When to go gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking safaris can be done throughout the year. The hiking itself can be more arduous in the rainy seasons from April – May and in November, but at an altitude of 2000m and more, it can of course rain here at any time of the year. For more details, see Rwanda’s climate.
The most popular times for gorilla tracking are during the drier months, between December and February, and from about June to mid-September.
Permits for gorilla trekking
Inevitably, securing permits for trekking gorillas over these popular periods can be difficult at short notice, so you should plan well ahead. We will make all the arrangements for buying your permits.
A maximum of 96 gorilla tracking permits are available each day. As of 6th May 2017, the Rwandan Development Board has increased the costs of the gorilla permits from US$ 750 to US$ 1,500 per person, for a one-hour visit. The new prices aim to strengthen conservation efforts and support the development of local communities. Travellers who are also spending a minimum of three nights in either Nyungwe Forest National Park or Akagera National Park during the months of November to May are entitled to a 30% discount – reducing the costs to US$ 1,050 per person. Amongst other things, the permit pays for a 24-hour guard for each gorilla group (armed teams constantly track each habituated group – like royal bodyguards in the UK!).
How fit do I need to be to track gorillas?
You don’t have to be super-fit for a gorilla tracking safari but it does help if you have a general level of fitness, if only to enhance your overall enjoyment of the experience. Walking will be at a slow pace, with time for breaks if needed. Depending on which group you track, and the time of year you go (gorillas tend to move down the mountains in the rains), you might find yourself walking on some pretty steep slopes for several hours. On the other hand, you could reach your group after a 30-minute stroll. It’s best to prepare for the most active option however, and if nothing else, a few hill walks before you leave would be beneficial.