Rwanda, one of the smallest countries in Africa, has made a reputation of itself as one of the biggest tourism destinations on the continent. Rwanda is located in East Africa and is equally neighbored by naturally endowed countries i.e., D.R Congo, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania.
Rwanda lies in the southern hemisphere, within the tropics and therefore experiences a climate that is influential in the sustenance of both fauna and flora. The north western parts of the country are highly forested with both tropical rainforests and afro-montane vegetation. The region also has a chain of highlands which reaffirm why Rwanda is known as the ‘land of a thousand hills. The chain of highlands is majorly dominated by the Virunga volcanoes which are spread through the area, with some overlapping to Uganda and D.R Congo.
Rwanda has 5 of those mountains and each one of the Volcanoes has distinctions in its outlook. The common characteristic is the fertile volcanic soils that are a reason for the green vegetation in this region. It’s of no wonder, that the mountain gorillas, have settled and lived in the region for hundreds of years. These primate species are endangered which have incidentally become priority conservation species for not only Rwanda, but globally. Rwanda has generally showed its commitment to the efforts through gazetting the area in which mountain gorillas live as a national park i.e., Volcanoes National Park.
It’s the central location of over 10 mountain gorilla families in Rwanda. Mountain gorillas in this park live in family units which have great similarities with human beings. Mountain gorillas attain their name from their accustomed inhabitation of highland regions. Volcanoes National Park is open to tourism, centered around mountain gorillas with two primary activities i.e., mountain gorilla trekking and habituation experiences.
Gorilla trekking takes a mode of hiking in the wilderness to trace mountain gorillas and visitors get an opportunity of being around them for about 1 hour. To be able to trek Rwanda gorillas however, the visitor must have a gorilla trekking permit.
Process of booking a gorilla permit in Rwanda.
Firstly, tourists need to be aware of the peak season. The peak season happens in the first dry season of Rwanda i.e., June to September, and because of the perfect weather conditions during that time, most people desire to take their trips during that season.
As a consequence, mountain gorilla permit bookings are at their highest. This leads people who book late being pushed to undesirable months that may not create the desired memorable experiences. Tourists are therefore advised to contact their tour operators for more information and recommendations on the most appropriate trekking times, plus also to secure a mountain gorilla trekking permit as early as possible to avoid last minute disappointments.
In Rwanda, gorilla trekking permits are purchased from Rwanda Development Board or directly from a licensed local tour operator. To avoid the hectic movements and stress during the booking process, people are advised to consider booking through tour operators.
Cost of mountain gorilla permits in Rwanda compared to Uganda and D.R Congo.
Rwanda’s mountain gorilla permits cost 1,500$ each. Uganda’s 700$ – foreign nationals, 600$ – foreign residents and 250,000/= UGX for East Africa nationals. D.R Congo – 400$ for each tourist.
The difference in costs for these gorilla permits can be attributed to the general status quo, politically and otherwise in each country. For Rwanda, a resolve was made to make the price of gorilla permits uniform and to such unique price since Rwanda is now aiming at achieving a world class luxury mountain gorilla trekking experience for visitors. It has for a few years now been on that course and the statistics seem to be in agreement with the country’s aim.
When to visit Rwanda for mountain gorilla trekking?
The dry seasons within tropical Africa present the best times. Late June to early October as the first period and December to February as the final travel season. These seasons give off the best experience since they create good visibility in the wilderness, less / no chances of rainfall and good conditions that facilitate easy mobility within Volcanoes National Park during gorilla trekking.
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