Ever wanted to go on an absolutely unforgettable vacation?

Somewhere most of your friends probably haven’t been yet and show off their snaps of elephants, giraffes, lions – and the unique endangered mountain gorillas.

Ready for an adventure of a lifetime?

Rwanda gorillas

What’s Special About Rwanda?

In case you didn’t know, Rwanda has done an exceptional job at wildlife conservation and boasts with plenty of national parks and wildlife encounters.

Rwanda has a diverse landscape from vast savannahs to mountains and dense forests and is possibly the best place to see the mountain gorillas in Africa.

Mountain gorillas cannot survive in captivity like lowland gorillas and there are only just above 1,000 mountain gorillas left worldwide, making them an endangered species.

Rwanda vs. Uganda For Gorilla Trekking

In fact, there are only three countries in the world where you can see the endangered mountain gorillas: Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With the instability of the later, most people choose either Rwanda or Uganda to experience the gorillas in the wild.

If you are planning to go gorilla trekking and looking to decide between Rwanda or Uganda as a destination, Rwanda should be your choice if you want to reach the gorillas easier and faster.

Seeing that Rwanda is a much smaller country than neighbouring Uganda, you can reach the famous Volcanoes National Park where you do the gorilla safaris within a short journey from the capital. Chances to see the gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park are very high.

Gorilla safaris

In Uganda, the journey equals to a 500 km trip over pretty bad roads from Kampala, the capital city, to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where you do the trekking.

How Much Does Gorilla Trekking Cost?

Gorilla trekking is unfortunately not cheap, however, this probably makes it even more special, because not everyone can just do it.

Expect a 2-3 day tour to cost around $2,000 in Rwanda! What makes these tours so expensive are the permits for gorilla trekking. These are more affordable in Uganda, if cost is a big factor. Permits in Rwanda currently cost $1,500, while in Uganda they go for $600.

The national parks in Uganda and Rwanda are close to each other and only separated by borders.

Gorilla permits allow you to access the game parks and watch the gorillas and need to be booked a couple of months in advance, especially for peak season from June to September as the permits are limited.

Finally, if you want to have the best of both worlds, you can also opt to go on a gorilla safari in both Uganda and Rwanda, which is known as double gorilla trekking. 

If price is a major factor, you can find full 7-day tours at the cost of only $2,300 in Uganda, which is not possible in Rwanda.

Is Rwanda Safe To Visit?

Rwanda is a relatively safe country to visit in Africa, especially for solo travellers and has low crime and friendly, hospitable locals.

Due to a low GDP and high poverty rate, be aware of petty crime in cities like Kigali, the capital and largest city of the country, crowds of people and markets.

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

However, if you are going out to the national parks, it’s very safe, just make sure you choose a reputable company to do your gorilla safari in Rwanda.

Certain travel vaccines are advised for Rwanda and risk of Malaria is high in many parts of the country, so take precautions.

Where To Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda And How Many Days?

The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is the place to do your 3 Days Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda, which is a good timeframe for an introductory tour to experience Kigali city, visit the genocide memorial site and then head to the national park for a full day of Gorilla tracking.

The national park covers 16 hectares in total, so Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda can vary from simple day tours to multiple 5 to 7 day adventures, which usually combines Uganda and Rwanda Safaris.

Note that gorilla trekking is unpredictable and highly depends on the location of the gorillas on the day you are there.

Gorilla trekking Rwanda

Organized Gorilla tours are the safest and most reliable way to see the primates. Trekking can take from 30 minutes to 6 hours to see one of those stunning animals. But don’t worry, there are of course other animals you encounter along the track like exotic birds, forest elephants, chimpanzees and buffaloes.

The mountain gorillas live in dense forest vegetation, usually in higher altitudes between 7,200 to 14,000 feet, where the climate is cold and cloudy.

When you see the mountain gorillas, you will spot that their fur is quite thick, which allows them to survive in the higher cooler altitudes.

You might also be wondering why they are sometimes called Silverbacks. The reason is the silver hair behind their back, which only occurs in adult male mountain gorillas. Silverbacks are about 4x stronger than humans and usually a lot taller too.

Usually, it’s also a dominant male that leads a group of mountain gorillas. They are highly social and have a close family bond. Therefore, you will most likely encounter multiple gorillas at the same time.

Preparing For Gorilla Trekking In Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Expect to be trekking through dense forest, up steep hills and muddy pathways, so it is important to prepare well. Leave the sandals and white sneakers at home, they are not a good idea for this adventure.

Instead, pack sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good grip so you can climb up steep hills and don’t slip in the rainy season.

As for clothes, it is vital to pack waterproof pants, shirts with long sleeves and long socks for your Rwanda gorilla trekking.

Gorillas in Rwanda

Expect to get wet and muddy walking through the densely populated forest. Sun screen and insect repellent is also important.

Many times, your tour operator will send you a packing list for your trip. Usually, this list also includes a good rain jacket, a warm sweater for cold mornings and evening and unusual items like garden gloves, which can help with holding tree branches and protect you from other scratches and insects.

If you opt for multiple days to do your gorilla safari in Rwanda, it’s recommended you hire a porter for a small fee to help you carry your extra luggage. You will be thankful you did, no matter what fitness level you are at.

No matter if you decide to track the mountain gorillas in Rwanda for 2 or 7 days, you are surely in for an adventure that will push yourself physically and mentally and reward you with an unforgettable experience that is worth every penny.

This post is sponsored by Mission Africa Safaris, organising tailored safari trips to East Africa.

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