Rwanda Gorilla Trekking 101: An Essential Definitive Guide

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking 101: The Essential Definitive Guide to gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is the ultimate wildlife experience. That feeling of excitement during the trek, then, as you came into a clearing and see the gorillas your heart starts thumping! After a few minutes you relax and sit with the gorillas watching them play and eat for an hour – magical!

It has been almost thirteen million years since our shared ancestors were active in Africa’s woodlands. Time stands still in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park when you’re in the company of a family of mountain gorillas. Their fingers and eyes are very similar to ours. Their body language and facial expressions are eerily similar. An hour spent trekking with gorillas is unlike any other because of the overwhelming sense of camaraderie you’ll feel and the excitement of venturing into their ethereal, verdant habitat on foot.

Rwanda has been more popular as a place to go wildlife watching in the past several years. Surprisingly, this little East African nation has a wide variety of environments, from lakes and woods to grasslands that are rich in species.

Tourists visit Rwanda primarily to see its mountain gorillas, but the country’s dedication to conservation is what truly sets it apart. In addition to funding wildlife veterinary services, research, and reforestation, Rwanda encourages environmental action on a national level through initiatives like the umuganda scheme, which mandates that all Rwandans spend three hours cleaning up their community on the last Saturday of every month, and the ban on single-use plastic. Rwanda takes the important step of making sure that rural populations reap the benefits of positive impact travel firsthand.

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking

Mountain gorillas are the largest ape on Earth, and Rwanda is one of only three nations where you can view them. The population has increased by a remarkable 25% in only eight years, thanks to rigorous conservation efforts; the 2018 census reports that the total population is currently over 1,000. Mountain gorillas call the volcanic Virunga Mountains home. These mountains also serve as a natural boundary between Rwanda, the DRC, and Uganda. Volcanoes National Park safeguards these mountain ecosystems.

Meeting Wild Gorillas in African Rainforest!

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park

Mountain gorillas are found in very small populations in the highland rainforests of Rwanda and Uganda, with the two most popular locations for tracking them being Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The specifics of each trek will vary depending on the whereabouts of the gorillas on any given day, as well as the climate and topography of the respective parks. Both parks have limited footpaths, steep terrain, and the possibility of rain at any moment. However, whereas Bwindi is typically very tropical and thick with tangled vegetation, Volcanoes is typically a bit cooler, and there are more open areas to hike and observe wildlife more easily.

The famous American primatologist Dian Fossey and her hardworking team of park rangers have an unbreakable connection with Volcanoes National Park in the northwest of Rwanda. Compared to Bwindi, it has a smaller population of gorilla families, the exact number of which can change due to group dynamics. As of right now, ten families have made the slow but steady adjustment to tourism; park rangers must first earn the trust of the locals before they can safely approach them at a reasonable distance.

Every family has a dominant male and a mix of subordinate silverbacks (older men), blackbacks (younger men), females, and babies (usually between ten and twenty in number). At the moment, there are 38 members in the largest group, Susa.

You might not see any environmentalists on your walk, but you can help the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund—which collaborates with the Gorilla Doctors—a group of wildlife veterinarians who treat sick or wounded gorillas when necessary—by donating to their cause.

Planning Your Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Adventure

A tourist permit, valid for a specified date, is required by the Rwanda Development Board for anyone planning to follow mountain gorillas in Rwanda. There is a minimum age of 15 years and a maximum fee of $1500 for international tourists. Rwanda limits the number of permits issued daily to 96 due to the fact that there are 10 gorilla families that are now open for visitors. During the trip planning process, The Bespoke African Safari Co. will take care of these details for you.

You can go mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda year-round, but the best time is when it’s dry and the trails are less muddy. June–September and mid-December–early February are Rwanda’s two dry seasons. Although it’s not assured, you can request a specific group of gorillas to see, since certain families reside in more accessible regions than others and since seeing young gorillas is so entertaining.

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tours

Tours and safaris in Rwanda almost always include a gorilla hike in the famed Volcanoes National Park, but many also include stops in neighboring Uganda due to the nations’ close geographical and ecological connections. Why not combine a Rwanda gorilla trekking with a visit to the Masai Mara, the Serengeti, or perhaps the Spice Island of Zanzibar? We have a variety of safaris and tours that include Rwanda that are sure to please. – Browser our Rwanda gorilla trekking example trips and get in contact to start planning your very own adventure

Gorillas in Rwanda

Masai Mara, Gorillas & Cape Town
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16 Days Masai Mara Gorillas and Cape Town Safari itinerary to match your routing preferences, pick an accommodation of your choice or choose from a whole host.

Odzala-Kokoua National Park Lowland Gorillas

A Silverback Gorilla Safari
Days 4 | Nights: 3
This 4 Days Silverback Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda. Trek through the Volcanoes National Park in search of the rare Silverback Mountain Gorilla and Golden Monkey.

