Rwanda, also known as the “land of a thousand hills” prides in hosting over 1/4 of world’s total population of mountain gorillas – one of the highly coveted and endangered primates only found in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo.
In addition, Rwanda is home to other numerous population of wildlife in her 3 national parks, including endangered chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest national park, Savannah game and world’s largest natural park for hippos in Akagera national park, and so much more.
Rwanda is an extremely small nation perched in the heart of Africa where central Africa tropical forests meet with the East Africa’s Savannah. Rwanda’s tenacious effort to conservation and protection of wildlife, in particular mountain gorillas from the times of Dian Fossey has seen it grown to become one of the world’s most visited countries in Africa and realize immense economic growth.
In Rwanda, these endangered mountain gorillas can only be found in Volcanoes National park. This park boats up to 12 habituated families of mountain gorillas, open for trekking whole year round. Only 8 individuals are allowed to trek a given family on a daily basis, meaning up to 96 gorilla permits are issued out per day in Volcanoes national park.
A gorilla permit is a document / card that authorizes a person / tourist to track and meet a designated family of mountain gorillas in its natural habitat.
A gorilla permit is a mandatory document without which one can’t meet the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes national park or in any other destination that harbors these amazing apes. In Rwanda, gorilla permits are only issued by the Rwanda development Board and / or a trusted travel agent can help book it on your behalf upon 100% payment.
A gorilla permit in Rwanda still stands as the most expensive among all gorilla trekking destinations. At 1500$ per person per trek, Rwanda’s permit is way more costly than Uganda and D.R. Congo which are 600$ and 400$ respectively.
This increase came about since May 2017 when Rwanda doubled its gorilla permit costs from 750$ to 1500$ as a way of attracting luxury tourism and enhancing conservation. However, tourists who stay for three or more days visiting the gorillas, plus other 2 national parks are offered 30% discount, while visitors attending Conferences, meetings and events and also opt for gorilla trekking are eligible to 15% discount on each permit bought.
Only individuals aged 15 years and above are eligible to purchase a gorilla permit in Rwanda, and the time of trekking is highly restricted to only 1 hour. This one hour encounter offers trekkers an up-close meeting with the gentle giants in their natural habitat. In case of cancellation before the date of gorilla tracking, Rwanda development board refunds up to 50% of permit cost.
On the day of gorilla trekking, visitors gather at Volcanoes park headquarters for a pre-trek briefing where the park head ranger outlines the trekking Do’s and Don’ts’ as well as guidelines to follow while trekking mountain gorillas.
Due to the fact that mountain gorillas are highly endangered and restricted to only 3 countries in the world, it has become increasingly popular activity in Rwanda, and so gorilla permits are on high demand. It is therefore advisable to make a gorilla permit booking early in time to avoid disappointments during last minute booking. Usually Rwandan permits are highly demanded in peak season, during months of December – late February and June – October.
at 1500$ Rwanda set its bar high almost restricting gorilla permits to the up-market travelers only, but for budget conscious travelers Uganda presents affordable option at 600$ as well as 400$ for D. R. Congo gorilla permits.
With growing demand of Rwanda gorilla permits, the green season which constitutes months of April, May and November may be ideal because it’s not as competitive as the peak season.
Volcanoes national park is located in North – Western Rwanda in Musanze district. It is only a 2 hours’ drive from Kigali International Airport in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.