Rwanda Gorilla Safaris and everything you need to know for 2024

Rwanda Gorilla Safaris – Rwanda, nestled in the heart of Central Africa, boasts an unparalleled opportunity for travelers seeking extraordinary wildlife encounters through its renowned gorilla safaris. At the core of this experience lies the iconic Volcanoes National Park, a sanctuary nestled within the spectacular Virunga Mountains. This park serves as a haven for the endangered mountain gorillas, drawing enthusiasts and nature lovers from across the globe.

Gorilla safaris in Rwanda offer an intimate and immersive journey into the natural habitat of these majestic creatures. The highlight of the expedition is the captivating gorilla trekking experience. Accompanied by knowledgeable guides and trackers, visitors embark on a trek through the lush rainforest, traversing diverse terrain and verdant slopes in search of habituated gorilla families.

The encounter with these gentle giants is a profound and emotional experience. As visitors approach, the sight of these incredible primates, engaging in their daily activities amidst the dense foliage, is awe-inspiring. Observing the gorillas’ behavior, interactions, and familial dynamics from a close vantage point creates an unforgettable bond with nature, leaving an indelible mark on travelers’ hearts.

Participating in gorilla safaris is not only a thrilling adventure but also a significant contribution to conservation efforts. The permits required for gorilla trekking contribute to the preservation of these endangered species and their habitats. Rwanda’s commitment to gorilla conservation is evident, making the experience not just a journey of discovery but also a means to support vital conservation initiatives, ensuring the long-term survival of these magnificent creatures in their natural environment.

What is the best time to go for Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda?

Gorilla Watching and Feeling the real nature.

1. Mid-December to Early February: This period experiences relatively dry weather, making it an excellent time for gorilla trekking. The clear skies and drier trails facilitate trekking through the forests, enhancing visibility and increasing the chances of rewarding encounters with mountain gorillas.

2. June to September: Similarly, this dry season is favorable for gorilla trekking. The weather is generally dry and mild, with cooler temperatures, making it comfortable for trekking activities. The vegetation is less dense during this time, aiding in spotting wildlife, including mountain gorillas, more easily.

While these dry seasons are often recommended for gorilla trekking due to favorable weather conditions and better trail accessibility, Rwanda’s gorilla trekking experiences are available throughout the year. However, it’s essential to note that gorilla trekking can occur in rain or shine, and the rainforest habitat can receive rainfall at any time of the year.

The wetter months, from March to May and October to November, constitute the rainy seasons in Rwanda. Although these periods experience heavier rainfall, gorilla trekking is still possible. However, trekking trails might be more challenging due to muddy and slippery conditions. Despite this, the wet season offers lush greenery, fewer tourists, and a unique atmosphere in the rainforest.

Ultimately, the choice of when to go for gorilla trekking depends on personal preferences regarding weather, crowd levels, and the overall experience one seeks. Regardless of the season, obtaining permits in advance is crucial as they are limited and in high demand throughout the year.

Booking a Gorilla Permit in Rwanda

If you want to book a Gorilla permit for Rwanda, you need to contact the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or a local tour operator on ground to take you through the gorilla tracing booking process. Booking a gorilla permit for Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park involves several steps, and it’s advisable to plan and secure permits well in advance due to limited availability. Below we bring you some steps you will undergo when booking a gorilla permit in Rwanda.

1. Contact Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or Authorized Tour Operators:

  • Reach out to the Rwanda Development Board directly or reputable tour operators authorized to sell gorilla permits. RDB manages the allocation of permits and availability. If you want assistance for Gorilla Booking, fill in this Contact Form here.

2. Choose a Date and Pay for the Permit:

  • Select the preferred date(s) for your gorilla trekking experience, keeping in mind the availability of permits.
  • Make the payment for the gorilla permit. Prices for permits can vary for international tourists, Rwandan citizens, and East African residents. Ensure to confirm the current pricing and payment methods.

3. Provide Necessary Information:

  • Furnish required details such as full names, passport information, and other relevant personal information for permit registration.
  • Ensure accuracy in the provided information as it will be used for permit issuance.

4. Receive Confirmation and Permit Voucher:

  • Once payment is made and details are submitted, you’ll receive a confirmation and permit voucher. This voucher serves as proof of your reservation for the gorilla trekking experience.

5. Collecting Permits:

  • Depending on the arrangement, permits can either be collected from the RDB offices in Kigali or at the park headquarters on the day of the trek.

6. Trekking Guidelines and Preparation:

  • Familiarize yourself with gorilla trekking guidelines provided by authorities or tour operators. These guidelines ensure a safe and respectful experience for both visitors and the gorillas.
  • Prepare necessary trekking gear, such as sturdy hiking shoes, long pants, rain gear, insect repellent, and a daypack.

