Wednesday, January 6, 2016

When is the Best time for gorilla trekking/ tracking in Rwanda and Uganda?

When is the best time to visit/ track or trek the gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda? Which months should one try to avoid, which months are the best for gorilla trekking?
rwanda uganda gorilla bwindi tracking trek tour
While tracking or trekking mountain gorillas can be done any time of the year in either countries where (mountain gorillas are found i.e Rwanda and Uganda), because of the relatively wetter/ rainy seasons in the mountain gorilla inhabited national parks, many tourists often prefer the months from June to September and then December, January and February.
In Rwanda, the first rains start coming in late February through March, April and May and so many tourists try to avoid these months for fear of getting muddy and all wet while tracking the gorillas. However, during these months, because of the rains there's plenty of gorilla food down slope and it's much colder on the upper slopes. So the mountain gorillas keep on the lower slopes where they find it warmer and get food easily. So if you track the gorillas during these months, most likely your trek won't be a long one - many trackers find the gorillas after 2 hours hike and by 2PM are back.
The same applies to Uganda although the rains there come in March, April and May. Of course the  Undeniably the rains (not always heavy though) make it rather harder to trek the steep terrains. Even then, the rain only comes for like 1-2 hours in like every 2-3 days and the sun comes out. We have noticed that even in the so-called drier months, the rain will often come in.

This seasonality of gorilla trackers can also be attributed to the weather seasons in the visitors’ home country and the nature of their jobs. When it summer for example in Europe, numbers of gorilla trek visitors increase and the gorilla trackers numbers dip when it’s winter.
However, there are other gorilla trekkers who often take advantage of the seasonal discounts on mountain gorilla tracking permits. Recently for example, the Uganda Wildlife Authority discounted the gorilla permits by 30% for non-resident foreigners. A gorilla permit in Uganda costs $350 for the months of  November 2015. The rest of time it is at 600$ . Several accommodation and lodging facilities in mountain gorilla inhabited areas will also make discounts on their rates during these same months.


Whatsoever the case and explanation may be, experience shows that mountain gorilla trekking can be done any time of the year and you will most likely get the same the same experience.
 
Mountain Gorilla Trekking Tour Packages in Rwanda and Uganda
3 days Uganda Gorilla tour
4 days Chimps and Gorilla Tour  -
3 day Gorilla tracking Rwanda with tour price
5 days Uganda Gorillas and Queen Elizabeth Wildlife Safari
5 days Gorillas trek Rwanda and Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda
 
5 days Rwanda, Uganda Gorillas
 
6 days gorilla tracking, wildlife safari
14 days Uganda Rwanda Safari
7 days Uganda Gorilla Safaris
9 days Gorillas, primates wildlife
8 days Uganda Gorilla Game safari

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Uganda Cuts Gorilla Trek Permit Prices to $350

Bwenge Family – A mountain gorilla group in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

13 Group (aka Agasha Group) Gorilla Family in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

Karisimbi Gorilla Family (Susa-B gorilla group) of Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Sabyinyo Gorilla Group–A mountain gorilla family from Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Amahoro Gorilla Group – A mountain gorilla family of Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Kwitonda Family–A mountain gorilla group in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Susa Group (Susa A Family) - Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Comparing Gorilla Trekking Tours In 2016 : Uganda Vs Rwanda – Compare prices, tracking experience, hardness,etc

