Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park
Gorilla trekking in volcanoes national park: Volcanoes national park is located in the northern part of Rwanda in Musanze village at the border of Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. The national park is the oldest protect area in Africa in that it was gazetted in 1925 mainly to conserve and protect the endangered mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are the major attractions in Volcanoes national park which attract big numbers of visitors who engage in gorilla trekking an activity where the visitors move into the tropical rainforests in search of the habituated mountain gorillas and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat.
Gorilla trekking is an incredible and thrilling activity in Africa and apart from Volcanoes national park in Rwanda it is also carried out in other destinations including Bwindi impenetrable national park which harbors the half of the world’s mountain gorillas, Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda, Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park is the famous and most done activity. The park is a home of over 15 habituated gorilla families where some have been reserved for research and others open for trekking and they include Kurira, Igisha, Isimbi, Amahoro, Kwitonda, Karisimbi, Muhoza, Umubano, Agasha, Bwenge, Titus, Pablo, Isabukuru, Mafunzo, Musilikale among others. Gorilla trekking starts in the morning with a briefing about the rules and regulations at Kinigi park headquarters. after the briefing, you will be grouped into 8 people and allocated a gorilla family to trek, grouping and allocation of gorilla families in the park is done according to physical fitness, personal preferences and age so that visitors who are not physically fit are allocated a gorilla family that is near to trek.
Trekking of the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes national park starts at around 8:00am and takes about 30 minutes to 6 hours depending on the location of the gorillas. Once the gorillas are found you will be able to spend one hour with them in their natural environment and during the one hour you will learn about their behaviors, habits, watch them as they carry out their daily activities as you take plenty of photos with a flash less camera and record the moments to show people back home after the safari.
Cost of a gorilla trekking permit in Volcanoes national park
Visitors interested in gorilla trekking in the park are required to first acquire a valid gorilla trekking permit which is a document or card that is issued to any visitor above the age of fifteen years allowing him or her to visit any habituated gorilla family in volcanoes national park.
A gorilla trekking permit in the park costs $1500 per person for all nationalities. Volcanoes national park is the only destination with an expensive gorilla trekking permit compared to Democratic Republic of Congo where a single gorilla trekking permit costs $400 for foreign non-residents and Uganda where it costs $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African citizens. Uganda however increased the price of a gorilla trekking permit by $100 effective 1st July 2020 therefore foreign non-residents who will not have booked will pay $700 per person and $600 for foreign residents.
Due to the increase of a gorilla trekking permit in Volcanoes national park which took place in 2017, Rwanda is considered a luxury gorilla trekking destination. A gorilla trekking permit in the park is valid for one day and includes the one hour spent with the endangered mountain gorillas, services of a park guide, trackers, safety and park entrance fees to volcanoes national park.
How to book a gorilla trekking permit in Volcanoes national park
A gorilla trekking permit is easy to book as long as you know the procedure to follow. There are two options of booking a gorilla trekking permit for example booking through directly through Rwanda Development Board a government body in charge of tourism in Rwanda. When you want to book directly, you will contact the head offices through email or telephone calls.
Another option is booking through a tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris. When booking through a tour operator you follow various steps which include
- Contacting us with the date, month and year when you want to trek the mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park.
- We will then check for availability of the permits and if they are available, you will be asked to make a deposit for the permit on our bank account.
- When the deposit has been made you will be asked to send a scanned copy of your passport which will be used to register for the permit.
- Money transfer takes about 3 days and after receiving your deposit we will acquire the gorilla trekking permit and send you a scanned copy of the receipt as confirmation.
Booking through a tour operator is the best option to use in that it will save you all the hustle and we will not only acquire a gorilla trekking permit for you but also plan for your entire gorilla trekking safari which involves transportation, accommodation, meals and other activities that you want to engage in apart from gorilla trekking.
Gorilla trekking permits in volcanoes national park should however be booked 3 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date because they are competitive and get sold out quickly especially during the peak season in the months of June to September and December to February when many people prefer to travel therefore in order to avoid disappointments at the last minute, you are advised to book in advance.
Where to stay on your gorilla trekking safari
Volcanoes national park has luxury, midrange and budget accommodation where you can stay including Kinigi Guest House, Mountain Gorillas Nest, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Best View Hotel, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Solution Lodge, Hotel Muhabura, Villa Gorilla, Le Bamboo Gorilla Village, Garden Place Hotel, Bisate Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Virunga Lodge among others. the lodges have spacious rooms with comfortable beds, en-suite bathrooms, restaurant which serves local and international meals, bar, swimming pool, library, gardens for relaxation after gorilla trekking activity, offer spectacular views of animals, birds among others.
Best time to go for gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking in volcanoes national park can be done anytime of the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. The dry season is also known as the peak season and during this period many visitors like to travel due to less rainfall which enables easy accessibility to the park and the gorilla trekking trails will be passable compared to the rainy season when the trails are muddy and slippery.
Though many people prefer travelling during the dry season it has some drawbacks such us competitive gorilla trekking permits, overcrowding in the park and expensive accommodation facilities therefore budget visitors and those who like less crowds should visit during the rainy season in the months of March to May and October to November because lodges will be offering discounts as a way of attracting visitors and also last minute travelers will be able to acquire a gorilla trekking permit.
How to get to Volcanoes national park
Volcanoes national park is located in the northern part of Rwanda and can be accessed by public means, self-drive and private means when using a safari vehicle.
When getting to volcanoes national park you will fly to Kigali international airport and then connect by road to the park which takes about 2 hours’ drive.
You can also use public means of transport though not recommended because you can be over charged and it’s tiresome because the buses go stopping in all towns. When using public means you will board a bus from Kigali or Gisenyi to Musanze and then hire a private taxi to the park headquarters because there are no public transport means from Musanze to Kinigi park headquarters.
Virunga national park can also be accessed from Bwindi impenetrable national park or Mgahinga gorilla national park. When coming from Uganda, you will fly to Entebbe airport and then drive 8 to 9 hour journey to Bwindi impenetrable national park where you will then connect to volcanoes national park via Cyanika border in Kisoro distance which takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive.