Rwanda gorilla trekking – Gorilla Safari Rwanda 2020/21

Rwanda gorilla trekking, in Rwanda has become one of the thoughts of adventure to many travelers that visit Rwanda national parks. The park is situated in northwestern Rwanda, covering an area of 160sqkm of a rain forest and hold within five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga mountains such as; Karisimbi, mt. Bisoke, Mt Muhavura, Mt, Gahinga and mt. Sabinyo. Rwanda gorilla trekking is done at volcanoes national park. It’s a home to the mountain gorillas and also, golden monkeys can be sighted here. The park, boarders the Virunga national park in Congo and Mgahinga national in Uganda, its also famously known as a base for the primatologist Dian Fossey European tourist who died during the civil war trying to conserve the gorilla species.

Rwanda has 10 habituated gorilla families available for gorilla trekking experience. Gorilla trekking starts with a briefing from the ranger guides at the park headquarters where you join all the people in to the forest in search for the gorillas. After the briefing, you are allocated different gorilla families that you are able to track Some of the families are near the briefing area and other groups require driving a distance before the start of the hike. Regardless of the gorilla group allocated to you, there are always higher chances of sighting the gorillas in their habitat either feeding in the forest or playing around with their young ones. Volcanoes national park is managed by the Rwanda Tourism Board. Managing the national parks and Rwanda’s worlds heritage. You can access the park right from Musanze town situated just outside the parks entrance gate. Musanze is approx. 1 ½ hours’ drive from Kigali the capital city of Rwanda.

Access to the park as several options, one can access the park from Kigali to Musanze either by private vehicle or by a public taxi minibus from where you find boda-boda cyclist that will transfer you to the park gate and you continue your trip on foot, vehicles also can be hired  from Musanze town for your gorilla trekking activity. Musanze is only a 45-minute drive away from Gisenyi and the beautiful view of Lake Kivu.

Accommodation options around the park, there are several lodging facilities within the park’s premises, such as kinigi guest house situated just within the parks premises they offer specious accommodation facilities designed the rooms are designed in cottages from a standard double sleeping two, four or even eight people. With the number of professional staff to offer services to meet the interest of the visitors such as bar and restaurant serving both local and international dishes. Others include Hotel Muhavura located in Musanze town offers quality and affordable facilities to the visitors.

Rwanda Gorilla tracking permit fees

Gorilla permit Rwanda currently goes for $1500 per individual to track the gorillas in their natural habitat for a period of hour from the time you meet the gorillas. But the normal exercise can last for 30 min to half hours of the day depending on their current location from the previous day.

Gorilla permits can be bought directly online through the Rwanda tourism board or via any of the registered tour operators offering packages for Rwanda gorilla trekking. Travelers taking part in gorilla trekking. Are recommended to book their permits early 6 months in advance before their tracking date. The reason being that the permits are always on high demand and can be sold out quickly also remember that, only a maximum of 8 people are allowed to track one particular gorilla family each day meaning that, the Rwanda tourism board issues in total 80 gorilla permits each day for gorilla tracking.

Habituated gorilla families in volcanoes national park – Rwanda

Gorilla families in volcanoes national park, are unique and all are different from each other therefore you can get the difference of each family through the following factors. Location of the particular gorilla group, hardship during the trekking process, leadership roles, vegetation among others.

The Igisha group-Susa B

These groups comprise of 24 members headed by Igisah silver back, originally, the group originated from Susa B group, they broke off in 2014 and formed their own gorilla family that was later named after the male silver back Igisha the head of the family. This group is known to be the hardest to trek in the volcanoes national park so it requires an amount of physical fitness to trek in search for these gorillas.

Kurira Gorilla Family

The group currently comprise of 42 mountain gorillas, but initially, in the ginning, they where only 7 members in this group. The family later with time, grow big and expanded to 42 members which forced them to spilt in to two to make the Igisha family which is now known as ‘’Susa B’’. the group live sin the volcanoes national park headed by Kurira Alpha a male silver back gorilla. These group is the oldest and was created by Dian Fossey in 1974.

Amahoro gorilla group

Also found in the volcanoes national park, the group has 18 members and 2 silver backs, the group derived it name Amahoro from a local Kinyarwanda word to mean ‘’peace’’ .the group is known is known for its calmness and peaceful serenity that has caused the family bad luck to lose some of its members to the aggressive families. Amahoro resides on the slopes of mt Bisoke and its hard to track them it requires physical fitness to hike on top of the slopes.

