Seeing the Gorillas in Rwanda is one of those lifetime experiences that should be in everybody’s tick box. The Virunga mountains, home to the mountain Gorillas, are spread over the corners of Rwanda, Uganda and Congo but, in our view, Rwanda is both the best and the safest place to base yourself.
Rwanda is a beautiful country in itself and seeing the gorillas playing in the forests of the Virungas really is the cherry on top
Gorilla trekking starts near Ruhengeri (Musanze) early in the morning. You will be briefed by your guide at the Volcanoes National Park HQ and then with your guide team, set on your way to start this magical expedition.
Your reward could be fairly immediate or require a few hours of hacking through the vegetation and climbing the hills to meet your prize.
Seeing the gorillas for the first time is almost overwhelming. The sheer size of the silverbacks, which can be three times man, is awesome. Yet their fluffy coats and brown eyes make them so cuddly. Watching the mothers guard their young or the youth fool around is such rich entertainment. All the groups vary in dynamic and your guide will try and match the experience you are after to the group he will seek to track.
To protect the magic of this experience, only 8 permits are issued per day for each of the habituated groups and that allows for a maximum of one hour with the gorillas. There are currently 18 gorilla groups, of which 8 are habituated. Places are therefore extremely limited, despite their high price tag (currently US$500 per person), and should be booked in advance of any proposed trip.
To make the journey worthwile, we recommend tracking the Golden Monkeys also residents in the Volcanoes National Park. The permits are significantly cheaper and adds an extra dimension to your trip to Ruhengeri.
Our favourite places to base yourself for this trip are Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge and Virunga Lodge if budget permits. If, however, you are looking for something more affordable Kinigi Guesthouse gives you a genuine Rwandan experience as well as supporting ASOFERWA.
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