In Rwanda, these primates can be seen in the Volcanoes National Park, Parc Nationale Des Volcans, as of now, there are 7 mountain gorilla groups habituated making it 56 gorilla permits for visitors to Rwanda available every single day. 8 people per group can trek these endangered apes. Susa group is the best adventurous to track with over 41 members of gorillas! With a gorilla permit costing US $ 1500 per person per trek, part of your contribution goes to conserving these mountain gorillas.
You have to wake up early morning, meaning that you must find accommodation closer to the park entrance. Your African gorilla guide will be briefing you at 7 am about safety precautions as well as the etiquette. There are over 80 gorilla tracking guides provided by the Rwanda Development Board, well trained and speaking English and French.
Together with other members of the group, you proceed to the forest and start the hike which may be tiring depending on your physical strength. Remember they are called mountain gorillas so an element of hiking is a must and please make sure you are fit to enjoy this gorilla trekking safari. The adventure takes anything from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. The English-speaking forest guides are amazingly good, and will lead you to the specific ‘habituated’ mountain gorilla group, which certainly will be acquitted to human presence.
Normally the gorilla group will be scattered over a small area of thick vegetation. They will carry on with their interactions and even feed without any concern of their human visitors although they will be observing you with interest. Rarely one, normally a playful youngster, will boldly approach you with inquisitiveness, at times coming really close that you will need to move away. (You are not allowed to move less than 7 meters close to them; this is to safe guard the gorillas from contagious human diseases.)
Rwanda gorillas are divided into 2; those for study or research purposes which are strictly accessed by scientists plus researchers only. Among these are Beetsme and Pablo’s Shida’s which have the highest number of gorillas. There are also ten habituated gorilla families that are for tourism purposes, so these are available for trekkers to visit. At most 8 people may visit each of the gorilla groups every day and you may spend at most one hour. Among these gorilla groups are the: Ugenda, Umubano, Susa group, Karinsimbi, Sabinyo, Hirwa, Amahoro, Bwengye, Group 13 (the Agasha group) and the Kwitonda.
There are plenty of lodge options ranging from budget, to mid-range and then luxury. The choice of your accommodation will determine the nature of your gorilla safari. Most companies will quote all the 3 options. Among the prominent safari lodges include Sabyinyo Silver Back lodge, Virunga lodge, Mountain Gorilla Lodge and so many others.
There are quite a number of mountain gorilla related activities, the famous one being the Kwita Izina ceremony of naming gorillas for Rwanda safaris; it is a yearly event where various celebrities are invited to this occasion. Booking your gorilla adventure during this time would be a chance to participate in this event. A number of gorilla conservationists exist in Rwanda. From The Dian Fossey Foundation to The International Gorilla Conservation Project and so much more.