What To expect on a Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tour
Travelling to see mountain gorillas has undeniably become a dream for most if not all travelers to Africa, Rwanda in particular. Travelers are always wonders on what to expect on a Rwanda gorilla trekking safari. Different people have continuously written and narrated about how gorilla trekking is an amazing encounter which bring you close to the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. The interesting stories and unforgettable experiences keep the potential gorilla trekkers wondering how the entire gorilla safari can be from the start to the end.Mountain gorillas are among Africa’s largest apes, which were at the verge of extinction in the 1980’s when conservation was not a priority. We bring you detailed information of what you should expect on a gorilla safari to ensure you are well prepared to enjoy the once in lifetime experience.
Planning for a gorilla Trip
- Book a gorilla permitThis is got from the Authority in charge of wildlife.
- Book a hotel or LodgeThis is where you will spend the night before or after trekking
- Look for means of transportThere are a number of car hire companies in Rwanda
- Camera and Extra BatteriesWouldn't you want lasting memories as you safari? Well then carry a Camera with you
What you need to know about gorilla tours
To begin with, all gorilla safaris call for a long travel into the tropical rain forests of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo the only habitats for the endangered mountain gorillas in the whole world. There are only four national parks, which you must visit if you are to see and interact with the gentle giants. With roughly 880 mountain gorillas surviving in the world, 480 mountain gorillas reside in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park both in southwestern Uganda. In Rwanda, the endangered species live in volcanoes national park while Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo shelters the remaining population of mountain gorillas. The experience in each country is unique in its own way and different from the other.
1. Carry your gorilla permit
All travelers must carry their valid gorilla permits and other related documents for clarification a pass to see gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Uganda, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in Rwanda and Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) in Democratic Republic of Congo are responsible government bodies to issue these permits. Permit prices vary from country to country with Rwanda selling most expensive permits at 1500usd, Rwanda at 600usd and DRC at 450usd. Every traveler who will not carry his/her permit will be denied a chance of trekking. In Uganda, the permit must bear the name of the sector (Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga or Nkuringo) to clarify that a traveler booked a gorilla family in that specific sector.
Wake up early and attend the briefing
On the actual trekking day, all travelers must leave their lodges/hotels as early as 6:30am to attend short briefing at the respective park headquarters. This briefing is aimed at introducing trekkers to the gorilla trekking rules and regulations for the safety of both gorillas and travelers. In Uganda, travelers gather at different head quarters in Bwindi depending on which section one is trekking from. It’s in this briefing that travelers are divided into groups of eight who are allocated a gorilla family. Gorilla families are allocated depending on the capability of the traveler to hike high since gorillas are on continuous move and sometimes go up to the higher altitudes. This means that the weak, elderly and less fit travelers are given near gorilla families to ease and shorten their hiking time. At kinigi Volcanoes National Park head quarters in Rwanda, local people entertain travelers in form of traditional dances, which is a good pre trekking experience.
On the way to the gorillas
- -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.
When You are with the 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.