Comparison of 2016 Gorilla Tracking in Uganda and Uganda – Which is the best place to do a gorilla trek – Uganda or Rwanda? Which is more viable or cheaper: Bwindi or Volcanoes National Park, Which is more easy to access, Is tracking Rwanda better than Uganda?
rwanda mountain gorillasCall it gorilla trekking or tracking or whatever, but it’s one of those really thrilling, lifetime experiences you should take time for before you leave planet earth. 
The exhilaration attached to the first setting eyes on a wild mountain gorilla is difficult to describe. Yet in the same sense, that magical one hour spent with the gorillas does not come cheaply considering that a permit goes for US$750 in Rwanda and $600 in Uganda – but it is unusual to find someone who regretted the financial outlay.
Mountain gorillas live in families similar to those of humans. Although the current mountain gorilla population is about 840, gorilla tracking can only be done on the habituated mountain gorilla families. 10 of the habituated families live in Rwanda’s Volcanoes NP, another 1 on in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable NP, 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and 1 in D.R.Congo’s Virunga NP.
A maximum of 8 persons can visit a given gorilla family per day.
All else being equal, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park has a slight edge over the rest because its gorillas are the most wholly habituated, and they are often found in bamboo than the dense forest which makes photographing easier.

The major challenge with tracking gorillas in Rwanda is certainly the price of the gorilla permit at US$750 compared to Uganda’s US$600 per permit. However, Rwanda’s pride is in the ability for one to do the gorilla trek even in one day and fly back home which is impossible for Uganda. Volcanoes National Park is located 116 km from Kigali and can be driven in just 2 hours. On the other hand, Bwindi is located 500 km from Kampala/ Entebbe Airport and a drive can take 8 hours plus. In that sense, you will spend at least 3 days for your gorilla trek tour – one travelling to Bwindi, another doing the gorilla trek, and the other driving back to Kampala/Entebbe. If a tour operator is making you a tour package, they shall definitely have to consider this cost and include it in your tour cost.
With the on coming of daily scheduled flights to Bwindi, operators now can have 3 days flying packages to  Bwindi.
In real practice though, the one-day gorilla trek tour is not recommended because of the pressure it exerts on the trekker. For those limited on time, we would suggest the 2-days gorillas package.
However, the long drive to Bwindi is quite enchanting with great sceneries all through like the Equator, Lake Mburo National Park ( for some Queen Elizabeth National Park with abundant wildlife), terraced mountains with flowing rivers, and a lot of rural Africa. This is not so really the case for the drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park.
You will certainly need spend more on transport and time to track the mountain gorillas in Uganda than it’s for Rwanda although this cost is compensated for by a cheaper gorilla permit.
Besides, some sections of the roads to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are not so comfortable to drive on yet in the case of Rwanda, you drive on smooth tarmac at least up to the Volcanoes National Park head office. Not to mention though, the roads leading from Volcanoes park office to the gorilla trek trail-heads can only be accessed with a raised 4x4 vehicle.
Comparison of The Gorilla Trekking ExperienceA tree climbing lion perched in a fig in Queen Elizabeth Natonal Park along the way to BwindiRwanda-SACOLA-traditional-dancers-perfom-before-gorilla-trackingIn general, the experience can only be different due to the way a particular gorilla family behaves in front of the trackers, how long and tough one has to track before reaching the gorillas and the way the park staff conduct the exercise. Personally, I found the Rwanda gorilla tracking package more charming that the Ugandan one on the tracking day. Should we say that this’ because of the gorilla permit price difference? Anyways, on your gorilla tracking day in Rwanda, you will definitely get more than that. At about 7:00 AM, tea/ coffee dispensers with cups are laid for visitors going for the trek. You are free to take as much as you wish. As visitors are enjoying the tea/ coffee, they are entertained by the lively traditional dance troupe (SACOLA Traditional Dancers) who bring on a wholesome Rwanda traditional cultural experience all visitors enjoy.

