Few experiences are quite as transformative as witnessing critically endangered mountain gorillas up close. Did you know less than 1,000 of these gentle giants remain in the wild?
A trip to Rwanda means you could have the privilege of admiring these awe-inspiring creatures in their natural habitat, nurturing their young, foraging for food, and going about their daily ‘errands’. What’s an average day for the gorillas is guaranteed to be a life-changing experience for you.
Let GILTEDGE be your guide. Read on for everything you need to know about gorilla trekking – from organizing your permit to deciding where to stay.
What is gorilla trekking?
Gorilla trekking is a rare opportunity to step into the peaceful, emerald realms of Rwanda and come face to face with the endangered mountain gorillas. Your guide will help you hike through the dense forest, which often takes a few hours – but don’t worry, as you’ll have plenty of breaks to breathe, rest your legs, and enjoy some refreshments.
Luckily, due to their close monitoring and daily communication with either researchers or trekkers, guides possess a fairly accurate understanding of the whereabouts of various gorilla families. Consequently, your chances of encountering them stand at an impressive 99%.
When is the best time to go gorilla trekking?
The dry seasons are the best times to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda. The dry months, mid-December to February and June to September, provide relatively easier trekking conditions with fewer mosquitoes and clearer trails.
That said, the wet seasons have their own unique allure. The freshness of the rain-washed forests (and fewer crowds) during March to May and October to mid-December adds a vibrant hue to your experience – but beware: the hike will definitely be muddy and slippery.
Planning your gorilla trekking adventure: Obtaining a permit
Securing a gorilla trekking permit is your golden ticket to this unparalleled experience. Planning well in advance is essential as permits are limited to ensure the gorillas’ well-being and habitat conservation.
- When to Apply: It’s wise to apply for your permit at least six months in advance, especially if you plan to visit during the peak seasons of June to September and December to February.
- How Much: A permit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda costs approximately US$1,500 per person.
- How to Obtain: No need to worry about this if you choose to be our guest – Team GILTEDGE will handle the entire process on your behalf.
Preparing for the trek: Fitness levels and inclusivity
The idea of trekking through lush yet sometimes steep terrains may seem daunting. But worry not. While a reasonable fitness level is beneficial, the gorilla trekking experience has become more inclusive in recent years. Thanks to massive strides in this realm, various travel suppliers are now equipped to provide assistance to less able guests, ensuring everyone can enjoy this life-altering experience.
Where to stay
Where? Nestled amidst eucalyptus trees, the One&Only Gorilla’s Nest is a stone’s throw away from Volcanoes National Park.
Why we love it: Being the closest resort to the historical Volcanoes National Park, it offers unprecedented proximity to Rwanda’s iconic wildlife.
Accommodation: The resort houses an intimate ensemble of 21 lodges and suites, each designed as a romantic private treehouse perfect for reconnecting with nature.
Guaranteed highlight: One&Only Gorilla’s Nest’s tie-up with local communities ensures your visit has a broader positive impact, bridging the magical experience of wildlife engagement with meaningful community interaction.
Who it’s for: Ideal for solo adventurers, couples, or groups who care about community engagement and environmental consciousness. Here, you can tread lightly yet experience deeply.
Where? Volcanoes National Park.
Why we love it: The lodge is crafted by local artisans using elements such as hand-fired terracotta brickwork and woven ceilings, embodying local culture and the dramatic, natural setting.
Accommodation: Eight luxurious suites and a two-bedroom suite, all with private heated plunge pools, wellness treatment areas, and indoor and outdoor fireplaces. An exclusive-use four-bedroom villa, Kataza House (see below), provides a more expansive space for groups and larger families.
Guaranteed highlight: Life-changing gorilla trekking experiences are easily accessible, along with a unique farm-to-table food journey from the lodge’s on-site nursery and vegetable garden.
Who it’s for: Ideal for families (with various child-friendly activities) and couples seeking a romantic wilderness retreat.
Where? Volcanoes National Park.
Why we love it: It offers the same unique experiences and aesthetics as the broader Singita Kwitonda Lodge but with a more exclusive and private feel.
Accommodation: Housing up to eight guests in four spacious bedrooms, Kataza House extends an array of luxe comforts like indoor baths, heated pools, a cinema room, a fitness center, and an interactive kitchen, all tended by a full staff, including a private chef.
Guaranteed highlight: Traditional massages in the massage treatment room.
Who it’s for: Families, including multigenerational families. There’s a plethora of engaging activities to entertain the children, from cooking interactions and garden tours to stargazing and board games.
Where? Volcanoes National Park.
Why we love it: Since its inception in 2017, the lodge has garnered 34 awards, acting as a powerful testament to its commitment to both luxury and conservation. Its dedication to the local community and environment, from the sourcing of local ingredients to its reforestation initiative, exemplifies true responsible tourism.
Accommodation: The lodge has six elegant en-suite forest villas, each intricately designed to pay tribute to Rwandan royalty.
Guaranteed highlight: Bisate is celebrated for its unparalleled earth-to-plate culinary experience. With a menu heavily influenced by the lodge’s vegetable garden, guests are assured a meal that satisfies both the palate and the soul.
Who it’s for: Couples looking for an intimate, exclusive escape.
Ready to scope out the forest’s magnificent mountain gorillas for yourself in Rwanda or Uganda? Let GILTEDGE take you there. Be our guest – contact us for help planning this life-changing adventure.