Where to find mountain gorillas in Rwanda – support mountain gorillas
Where to find mountain gorillas in Rwanda? So many people ask if there are mountain gorillas in Rwanda and where they can meet them face to face. Well, the answer is yes, there are mountain gorillas in Rwanda and these can be found in the dense forests of volcanoes national park as well as slopes of some of the Virunga mountains namely- Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Gahinga, Mount Bisoke, and Mount Karisimbi.
Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda can be done at any time of the year and requires one have a valid trekking permit which costs $1500 in Rwanda Development Board. Trekking mountain gorillas is done by people aged 15 years and above, trekking starts with a briefing at the park headquarters after which grouping is done and a ranger guide leads the trekkers into the jungle to look for the endangered mountain gorillas in Africa. After hours of searching, trekkers will find the mountain gorillas and 1 hour is given to them to observe their behaviors and take photographs.
Areas with mountain gorillas in Rwanda
Mountain gorillas in Rwanda can be found in volcanoes national park located in the northeastern part of the country. Volcanoes national park is located on the borders of Mgahinga gorilla park in Uganda and Virunga national park in DR Congo. Most of the mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park live on the slopes of Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Gahinga, Mount Sabyinyo, and Mount Muhabura.
Yes Volcanoes national park is the only area where you can find mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Volcanoes national park is one of the oldest national parks in Rwanda having been gazette in 1925 mainly to conserve the endangered mountain gorillas. the park as of today covers a total area of 169 sq. km full of tropical rain forests. Volcanoes national park together we Mgahinga national park and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park of Uganda as well as Virunga national park of DR Congo are homes to the remaining population of mountain gorillas in the world. Mountain gorillas are endangered species of primates sharing 98% human DNA.
Volcanoes national park is not only home to mountain gorillas but also primates such as golden monkeys, mammals like duikers, forest elephants, spotted hyenas, bush pigs, buffaloes, giant forest hogs, bushbucks, and different bird species like the Rwenzori batis, collared Apalis, red-faced woodland warbler, handsome francolin, Rwenzori turaco and much more.
Volcanoes national park hosts 5 out 8 Virunga mountains and these are Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Bisoke. Volcanoes national park is bordered by Mgahinga national park in the North and Virunga national park in the East.
The most done activity in volcanoes national park is gorilla trekking and this is followed by golden monkey trekking that lives in the bamboo forests of the park. With over 160 different bird species, birding is another exciting activity done in Virunga national park. Other activities in Virunga national park include hiking, guided nature walks, Dian Fossey hike, and community tours.
Mountain gorilla trekking requires one to have a gorilla permit which can be bought through a trusted tour operator or direct from the Rwanda development board. Gorilla trekking in volcanoes national park Rwanda costs $1500. Mountain gorilla trekking in volcanoes national park starts with a briefing early in the morning at the park headquarters after which trekkers are grouped not exceeding 8 and a ranger guide leads them into the jungle. Following gorilla trekking rules and regulations, after locating mountain gorillas you are given a maximum of 1 hour to be around these gentle apes as you learn about their behaviors and take pictures.
During gorilla trekking, you have chances of meeting different primates and park animals such as duikers, bushbucks, spotted hyenas, bush pigs, forest elephants, buffaloes, giant forest hogs, and different bird species. You can as well find the grave of Dian Fossey an American primatologist who lived with mountain gorillas for most of her life. Dian Fossey’s grave yad is found on the slopes between Mountain Karisimbi and Mountain Bisoke where gorillas are buried and she is next to her favorite called digit. Dain Fossey played a big role in protecting mountain gorillas by teaching the local communities about the benefits of mountain gorillas, chasing away poachers, removing snares, and birding their houses. Unfortunately, Dain Fossey was found dead in one of her cabins on 26th December 1986.
Volcanoes national park is home to over 11 habituated mountain gorillas that are open for trekking at any time of the year meaning that there are 88 gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda on a daily basis. Gorilla families in Rwanda include Susa, Bwenge, Agashya, Karisimbi, Uganda. Hirwa, Umubano, Kwitonda, Sabyinyo, Titus, Amahoro,
How many gorilla permits are available in Rwanda?
