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Rwanda Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla Trekking Rwanda, Gorilla Safaris & Tours, Gorilla Permits

Seeing mountain gorillas deep in dense mountain forest jungles of Eastern Africa is by far one of the best wildlife experiences you will ever encounter. It is captivating and really emotional watching these fascinating human-like gorillas, which share 98% of our DNA. Hunted almost to extinction, mountain gorillas are critically endangers species whose numbers are progressively growing with the increase in gorilla tourism. Gorillas are found in the Virunga massif region – Africa, characterized with volcanic peaks stretching to cover borders of Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park), Uganda (Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National park) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC (Virunga National Park).

Volcanoes National Park is an extraordinary park in Rwanda, full of impressive tropical rain forest and volcanic scenery, trekking, and is perhaps the best place in the world to see the rare mountain gorillas.

Rwanda ranks high in Africa when it comes to gorilla trekking safari, Mountain gorilla tours can only be done in Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic republic of congo. Volcanoes National park Rwanda is the home for gorilla trekking safaris in Africa.

Gorilla Trekking VolcanoesGorilla Trekking is the most popular activity in the Volcanoes National Park. Each year more than 12.000 visitors on average , from all over the world, visit the park to watch mountain gorillas in their natural environment . Have you ever dreamt of Gorilla Trekking in Africa, What is gorilla Trekking? Rwanda Volcanoes National Park guide is here to provide the best facts about Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda.

Rwanda Mountain Gorillas live at high altitude in Volcanoes National Park located in the virunga Mountains . There are currently  12  habituated gorilla families & Groups that are open to visitors that come for gorilla trekking safaris. A maximum of 8visitors per day can visit each  one gorilla groups as the conservation rule , and viewing time is limited to maximum one hour once the visitor has come into contact with the mountain gorillas as the ranger guides will guide you on what to do when visiting the primates in Rwanda.

Rwanda Gorilla trekking involves walking long distances through thick vegetation, up steep, wet and muddy terrain. This may cause difficulties for some visitors. We recommend you pace yourself; walk slowly and drink plenty of water. No one should feel deterred from making this gorilla trip as the park officials are starting to offer luxury elder tours to be carried during the gorilla trekking , its among the reason why we recommend that you hire a porter for the wonderful experience. As its well known that gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic republic of congo has no end age limit but it has start age where Children under 15 yrs of age are not allowed on gorilla trek in Africa.

For many years these Gorilla groups have undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually made them accustomed to the presence of humans as the Gorilla habituation experience that was used by Dian Fossey the american Conservationists that lived in Volcanoes national park  and has allowed a few privileged visitors to interact with them briefly in the wild. However, the gorillas are by no means tame. They are completely wild animals, which even now tolerate human presence for an hour a day at most. Experienced guides will accompany you on your tracking, many of who have been involved in the habituation process themselves. These guides will brief you in detail on your arrival on the various aspects of ‘gorilla etiquette’, but the information contained here will help ensure you are well prepared and ready to enjoy this unique opportunity to the fullest.

Visitors may track for as many days as they like, provided they purchase the required gorilla permit for each day. The permits are in extremely short supply and are often booked up as early as 2 years in advance. Only persons over the age of 15 are allowed to track the gorillas.

How to Book a gorilla Permit for volcanoes national Park

Gorilla Trekking  is a year-round activity, with no season as such. The forest is moist and it rains quite often in Volcanoes National Park, even in the dry season. Trekking commences every morning from the park headquarters at 8:30 AM. There is a daily maximum of eight visitors to each gorilla group and each group is accompanied by a guide and by porters who will carry your shoulder pack for you. The gorillas may cover large distances overnight and they are never constantly in one area. The gorilla location trackers will use their knowledge of the gorillas’ habits and information from the previous day to locate the group’s whereabouts and their job is to locate the gorilla group before you head on your trek so that your guide is able to take you directly to them.

Trekking conditions differ greatly according to the location of the gorillas, so the exact level of difficulty for a specific trek is impossible to define in advance. However, at the time of assignment to a gorilla group at the Park HQ, you will be asked if you would like an “easy” trek or a “more challenging” trek, so if you are not sure, make sure to get onto a shorter trek.

On an excursion, it is entirely possible that you will find the gorillas quite quickly and be back at your hotel for lunch. It is also entirely possible that you will have to hike three or four hours (or sometimes even longer) each way and will make it back to your hotel just before dark (you may therefore wish to bring some snack bars with you on the trek just in case). Because it is impossible to predict the length and difficulty of any single tracking excursion, this program should not be attempted by anyone who is not in fairly good physical condition.

Gorilla Permits in Rwanda are considered to be the most expensive permit for visiting these apes in all the region where gorilla trekking is done , where gorilla permits in Rwanda can be booked through the reliable Rwanda Safari company or through Rwanda development board. The rwanda gorilla permit costs Usd 1500 irrespective of the time of travel and the Nationality .