Of course you can get this in Uganda in evenings (at a fee) from the various traditional cultural groups that are near the park. However, the drive from Kampala to Bwindi is a very fabulous one traversing at least another national park (either Kibale or Queen Elizabeth National Park famous for tree climbing lions and many other big mammals, or Lake Mburo National Park) and not to miss- the Equator. In a way, even before you arrive Bwindi you have had a bit of the ‘Pearl of Africa’ as is fondly known. To many, driving along paved eucalyptus avenues to the gorillas in not the best deal. Indeed many to purchase tour packages combining both Rwanda and Uganda, first doing Gorillas in Rwanda and then crossing to Uganda to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park for the BIG 5 safaris and chimpanzee tracking among other tours.
Lets compare the tour costs in general.Because of the long drive one endures from Kampala to Bwindi, the general cost is increased (even when you travel by public buses). It even increases more because you have to travel 2 days (to and from Bwindi). However, the increased cost is countered by the low cost gorilla permit of US$600 ($450 in April and May, November 2016). A low budget 3 days gorilla trek tour in Uganda goes for about $1250 (with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport) for one person on tour. The two days Rwanda gorilla trek costs about $1220 ( with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport) and a three days Rwanda gorilla tracking tour costs is about $1280 (with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport) . Costs samples got from Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris website effective Jan 2015.
Other things in addition to the actual gorilla tracking
Lastly, if you are not travelling just to see the mountain gorilla, and you want to include other activities in your visit, Rwanda may not be the best choice. Many tourists have continually had to cross to Uganda after their Rwanda gorilla trek to tour other reserves like Queen Elizabeth National Parks so endowed with abundant wildlife one cannot see in Rwanda. This is why probably folks continue enduring the long drives to Bwindi yet there is an easy way out.
At the end of the day – the ultimate jury are those who are looking as to which country to visit in order to track Gorillas – it is not Rwanda, not Uganda, not the Democratic Republic of Congo but where their pockets and hearts choose. If you precisely want the mountain gorillas and nothing else, go for a one-day gorilla trek but if you are a one who wants it and all of it, go for the long drive – you won’t regret…

Have you been on a gorilla trek in Rwanda or Uganda? What was your experience? What have you had about tracking gorillas in Rwanda Vs Uganda? Let me hear you views.
Uganda Cuts Gorilla Trek Permit Prices to $350
Mountain Gorillas Aside, Why Does Earth need Bwindi so badly?
Bwindi Mountain gorilla with baby gorilla - Ugana
 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

How To Book 2016 Gorilla tracking/ Trek Permits in Uganda

Quick and Easy Procedure to Booking Mountain Gorilla Permits in Uganda Bwindi
Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi, Uganda
How to book 2016 gorilla tracking and trek permits for for your tour in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – Quick step illustration of how you can buy the gorilla permit for your trek this year
In Uganda, Gorilla tracking is done in either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, because of the unreliability of the mountain gorillas of Mgahinga, most of the gorilla permits sold are for Bwindi. Each gorilla permit costs US$600 in Uganda and $450 for the months of 2016 April, May and November.

On each particular day, up to about 96 persons can visit Bwindi gorillas, 8 persons per each gorilla family.

Gorilla Permits for both Bwindi can only be purchased from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA’s) headquarters in Kampala, either directly or through a tour agent.

Booking 2016 Gorilla Permits directly through UWA
To book your gorilla permit (from out of Uganda) you first have to contact UWA’s reservation office by email inquiring about availability of the dates you intend to track the gorillas. Note that you need to consider a full day of travel from Kampala to Bwindi after you have landed in Kampala.
If the exact dates you want are unavailable, you can request UWA to let you know of the nearest dates. You then reply to them expressing your intent to book those permits, and requesting them to temporarily hold them as you make payment. At this time, they will advise you of their banking details, so that you can proceed to make an electronic transfer of the money. Please remember to immediately send a copy of the transaction voucher/ receipt by email or fax to UWA.
The transfer should usually take not more than 3 days and UWA will keep your tentative booking for at least 7 days as they await the transfer to go through. Please ensure that you instruct you bank to deduct the bank charges from you. Otherwise is the money sent is less, your permit may not be booked.

