Rwanda’s Mountain Gorillas are one of the most popular attractions for visitors on Rwanda safaris. Mountain Gorilla Trekking permits are in high demand, and with only a limited number of visitors permitted to trek each day, it takes careful planning to ensure a chance to track the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda. Commonly referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” Rwanda is located in Central and Eastern Africa. The small landlocked country is one of the countries that are home to the last remaining mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park. It is commonly referred to as the Together with Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks and the DR. Congo’s Virunga National Park. However, Rwanda offers the easiest gorilla trekking safaris of all the gorilla destinations.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done in the Volcanoes National Park which is located in the Virunga Mountain ranges. Not only is the Park home to the last few endangered mountain gorillas, but it also encompasses five of the eight Virunga volcanoes. These Virunga volcanoes are located within the Virunga conservation area, with mountain Karisimbi being the highest at 4,507 meters above sea level. Mountain Sabyinyo, mountain Gahinga, mountain Muhabura, and mountain Bisoke are also found in this park. Mountain gorillas are endangered creatures and they can only be found in the Virunga Mountain Ranges. A hike to any of these volcanoes hike would reward you with encounters with mountain gorillas without even purchasing gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda. However, you will not be allowed to spend any time with them, as some of them could be wild gorillas (not the habituated ones for trekking).
Rwanda gorilla permits are documents that are issued to grant tourists access to gorilla trekking excursions. In Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, tourists must present a gorilla permit at the park headquarters before being assigned to a random gorilla group for their Rwanda gorilla trekking experience.
A gorilla permit is a primary requirement for trekking mountain gorillas in Rwanda or anywhere else in Uganda and DR. Congo respectively. Rwanda gorilla permits are issued by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), which also oversees and regulates all tourism activities in Rwanda. The Rwanda gorilla permit is currently priced at $1,500 per person and Rwanda issues a maximum of 96 gorilla permits per day. Rwanda gorilla permits can be purchased online or through a reputable local tour operator. However, due to the limited availability of gorilla permits, in addition to the high demand, those interested in trekking Rwanda’s endangered mountain gorillas should always book in advance (at least 6 months) before their trekking date to avoid missing out.
Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park has 10 habituated gorilla families and each of these gorilla families can be trekked by a maximum of 8 people per day. Hence, a maximum of 96 permits are issued per day, you must book your permit well in advance. The months of June, July, August, and September are peak tourism months, and permits sell out quickly, so plan ahead of time.
A Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1,500, however, Rwanda also offers certain discounts on Rwanda gorilla permits; if you visit all three Rwanda national parks, the Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park, and Nyungwe Forest National Park, you can be given a discount on the gorilla permit. But, you must show proof that you have visited the other two Rwandan national parks in addition to Volcanoes National Park. For Akagera National Park, you can show proof of accommodation or park entrance fee and a chimp trekking permit for Nyungwe Forest National Park. Discounts for Rwanda gorilla permits are as follows;
Rwanda gorilla permits can be booked in two ways the first one is booking directly through the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) which is Rwanda’s tourism governing body. The body oversees all tourism activities in the country and thus, is in charge of issuing Rwanda gorilla permits. You can contact them via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling their offices (Phone: +252 57 65 14)
On the other hand, you can book your Rwanda gorilla permit through a trusted tour operator. Booking a gorilla permit through a tour operator in Rwanda is a safer option. There are several reputable tour operators in Rwanda that you can work with, feel free to look them up and investigate. Furthermore, it is strongly advised to book months ahead of your planned gorilla trekking date, as permits tend to sell out quickly. Volcanoes National Park is home to ten mountain gorilla groups, each of which can only have one group of eight visitors per day for one hour. More so, today, Rwanda receives a large number of visitors who come to see these mountain gorillas; hence, it is best to book early to ensure that you don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore these mysterious apes in their natural environment.
Following full confirmation of the gorilla permit booking, tourists’ passport information will be required at the RDB to print out the gorilla permits. Tourists are required to include their full name, passport number, and passport issuance country. Please keep in mind that one must be at least 15 years old to obtain a Rwanda gorilla trekking permit. Furthermore, Permits cannot be refunded or exchanged once purchased. Please avoid gorilla trekking if you have a cold, flu, or a contagious infection, as gorillas are susceptible to human infections, particularly respiratory infections.
Rwanda gorilla permits are expensive because 10% of each permit is channeled towards direct development in the communities surrounding the gorilla habitats; more revenue is poured into the community. And from this revenue community schools, hospitals, and income-generating projects have been established. In the process, after seeing the direct benefits of gorillas, local communities have also gladly engaged in protecting the park and the gorillas that they would have poached previously. Furthermore, the expensive Rwanda gorilla permit has increased revenue for gorilla conservation efforts and the park at large. Moreover, there is an ambitious project underway to expand the park’s boundaries; as conservation efforts pay off and gorilla populations increase, the park is thriving.
Cases, where one’s gorilla permit may be canceled, include illness. Should a visitor show any signs of illness, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) will refund 50% of their gorilla trekking fee. Any sick visitor who is deemed unfit by the Warden in Charge cannot be permitted to trek mountain gorillas.
Going gorilla trekking in Rwanda is possible all year. The best time to visit Rwanda is during the dry season, which runs from June to September and December to early March. Rwanda has a long dry season from Mid-May to September with temperatures reaching 29 degrees Celsius on some days, whereas March – Mid-May, and late September to November.
Overall, Rwanda has good weather all year, but the dry season is preferable for Rwanda gorilla trekking as well as wildlife viewing. For tourists interested in seeing mountain gorillas, this is the best time to visit because there is little chance of rain during the trek and good hiking terrain in the rainforest. But even during the drier months, we recommend wearing waterproof clothing because the Equatorial climate is unpredictable. Nevertheless, this is a peak season, so prices for things like lodging, car rental, and so on may be higher.
On the other hand, some visitors, who are particularly on a tight budget, would prefer to visit during the rainy season. The rainy season is the low Rwanda gorilla trekking season. Besides, hotels have low occupancy during this season and thus offer travelers discounted food and sleeping services, which is an added benefit. Furthermore, gorilla permits are in short supply, ensuring visitors a chance to see these endangered species with no competition.
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