Mountain Gorilla Trekking
It’s the most popular and the highly rewarding activity which is carried out at the forested hills of volcanoes national park. Volcanoes national park has an estimated total of 480 mountain Gorillas representing almost half of the world’s endangered species of the apes. In the park, ten (10) gorilla families have been habituated for tourism and research purposes. Hence (ten) 10 groups of eight (8) visitors each are the allowed to trek on a particular day. Gorilla Trekking activity through the forest begins with a quick briefing from the park rangers about the dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking, travellers are then divided in groups of 8 people maximum and each group is assigned or allocated one gorilla family to trek. Assigning of the groups highly depends on the fitness and age of the trekkers. For example, those above 45 years and the ones with less fitness are assigned gorilla families which do not wander far away from the trail heads. Hence there is need for those visitors with special interests about specific groups to inform their guides to help them negotiate with rangers before assigning the groups such that they may be assigned those specific groups too.
Being wild animals in their natural habitat, 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 may be near or easy to find. Even those which are allocated to the physically fit and energetic tourists and considered to be strenuous to trek, may be easily encountered within few hours of trek which makes the total experience interesting and un predictable.
Each gorilla tracking group consists of 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 and safety of the tourists in the forest against wild elephants or angry, wild gorillas. The scouts are trained to fire shot 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 have been done. mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park has never heard of any case where such animals attacked the tourists and the scouts had to fire bullets though on many occasions, they advise to hide or remain still until the animals go away. However the policy of the National Park is to be safe rather than sorry.
Tourist group will also have a pair of trekkers who are sent out early morning (prior to visitor’s arrival in the park) to find out the location of the specific gorilla family and to assess their movements. Trackers communicate the gorilla’s movements to the guide so that he can decide on the best approach to meet the gorilla family.
If you do not trust your fitness, please endeavor to let your guide know such that he may help you to hire a porter at the park gate. A porter is hired between $15 to $20 depending on what he is going to carry.
More Information about the Park
- Mountain Gorillas
- Birds in Volcanoes National Park
- Twin Lakes Burera & Ruhondo
- Mount Karisimbi
- Musanze Caves