Booking 2016 Gorilla Permits through a Tour and travel agent
Many intending gorilla trekkers have however found the above procedure tedious and have sought our quicker and less tedious ways of reserving their gorilla permits by working with local Uganda tour operator. The tour operators will usually charge a fee of US$25-$60 per gorilla permit. Gorillas and wildlife safaris will not charge you for buying gorilla permits if you are getting other tour services (like transfers and tours) through them but if you only would like us to help you acquire the gorilla permit alone, a maximum of $35 applies on each gorilla permit we book. 

The procedure is almost similar as above, except that the tour agencies tend to speed-up the process and most likely you will get you gorilla permit confirmation faster.

1. Contact us   and let us know of the dates you want to tour Uganda with the days you want to see the gorilla permits
2. We let you if the days you want for your gorilla tour are available for gorilla tracking and tentatively book them for you (but with no guarantee).
3. We send you our bank details for you to send the money for gorilla permits.
4. It takes about 16 hours for us to receive the money from your bank and pay for your permits. Please ensure you pay the bank charges when authorizing the transaction.
If you are not doing the gorilla tour booking with us and only need the gorilla permit, a fee of USD35 is charged per each permit we buy.  This is to cater for any costs like telephony, transport, etc we incur to get you the permit.
Payment by all credit cards is also accepted (and is often faster).

5. Send us your passport details to register your gorilla permits. Usually, we only need the Full names, passport number, and nationality.
Let us Help you book you Gorila Permit and Safari (no fees on permits) more >>
6. We register your names and get the gorilla permits.

You have to make own arrangements to receive your gorilla permit in Kampala or Entebbe at least a day before the gorilla tracking date. You can pick the permits from our office near Entebbe Airport or we can deliver to your place of stay in Entebbe or Kampala.

As soon as the payment has been received, the permits for gorilla tracking be purchased. Getting a gorilla permit is not a guarantee of seeing a gorilla. However, the chances of seeing them are 98%.
However, Uganda tour operators through their umbrella association (AUTO) almost buy up to 80% of the available tracking permits at up to 2 years out from the intended month of tracking. Each member may purchase up to 20 permits in any month. A deposit of 30% (US$75-) is payable on each permit booked with the balance needing to be paid 3 months (91 days) from the month of tracking by the first working day of the month Monday-Friday.
Individuals and non members of AUTO can purchase a maximum of 2 permits each in the month 3 months prior to the intended month of trekking when the booking opens on the first working Monday-Friday of the month. Permits not sold on the day the booking opens will be
sold on the following day with no limits put on the number of permits purchased by an individual or tour operator.
Related articles:
What to wear and take when trekking to see the gorillas?
Uganda Cuts Gorilla Trek Permit Prices to $450
Breaking News: Mountain Gorillas Population in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park shoots up to 400 (2011 Census Results Release)

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Important Travel Advice Important Travel Advice for Uganda Tours Budget Birding Tours UgandaUganda and Rwanda Travel News Budget Rwanda Gorilla Tours - A mountain Gorilla killing anotherOur Rwanda Gorilla Tours and Safaris
Budget Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris Uganda and Rwanda Gorilla ToursContact us by clicking on this link or our Logo and it will take you to the contact page.
Call us from overseas in Uganda 256-772-979-425. This is available all the time. For Pricing and itineraries, please use our contact page link just above.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Uganda 2016 April May Gorilla Trek Permit Prices Reduced to $450 (special promotion)

The Uganda Wildlife Authority has cut all gorilla tracking permits prices in Bwindi for the month of April and May 2016. For promotional gorilla tracking tour packages please visit www.gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com  and remember to ask for this discount to be passed on to you when booking your gorilla tour for April/May 2016..

The discounted prices apply to gorilla tracking permits for April and May 2016.
Prices for gorilla trek permits go as per the following tourist types:

Foreign Non-residents = $450
Foreign Residents to $350
Ugandans - 100000 UGX

Industry observers have see this move as an intention by to draw more tourists to the gorillas in the low season months to Uganda, more especially the Ugandans.

