What to expect on a mountain gorilla trek in Rwanda

What to expect on a mountain gorilla trek in Rwanda : When all the preparations are done and now you are ready to go for that mountain gorilla trekking experience in the famous volcanoes national park, this is what you expect on the trekking day.

Of course we are sure at this point you have all your need, the trekking permit, you are in Volcanoes National Park, you have your gear set, the right clothing, gloves, trekking boots, hats, rain jackets if you must and others.

You must have you packed snack and water, energy boosters if you need them. If you are one of those who need a porter, then you already hired your porter and have your trekking or walking stick with you.

Well this is how your day will go in a nutshell.

First you will be up by 6am, get ready, have breakfast and then head to the park headquarters or an early morning pre-trekking briefing by the trekking rangers and park officials.

The park officials will verify your mountain gorilla trekking permit together with your identification. To really make sure the person who is holding the permit is the owner of the permit.

Oh! Please remember to carry your identification or passport with your trekking permit so don’t forget that.

At the point of verifying your permit and identification card, you are expected to be already set with everything you need for your trek.

At the tail end you will be served a cup of tea or coffee as you enjoy entertainment from the traditional dancers who will give you a feel of the Rwanda cultures and help you relax before you take on the strenuous trek.

You will also have a briefing on safety and trekking rules among other things before you are grouped in groups of 8 people maximum and each group is assigned a ranger who will take them to one gorilla family. The Volcanoes National Park has currently 10 gorilla families and the number is growing but you should know one group of 8 people treks one family on each day.

Groups are assigned randomly but sometimes fitness and age is considered. the ones that look the more fit and adventurous will be the ones who trek the hard to reach places and the older or younger folks will be assigned the easy trails.

Sometimes though people like wildlife scholars have special interests in some gorillas so they will be assigned those groups.

Chances are high you will enjoy your group and make new friends while on the trek.

What to expect on a mountain gorilla trek in Rwanda

Your group of eight trekkers will have a main guide or gorilla ranger; then you will security scouts most times with AK-47 guns for protection against the wild animals and furious gorillas. They are usually two scouts so one will be at the front the other at the back.

They will fire shots in air at any sign of danger and this will scare away the animals. You should know that though these scouts are with every group, its only in isolated cases that they will shoot in the air; it’s usually when all means to calm the situation has failed.

Normally when the wild animal comes to your group you are advised to stay still for a while and wait for the animal to continue on its way.

So for each gorilla family being trekked, there has to be a tracker or trackers to literally track it or locate it and keep informing your main guide or ranger of the family’s location. This helps you save time, you would have spent walking aimlessly and you also don’t get tired from moving in circles. You move just straight to the gorillas. That said the amount of time you spend walking is entirely dependent on how far deep the gorilla family is from the tail head. Sometime you may walk for a short period other times you may walk for forever.

But be rest assured you will get to the gorillas and you will be amazed. You will forget about the long walk. You will spend an hour with the gorillas enjoying them, admiring them and just being in their presence.

This one hour is also a time to refresh and enjoy the fresh, humid forest. The gorillas stay in high altitudes so you will experience some foggy situations but not really distracting.

Somethings to keep in mind is to keep calm, quiet and peaceful as you are in the presence of the gorillas. Don’t touch them, keep a good distance from them, make slow movements if you must, avoid eye contact with them, coughing and sneezing among other things. Take videos and photos as many as you wish, just avoid flash photography.

After your one hour with the graceful, calm, peaceful, amazing gorillas, the rangers and guides will signal for you to know, it’s time to go and then you will follow them out of the forest. To the tail head where you will have some water cooling down moment an after trek debrief and then you will continue on to your other business.

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