ABOUT RWANDA GORILLAS
Rwanda Gorillas are found in Parc National des Volcans which is located in the Virunga and is joined with Mgahinga National Park and Virunga National Park. Gorilla Safaris have become a household name in Rwanda because of the Nature of vegetationand Terrain plus its proximity to the Airport. When visiting the Land of a Thousand Hills, one should not miss out on the magnificent opportunity to visit Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans (PNV) consisting of 125 Km2 of mountain forest and home to the six Virunga Volcanoes and the world famous mountain gorillas.
Protected within the PNV, the lushly forested slopes of the mountains form an appropriately dramatic natural setting for what is arguably the most poignant and memorable wildlife experience in the world: gorilla tracking. The exhilarating climb to the gorillas natural habitat of shady bamboo forest offers fantastic views in all directions, before the trackers are immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the rain forest, alive with the calls of colorful birds and the chattering of rare golden monkey.
Nothing can prepare one for the impact of encountering a fully-grown silver back gorilla, up to three times the size of an average man, yet remarkably peaceable and tolerant of human visitors.
Parc National des Volcans is managed and protected by the Rwandan Office for Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN). Access begins in the lively town of Musanze, situated at the base of the entrance of the park. Musanze has long been the base point for gorilla visits and entertains a stunning backdrop of Karisimbi, Bisoke, Mikeno, Sabyinyo, Mgahinga and Muhabura volcanoes.
Musanze is a 90-minute drive from Rwandas capital city, Kigali. One can get to Musanze from Kigali either by private vehicle or by public taxi minibus. If you intend to make a gorilla visit, you will need to organise your own transport from Musanze town to the park boundaries, where you will continue your trip on foot. Vehicles can be hired for this purpose in Musanze town. Musanze is also only a 45-minute drive away from Gisenyi and the stunning Lake Kivu.
The Kinigi Guest House on the foot of Mount Sabyinyo is now open. It offers very comfortable accommodation in cottages for two, four or eight people. It also offers a good restaurant and bar. Hotel Muhabura in Musanze town also offers comfortable accommodation in reasonably priced single and double rooms. The hotel also features a reasonable restaurant and bar and fax and telephone facilities.
Fees for mountain gorilla permits:
With effect from 1st June 2012, the fee for gorilla visits will cost US$1500 per person for non-nationals,
On the day of you are scheduled to trek, you must present yourself for briefing at the ORTPN offices situated at the prefecture offices in Musanze at 7:00 AM. ORTPN currently has a team of 80 trackers and anti-poachers, many of whom speak French or English.
For those are planning to do a gorilla tracking safari in Uganda, the following information would apply (as set out in the printed leaflet by the Uganda Wildlife Authority ‘Gorilla Rules’).
Before departing on your gorilla tracking:
- A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
On the way to the gorillas:
- Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
- DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
- You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
- When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.
When you are with the gorillas:
- A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
- You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
- Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
- Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
- Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
- Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
- The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
- After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.
General health rules:
Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:
- Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
- If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
- If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
- Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
- Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
- If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.
What to bring on your Gorilla Safari:
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
- Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
- Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
- Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
- Bring a photo of film camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.