However, Rwanda has maintained the gorilla tracking permit price at $750 and there seems to be no hope of reviewing this price in the near future in consideration of the low tourist seasons. We have in the passed documented comparisons in gorilla trekking experiences and costs in Rwanda Vs Uganda.

Mountain gorillas are only found in DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda and the total number for this critically endangered species is estimated at 780. Almost half of these are believed to be in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the rest leaving in the Virungas (Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Congo’s Virunga National Park).

Because of the insecurity in parts of DR Congo, it is only safe to track mountain gorillas either in Rwanda Volcanoes National Park or Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Mgahinga’s gorillas are quite unreliable as they keep crossing borders, which makes tracking them uncertain. The experience offered by the three parks is broadly similar, so the biggest factor now determining where you go is either the cost or availability of the gorilla permit.
Only 8 persons can visit a given gorilla family per day. In Uganda, 12 families have been habituated in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP, nine of which are available for tracking and one is dedicated to research thus making the total permits available per day 96 gorilla families. Rwanda can only take 80 persons per day.

To claim you cut off the gorilla tour price please send an email to info@gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com or visit the website  (http://www.gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com) and ask for reduction in gorilla tour price to reflect this discount.

See you on trek!



Related articles:
Comparing Gorilla Trekking Tours : Uganda Vs Rwanda – Compare prices, experience, hardness,etc
My mountain gorilla tracking experience in Bwindi's Oruzogo gorilla family
How To Book Gorilla tracking & Trek Permits in Uganda and Rwanda
Mountain Gorillas Aside, Why Does Earth need Bwindi so badly?

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Monday, October 26, 2015

How to book/ buy a 2016 Gorilla Trek/ Tracking permit for Rwanda

Obtaining Rwanda Gorilla Permits for 2016

Booking your Gorilla Permits for Rwanda in a timely manner to have your visit with the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda
How and Where to get Gorilla Permits for 2016 for Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
wild gorilla tracking in RwandaIn Rwanda, Gorilla tracking is done in Volcanoes National Park (Parc Nationale du Volcanoes) and gorilla trek/ tracking permits booking is managed by the Rwanda Tourism Office (ORTPN). Each gorilla permit costs US$750 in Rwanda. On each particular day, about 56 persons can visit Rwanda gorillas, 8 persons per each gorilla family.
Gorilla permits are in high demand, because of the stiff competition for them, and therefore are booked with payment on the basis of first come first served. Book your gorilla permit in advance to avoid disappointment.
To track gorillas you must have the day’s gorilla permit which needs to be arranged and paid for in advance, preferably at least 6  months for the high seasons - June-September and December-February; or latest 1-2 months in advance for the low seasons - October-November and March-May.
In Rwanda Gorilla Permits can only be purchased from ORTPN , either directly or through a tour agent. Contact us for the latest status of availability, even for last-minute bookings.
Gorilla permits are booked with payment on the basis of first come first served. Availability of gorilla permits for a required date is not guaranteed. There is a lot of competition for the gorilla permits, which makes it hard to get one for yourself. Any delay in confirmation and/or payment may mean that you will be unable to obtain the permit on your preferred date. 
Once you book and send your money for permits, the date cannot change (changing a tracking date means a cancellation fee is charged). Rwanda (ORTPN) charges $100 for each permit date changed.
Booking Gorilla Permits directly through ORTPNgoing-gorilla-tracking-rwandaTo book your gorilla permit (from out of Rwanda) you first have to contact ORTPN’s reservation office by email inquiring about availability of the dates you intend to track the gorillas. If the exact dates you want are unavailable, you can request ORTPN to let you know of the nearest dates. You then reply to them expressing your intent to book those permits, and requesting them to temporarily hold them as you make payment. At this time, they will advise you of their banking details, so that you can proceed to make an electronic transfer of the money. Please remember to immediately send a copy of the transaction voucher/ receipt by email or fax to ORTPN. 
The transfer should usually take not more than 3 days and ORTPN will keep your tentative booking for at least 7 days as they await the transfer to go through. Please ensure that you instruct you bank to deduct the bank charges from you. Otherwise is the money sent is less, your permit may not be booked.