Sabinyo family

Sabinyo group, is composed of 13 members and 2 silver backs, the was formed after the death of the dominant silver back who was fast the leader of the family, due to the cause of his death, some of the females left the group and joined other females of group eleven all together they became 4 females and 2 silverbacks that led to the formation of this group and later changed named to Sabinyo. This group usually roams around volcanoes national park and it’s the easiest to track.

Agashya family

This group is named after the initial family individual who were 13 at the time of habituation. The group was led by a silverback called Nyakarima later over thrown by Agashya meaning the ‘News’ which is now the leader and the family was named after him. Today the family has grown to 27 members including one silver back (Agashya). The group occupies the same territory with Sabinyo group but sometimes Agashya takes the family deeper into the mountain when it senses danger.

Kwitonda group

This group is named after the dominant silver back called kwitonda meaning ‘’humble one’’, the group migrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo and have inhabited the slower slopes of mt. Muhabura and its also hardest to track since some times they move to the upper slopes causing difficulty in hiking to search for the gorillas. The group comprises of 23 members with 4 silver backs.

Umubano group

This group initially has 13 members including 2 silver backs. The group was formed by a silver back called Charles, Charles broke off from the Amahoro family due to the constant fights between him and Ubumwe, Charles couldn’t bare this so he chose to live and formed Umubano family. but still live together in the same location with the Amahoro group.

Hirwa family

The family is composed of 16 members including 1 silver back. This is a newly formed group that originated from two different families that is group 13(Agashya) and Sabinyo family, the group derived its name from the local word to mean ‘’lucky one’’. the group in 2011 was blessed with twins. Hirwa family inhabits the slopes of mt. Sabinyo spreading up to mt. Gahinga.

Ugenda family

The group comprise of 11 members including two silver backs, Ugenda is a local word meaning ‘’mobile’’. The group derived its name due to its nature of moving from place to place, the group roams around mt. Bisoke and the hike is not difficult since they are easily located by the trekkers.

Bwenge family

The group is currently having 11 members including one silver back, the group derived its name Bwenge from the local word meaning ‘’Wisdom’’, Bwenge was formed in 2007 after he left his native group, and was joined some few female members from other families. The group is then named after the silver back Mwenge. They wonder around the slopes of mt. Bisoke and are not difficult to trek and its best recommended for trekkers who are not used to hiking long distances.

Titus family

Titus Family originated after the Silver back Titus which was born during the days of Dian Fossey’ research at Karisoke, this was the gorilla group Dian Fossey was studying. Titus the young gorilla lost his family to poachers including his father, uncle and brother and his mother and sister joined other families leaving Titus to be raised by a kind male gorilla that even wasn’t related to him. According to Dian Fossey Titus the infant seemed “underdeveloped and spindly” and had difficulty breathing, but Titus overcame these difficulties and emerged as one of the successful silvers back in the volcanoes national park. The group lives in slopes of mt Karisimbi.

Recommended age for Rwanda gorilla trekking

The minimum age required for gorilla trekking in the volcanoes national park in Rwanda is 15 years any person below this age, is considered a child and you cannot predict their reaction when they set eyes on the gorillas. A person above 15 years is believed to physically fit and has got some understanding so he/ she may handle the situation, in case the gorillas change their behavior.

But, there also instances under which a person below the age of 15 years may be allowed to track the gorillas.

When a person is about to celebrate his/her 15th birthday , or when the child expresses maturity and is physically fit is the child is accessed and has qualified he/ she will be allowed to track the gorillas, the other reason is if the parents of the child have shown interest and want their child to track the gorillas, they should be willing to track with the child .

There are rules and regulations for gorilla tracking imposed by the Rwanda tourism to all travelers taking park in gorilla trekking experience.

Before departing for gorilla trekking

  1. A maximum of 8 people per group to track one particular gorilla family per day to void behavioral disturbances to the gorillas as they may feel threatened and will be forced to attack you, also to avoid the high risk of exposure human diseases since the gorillas are vulnerable to human infection.
  2. Always wash your hands when heading in to the forest and when out of the forest

While in the forest, there other rules you must follow at all times in order to have the best day for your gorilla trekking safari and also to ensure your safety and the safety of the gorillas.

