The Fairytale Traveler

Travel & Lifestyle Blog

gorilla trekking

Here’s Your Guide to Life-Changing Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Have you ever wanted to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda?


In the heart of East Africa, lies Rwanda- the Land of a Thousand Hills.


The home to some of the only remaining 1063 endangered mountain gorillas in the whole world, golden monkeys, and several other wildlife species of visitors’ interest on African safaris.


When you think of Rwanda safaris, gorilla trekking is what the majority of tourists come to enjoy.


To take it a notch higher, Rwanda has massively invested in security, infrastructure development, and humanitarian activities that have largely distinguished it from other African gorilla destinations.

gorilla trekking

8 Tips for Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Where to go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda?

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is every visitor’s dream adventure on an African safari holiday.


For trekkers who have been to Rwanda before, experiences do vary; but in general, gorilla trekking is a breathtaking experience that comes once in a lifetime.


Tracking mountain gorillas is done in the Virunga Massifs of Volcanoes National Park, located on the Northwestern side of the country – 2 and half hour drive from the Kigali capital.


In Rwanda, there is only one location to visit for mountain gorilla trekking – that is the Volcanoes National Park (also known as ParcNationale des Volcanoes in most guidebooks) which is found in the North-western part of the country.


The Volcanoes National Park has become a preferred high-end gorilla safari destination for a good reason.


At the park, there are a number of park rangers who tirelessly work to ensure the safety of wildlife including mountain gorillas plus other organizations.


During actual gorilla trekking in the volcanoes, tourists are allocated to experienced and armed park guides to lead them through a 2- 6 hours trek to see gorillas.


The park guide (ranger) is mainly to ensure visitor safety and that of gorillas in their habitat.


Besides, actual treks to see gorillas are all done in already habituated gorilla family groups and amazingly, tourists have 12 gorilla families to visit.


Each of these Rwanda gorilla groups is visited by a maximum of eight visitors per day and they include among others – Susa A, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Agashya, Hirwa, and Umubano, Amahoro, Titus, Kwitonda, etc.

gorilla trekking

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Guidelines

There are a number of guidelines to follow and these are aimed at ensuring a smooth gorilla trekking experience. It should be noted that gorillas are endangered and have a lot in common with humans.


Their DNA is 98% similar to that of humans.


At Kinigi, the park official will take you through the guidelines or gorilla trekking rules; they include but are not limited to spending a maximum of one hour on close encounters upon finding a mountain gorilla family in the wild.


For those interested in mountain gorilla photography, you are required to turn off the flashlight or use the flashlight-free camera for taking pictures.


Within the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, only eight tourists can go to track a gorilla family. This is done to ensure that there is little impact from human visits to the habitats.


Researchers set this carrying capacity in the early 2000s, a time when gorilla tourism was regulated in the park.


Gorilla trekking is open to tourists but to be eligible, you are required to be at least 15 years or above.


Besides the age restrictions, there are also health requirements to be met.  Only visitors without communicable diseases are allowed to go visit a gorilla group family.


However, for safety and health reasons; keeping a distance of 10 meters from the mountain gorillas is recommended mandatory.

gorilla trekking

Securing Gorilla Permits

A valid gorilla permit is required to secure a gorilla trekking slot in Volcanoes national park of Rwanda.


About 96 valid gorilla permits are always available for purchase by travelers visiting Rwanda for gorilla trekking.


The 96 gorilla permits in Rwanda translate into 12 habituated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park; each gorilla group is visited by a maximum of eight tourists with a valid permit.


A Rwanda gorilla permit currently costs US Dollars 1500 per person per day.


It is highly recommended to book your pass well in advance to avoid the inconvenience of finding all gorilla trekking slots fully booked more so during summer.

gorilla trekking

When is the Best Time to Visit Gorillas in Rwanda?

Even though there is a common misconception that the whole of Africa is the same; whether partners tend to differ from one country to another.


In the case of Rwanda, the dry season in Volcanoes National Park is experienced right from June to September then the short phase of it starts from December to February of every year.


Regardless of the weather, gorillas in Rwanda can be visited at any time of the year. The dry season is the best time for tourists who would like to see these unique apes and combine them with the big five safaris in the wild.


The dry season is also referred to as the high/peak season.

gorilla trekking

Things to Pack

When considering what to pack for the Rwanda gorilla trekking safari, it is important to look out for essentials first.


You will need a passport to purchase the gorilla permit. In addition, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is another important document you should have.


It is important to carry gardening gloves to protect you while in the jungle from thorny and itchy plants.


Sturdy hiking boots are also needed to hike through steep and muddy grounds. They should be comfortable as well.


It is also necessary to pack a simple first aid kit comprising of malaria pills, ligaments, bandages, etc – these are to help you cater for any emergencies while on your gorilla trek to see mountain gorillas. 


The insect repellent shouldn’t be left out if you are to have yourself protected from biting insects and preferably, carry DEET.

gorilla trekking

What to Wear?

Once you have understood the best time to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking, the next thing is to plan or consider what items to pack.


What you plan to wear for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is key and here are some essentials: long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, waterproof hiking boots, rain jacket, sweater, pair of socks, safari hat, daypack, and many others.

gorilla trekking

How Safe is Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda?

How safe is gorilla tracking in Rwanda? One question that still leaves many visitors wondering is “is gorilla trekking in Rwanda safe?”


Yes, gorilla trekking in Rwanda – the Land of a Thousand Hills is safe and secure. The safety of visitors and that of mountain gorillas are the main areas of concern when it comes to gorilla safaris.


 Interestingly, safety on gorilla tracking in Rwanda is key not only for tourists but also to these great apes hence a major area of priority for the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

gorilla trekking

Where Else Can I go to Track Mountain Gorillas?

You can easily combine your Rwanda gorilla safari with visits to the nearby gorilla parks in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Uganda has two gorilla parks, that is; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.


A journey from the Volcanoes National Park to Mgahinga National Park takes about one hour while a journey to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest takes about 3 hours.


You can also combine your safari with tracking the gorillas in the nearby DR Congo.


In Congo, you are at the disposal of encountering three subspecies of gorillas; the mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas, and the western lowland gorillas. 


The Virunga National Park in Congo and Kahuzi-Biega National Park are the two leading gorilla-watching locations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, of these two; mountain gorillas are only found in Virunga national park.

gorilla trekking


We hope this guide will one day inspire you to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda! You should check out our guide to gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park!

Satyne Julianna Doner

Satyne Julianna Doner is currently a sophomore studying business management in sunny Tampa, Florida. A born bibliophile, she spends most of her free time curled up in a fantasy book or writing her own. When she isn't studying, reading, or writing, she is an avid equestrian and staunch supporter of rehabilitating retired racehorses. She owns one horse, named Hurricane, who keeps her grounded in all her endeavors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top