Booking Gorilla Permits through a Tour and travel agent
Many intending gorilla trekkers have however found the above procedure tedious and have sought our quicker and less tedious ways of reserving their gorilla permits by working with local Rwanda tour operator. The tour operators will usually charge a fee of US$25-$60 per gorilla permit. Gorillas and wildlife safaris will not charge you for buying gorilla permits if you are getting other tour services (like transfers and tours) through them.
The procedure is almost similar as above, except that the tour agencies tend to speed-up the process and most likely you will get you gorilla permit confirmation faster. 
1. Contact us   and let us know of the dates you want to tour Rwanda with the days you want to see the gorilla permits
2. We let you if the days you want for your gorilla tour are available for gorilla tracking and tentatively book them for you (but with no guarantee).
3. We send you our bank details for you to send the money for gorilla permits.
4. It takes about 16 hours for us to receive the money from your bank and pay for your permits. We shall send you acknowledgement for the money and the official Gorilla Permit (by scan and email). Please ensure you pay the bank charges when authorizing the transaction.
We do not charge any fee for gorilla permits buying/booking if you are booking the rest of the tour (or a part of it) with us. In case we do charge, this is to cater for any costs like telephony, transport, etc we incur to get you the permit.
5. Send us your passport details to register your gorilla permits. Usually, we only need the Full names, passport number, and nationality.
6. We register your names and get the gorilla permits. We send you scanned copies of your gorilla permit.
As soon as the payment has been received, the permits for gorilla tracking be purchased. Getting a gorilla permit is not a guarantee of seeing a gorilla. However, the chances of seeing them are 98%.
Permit Availability for 2016
If you are planning to go Gorilla Tracking in June, July, August, September, also December the time to book your permits and safari is now.
Everyone involved in Tourism wants you to enjoy your time in Rwanda and your visit with the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda, plan now and avoid the disappointment of no permit by waiting too long…from the Country of 1000 hills –  Rwanda…ivan
Trekking Tour Packages in Rwanda
Related articles that may be of help to you:
How To Book Gorilla tracking & Trek Permits in Uganda
Comparing Gorilla Trekking Tours : Uganda Vs Rwanda – Compare prices, experience, hardness,etc
When is the Best time for gorilla trekking/ tracking in Rwanda and Uganda?
How to do a 1-Day Rwanda mountain gorilla trekking tour ...
Uganda Cuts Gorilla Trek Permit Prices to $350 (April May and April)


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How tough is the Rwanda gorilla trek? Which is the hardest/ easiest, best gorilla group to track