  1. Keep your voices low while in the forest so you may not disturb the animals, you will be able to sight birds and other wildlife in the forest.
  2. The guides will inform you when you are about to reach the gorillas
  3. Do not live rubbish in the park whatever you enter in to the forest with, must be brought back out when you are living the forest.

Finally, when you are with the gorillas

  1. Keep 7-meter feet away from the gorillas at all times the more you keep a distance, the relaxed the group and the gorillas will be.
  2. Stay in your groups when with the gorillas
  3. Keep you voices low while with the gorillas. However, its ok to ask the guide questions
  4. Do not touch the gorillas, they are wild animals
  5. Do not feed the animals
  6. Do not smoke, drink or eat when nearer the gorillas this cause food droppings leading to high risk diseases
  7. The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early. transmission
  8. Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
  9. After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General health rules

There other health rules to be followed since mountain gorillas are too vulnerable to human disease the following rules will help reduce the risk of exposure to the gorillas.

  1. Always stay 7 meters away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  2. Do not leave any rubbish such as food remains, papers in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  3. If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.
  4. Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  5. If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
  6. If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or germs.

What to carry for your Rwanda gorilla trekking safari?

  1. Carry along rain gear
  2. Insect repellent
  3. Recommended clothing – long trousers and long-sleeved sweaters or shirts while in the forest to avoid insect bites and plant which are contagious.
  4. Sturdy hiking boots are essential, especially ones you have used before.
  5. Drinking Water, however eating, drinking and smoking near the gorillas is strictly forbidden – your guide will communicate designated time and place.
  6. Photography is permitted, although you must not use flash
  7. Porters are available to help you carry your day-pack for a small charge.
  8. You will not be allowed to trek gorillas if you have communicable disease like flu or cough
  9. Mountain gorillas live at high altitude and this may cause difficulties in hiking up for some visitors. You should pace yourself, walk slowly, drink plenty of water and prepare adequately for this experience. Kagera safaris will purchase your gorilla trekking permits for you in advance for proper planning.

Other activities to do at the volcanoes national park- Rwanda

Besides gorilla trekking, there other several activities for the travelers to engage in while on their gorilla trekking safari in volcanoes national park in Rwanda. These activities include;

The park has several attractions ranging from flora and fauna, wildlife, bird species and a lot more and thus have enabled a lot of activities around the volcanoes national park. The park is located in north western part of Rwanda covering an area of 160sqkm covered by the tropical rain forest which is a home to a variety of wild game. The park extends up to the boarders of the Virunga national park in Congo, with in the Virunga, there are over five volcanoes which include Karisimbi, Bisoke, Gahinga, Sabinyo, Muhabura all together forming the Virunga conservation area.

While at volcanoes national park, you are able to do a lot of activities that will give you the best of your safari tour to Rwanda. The activities include;

Gorilla trekking

Volcanoes national park is famously known to be harboring the highest number of the gorillas and this has turned out to be one of the popular activities in the volcanoes national park. Mountain gorilla trekking is the highly recommended adventure activity by many visitors who visit the national parks in Africa.

Gorilla trekking is more exciting, adventurous and comes with a lot of fun has you get to meet and interact with these huge giants in their natural habitat. For any traveler taking part in this activity, is required to have a valid document that allows him/ her to trek the gorilla.

This documents / gorilla permits are issued by Rwanda Development Board a body governing the national parks in Rwanda, the gorilla permit goes $1500 per person to trek gorillas for one hour while in Uganda it’s at a fee of $600 per permit and its per person trekking for one hour with the gorilla in their natural habitat from the time you meet the gorillas and this activity is a legible to persons above the age of 15 year.

On the same spot, you can also go for gorilla habituation experience, this is a lot more exciting as you get to spend a lot more time with the gorilla for a period of four hours from the time you encounter them. The gorilla habituation permit is $1500 per permit including the guides and park entry fees and these requirements are the same as gorilla trekking, only the time spent with the gorillas differs.

We at adventure in the wild safaris, we offer all the tour packages for gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience, contact us and we will be able to respond to you and give you much more detailed information.