Rwanda development board issues out 88 gorilla trekking permits on a single day the fact that the park has only 11 gorilla families that are open to trekking by tourists. If you are intending to book to visit volcanoes national park most especially in the dry season, you are advised to book your gorilla permit in advance of 3-4 months in order to avoid disappointments. A gorilla trekking permit to Rwanda can be booked directly from the Rwanda Development Board or through a trusted tour operator. The gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda is sold to people who have 15 years and above and a single permit is $1500 per person per day.
What is the process of gorilla trekking in Rwanda?
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda begins very early in the morning with a briefing at Kinigi park headquarters. The briefing is done to teach the trekkers about the rules and regulations of the activity, to check for the validity of permits, the age of trekkers, and to pay the trekkers into groups not exceeding 8. After all, this is done, range guides lead the trekkers into different trails of the park in search of mountain gorillas. After several hours of trekking, trekkers will finally locate mountain gorillas and they will be given a maximum of 1 hour to be around them as they learn about their behaviors and take pictures.
Gorilla trekking requires one to be physically fit in order to manage the activity because sometimes mountain gorillas move to higher elevations most especially in the dry season to look for food. For people with excess luggage, porters are available at the briefing center at a small fee to help you carry your luggage. The money you give to porters helps them to feed their families and also to take kids back to school.
Sustainable tourism on Rwandan side
Rwanda is doing very hard to protect her mountain gorillas and this is done in so many ways among which include protecting the forest where mountain gorillas stay, giving out 10% of the money from selling the permits back to the local people, and improving the infrastructure such as schools, roads, and hospitals. Most of the people living around the park have been directly employed as rangers, trackers, porters, guides, drivers, and cooks and this has helped them to have a better life. The mountain gorilla population has really increased because the people were taught the benefits of these gentle apes that’s why there are no or few cases of poaching and habitat destruction for mountain gorillas.
Karisoke research center
Karisoke research center was started by Dian Fossey way back in September 1967 to act as a research institute in volcanoes national park Rwanda. The center has helped so many researchers and other people to study more about the endangered mountain gorillas. Karisoke research center is located between Mountain Karisimbi and Mountain Bisoke near the graveyard of Dian Fossey and mountain gorillas. Karisoke comes from combining 2 mountains Karisismbi and Bisoke. When Dian fosse died, Karisoke research institute continued her work and from Dain Fossey gorilla fund international, the center was moved to a better place in Musanze. Karisoke research center was formed to teach people about the benefits of mountain gorillas at a time everyone believed they were getting to extinction. Karisoke research center has really helped in the increase in the population of mountain gorillas in Rwanda and this has been achieved by protecting and monitoring mountain gorillas.Kwita Izina ceremony
Kwita Izina ceremony happens every year in Rwanda and during this time they do baby gorilla naming. This ceremony started in 2005 and the days before the activity are fun with people showcasing different traditional dances, drama, and tales. During the gorilla naming, people discuss different ways on how to protect and conserve mountain gorillas as well as challenges the gorilla sector faces so as to see how to solve them. The last celebrations of baby-naming happened in September 2020 and over 24 mountain gorillas were named on the foothills of the Virunga Mountains in Kinigi, Musanze.
What is the best time to visit Volcanoes national park for mountain gorilla trekking Rwanda?
Volcanoes national park is open at any time of the year for all activities including gorilla trekking. The best time to visit volcanoes is the dry season which happens from June to September and December to February when there is little or no rainfall. It’s during the dry season that the vegetation in the park is thin giving clear views of the park animals, the roads leading to the parks are dry and trekking trails are less slippery or muddy due to little or no rainfall. Gorilla trekking can also be done in the rainy season but there is too much rainfall making the trekking trails slippery.
The fact that most of the tourists visit Rwanda in the dry season, you are advised to book your gorilla permit in advance of 3-4 months to avoid disappointments. The gorilla permits cost $1500 and can be got from the Rwanda development board or through any trusted tour operator.