that also include other activities cost around US$2,300 to US$3,000. Budget packages that combine golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes NP with gorilla trekking in Uganda are far more affordable and better value. These start at around US$1,500 per person for a 4-day tour that focuses on these two trekking activities only, or US$2,500 for a 7-day package that also visits other parks in Uganda.”


Volcanoes NP 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...

Full Review