Golden monkey tracking

Volcanoes national park harbors a larger number of primate species where by tourists have an opportunity to study and research much more on golden monkeys but it’s not much popular than the mountain gorilla trekking. Golden monkey trekking starts early with a short briefing at Kinigi head office about the dos and the don’ts of the primates then you set off in search for the monkeys along the swamps and the forests during the walk in the forest, you may also have an opportunity to sight other  animal species, birds and a lot of butterflies in the forest and along the swamps  since monkey move a lot in search for food. The golden monkey tracking fees goes for $100 per person trekking.

Bird watching activity

Volcanoes national park offers an I deal spot for bird watching activities, the park harbors several bird species some of which are so unique in nature that may not be spotted anywhere. These species are spotted around the rainforest, some hide along the canopy and this is best done during early morning as you may have an opportunity to view the rift valley endemic species of birds. Volcanoes national park in Rwanda is best suitable for birders with a lot of bird species to see there.


Hiking is much more interesting although mountain gorilla trekking is the most popular activity, but you can also do hiking and volcano climbing in the park. With steep mountain slopes almost reaching the skies with clear views will offer you an opportunity to view the all of volcanoes national park at one angle. You will do a hike on any of the mountains listed below;

Mt Bisoke

Mt.  Bisoke hike is one of the most exciting activities in volcanoes national park in Rwanda. The hike to the volcano can take roughly 6 hours climbing to the top and 2 hours descending to the bottom of the mountain and it would be much easier for experienced hikers as they get to spend lesser time hiking to the top. With clear views of the crater lake on the top of the mountain.

To hike mt. Bisoke, the permit goes for $75 per permit to hike to the top of the mountains.

Mt. Karisimbi

Mt. karisimbi is one of the highest among all of the 8 Virunga volcanoes and its shared between Rwanda, Uganda and democratic republic of Congo. The mountain is dormant with the height of 4,507 meters making it the 11th highest among the mountains of Africa. The mountain boarders he Albertine rift and east African rift in the west, mikeno to the north, mt. Bisoke to the east and Nyiragongo to the west all together forming the Virunga conservation area. This is one of the highest tourist destinations in Rwanda and mostly taking park in hiking activities around the park.

The mountain top is covered by snow mostly in the dry seasons of June- August thus the name karisimbi from the word ‘amasimbi’ derived from the local language to mean snow. The permit to hike mt. karisimbi goes for $400 per permit.

Gahinga hike

Mt. Gahinga with the height of 3,474m is one of the most preferred destination for many hikers that engage in hiking activities in volcanoes national park.  To get to the top of the mountain, it takes about six hours to get and to descend to the you hike, you will come across the creator lakes, swamps with lobelia and also during the hike, you may have an opportunity to sport some primates like the golden monkeys under the thick bamboo forests and climbing on top of the trees, this is so interesting and much more interesting to look at them.

Nature walks

Nature walks in volcanoes national park is mostly done on foot led by arranger guide to different locations during this activity, you will be able to sight and have clear views of different attractions at a close range.

There are several attractions to be explored on foot ranging from the vegetation, the tropical rain forest, with a lot of forest activities like birding, as you will have unforgettable experience of being in the wilderness. Not only that, the park also offers communities through the communities with in the parks boundaries.

Guided walk to Iby’lwacu cultural village

This is a great experience as you get to interact with the locals in the community. You will learn about the Rwandan culture, also see a lot of cultural dances and music, art and craft, cultural ritual ceremonies, homestead structures and many more as you may also wish to join the dance or any other activity. This is whole a lot of experience when you visit Rwanda and have a safari tour to the volcanoes national park.

Note that the fee paid for this activity helps in the development of the communities around in delivery of services which intern improves on people’s standards of living thus bringing about development in African countries.

Visit to the Musanze Cave

Musanze cave is situated in the middle of the volcanoes national park at the north western

Rwanda. Musanze caves has become one of the most tourist destinations. A Rwanda safari without a visit to the Musanze caves, is not a complete safari package so for any gorilla safari to Rwanda, have a visit to the musanze caves to sum up your safari you won’t regret the time spent there it comes with a lot of exciting and so adventurous and fun. The musanze cave was introduced in to tourism market in 2013 by Rwanda Development Board to diversify tourism products.

