Congo Gorilla Trekking from Rwanda

One of the most unforgettable and ethical wildlife experiences you can have with primates in their natural habitat is to go gorilla trekking. With a World population of 1080 mountain gorillas living in the wild, there are only three countries where you can see these Giant Apes. Gorilla trekking can be done in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Native Africa Tours runs amazing gorilla safaris to experience the endangered Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitats. While Uganda and Rwanda are more popular than DRC, amazing gorilla tours are also possible in Virunga National Park, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

You can see the endangered mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park. This 7800-square-kilometer National Park is found on the Eastern side of the Democratic Republic of Congo. While trips can start from the nearest Airport- Goma International Airport, it is possible to undertake Congo Gorilla Trekking from Rwanda.

Situated in the Eastern Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga National Park is a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site. While it is not as popular as the other known mountain gorilla trekking destinations, it is surprisingly ecologically diverse and one of the oldest Protected Areas in the African Continent.

How is Congo Gorilla Trekking done?

Congo Gorilla Trekking tours from Rwanda start from Kigali International Airport/City where visitors first drive three hours to Gisenyi while taking in breathtaking views of the countryside. These trips introduce primate enthusiasts to one of the 8 habituated gorilla families in Virunga National Park. These families include Rugendo, Nyakamwe, Bageni, Humba, Kabirizi, Mapuwa, Munyanga, and Lulengo.

All Congo Gorilla Trekking adventures are done in the company of armed Virunga Park Rangers and experienced guides who are in charge of daily monitoring of these Giant Apes. Starting at 7:00 am with mandatory briefing and registration at Bukima Ranger Post, treks go through different areas of the forest for two to six hours each day. This time includes the one hour visitors spend with the Giant Apes as they effortlessly go about their day-to-day routines.

Congo Gorilla Trekking from Rwanda

How much is a gorilla trekking permit in Congo?

Although Congo Gorilla Trekking tours are the least popular, Gorilla permits in the Democratic Republic of Congo are surprisingly the cheapest. Permits cost only $450 per person for foreign visitors and $200 per person for Congolese residents.

Just like you can’t board a flight without an air ticket, you can’t visit any of the 8 habituated gorilla families in Virunga National Park without first purchasing a permit. Permits can be purchased from credible Tour Operators in Congo or even Rwanda and Uganda. Native Africa Tours organizes amazing Congo Gorilla trekking tours from Rwanda to experience these incredible primates. This makes it a must-do adventure for anyone who loves these endangered Giant Apes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

What are the chances of spotting mountain gorillas during Congo Gorilla trekking from Rwanda?

Just like gorilla treks in other National Parks, it is not always 100% guaranteed to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitats, for several reasons. The number one reason why finding mountain gorillas isn’t 100% guaranteed is because these are wild animals that are always moving freely in their natural habitat. They are not like the other gorillas you see in zoos that are confined to a small area. However, before visitors venture into the forest to search for habituated gorilla families, a team of trackers moves into the forest beforehand to ascertain the location of Giant Apes based on previous nights’ nests.

Trackers are very experienced and can follow mountain gorilla tracks to their most recent location, regardless of whether they move deep into the forest or not. These Giant Apes’ location can be determined by footprints, fecal matter, and previous nights’ nests. With our many years of experience in conducting Congo Gorilla Trekking tours from Rwanda, we can attest that there’s a 98% guarantee of getting into contact with habituated gorilla families in Virunga National Park.

When is the best time to go for Congo Gorilla Trekking from Rwanda?

Virunga National Park is surprisingly open all year round for Gorilla trekking adventures. However, the best time of the year to go Congo Gorilla Trekking from Rwanda with higher chances of attaining unforgettable experiences is the dry season. The reason why we say maximum experiences are enjoyed when trekking is done in the dry season is because there is less rainfall and milder temperatures in the Park. The dry season runs from June through September, then December through February. During these months, the forest trails are drier. More so, conditions are generally favorable hence making it easier to maneuver through the forest while searching for the Giant Apes. The majority of visitors prefer the dry season because of the favorable tracking conditions but there are disadvantages of tracking during the dry season which include crowding of forest trails, as well as higher gorilla safari costs.

However, more rain doesn’t mean gorilla trekking is impossible during the wet months. Surprisingly, you can visit any of the 8 habituated gorilla families at any time of the year. There are also several positive sides of tracking gorillas in the wet season which include shorter gorilla treks (as mountain gorillas remain on the lower slopes). Additionally, there are high chances of enjoying discounted prices. Especially on accommodation and also, there are no crowds along the trails hence you have the entire park to yourself. Thanks to the dense vegetation and skies being cleared of dust (from rain), the best photos are taken in the wet season.

However, be prepared to contend with muddy and slippery trails which make gorilla treks challenging. Also, the Park becomes extremely cold thus you will need extra layers to keep you warm at night and in the mornings while beginning treks.

Where to stay on a gorilla trekking safari in Congo?

Virunga National Park has few but outstanding accommodation options for travelers interested in undertaking Congo Gorilla Tours. These include the luxurious Mikeno Lodge. This brand-new gem is hidden in the Rumangabo jungle and is also a wonderful place for visiting interested in visiting the Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage. Thanks to its strategic location, visitors staying here not only get the chance to trek one of the habituated gorilla families but also climb the Nyiragongo Volcano. The Lodge has 12 private Bungalows that are incredibly designed with Lava Rock walls and thatched roofs. Each Bungalow features individual decks, a spacious en-route bathroom as well as a lounge area with a fireplace.

Other must-try accommodation facilities in/around Virunga National Park are Kibumba Tented Camp, Bukima Tented Camp, and Lulimbi Tented Camp in the heart of the Protected Area and shoreline of Ishasha River. Travelers can also stay at Tchengera Island Camp or Ngila Lodge.

How to get to Virunga National Park from Rwanda? 

Your Congo Gorilla Trekking safari from Rwanda will start by taking a flight to Kigali International Airport. This is the gateway into Rwanda. This is followed by the two-and-a-half to three-hour drive to Rubavu in the western Province of Rwanda. Continue to cross to Goma Town via the Grande Barrier border Post. From here,  you will continue for another one-and-a-half hour’s drive to the incredible Virunga National Park.

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