What to pack for gorilla Trekking

• A small, lightweight, frameless, waterproof back/day pack.
• Light, waterproof hiking boots or shoes with treaded soles.
• Thick socks and gaiters to wear over your pants and shoes.
• Leather or heavy canvas (gardening-style) gloves for moving through the vegetation and especially avoiding any contact with stinging nettles.
• Waterproof rain pants and top with hood.
• Short sleeved shirt or T-shirt.
• Long pants worn under the rain pants should be the light-weight trekking variety. Many just wear their lightweight rain pants instead of trousers.
• A waterproof, squash-able hat.
• Bottles of water (bring more than you think you’ll need),
• Energy bars or other high-energy snacks to keep you fueled.

Actual Day of Gorilla Trekking Encounter in Volcanoes National Park

Rwanda gorilla trekkingEach traveler is assigned his or her own porter for the duration of a tracking excursion (you may ask for two porters if you would like and there never seems to be a shortage ready and willing porters… remember that they can all use the income and it is very inexpensive..

As you set off from the starting point, your guide will lead you to the trek to find the early morning trackers (who have set off at first light separately from you and your guide) and likely have already located the gorilla family. Your group’s lead tracker will have his “own” gorilla family, which he visits each day and whose home range and travel routes are familiar to him. All trackers are experienced in looking for signs of the gorillas, such as footprints, dung, chewed bamboo and celery stalks, and abandoned nests from the previous evening. Gorillas soil their nests and then abandon them to build new ones each night, and trackers are able to tell the age of the nests as well as which group made them. On days of heavy rain, it is more difficult to distinguish signs of the gorillas and the age of nests.

Gorillas do not live in the most easily accessible terrain and some of it is virtually impenetrable. They prefer secondary growth vegetation with plenty of food plants near the ground and think nothing of climbing extremely steep slopes to get it. Unfortunately, this means that tracking gorillas can be difficult for humans. If the gorillas you are tracking have wandered deep into the forest, it is entirely possible that the trek to find them will take three or four hours (or sometimes even longer) in each direction. Additionally, you may have to overcome mud, stinging nettles, and some areas of elevated vines where your feet may not touch the ground. The trek can be difficult in both directions (out to the gorillas and back to the starting point).

Your guide will allow time to stop and rest along the trail; however, they tend to hike at a steady, somewhat upbeat pace throughout the excursion, for they must be mindful of the time to ensure that you will be able to reach the gorillas, spend a full hour with them, and make it back down the trail before dark. If you occasionally lag behind the group to take photos or are having difficulty negotiating a steep or slippery portion of the trail, your porter will stay with you to assist; but the group will most likely continue forward.

You will probably smell the gorillas before you actually see them. When you reach the forward trackers, you will all gather whatever cameras you want and leave your packs behind with the trackers.  When everyone is ready, your guide will move forward, making soft smacking and groaning sounds with his mouth, to assure the group that friends are approaching. Although gorillas make very few vocalizations, this sound of reassurance is one that family members often use with each other.

If your trek to find the gorillas has not been unusually long, you are likely to visit them during their long midday rest and play period. At this time of day, the dominant male (usually a silverback) generally lounges on the ground or against a tree while youngsters roll in the vegetation and climb on trees, vines, and each other. Females nurse and play with their infants. Occasionally, a curious youngster may approach you or someone in your group. Though it is tempting to touch, this is STRICTLY forbidden.

Your trekking group will be instructed to stay together and crouch down while observing the gorillas so that the dominant male can see you at all times and the family does not feel threatened, surrounded, or overwhelmed. Never stare directly into the eyes of a gorilla, for a fixed stare is as aggressive to them as it is to most humans. Although you may find a gorilla looking directly at you, you should maintain a subservient stance and look at it sideways or from a lower height. Sometimes, as a release of tension or as a display to the rest of the group, a male gorilla may charge and beat his chest, tearing up vegetation and hurling his tremendous frame directly at your tracking group. Despite the temptation to run, you must stand your ground, maintain a subordinate, crouching position, and do your best not to flinch — for the gorilla will stop before actually reaching you and calmly return to his previous location, glancing back at you with smug satisfaction. Such displays may turn savage when used between males of different gorilla families but are simply a bluff when used with human observers on tracking excursions to habituated gorilla groups.

Your trekking group will spend up to one hour with the gorillas on each excursion. This time limit is carefully observed and protects the gorillas from undue stress. If your group were to stay longer than this, the gorillas would probably end the visit themselves — by simply leaving. Although they are getting used to being visited regularly and are curious about their human visitors, they are accustomed to one-hour visits and their intensely shy and private nature will reassert itself in the end.

In the event a gorilla trekking participant is unable to complete a tracking excursion to the gorillas, he or she will either be allowed to immediately return to the base of the trail with a porter OR the participant will be asked to remain in place with a porter while the group continues its track of the gorillas, rejoining the rest of the group on its way back to the base of the trail.

Please keep in mind that gorillas are shy, wild animals. At the start of the trekking day, there is no way of telling exactly where the habituated gorilla families are (even though trackers are very skilled at looking for signs of gorillas and their paths of travel). Also, because gorillas are wandering animals that favor areas of dense vegetation, consistent, clear viewing at close range cannot be guaranteed.