Dian Fossey Trail

While visiting volcanoes national park in Rwanda for the renowned gorilla trekking, you may also opt for the hike to the Dian Fossey Trail one of the most exciting activities to top up your gorilla trekking safari to volcanoes national park. The trek takes about 30 min drive from the park headquarters down to the trails where you will find the Karisoke research camp and from the research Centre to the Dian Fosse grave takes about one and half hours walk with much rewarding sceneries to view like the forest hogs, animals like elephants and primate animals with a variety of bird species with all this attractions , you will have the best of your Rwanda safari.

Lakes Burera and Ruhondo

These lakes harbor a lot of water animals like the Buffalos, Crocodile, water bucks and many other animals drinking water along the lake shores. They are mostly viewed during the boat cruise on the lakes down to the island where you will enjoy the cool breath-taking atmosphere around your shoulders as you cruise downstream.  Not only that you will also have an opportunity to view a lot bird species along the lake shores including Baglafecht Weaver, Great White Pelican, Yellow-billed Stork, Yellow-backed (Black-headed) Weavers, Grosbeak Weaver, Common Moorhens, the Red-rumped, Pied Kingfisher, Grey Heron and the African Spoonbill and many more.

Gorilla trekking Rwanda is one of the highly valued activities in Rwanda national parks. This information is a complete guide to help you when planning your safari to Rwanda for the famous Gorilla trekking and other attractions like what primates to see, the nature of the climate, when to visit, the prices and the accommodation facilities to stay while on your Gorilla trekking safari.

 In east Africa, Gorilla trekking is mostly done in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, these are the only countries in the world where you can find the mountain gorillas and in Rwanda basically, you can locate the gorillas in volcanoes National Park.

Volcanoes national park is one of Rwanda’s best national park with all Rwanda gorilla safaris covering the highest percentage of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Conservation area.

The park is located in a strategic place making it easy to be located by the tourists visiting the park, the drive time from Kigali international airport is approximately 2 hours’ drive to volcanoes national park, which makes the park one of the easily accessible gorilla national park in the world and best for carrying out the activities in the national park, not only does the park harbor gorillas, Volcanoes National park is a home for other primates like golden monkeys, a variety of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects among other creatures with all this attractions, this gives you a full complete package for Rwanda gorilla safari and many other activities offered at the park.

The volcanoes national park, comprises of 12 mountain gorilla habituated groups/families ready for gorilla tracking with different gorilla groups including Igisha, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Amahoro, Agashya, Kwitonda, Umubano, Hirwa, Bwenge, Ugyenda and Muhoza and Susa being one best gorilla family with over 41 gorilla species ready for tracking.

During the actual day for the gorilla trekking, you are divided in to groups of 8 people to track different gorilla families. Your encounter with the Gorillas is one of the exciting and unforgettable experience of your life time as you get to study their way of life and behaviors this is so interesting the guide will be there to answer all your questions.

For Rwanda gorilla permits, the permit goes for US $1500 per person, per permit in order to trek the gorillas in the volcanoes national park. And how to acquire the permits, you can contact us at adventure in the wild safari if you have come up with the final dates so will check for the availability of the permits for that particular day and secure it for you.

What to expect during the gorilla trekking?

Gorilla trekking takes approximately three quarters of the day, so clients are always advised to find accommodation nearer to the park since in most cases the activity starts early morning. You will wake up at 7:00am and head to the parks headquarters and start your trekking safari with briefing on rules/precautions of the Gorillas during your encounter with this huge Apes later with you will head to the forest with the guide/ ranger and the members of your group for the start of your Gorilla trekking .

The activity may last for 30min or more before you locate particular gorilla family so it requires you to be physically fit at all times putting in mind that they are called mountain gorillas and are not static in one particular place but move a lot so an element of hiking is involved during the search for the Gorillas.

Cost of Gorilla Trek in Rwanda

The cost of the gorilla trek differs according to different gorilla trekking companies taking part in this activity, the costs ranges from cheap and luxury safari options and how its being charged depends on the different charges for accommodation, transport costs, different seasons like in high seasons the prices raise and the lower seasons. The prices drop so the charge differs also both local and international companies charge differently.

Recommended Safaris to track the gorillas in rwanda

There are several tour options to track the gorillas in Rwanda including the 3 days Rwanda gorilla trekking safari, the 4 days Rwanda gorilla trekking safari, the 7 days Rwanda safari and many others