3 Must-Know Tips for Rwanda Gorilla Trekking


Have you been thinking about doing a Rwanda holiday, and found yourself looking up tips for Rwanda gorilla trekking?

Being in this planning stage is super exciting, so we’re glad to have you here. First, we want to say that gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you are planning a gorilla trekking in Rwanda, look no further! 

Making the most out of that experience does require some planning. As Rwanda tour specialists, we wanted to share the answers to three of the most common questions we get about Rwanda gorilla trekking:

  • What is mountain gorilla trekking like?
  • What should I pack for my mountain gorilla trek?
  • Are mountain gorilla permits essential?

There’s plenty more to get into, but today we’re starting with these three essential tips for Gorilla trekking tours to ensure that your trek is as successful and enjoyable as possible.

Gorilla Trekking Tip #1: What to expect on your Rwanda mountain gorilla trekking experience

Gorilla trekking is an exhilarating adventure involving hiking through the lush forests of Volcanoes National Park to interact with a family of endangered mountain gorillas in the wild. 

Before the adventure can begin, it’s important to get everyone briefed.

Before the mountain gorilla encounter

The briefing happens at Kinigi starting at 7:00 am and park ranger guides are assigned to each group consisting of 8 tourists. The normal trekking to see gorillas begins at 8:00 am and lasts for 2-6 hours depending on the nature of the park, the location of the gorilla family, and your speed of trekking. 

The gorilla trek is a bit challenging as it involves navigating via the thick undergrowth, slippery slopes/trails, and steep slopes. After all, the mountain gorilla families don’t just stick to the trails like we do! They go where the food is. That means that this adventure requires some level of fitness to be able to make the most of it. 

So, you’ve had your briefing, you’ve made it through the thick undergrowth, and there they are:

The mountain gorillas.

During your visit with the mountain gorillas

What now?

Upon meeting the mountain gorilla family, you’ll have one hour to enjoy a face-to-face encounter. You will watch these apes as they groom each other, feed, and play. When observing the mountain gorillas, a minimum distance of 7-10 meters must be always respected. 

For an incredible photo shoot, we recommend that you come with the best camera. It should have a decent telephoto lens for you to capture the best pictures with a nice depth-of-field. A wide aperture will let the light in, too, which is important because you will not be permitted to use the flash. 

During photography with gorillas, as before, always keep a safe distance of about 7-10 meters.

After your visit with the mountain gorillas

After the hour, your guides will lead you to the nearest trail for a slightly easier trek back to the park headquarters.

While it all seems pretty straightforward, you may be wondering if it’s 100% guaranteed that you’ll see mountain gorillas. You, like many other tourists, likely have high expectations. 

You’re in luck. A gorilla trek in Rwanda guarantees about a 95% chance of viewing these large apes in Volcanoes National Park. 

The remaining percentage caters for unavoidable factors including visitor fitness levels, elevation, nature of the habitat, location of gorilla groups, and others. 

Gorilla Trekking Tip #2: What you should pack for a gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda

When preparing for a gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda, it’s important to pack the right gear to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. 

That includes:

  • Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good grip are essential
  • Long trousers and long-sleeved shirts to protect against scratches and insects
  • A wide-brim hat and hardy gloves
  • A rain jacket or poncho, as well as a sweater for cooler temperatures. 
  • Plus, bring your valid passport and gorilla permit
  • A camera with a good lens and without flash
  • Insect repellent, sunscreen and sunglasses will also be useful. 
  • Snacks and enough water to keep you hydrated for a hike that could last around six hours
  • A comfortable and sturdy backpack to store it all

By following these guidelines and being properly prepared, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your gorilla trekking experience.

Gorilla Trekking Tip #3: Are gorilla permits essential?

For you to be part of the mountain gorilla trekking experience, you must have a valid gorilla permit. This is true in Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC.

In Rwanda, each gorilla permit is issued at USD 1500 per person. This costs covers key aspects like an experienced park guide, one hour of a magical encounter, park entry fees, and conservation efforts.

In addition to the permit, you will likely be working with an experienced Rwanda tour operator for the whole gorilla trekking experience, which includes other expenses like the cost of transportation, accommodation, and logistical support fees. 

Booking Your Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Experience

At Hope Tours Rwanda, we are happy to arrange your remarkable gorilla trekking safaris. This process includes securing gorilla permits on behalf of our clients, which should ideally be booked at least 4-6 months before the actual visit to see Rwanda gorillas.

If you are traveling sooner than that, we encourage you to get in touch with our Reservation Team to check gorilla permit availability as soon as possible.

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