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What To Expect During A Gorilla Trek In Rwanda

8 Days Rwanda Wildlife & Birding

What to expect during gorilla trekking in Rwanda

As you prepare for a gorilla trekking adventure in Rwanda, it’s natural to have high expectations. Many travelers view gorilla trekking as an unforgettable experience that shouldn’t be missed. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned safari-goer, Rwanda’s gorilla trekking offers an unparalleled adventure.

The anticipation builds as you envision trekking through Volcanoes National Park’s dense jungles, hoping for a close encounter with gorillas. Rwanda’s ideal climate and well-preserved habitats make it the perfect destination for this thrilling experience.

For first-time visitors, the prospect of encountering gorillas in the wild is both exhilarating and uncertain. But rest assured, Rwanda’s expert guides ensure a safe and memorable trekking experience. With their knowledge of the terrain and gorilla behavior, they lead you on an unforgettable journey.

Conservation and Sustainable Tourism

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda goes beyond a thrilling encounter with these majestic animals; it also plays a crucial role in conservation efforts. The revenue generated from trekking permits supports conservation projects, protects gorilla habitats, and benefits local communities. By participating in gorilla trekking, visitors contribute directly to the preservation of these endangered species and their natural environment.

Obtaining a Gorilla Trekking Permit

Securing a gorilla trekking permit is a vital step in planning your visit to Rwanda. Due to the endangered status of mountain gorillas, permits are limited, and advance booking is recommended. Working with a reputable tour operator can simplify the permit acquisition process and ensure a seamless experience. Permit prices vary, with Rwanda offering permits at $1,500, Uganda at $600, and Congo at $450.

Why Obtain a Gorilla Trekking Permit?

Given the critical status of mountain gorillas, the Rwandan government has implemented stringent measures to safeguard them. These measures involve restricting the number of trekkers per gorilla family and imposing a substantial fee for trekking permits. The revenue generated from these permits is crucial for conservation efforts and supporting local communities adjacent to gorilla habitats.

Securing a Gorilla Trekking Permit in Rwanda is a relatively straightforward process. Initially, you need to engage a reputable tour operator or travel agency familiar with the permit booking procedure. These professionals maintain good relations with the Rwanda Development Board, which oversees permit allocation, facilitating permit acquisition for their clients.

After selecting a tour operator, you’ll need to furnish them with your travel details, group size, and preferred gorilla family for trekking. It’s imperative to note that permits are limited, necessitating early booking to avoid disappointment. Typically, permits are available for purchase up to two years in advance, with reservations advised at least six months prior to your trekking date.

Planning for a gorilla Trip

Carry your gorilla permit

Carry your passport with you as you head to the park headquarters for an early morning pre-tracking briefing by park officials. Your gorilla permits will be crosschecked with your passports to verify that you are the right owner of the permit. At this moment, you are expected to be ready with your packed lunch since no one is certain about the time you will take to see these gorillas. 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 $1,500, Uganda gorilla permits at $600 and the Congo gorilla permit 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

Rise early and gather at the park headquarters for a briefing, typically starting at 6:30 am. This session is crucial for all travelers embarking on the gorilla trek. The briefing outlines the itinerary and familiarizes trekkers with the expectations of a Rwanda Gorilla Trekking tour, including safety regulations. In Uganda, travelers convene at different headquarters in Bwindi, depending on their trekking section. During the briefing, groups of eight travelers are formed, each allocated a gorilla family. Allocation considers trekker capability, as gorillas often traverse high-altitude areas. Less fit individuals may be assigned to families closer in proximity, reducing hiking duration. At the Kinigi Volcanoes National Park headquarters in Rwanda, travelers are treated to local traditional dances, enhancing the pre-trek experience.

Trekking to find the Gorillas

Trekking to locate the gorillas varies in duration, ranging from 30 minutes to several hours. There are no designated trails, requiring trekking through dense vegetation and steep terrain. Follow the guide’s advice and inform them if you need a break. During encounters with the gorillas, maintain calmness and avoid sudden movements. Position yourself for photos while respecting a safe distance of at least 7 meters.

Ensure compliance with guidelines, such as refraining from smoking, eating, or drinking near the gorillas to minimize disease transmission risk. In the event of gorilla agitation, follow the guide’s instructions and refrain from direct eye contact. Flash photography is prohibited, and touching the gorillas is not allowed. Visits typically last for an hour, with guides ending the visit early if necessary. Afterward, maintain low voices until a safe distance from the gorillas.

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