Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda.
Where to see Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda:
Rwanda is probably the world's premier gorilla trekking destination. Apart from Uganda’s gorilla tracking in Bwindi & Mgahinga gorilla national parks, no other wildlife encounter matches trekking to see gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
On the slopes of Volcanoes National Park is where celebrated primatologist Dian Fossy studied gorilla behaviors for almost 20 years. The acclaimed movie ‘Gorillas in the mist’ was shot on the very same bamboo-covered slopes. Trekking to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda is a once in lifetime experience worth the price.
Gorilla tracking prices in Rwanda
To go gorilla trekking, it is requirement to have a gorilla permit, which cost $1500. You can purchase your permit up to two years in advance through a registered tour agency or through the Rwanda Development Board. Besides Rwanda has positioned itself as a high-end luxury, low-impact tour destination, so most of her accommodations are highly priced, with newer properties everywhere. It all depends on your preferred travel style:
- Midrange accommodations range from $100 to $300 per night based on 2 people sharing.
- Semi Luxury properties range from 350 to 500 per person sharing
- Super Luxury accommodations range from 1000 to 2000 per person based on 2 sharing.
That said standard budget options are available ranging from $50 to $100 per room per night. If you are interested in enjoying gorilla trekking in real luxury and you're not mindful of the high-end cost, go to Rwanda.
Frequently Asked Question about Rwanda
1. When is best time to visit Rwanda?
Rwanda being close to the equator, is fairly warm and can be visited all year round. The long dry season, June to September remains the best time of the year for gorilla trekking in volcanoes national park and chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest.
The benefit of travelling in rainy season (big rains in march to May, small rains from September to December) is that the scenery is greener, skies are clear making it fantastic for photography. This wet season is best to trek to find chimpanzees in Ngungwe forest as they easily find vegetation, fruits to eat compared to dry season when they wonder further off trails to find scarce food.
Again, November to March is good timing for birder watchers as palearctic migrants fly in to join residents.
For primate fanatics, Kwita Izina - the annual gorilla naming week takes place in September every year is another opportunity to visit Rwanda. This event that ends with naming of all baby gorillas, is in recognition of the country’s conservation efforts and celebrating the birth of all baby gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. That said, it has become a popular travel season, travel prices tend to rise high.
2. How much is a gorilla trek in Rwanda?
You can buy your permit up to two years in advance through the Rwanda Development Board or through a registered tour company.
Rwanda pitches itself as the high-end gorilla trekking destination; this is reflected in the higher price of the permit and the bigger range of top-end accommodation. Rwanda has some sensational luxury properties and a fair number of overpriced mid-range ones, so book with caution.
Typical accommodation costs in Rwanda:
- Standard Budget: $30 - $60 per person per night based on 2 people sharing
- Comfortable Mid-range: $70 - $250 per person per night based on 2people. sharing
- Luxury: $300-$3,000 per person per night based on two sharing
It’s possible to do a one-day gorilla trek in Rwanda from around $2000 per person. A two-day gorilla tour will start from 2,000. A three-day luxury gorilla safari may cost $2,500 to $5,000 per person. Tours include one gorilla tracking permit, private transport, English-speaking guide, accommodation and meals. Charter plane and helicopter transfers can be arranged at additional options.
3. Is it better to see gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda?
Rwanda’s gorilla trekking region is only two hours’ drive from Kigali, making the gorillas easily accessible than in Uganda. In theory this means you can save on transport and accommodation by doing a shorter trip. It’s possible to do a one-day gorilla trek in Rwanda though hectic and uncomfortable to many. To trek to see gorillas in Uganda, you need at least 2 days/1 night accommodation, if pickup & drop off is Kigali City or 3 days/2nights if pickup & drop off is Entebbe/Kampala.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is quite different from gorilla trekking in the dense jungle of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Whereas trekking in Bwindi takes you straight into the dense, dark forest, in Rwanda the trek starts with a gentle ascent for thirty minutes through open farmland with breath-taking views (on clear days) of the Virunga volcanoes.
Here the forest is predominantly bamboo, which means less canopy to block the daylight. The bamboo canes sway several metres overhead, cracking and groaning under the weight of the gorillas shifting around in search of tender shoots. Elsewhere, the gorillas may be found out in the open, lazily munching vegetation.
Conversely, permit prices in Uganda are much cheaper and there is a wider range of budget and mid-range accommodation. However, journey times in Uganda are longer and roads into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are bumpier. The good thing is scheduled internal flight options are available. Uganda is a more established destination with a variety of additional amazing wildlife safaris, cultural, primate walks and adventure tour activities.
Although you still need to be fit to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda, the terrain is slightly easier going than in Uganda (unless you opt to track one of the remoter gorilla families.
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