Rwanda Gorilla Trek

A Rwanda Gorilla Trek
Days: 4 | Nights: 3
4 Days Gorilla Trek Rwanda offers an Experience of Africa’s mountain gorillas on an adventure through Rwanda. Visit Rwanda, home to some of Africa’s last remaining mountain gorillas.

Rwanda Gorilla Tracking

Rwanda, Botswana And Mozambique
Days: 18 | Nights: 17
Flying Safari in Rwanda Botswana and Mozambique (Gorillas & Wildlife). Experience mountain gorilla safari, big game safaris, and island adventures in the ultimate Flying Safari.

Discover the Victoria Falls and its Many Attractions

Rwanda And Zambia Safari
Days: 14 | Nights: 13
14 Days Luxury Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda and Zambia Safari. Experience walking safari in Zambia and gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Visit Victoria Falls & Volcanoes National Park.

Golden Monkey Tracking

Gorillas And Golden Monkey Trekking
Days: 5 | Nights: 4
5 Days in Rwanda Best for Mountain Gorilla Trekking & Golden Monkey Tracking. Mountain gorilla trekking is the ultimate primate experience in the African jungle.

Serengeti Pioneer Camp

Gorillas And Tanzania Safari
Days: 15 | Nights: 14
The 15 Days East Africa Safari Package combines Rwanda and Tanzania. This Ultimate East Africa Safari see you visit four wildlife meccas in Rwanda and Tanzania.

Rwanda gorilla forest babies

Exclusive Rwanda Safari
Days: 6 | Nights: 5
6 Days Rwanda Safari takes you deep into gorilla country — Volcanoes National Park, which is home to gorillas! There are few better opportunities to discover Rwanda’s nature.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest National Park

Rwanda And Tanzania Safari
Days: 10 | Nights: 9

10 Days Rwanda and Tanzania Safari combines tracking mountain gorillas in Volcanoes, Rwanda, Chimpanzee trekking in Rubondo Island National Park, and Serengeti.

A Tanzania Honeymoon Safari

Tarangire, Serengeti And Volcanoes
Days: 13 | Nights: 12
This Luxury 13 Days Honeymoon Tanzania and Rwanda Safari has all the ingredients required to create a Romantic Safari masterpiece.

Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Kenya

Uganda, Rwanda And Kenya Safari
Days: 13 | Nights: 12
This 13 Days journey through Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya the Wild dreams come true. Enter the realm of the endangered mountain gorillas.

Congo Gorilla Trekking

Lowland And Mountain Gorilla Trek
Days: 8 | Nights: 7
8 Days Congo and Rwanda Safari Trip includes Trekking Lowland Gorillas in the Congo’s jungles before moving on to Rwanda to pursue their larger cousins, mountain gorillas.

gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park

Uganda And Rwanda Safari
Days: 14 | Nights: 13
14 Days Uganda Rwanda Safari offers Primates tracking and Wildlife tours. Uganda and Rwanda are blessed with incredible primates including gorillas.

Zanzibar Safari

Rwanda, Tanzania And Zanzibar Safari
Days: 12 | Nights: 11
12 Days Rwanda Tanzania Zanzibar Safari Package offers Gorilla Trekking, a Tanzania Safari, and a beach holiday in Zanzibar.

Wild Dogs in Mana Pools National Park

Rwanda And Zimbabwe Safari
Days: 12 | Nights: 11
12 Days Rwanda Zimbabwe Safari combines Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, Wild Dogs, and Victoria Falls Falls in Zimbabwe.

Peregrine Adventures Madagascar Lemur Family babies

Rwanda And Madagascar Safari
Days: 12 | Nights: 11
12 Days Rwanda Madagascar Safari combines Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and Lemurs and beaches in Madagascar. Rwanda & Madagascar Primate Safari offers to track the largest primate.


Rwanda, Kenya And Seychelles Safari
Days: 12 | Nights: 11
12 Days Rwanda Kenya Seychelles Safari for Gorilla, Big Game, and Beach safari. Track Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda before heading to the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Gorilla Tracking Adventure in Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking Experience
Days: 8 | Nights: 7

The Unforgettable 8 Days Uganda Rwanda Safari Adventure of a Lifetime. This Uganda Rwanda Safari offers Double Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda.

Gorilla trekking For Elderly, Seniors and The Disabled

Even if you use a wheelchair, you can still fulfill your lifelong ambition of visiting wild mountain gorillas. You can book a specialized tour that includes skilled porters who will transport you in a throne chair or stretcher while they transport your wheelchair independently. You might not be in the most comfortable state on the long trek to see the gorillas (which can take several hours depending on their current location), but the reward will be well worth it.

How fit do I need to be for a gorilla trek in Rwanda

Seeing gorillas in Rwanda requires a certain level of physical fitness; after all, those creatures are known as mountain gorillas. For the gorillas, the ideal habitat is the temperate bamboo and evergreen forests found in the Virunga Mountains, which are home to six active and three dormant volcanoes.

