Facts about Gorilla Trekking safaris in Rwanda-Rwanda safari news
Cameras always were pulled out to snap Elephants, Lions, leopards, Buffaloes, and Rhinos -the big five on each African safari but of recent the Gorilla is topping the bucket list. Mountain Gorillas are the only great apes facing population increase and survive in their natural habitat. Being so, the surest and only way of seeing the Mountain Gorilla is by undertaking a Gorilla trekking safari. Mountain Gorillas can only be found in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Congo, mountain gorillas are found in Virunga National Park.
What is Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking has no specific definition; however, it is a safari activity that involves hiking/climbing through a tropical forest to spend a single hour with mountain gorillas. Hiking or climbing known as so because Volcanoes National Park raises to an altitude ranging from 2,500m to 4,500m above sea level. Gorilla trekking is done every single day as a total of 8 tourists visit a single gorilla family of the 10 gorilla families in the park.
The activity starts at 8:00am local time with a 30 minutes briefing from the park rangers who tell you of the gorilla trekking do’s and don’ts. After then you head into the jungle along with an armed park ranger and other trekkers. The trekking time is unpredictable and can last about 2-6 hours. A single hour is counted as soon as you get close to the gorillas. Remember to use your Rwanda gorilla trekking safari hour properly by using your camera right and observing the amazing gorilla interaction. After having a glimpse at the gorillas at play and chunk food, you then return to the gorilla trek start point where you receive a gorilla trekking certificate then be transferred to your next destination by your Rwanda safari guide.
There’s nothing like the same gorilla trekking experience, every day can be a different story to different tourists. The same playful and amazing tourists today can be the moody one’s the next day, just go trekking expecting anything.
One would wonder whether its only a single hour for Rwanda with any other option, the answer is yes! Unfortunately, unlike the chance Uganda gorilla safari tourists have to go for gorilla habituation, all of Rwanda’s gorillas have been habituated and therefore you can only go for trekking/tracking.
Do’s and Don’ts of Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
For the well-being of tourists and gorillas, there a number of rules set for tourists to follow, here are some of them to note before heading for the trek;
Before the actual gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda, you need to purchase a permit is as early as 18 months in advance. Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda cost $1500 per person per trek. A Rwanda safari tour operator can help with the booking.
A maximum of eight tourists can visit each gorilla family per day for a maximum of one (1) hour. This is done to minimize behavioral disturbances among the gorillas and reduce on their habitat destruction.
Children under the age of fifteen (15) are not allowed to go for gorilla trekking. Permits are sold to only those above the age of 15.
There’s need for physical fitness to hike since the gorillas live in high altitudes of up to 1,500m-4000m above sea level, muddy and thick forested terrain. This height may cause difficulties for some visitors; however, you can pace yourself and drink plenty of water. Walking sticks are provided for each tourist. Tourists with heart and back problems are advised to see their doctors for recommendation of the activity.
Wear appropriate clothing which include long warm sleeves because of the low temperatures, hiking shoes, a hut, hand gloves and insect repellent.
During briefing, a gorilla family is allocated to each tourist. Trekking difficulty for each trek is impossible to state in advance, just be daring and fit. When being allocated a group to trek, try to choose a suitable trek.
Eating and drinking is prohibited in the jungle. This is done to reduce on the rate of droplets that could remain in the gorilla habitat and cause diseases, however, you may carry some snacks with you on the trek since the time spent on the trek is not predictable but keep in mind to be careful.
To reduce on the risk of disease spread, no litter should be left in the jungle. Carry with you each thing you come in with to the park, don’t drop anything external in to the park.
Mountain gorillas are so susceptible to human diseases and actually even just a common cold could kill a gorilla. This means that each client who heads for a gorilla safari Rwanda should be considerate of the gorillas and avoid getting to the gorillas when they have a cold. Even without a cold keep a distance from the gorillas.
When trekking the gorillas always remember to keep your voice low throughout the trek even with the excitement.
Avoid beating your chest while your close to the gorillas, this is done by the gorillas when they charge to an enemy therefore doing that to them could cause them to charge.
In case the gorillas charge, remember to follow the guides rules by crouching down slowly and not running from the gorilla. Do not look the gorilla directly in to the eye.
Do not touch any gorilla. They are still wild animals and should better be treated as so.
Flash photography is not allowed and therefore make sure to use cameras like film cameras of 400-800 ASA to take your Rwanda gorilla tour memory photographs.
Don’t miss the amazing experience, its not just about seeing the gorilla but the experience in the jungle with your new friends is an experience you can’t afford to miss.
By Amagoro Sharon