Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Rwanda Mountain gorilla trekking a very popular safari activity in Rwanda which is the best wilderness activity filled with exciting fun and memories, mountain gorilla trekking offers an exceptional opportunity of meeting the huge fur covered mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are very huge primates and critically endangered species listed as endangered by IUCN by 2018, mountain gorillas live in forested high altitudes and they are able to live in colder temperatures because they fur-covered bodies.
Mountain gorillas have striking body features and they are identified by nose prints which are unique to each individual, mountain gorillas have huge bodies at the males have an average weight of 195 kg with a height of 150 cm and females have an average weight of 100 kilograms with a height of about 130 cm.
Mountain gorillas are meet on Rwanda mountain gorilla trekking experience which involves hiking through the mountainous and forested terrain to find them in their natural habitat, mountain gorilla trekking requires about 3-6 hours to find mountain gorillas and this experience only permits a group of 8 people on each trek to one gorilla family per day.
Mountain gorilla trekking Rwanda starts with a briefing early in the morning at the headquarters to the park and the whole experience takes about 3-6 hours, as per mountain gorilla trekking rules and regulations trekkers are allowed to stay in the presence of mountain gorillas for only 1 hour. Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda requires tourists to have a mountain gorilla trekking permit to engage in this experience, a mountain gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda currently costs 1500 US$.
Where to do mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done in volcanoes national park, volcanoes national park is a renowned mountain gorilla habitat and one of the only 4 protected areas inhabiting mountain gorillas in the world.
Volcanoes national park also known as Par National des Volcans in French and Pariki y’Igihugu y’Ibirunga in native Kinyarwanda, this park is located in the north-western province of Rwanda in Musanze district formerly known as Ruhengeri.
Volcanoes national park is one of the oldest parks in Africa and it borders Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga national park in Uganda, these 3 protected areas form the great Virunga conservation area (VCA).
Volcanoes national park stretches over an area of 160 square kilometers sitting on 5 volcanoes of 8 Virunga volcanoes, these volcanoes are Mount Bisoke, Mount Muhabura, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabyinyo. This park is dominated by rainforests and bamboo vegetation which are home to mountain gorillas, volcanoes national park was used as a base for zoologist Dian Fossey who carried research on mountain gorillas living in this park.
Virunga national park hosts over 300 mountain gorillas and mountain gorilla trekking are done in habituated gorilla groups of the park, these groups underwent through habituation process. Mountain gorilla habituation process is done by researchers and it is intended to make mountain gorillas less rebellious to the presence of tourists on mountain gorilla trekking experience.
Habituated Mountain gorilla groups trekked in Rwanda
Volcanoes national park
- Amahoro gorilla group
Amahoro gorilla group is a peaceful gorilla group found on the high altitudes of mount visoke, this group is made up of 18 members with 2 silverbacks, Amahoro gorilla group is under the leadership of a dominant silverback Ubumwe a calm silverback.
- Hirwa gorilla group
Hirwa gorilla group is one of the newly formed gorilla groups in volcanoes national park formed by members who emerged from Agashya “group 13” and Sabyinyo gorilla group in 2006, this gorilla group consists of 16 members including a set of twins.
- Sabyinyo gorilla group
Sabyinyo gorilla group is found on the slopes of Sabyinyo volcano from which it also gets its name, this group is one of the easiest gorilla group to find in volcanoes national park because of its closeness to the park’s headquarters. This family consists of 8 members and lead by powerful silverback Guhonda.
- Kwitonda gorilla group
Kwitonda gorilla group is a large gorilla group named from Kinyarwanda word meaning humble one, this group once lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo but settled permanently in volcanoes national park on the slopes of Muhabura volcano. Kwitonda gorilla group consists of 23 members including 4 silverbacks.
- Agashya gorilla group “Group 13”
Agashya gorilla group is formerly known as Group 13 a name it got from the 13 gorilla members who started this group during its habitation process, its name was later changed to Agashya after the then leader of the group Nyakarima was overthrown by silverback Agashya who is still the leader of the group. This group consists of 27 members.
- Umubano gorilla group
Umubano gorilla group is a peaceful gorilla group found on the slopes of Mount Visoke and is led by Silverback Charles a break away from Amahoro gorilla group, this group is named from a Kinyarwanda word meaning living together and it consists of 13 gorilla members with 2 silverbacks.
- Ugenda gorilla group
Ugenda gorilla group is a mobile gorilla group known for its mobile nature of roaming from place to place around the Karisimbi area, this gorilla group consists of 11 gorilla groups including 2 silverbacks.
- Susa gorilla group (Susa A)
Susa gorilla group is the largest mountain gorilla group in volcanoes national park and of the oldest gorilla families used by zoologist Dian Fossey in her research about mountain gorillas, Susa gorilla group initially consisted of 48 gorillas and due to conflicts some members broke away leaving the group with only 28 members, this group has 3 silvers and playful young twins Byishimo and Impano.
- Karisimbi “Susa B” gorilla group
Karisimbi gorilla group is a split gorilla group from the big Susa A living on the high altitude of Mount Karisimbi which makes it the hardest gorilla group to trek in Volcanoes national park, this gorilla group is named from Karisimbi Volcano and it comprises of 16 members.
- Bwenge gorilla group
Bwenge gorilla group is named from a Kinyarwanda word meaning wisdom, this group became famous after featuring in the Hollywood award-winning movie “Gorillas in the mist”. Bwenge gorilla group was formed by silverback Bwenge after breaking away from his birth group, this group comprises 11 gorillas and it is lead by dominant silverback Bwenge and it roams on the slopes between Karisimbi and Bisoke volcanoes.
Rwanda Gorilla trekking guidelines
Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda is governed by a set of rules and regulations, these rules and regulations were put in place for the safety of both the trekkers and the mountain gorillas.
- While in the presence of mountain gorillas, trekkers are to keep a distance of 7 meters.
- Trekkers with any sort of illness such as cold, flu, and contagious illness are not allowed to participate in the gorilla trekking because mountain gorillas can contract these diseases. When coughing, trekkers are advised to cover their mouths and turn away from mountain gorillas.
- Trekkers are allowed to stay one 1 hour in presence of mountain gorillas
- A maximum of 8 trekkers are allowed in each group while trekking
- While in the presence of mountain gorillas, trekkers are advised to keep their voices low and to avoid unnecessary noise.
- Unnecessary movements should be avoided in the presence of mountain gorillas
- Do not litter in the park, drop your wastes in designated sites
- Spitting in the park is strictly prohibited as it can be the medium of spreading diseases to mountain gorillas.
- Easting, smoking, and drinking in presence of mountain gorillas is greatly prohibited