The length of your walk could range from one to eight hours, depending on the gorilla family you’re assigned to. Plus, there are spots where the ground is uneven, muddy, and sometimes slippery. It is advised to use walking poles. If you have any questions or concerns, it’s important to talk to your tour operator and guides thoroughly.

hiking with gorillas isn’t the same as hiking in Nepal, but it’s still not easy. Rwanda, on the other hand, has hiking paths that are less steep and more open, making it seem like a bit of an easier walk than Uganda. In the weeks preceding your trip, we recommend getting in shape by going hill walking for a few days.

Gorillas in Rwanda charging

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda (Unforgettable)

Kwita Izina: The Gorilla Naming Ceremony

Protecting mountain gorillas has been a remarkable achievement. Despite being in risk of extinction and having a modest reproductive rate, their population is actually growing, making them unique among great apes.

Kwita Izina is an annual event in Rwanda that celebrates this by naming the newborns from the previous year. The purpose of the celebration is to engage both the local and international communities in the conservation of these animals. At an outdoor showground next to Volcanoes National Park, there will be a joyous celebration. Activists, entrepreneurs, footballers, and other prominent guests are invited to godparent each newborn during the event, which also features traditional music and dancing, as well as speeches. While the gorillas themselves are absent, their natural habitat takes center stage.

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations

The reliability of sightings depends on elements including weather, however trekking will still go ahead as planned no matter the weather. There are a number of regulations and guidelines that Rwanda gorilla trekking must adhere to in order to protect mountain gorilla habitat and keep humans at a distance.

Limiting viewing times to one hour and limiting the number of tourists to eight each hiking party helps keep the 14 habituated mountain gorilla families from being overly stressed.

The minimum age to trek is 15, which helps to reduce the risk to the gorillas’ health because younger youngsters are more likely to get infections. Regrettably, we will not let any guest to participate and will refund their permit if they display symptoms of a cold, flu, or respiratory ailment. Wearing a facemask is also mandatory for all visitors while they are near the gorillas. It is absolutely forbidden to smoke or spit in the Park.

Visitors with conditions that prohibit taxing physical activity are urged to consult a doctor or physician prior to trekking and produce a certificate of health, as trekking can be occasionally strenuous (depending on the terrain). Visitors with restricted mobility can rent stretchers for $200 USD.

Rwanda’s 2023 Kwita Izina Baby Gorilla Naming Ceremony

Rwanda Gorilla family

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking: Briefing

Your trip begins with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call, followed by a 6 a.m. meeting at the main lodge for a light continental breakfast and some freshly brewed Rwandan coffee. In case any help is required with equipment, the lodge staff will be ready to respond.

You will be picked up from the lodge (Singita Kwitonda Lodge/Kataza House.) and driven the ten minutes to Volcanoes National Park, where the trekking headquarters are located, by 6:45 in the morning. Upon arrival, you’ll have the opportunity to sip on some coffee as your Driver Guide arranges for you to see other gorilla families. The guide will choose the best family for your group based on their needs, but there are no promises.

After that, visitors will get a thorough briefing from their tour group and the Volcanoes National Park Guide. The trailheads for the several gorilla families will be designated at 8 a.m., and the duration of the drive will range from fifteen minutes to an hour. It is highly advised that travelers make use of the porter service, which is available at the trailhead and will help with carrying bags and crossing difficult terrain. Paying the porters in cash is essential; a minimum of $10 + is necessary.

How long will we trek for

It takes anywhere from thirty minutes to three to four hours to reach the gorilla family, and trips reach a height of 2,500 to four thousand meters. Your landscape will change from rolling farmland to dense forest as you approach the park boundaries. The fact that you might be placed with a nomadic family adds another layer of difficulty to your journey.

You will have an hour to relax and watch these incredible creatures after you find the gorilla family you’re looking for. Personal trackers will be there to lend a help and direct your interactions; they will also be the ones to go ahead of you up the mountain in search of your families. You will reunite with your porter, have lunch, and have some time to reflect before descending after the allotted time has passed.

Anytime between noon and five o’clock in the afternoon is possible for your return to the lodge. Enjoy some refreshments upon arrival, and then spend the rest of the day at your leisure. Take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding landscape as you relax in your private heated pool, indulge in an in-room treatment, or reflect in your room with a view of Mount Sabyinyo in the distance and the fireplace lit. We advise against scheduling a hike on the day of departure due to the unpredictability of the time and the fact that the experience is best enjoyed at one’s own pace.

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda | Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park

Rwanda Mountain Gorilla trek

Gorilla Safari Rwanda

Ready to Start Planning Your Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Adventure?

Chat to someone who’s been there. Get in touch with one of our Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safari Experts to help tailor-make the trip that’s right for you.

Gorillas are critically endangered and trekking is carefully regulated in Rwanda gorilla park. Permits are both costly and difficult to secure and cannot be held on a provisional basis. Travelling to such remote destinations and ensuring the best chances for a successful Rwanda gorilla trek requires the kind of direct experience and local knowledge that you get from an Africa Safari Expert. Get in touch with someone who’s been there:

“It’s never too soon to get in touch, we are always eager to help out!”