What to Anticipate on the Actual day of Gorilla trekking in Rwanda

Upon finalizing everything with your tour operator and now your gorilla permit is ready, you will pack all the necessary gear for your safari and head to Rwanda for your ultimate gorilla trekking experience. Your gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda will be memorable and here is What to anticipate on the actual day of gorilla trekking in Rwanda.

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You will carry your passport with you and head to the park headquarters at Kinigi the official time to be there would be 6:45 am for a briefing by park officials. At the headquarters, your gorilla permits will be crosschecked as well as your passports to verify that you are the right owner of the permit.

Trekking may take hours so we recommend that you be ready with your packed lunch since no one is certain about the time you will take to see these gorillas.

A cup of tea or coffee is offered as you enjoy the Rwandan coffee or cappuccino as you enjoy entertainment of the local traditional dancers, setting the tone for an exciting and demanding day. A ranger guide then provides you with advice on how to behave on this trip. After a quick briefing on safety measures and what to expect during the day, you will be grouped in groups of 8 people maximum and each group is assigned one gorilla family to trek. Rwanda has 10 gorilla families and thus 10 groups of 8 people each are the ones allowed to track on a particular day.

The age and level of fitness of the guests play a major role in the choice of group. For instance, the “easy to find” gorilla families—which rarely wander far from the trailheads—are assigned to individuals over 45 and those in lower physical condition. Even so,

individuals who have particular interests in a given group can let their guides know so that they can work with the rangers to negotiate before the groups are assigned.

It is important to understand that gorillas are and what may be regarded as easy to find may not necessarily be, as the animals may wander far as they search for food. Therefore, it is not a guarantee that they will be near or easy to find. Even those that are allocated to the families that are near, may not find them in the exact location anticipated.

Each group of trekkers is led by a main guide and two scouts who carry AK-47 guns, one walking in front and another behind the group. The reason for armed scouts is for protection in the forest, in case of any threat from wild animals. The scouts are trained to fire shots into the air first in order to scare away the animals but this is only done on rarest occasions when all other options like hiding away from such dangerous animals fail. There have not been any reports of any such incidences in Rwanda. The policy of the National Park is to be safe rather than sorry so your safety is at our most consciousness.

You will be joined by a pair of trackers that were sent out in the early morning (prior to your arrival in the park) to find the location of your specific gorilla family and to assess where they may be headed. Trackers usually communicate the gorilla’s movements and location to the guide so that he can decide on the best approach to meet the gorilla family.

Please try to inform your guide if you are unsure of your level of fitness so he can assist you in hiring a porter at the park entrance. A porter can be hired for $15 to $20, depending on the weight of the load