Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is done only in volcanoes national park, this park is located in northwestern Rwanda in the district of Musanze formally called Ruhengeri. Volcanoes national park is part of the Virunga conservation area that include also Virunga national park in Congo and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. Volcanoes national park is home to a third of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world thus booking Rwanda gorilla permits 2020-21 is possible. Others live in Virunga in the D-republic of Congo and then Mgahinga and Bwindi impenetrable national parks in Uganda. Bwindi is home to more than half of these endangered creatures.
There are two options one can book a gorilla permit in Rwanda,
There are 4 categories of gorilla permit prices in Rwanda
Due to the high demand for gorilla permits in Rwanda, it is advisable to book gorilla permits at least 4 months before the tracking date. This is because of the limited number of Gorilla permits available every day. Remember almost 95% of tourists who come for a safari in East Africa would like to do mountain gorilla tracking and its only 8 people who are allowed to visit a particular gorilla family every day. This makes it difficult to get a gorilla permit especially during the high season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January, and February. However, last-minute gorilla permits can be good but the chances are minimal especially during the peak season.
The age limit for tracking mountain gorillas is 15 years in all the gorilla national parks in the world.
How long does gorilla tracking take?
Gorilla tracking starts in the morning at 7:am with a briefing at the park headquarters about the dos and don’ts. The briefing takes 30 minutes and then after you start walking into the forest or drive to the starting point depending on the location of the gorilla family you are going to visit. Once you spot the gorillas you will stay for one hour with them taking photos and videos. Gorilla tracking can take 30 minutes to Threequarters of the day meaning that the trek may be long or short so prepare for both. If you feel that you are not fit enough for the walk ask your driver guide to laisse with the park warden about your issue to see if you can be allocated to a family that is near. Remember the short trek is not guaranteed as the gorillas keep moving for food so they just depend on yesterday’s experience.
What do I need to come with to track mountain gorillas?
You will need the following on the day of tracking.
Do I get a refund if I don’t make it on the tracking data?
Rwanda development board will make a refund of 50%if the client falls sick on the tracking date. This only happens when you show up at the park headquarters before the tracking starts.
Apart from gorilla tracking, there are other activities that can be done in volcanoes national park including;
Golden monkey tracking
This the second most popular activity done in the park after gorilla tracking. Golden monkeys live in only Volcanoes national park and In Neighboring Mgahinga national park in Uganda. Please note that there is no age limit for this activity and the price is $100 per person.
For bird lovers, this is one of the best places to do birding about 180 bird species have been recorded here including 16 species of the Albertine rift endemics such as; Rwenzori turaco, Archers robin chart, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori double collared sunbird among others.
This park has a stretch of five volcanoes namely; Karisimbi, Bisoke, Gahinga, Muhabura, and Sabyinyo. You can climb one of these volcanoes to enjoy the adventure you will be rewarded with excellent views of the countryside as well as other places in Uganda and Congo.
A visit to Ibwiwacu cultural village after your gorilla tracking will make your trip complete you will interact with formal poachers, take part in daily life activities, and know their culture, participate in local banana brewing among other activities.
Volcanoes national park is located approximately 110kms northwest of Kigali and about 70 km from Gisenyi, there are public buses which come from Kigali or Gisenyi to Musanze town every day, however, there are no public means of transport from Musanze to Kinigi park headquarters so you have to hire a private car or use a trusted tour operator to provide a 4X4 vehicle to take you to the park.
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Read More about booking Rwanda Gorilla permits here.