For those who have ever watched the 1988 film “Gorillas in the Mist” you realize that watching it alone doesn’t help and the best is for you to hit the jungles of Rwanda to search for these rare creatures. Mountain gorillas thrive in only Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and they remain not more than 1004 individuals. To get the best of magical encounters with these dramatic creatures while on Rwanda safari, a number of tips need to put into considerations. They include
1. Get a gorilla permit early enough
To trek to see a group of mountain gorillas in Rwanda, you need a gorilla permit. It is a gorilla permit that allows you to trek one habituated gorilla family in Volcanoes National Park. You can obtain your permit through a ground tour operator or reservationist at Rwanda Development Board (RDB). To obtain one, you need $1500 and interested visitors are always advised to book for their permits early enough at least 3 months or even year before the actual trek.
2. Always be prepared for any kind of weather
Volcanoes National Park mainly features tropical rainforest and given the kind of habitat where these creatures live, you have to expect it to rain at any time of the day. This means the ground can become muddy, slippery and you will need good waterproof hiking boots, rain jacket or poncho,
3. Have food/energy giving snacks and water
Please, note most national parks don’t have shops like it is a case with urban areas. This means that you have pack all that you need and that will last your stay at the park. You can have some dried fruits, nuts or trail mix to help you boost energy so that you make a complete hike. As well, don’t forget to have adequate drinking water.
4. Visit during the dry season
While gorilla trekking is regarded as an all year round adventure on the other hand the dry season is regarded as the most ideal time to track gorillas. This season is characterized by low rainfall and the gorilla habitat remains relatively drier making it easier for one to hike through the thick rainforest and steep slopes while in search for these beautiful creatures. The dry season always starts from June to September and then December to February.
5. Respect gorillas
During briefing, one of the most important safety measures you have to take note is maintaining a distance of about 8 meters at all times away from gorillas. Note, humans are more like intruders in these creatures’ habitat and this means that they deserve total respect and maximum relaxing environment.
6. Be realistic about your physical fitness
Gorilla trekking is a strenuous adventure and for visitors on Rwanda safari, you need to be physically well to be able to hike through the dense rainforest and steep slopes. These creatures thrive between altitude of 1500 and 3000 meters and this requires some physical wellness. Treks can last you about 4 to 8 hours depending on your physical fitness level, nature of habitat and location of gorillas.
7. Conduct research
Spending some time on internet isn’t bad but just for your own benefit. Therefore, do conduct some research on which gorilla family to trek in Rwanda. Remember each gorilla family rewards travel endeavors with unique experiences and history. Some of them can be strenuous to hike while others are easy to hike.
8. Hire porter to help carry your heavy luggage
In case you have heavy luggage, don’t stress yourself the fact that you will be heading off for a strenuous adventure. There are porters for hire at the park headquarters to help you carry the luggage then you can only concentrate on you thrilling adventure. Porters can be hired at $10 and $15 depending on how heavy your luggage is.
9. Observe the set rules and regulations
There are many set measures that you have to follow while on gorilla trek. They will be briefed to you before you hit the jungles to search for your gorilla family. They include-only 8 visitors are allowed to track 1 habituated family, a distance of 8 meters should be maintained at all times away from gorilla, keep your voices low but do ask as many questions as possible, no flashlight is allowed when taking photos, only persons above 15 years are allowed to take part in this lovely adventure among others that will be briefed to you at the park headquarters.
10. Use Your Hour with the Gorillas Well
During the gorilla trek, you have up to one hour to be in the company of the mountain gorillas. You should use this hour well. Take enough photographs that you can keep for your memorable visit. Also use this time to ask any questions about you would like to know about the great apes and their habitat.