Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda
Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda can only and only found in Volcanoes National Park. The park is located in the Virunga conservation area sharing borders with Mgahinga National Park in Uganda and the Virunga National Park of Congo. To see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, it involves strenuous hikes through the hilly slopes of the park and navigating through the vegetation and Terrain until you finally arrive at them. Most travelers who have visited Rwanda before testify that any first-time travelers must not miss out on the golden opportunity of trekking the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, a magical and thrilling encounter that will leave you wanting for more. The time allowed to stay with the mountain gorillas in Rwanda is limited to only one full hour.
How to reach the Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is nestled in the lushly forested slopes of the Virunga mountains which form an appropriately dramatic natural setting for the amazing gorilla trekking adventure. The exhilarating climb to the mountain gorillas habitat of the shady bamboo forest offers fantastic views in all directions before the trackers are immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colorful birds and the chattering of rare golden monkey.
To access the Volcanoes National, you drive through Kigali northwards to the town of Musanze, situated at the base of the entrance of the park. Musanze is a 90-minute drive from Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. One can get to Musanze from Kigali either by private vehicle or by public taxi minibus. If you intend to make a gorilla visit, you will need to organize your own transport from Musanze town to the park boundaries, where you will continue your trip on foot. Vehicles can be hired for this purpose in Musanze town. Musanze is also only a 45-minute drive away from Gisenyi and the stunning Lake Kivu. Musanze has long been the base point for gorilla visits and entertains a stunning backdrop of Karisimbi, Bisoke, Mikeno, Sabyinyo, Mgahinga and Muhabura volcanoes.
How Much Do I pay to track the mountain gorillas in Rwanda
As of May May 2017, To track the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, the permit for tracking the mountain gorillas in Rwanda costs only USD $1500 per person for one day of the tour. On the day of you are scheduled to trek, you must present yourself for briefing at the ORTPN offices situated at the prefecture offices in Musanze at 7:00 AM with your gorilla permit getting ready to interface these mountain giants in the jungle. ORTPN currently has a team of 80 trackers and anti-poachers, many of whom speak French or English. If you would like to know more about the guidelines of tracking the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, please read here
What to know before you go to track the mountain gorillas in Rwanda
- A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
On your way to visit the gorillas in Rwanda:
- Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
- DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
- You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
- When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.
How to Conduct yourself when with the mountain gorillas
- A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
- You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
- Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
- Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
- Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
- Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
- The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
- After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.
Consider the following health rules of tracking the gorillas
- Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
- If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
- If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
- Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
- Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
- If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.
What can you bring for a successful Gorilla Adventure Tour:
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
- Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
- Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
- Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
- Bring a photo of film camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.