Which is the toughest mountain gorilla group to track in Rwanda, which gorilla group is the most popular to track, easiest gorilla family to track, how many hours does the gorilla tracking take in Rwanda? Susa, Kwitonda, Sabinyo, Umahoro?
Which is the toughest mountain gorilla group to track in Rwanda, which gorilla group is the most popular to track, easiest gorilla family to track, how many hours does the gorilla tracking take in Rwanda? Susa, Kwitonda, Sabinyo, Umahoro? This is one of the most frequently asked questions about gorilla tracking in Rwanda. And it is also perhaps the most difficult to answer. So many variables are involved, and if they all conspire against you, you could be in for a genuinely exhausting outing (indeed on rare occasions, the guides have had to carry tourists down). On the other hand, if everything falls your favour, the excursion will be little more demanding than the proverbial stroll in the park.
The trek to see the gorillas has two distinct phases. The first is the hike from the closest car park to the forest and national park boundary, which usually takes 30-60 minutes depending on the speed of the party and the group they are visiting. The second is trek into the forest in search of the gorillas, which will usually have been located by the advance trackers by the time reach the forest edge.
The first part of the trek is predictable, and it is usually quite flat and undemanding unless you are going to the Susa (Susa-A), which involves a longer and steeper ascent. The second part is more difficult to predict, as it will depend on the exact location of the gorillas on the day, and on the steepness of the terrain en route. Other factors in determining how tough it will be include the density of the vegetation (bending, crawling through the jungle can be tiring especially if you have to dodge vicious nettles) and whether it has rained recently, in which case everything will be muddier and quite slippery underfoot.
At risk of stating the obvious, age and fitness levels are key factors in how difficult the hike will feel. Susa Group aside, moderately fit people under the age of 40 seldom feel any significant strain, but a high proportion of trackers are in their 50s or 60s, in which case the hike might be something tougher. As one trekker has previously commented in the Bradt Guide (Rwanda): ‘We think you underestimate how strenuous the gorilla trip is. We are both 61 but fit and well, bicycle to work each day , and still we had to take regular breaks due to problems with breathing’. That said, while many older travellers do find the track quite demanding, it is very unusual that they are so daunted as to turn back.
An important factor in how difficult the hike will be is which group you are allocated. As a rule, the hike to the Susa Group is the most demanding (but also most rewarding, with more than 40 gorillas on show), while the Sabinyo Group is the most reliably straightforward to reach. The hikes to Kwitonda, Hirwa and Group Thirteen are also usually quite undemanding, whereas the hikes to Amahoro Umubano Groups tend to be more difficult, but not as tough as the Susa Group.
Unfortunately, these things aren’t set in stone, and any group might be unusually demanding (or easy) to reach on a bad day. Furthermore, nobody can guarantee which group you will be allocated in advance. However the guides at Kinigi do make a conscious attempt to match individuals to the most suitable group, especially if they are asked to. Generally the party for the Susa (Susa-A) consists of the lean-looking under-30s, while the opposite holds true for Sabinyo party.
Two further factors are uneven underfoot conditions and high altitude. Most visitors to Africa live in towns and cities where roads and sidewalks are paved, and parks are serviced by neatly footpaths, so they are unused to walking on the more irregular and seasonally slippery surfaces typical of the ascent paths and forest floor. It will help enormously in this regard to wear strong waterproof shoes or hiking boots with a good tread and solid ankle support. Furthermore, if you think you might struggle in these conditions, there is a lot to be said for avoiding the rainy seasons, in particular March-May, when conditions can be dauntingly muddy.
Don’t underestimate the tiring effect of altitude. The trekking takes place at elevations of 2.500-3,000m above sea level, not high enough for altitude sickness to be a concern but sufficient to knock the breath out of anybody – no matter how fit – who has just flown in from a low altitude. For this reason, visitors who are spending a while in Rwanda might think seriously about leaving their gorilla tracking until they’ve been in the country a week or so, and are better acclimatised. Most of Rwanda lies above 1,500m, and much of the country is higher – a couple of days at Nyungwe, which lies above 2,000m, would be good preparation for the Virungas. Likewise if you are coming from elsewhere in Africa, try to plan your itinerary so that you spend your pre-Rwanda days at medium to high altitude: for example, were you flying in from Kenya, a few days in Nairobi (2,300m) or even the Maasai Mara (1,600m) would be far better preparation than time at the coast.
Guides will generally offer you a walking stick at the start of the hike, and, even if you normally shun such props, it is worth taking up the offer to help support you on those slippery mountain paths. If you have luggage, hire a porter too. Once on the trail, take it easy, and don’t be afraid to ask to stop for a few minutes whenever you feel tired. Drink plenty of water and carry some quick calories – biscuits and chocolate can both be bought at supermarkets in Ruhengeri. The good news is that most people who track gorillas find the hike to be far less demanding than they expect, and 99% of cases, whatever exhaustion you might feel on the way up will vanish with the adrenalin charge that follows the first sighting of the silverback gorilla!

Rwanda Gorilla Trek Tours