Booking a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda

Booking a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda

Booking a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda: A gorilla trekking permit is a document/ card that is issued by Rwanda Development Authority to any traveller above the age of fifteen years who wants to trek the endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Mountain gorillas in Rwanda are found in Volcanoes national park which is found in north eastern part of Rwanda in Musanze village bordering with Uganda in the north and Democratic Republic of Congo in the west.

Volcanoes national park is one of the best gorilla trekking destinations in Africa harboring about 15 habituated gorilla families with some families reserved for research and others for tourism purposes hence available for trekking on a daily basis. Gorilla trekking in the park starts in the morning with a briefing at Kinigi park headquarters about the rules, regulations and expectation during trekking. After the briefing you will be grouped into 8 individuals to trek each habituated gorilla family and grouping is done according to age, personal preferences and physical fitness so that visitors who are not physically fit are given a gorilla family that is near to trek.

Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park takes about 30 minutes to 7 hours depending on the location of the gorillas and once found you will be able to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat learning about their habits, behaviors, lifestyle, taking photos and recording the moments to show people back home after your gorilla trekking safari.

When planning to go on a gorilla trekking safari in Volcanoes national park, it’s important to first acquire a gorilla trekking permit because without it you will not be allowed to visit any habituated gorilla family in the park.

Cost of a gorilla trekking permit

A single gorilla trekking permit in Volcanoes national park costs $1500 for all nationalities and it’s the most expensive gorilla trekking permit according to other gorilla destination such as Uganda where the permit costs $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and in Democratic Republic of Congo where the permit costs $400 for the foreign non-residents. Due to the high price of a gorilla trekking permit in Volcanoes national park, it makes Rwanda a luxury gorilla trekking destination. The gorilla trekking permit in the park is valid for one day and allows you to spend 1 hour with the habituated gorilla families in their natural habitat although trekking itself takes about 30 minutes to 7 hours.

There are about 15 habituated gorilla families which mean that about 120 gorilla trekking permits are issued to visitors daily because each habituated gorilla family is visited by a maximum of 8 people daily.

However Rwanda offers discounts on the gorilla trekking permit in order to attract more visitors for example

  • 30% discount which is $1,050 in case you are visiting other national parks in Rwanda such as Nyungwe national park and Akagera national park for 3 days and more during the low season in the months of May to March and October to November.
  • 15% discount which is $1275 on conference guests staying pre and post MICE events to see the mountain gorillas.
  • $15,000 discount for an entire group that wants to trek the mountain gorillas privately with an exclusive personalized tour guide.
  • $ 30,000 for a minimum number of three visitors trekking the mountain gorillas for 3 consecutive days (behind the scenes trip).
  • A professional photographer who wants to film the mountain gorillas will pay $5000 for 3 consecutive days and a group of 8 people will pay $12,000.

How to book a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda

There are two options of booking a gorilla trekking permit for example booking directly through Rwanda development board a government body in charge of tourism in Rwanda. When booking directly you will contact the head offices via telephone calls or email.

Another option is booking through a registered and trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris.

  • When booking through a tour operator you will contact us with the date, month and year when you want to trek the mountain gorillas.
  • We will then check for availability of the permits and once there are permits available, you will be asked to make a deposit for the permit.
  • Once the deposit has been made you will be asked to send your scanned passport copy which will be used to register for your permit.
  • Money transfer takes about 3 days and once we receive the money we will purchase the permit for you and send a scanned copy of the receipt as confirmation.

Refunds and cancellation policy of a gorilla trekking permit

Rwanda development board refunds 50% of the gorilla trekking fee to any visitor who shows signs of illnesses during the briefing at the park headquarters because sick visitors are not allowed to trek the endangered mountain gorillas because they are vulnerable to human diseases.

Visitors who cancel their gorilla trekking permits within three months to the actual tracking date 75% of the amount will be refunded, those who cancel within two months 50% will be refunded, one month and below 25% will be refunded and cancellation from 0 to 7 days to the tracking date there will be no refund.

What is included in a gorilla trekking permit?

A gorilla trekking permit in volcanoes national park includes the one hour spend in the presence of the mountain  gorillas taking photos and recording the moments, services of a trained park guide or ranger who will be walking with you in the forest as well as sharing information about the gorillas, services of trackers who will look for the gorillas in the morning and communicate with the park guides, park entrance fees for volcanoes national park, safety and security of the visitors during trekking.

When to book for a gorilla trekking permit

Gorilla trekking permits in volcanoes national park should be booked 3 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date because the permits are competitive and usually get sold out especially during the peak season in the months of June to September and December to February therefore you are advised to book in advance.

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