Encounter Gorilla Safari in Rwanda

gorilla tours in Uganda

The unique opportunity to see gorillas in their natural habitat is unforgettable, some even say life changing. Encounters with gorillas as they go about their daily lives are carefully managed, with expert trackers and guides leading small groups of tourists up bamboo-covered slopes to spend a precious and awe-inspiring hour just a few feet away from the gentle creatures.

A good number of tourists visit Rwanda for the interesting gorilla trekking tours in the Volcanoes mist. These gentle giants have been in the care of some of the world’s foremost experts on gorillas like Dian Fossey. Hence the reason why we can still be able to watch them i.e. mountain gorillas in their natural habitats.

There are twelve gorilla families living in the Volcanoes National Park, which are fully habituated, with a few others habituated solely for scientific research. The groups, or troops, consist of at least one silver back along with several females and youngsters.

Eight tracking permits are issued per troop per day, meaning the encounter is as intimate and as unobtrusive as possible. With only 96 permits available each day in Rwanda, it is highly recommended to book in advance. The permit goes for $1500 which must be paid in advance before the day of tracking. We are ready to book your permit and go ahead to clear its payment such that by the time you come, every thing is cleared.

Visitors gather at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters in Kinigi at 7am, and are allocated a family group on the day according to fitness levels, as well as being briefed on protocols and rules for visiting the gorillas.

Hikes up to their various locations can last anything from 30 minutes to four or more hours, reaching an altitude of between 2,500m and 4,000m. Porters are available to carry backpacks and cameras, as well as to offer a helping hand along the route.

Sustainable gorilla trekking is put into consideration by the 10% of the revenue from the permits channeled towards local communities, to build schools and health centres, as well as roads. There is a compensation fund for local farmers should any gorillas damage their crops, which helps to ensure peaceful co-existence.

You’ll have your breakfast and meet your guide at 6:30am sharp then transfer to the park headquarters were everyone will meet. You will enjoy hot coffee/tea and local entertainment at the headquarter as your groups of eight people and permits get sorted out. Groups are organized more or less by your fitness level and age to ensure that you won’t be doing anything too strenuous or not strenuous enough before meeting your assigned gorilla family.

The hike starts out at the base of the volcano on flat farmland. As you head there, you will be greeted by lots of locals, especially children, along the way. If you want to take pictures, remember, it’s always polite to ask first. Once you reach a short stone wall, you will sync up with your scouts. Here your guide will give you the basic tools you need to “speak gorilla.” You will learn a few sounds and body movements to help in certain situations.

A set of Rangers goes before you to track the family helping you guide in the right direction. The first two hours or more will be directly uphill through a deeply covered bamboo forest. The shade from the forest is great as you will most likely be pretty layered up to avoid as much contact with stinging nettles as possible.

Once you clear the bamboo forest, you hike for another three hours or so before you have to leave all of the belongings and anything that is brightly coloured or anything hanging off of us behind. You walk up and over a little hill and find the gorillas creating excitement with emotion and even get a bit teary eyed. when you see your first mountain gorilla, it is all worth it!

Once you spot your first gorilla, your one hour on the clock starts ticking. If your family is on the move, you will move with them. If they are playing, eating, sleeping in one place, you will get to watch and observe. The whole experience goes beyond.

The rule of thumb is to stay seven meters away but honestly, some of the gorillas, especially the babies, will come right up to you, if not crawl on top of you! As always, you have to take precautions and no matter what, listen to your guide, scouts, and rangers. They know these families and are there to protect you and the gorillas.

Once you are done, you will descend to the park headquarter to pick your trekking certificate then back to the lodge for lunch. After lunch you can take a cultural tour at IbyI’wacu cultural village.  Lively music and festive dance play a great role in the traditions of all the people of Rwanda.

One of Africa’s most dynamic and least well-known musical traditions, the Ballet of Rwanda is performed by the Intore, the chosen ones, and was at one time danced exclusively for the royal court.

The dance is performed by men dressed in grass wigs and carrying spears, who wear little tinkling bells on each foot, providing a ringing rhythm as the background music. The ‘Dance of Heroes’ is about returning warriors, celebrating victory in battle.

You will be overwhelmed by the warmth and friendliness of the local folk. They are happy to introduce you to their traditional way of life, including songs and dances accompanied by lively drumming. You can listen to “gorilla songs” sung by the well-known performer Ngayabatema.

Learn how to create Batwa pottery and other local handcrafts. Don’t miss a visit to the banana-beer brewery, and perhaps enjoy one of these local brews with a lunch or dinner of traditional Rwandan food. Back to lodge for dinner and overnight.

The next day of your Rwanda tour you can go golden monkey trekking after breakfast. Its an exciting adventure that offers an epic encounter with a rare and beautiful species of monkeys called Golden Monkeys.

The golden monkeys have a striking golden fur coat and added to their sprightly character are quite lovely to watch and offer excellent photography. You must have purchased a trekking permit of $100 in advance.  After the experience back to lodge for lunch and then back to Kigali for your flight.


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