Note: Booking a gorilla permit requires early planning due to high demand and limited availability. Consulting with tour operators or directly contacting the Rwanda Development Board is the most reliable way to secure permits and plan your unforgettable gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda.

How much is a Gorilla Permit in Rwanda?

Rwanda Gorilla Permit

As of 2024, the price of a single gorilla permit in Rwanda stands at US$1,500 for visitors from countries outside Africa. However, there is a discounted rate of US$200 for citizens of Rwanda and other East African nations. Additionally, foreign residents of Rwanda and citizens or residents of other African countries are charged US$500 for a permit.

In comparison, neighboring Uganda offers gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks at a cost of US$700. Meanwhile, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the permit fee is US$400. However, access to gorilla tracking in DRC’s Virunga National Park has been suspended since March 2020 due to ongoing security issues. Visitors have an alternative option for gorilla tracking in DRC’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park, where eastern lowland gorillas reside. Yet, it’s essential to note that DRC’s security situation is potentially less stable than Rwanda or Uganda.

During Rwanda’s low season, spanning from November to May, a 30% discount is available on gorilla permits. This reduces the cost for non-African residents to US$1,050. However, this discount is exclusively applicable to visitors who prebook a minimum of two nights in either Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park, or a combination of one night in each park. This offer encourages travelers to explore Rwanda’s diverse national parks while enjoying reduced gorilla permit rates during the specified period.

What is included on Rwanda gorilla permit fee?

Tourists Enjoy the iconic moments with Gorillas

The gorilla permit, whether for tracking in Rwanda or any neighboring region, includes entry to the designated national park, the guided trekking experience, and an allocated one-hour visit with the gorillas. However, it does not encompass additional expenses such as porter fees, gratuities for trackers and guides, or any costs associated with accommodation, transportation, meals, or other supplementary activities during the visit.

How many Gorilla Tracking Permits Available in Rwanda?

Volcanoes National Park typically offers a total of 96 gorilla permits each day for visitors. These permits are allocated across 12 habituated gorilla groups, with eight permits available daily for each group. Additionally, within the park, there are eight more habituated gorilla groups. These are primarily accessed by researchers due to their more challenging locations and limited tourist accessibility.

In the event that one of the gorilla groups designated for tourist visits crosses over into neighboring Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the park authorities usually allocate one of the gorilla groups primarily visited by researchers for tourist visits as a replacement. This allows for a consistent and fulfilling gorilla trekking experience even if any of the designated groups temporarily move outside the park’s boundaries.

What is the age limit for Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda?

All three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and DRC) where gorilla trekking is permitted have collectively agreed on enforcing a minimum age requirement of 15 years for participants. While there’s no upper age limit for gorilla trekkers, it’s important to note that this activity involves significant physical demands. Therefore, elderly travelers or individuals with restricted mobility should carefully assess their physical readiness and decide whether they feel capable of undertaking the trek. However,

Can I Visit More Than One Park in Rwanda?

Look at this cute baby gorilla, they really love playing a lot.

While gorilla trekking stands as Rwanda’s primary tourist attraction, the country offers diverse alternatives. Nyungwe National Park shelters an expansive forest. It is an ideal for chimpanzee tracking, and boasts a rich array of forest-specialized birds and monkeys. In contrast, Akagera National Park presents a classic safari experience. It hosts the renowned Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino).

Combining a visit to one or both of these parks alongside gorilla trekking at any time of the year is highly recommended. For visits scheduled between November and May, guests who spend at least two nights across Nyungwe or Akagera National Parks receive a 30% discount on their gorilla permit. This offer incentivizes exploration across these diverse parks and provides an excellent opportunity to delve into Rwanda’s varied wildlife and ecosystems.

Can i cancel a Gorilla Permit?

In the event of trip cancellation or non-appearance on the scheduled day for gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Regardless of the reason, the cost of the gorilla permit is non-refundable. Additionally, permits cannot be transferred or exchanged with others. The permit details are cross-checked against your passport before embarking on the trek. However, when permits are booked through an operator, there’s typically an option to reschedule to an alternative date with a minimum notice period of 30 days.

A notable exception applies to individuals unable to track due to unforeseen movement of their assigned gorilla group. In such cases, they are offered the choice to attempt tracking on the following day or receive a complete refund. Moreover, if an entire day is spent trekking without encountering any gorillas. There is a refund of 75% of the permit cost is applicable. These policies offer some flexibility in specific circumstances but otherwise maintain strict regulations regarding permit usage and refunds for gorilla trekking in Rwanda.

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