Across the world, it is only in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo where you can catch a glimpse of this rare species in their natural habitat. Mountain gorilla are listed as critically endangered and there are only around 1,000 that can be found in the wild. As a result, one of the most popular reasons to visit Rwanda is to see this wonderful creature in the thick bamboo vegetation of Virunga Volcanoes National Park.
This park features ten habituated gorilla groups. Trekking to find them takes from 30 minutes up to eight hours depending on the gorilla location, nature of the habitat, walking speed and other factors such as the weather. Once you have found the gorilla, you have one hour to spend with them in the wild.
The group will usually be scattered over a small area of thick vegetation, meaning they are happy to continue their activity and even feed with you present. Although they will be observing you as much as you are them, they tend to show little concern for your arrival.
There are 12 habituated groups – one of these will be allocated to you and your group. It is well worth booking two separate treks, one to get the unique photos for back home and one to simply soak up these magical moments.
Additional notes about the tour
The rainforest climate in the Virunga Volcanoes National Park is interchangeable so expect rain or sunshine on any day of the year. Please bring sturdy, waterproof, walking shoes/hiking boots preferably gaiters and a light raincoat. We recommend long trousers (thick) and a long-sleeved top to protect against stinging nettles. A pair of gardening gloves is helpful when you are grabbing for holds in thorny vegetation. If you feel safer with a walking stick, pack a folding one although the park does provide wooden ones. On the track, carry as little as possible in a waterproof bag: hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, etc. At 1,700 metres above sea level, it is generally quite cold, especially in the mornings and evenings. Warm clothing is recommended for these periods.
Health & Safety:
To minimise possible transmission of human diseases, maintain a distance of seven metres from the gorilla. If you are sick with a cold, flu or other contagious illness, please do not visit the gorilla. Photography is permitted, but the use of flash is not.