A visit to the Mountain gorillas of either Rwanda or Uganda is often the highlight of any trip to Africa and often enjoyed as a side-trip from Kenya or Tanzania. It’s certainly not cheap, at around NZD$1000 per day for a 4 day package, but if your budget allows, it may well be the experience you treasure the most. The most reliable places to witness these amazing creatures are either side of the Rwanda / Uganda border.
Gorillas have few natural predators, which makes the fact that there are only around 700 left all the more poignant. Victims of poaching, habitat destruction and civil war, the mountain gorillas’ fate is in the hands of the human race. As well as providing a moving experience for travellers, visiting them in their protected national parks aids conservation efforts.
Our clients are especially enjoying visiting Rwanda, not least because of the extreme friendliness and warm welcome afforded to visitors by the Rwandan people, and it’s lovely capital Kigali is well worth spending a day exploring as well. The mountain gorillas in Rwanda reside amid the steep bamboo thickets of Parc National des Volcans and those who’ve been often rate this heart-stopping encounter one of the world’s great wildlife experiences.
The gorilla families in Rwanda range in size from 9 to 26 individuals and the typically trek time ranges from 1 to 6 hours. Trekking group sizes are limited to just 8 people and time with your gorilla family is restricted to 1 hour. Trekking permits currently cost USD$750 and you do need to pay this (non-refundable) fee at the time of booking your tour, and also well in advance of travel to guarantee your permits, especially if you are travelling over Peak Season (June-Aug or Christmas).
Sit nearby and perhaps be approached by one of these beautiful, overwhelmingly familiar genetic relatives and you’ll witness protective, aloof silverbacks overseeing their family, placid but vigilant mothers tending their babies and playful, curious infants learning their new environment and family relationships. The communication between individuals is absolutely palpable and you’ll understand how the family operates in comparing to human equivalents. But to look at their face and actions in such close proximity is the real spine-tingler; never so strong is inter species empathy than between man and gorilla. So close is the connection, you only have to experience their personable nature to understand that our intrinsic link to these not-so-distant relatives is far from missing.