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What to Expect on a Gorilla Trekking Safari

What to Expect on a Gorilla Trekking Safari

What’s It Like?

Here’s what to expect on  a Gorilla Trekking Safari

Gorilla trekking is a true adventure. Expect to be mud-caked and sheened in sweat as you climb Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains, following your guide as they cut trails through the brush with a machete’s swing. All hikes begin in the lowlands, crossing through farmland to the jungle. The expedition will last between one to six hours, depending on which gorilla group you are tracking and where they are.

While most trekkers see gorillas, it’s important to note there are no guarantees–you may embark on an easy hike and be trekking all day, or you may set out on a challenging hike and find gorillas within an hour.

Once you find a group of gorillas, you’re given one hour to observe then eating, roaming, resting, playing in tree branches and possibly performing other humanlike behaviors. Your guide will likely clear the brush with their machete so you can get a clearer, closer look at these remarkable mammals.

Your guides will speak gorilla during the visit, too! Every guide is trained to ask the gorillas how they are doing by making a grunting sound. The gorillas answer back in a grunt that communicates “Yes, I’m cool,” or “No, give me space.” The guide then manages the visit appropriately.

How difficult is gorilla trekking?

The challenge of a Rwanda gorilla trek lies in the fact that gorillas don’t stay in one place. They may spend a morning low in the mountains or move continuously all day through dense jungle. You can choose whether to opt for a short or long trek, which will determine what gorilla group you’ll trek.


Generally, anyone with a moderate level of fitness can go on a Rwanda gorilla trek. Expect to traverse dense and uneven terrain in a climate with high humidity. Local porters are available for travelers requiring assistance through the challenging landscape.

Where to find mountain gorillas in Rwanda

Just over half of the world’s 1,000 remaining mountain gorillas live in the Virunga Mountains of central Africa – a range of volcanoes extending about 50 miles along the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Republic of the Congo.

The best place to see these rare creatures is in Parc National des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park) in northwest Rwanda.

Best time to visit Rwanda

You can track gorillas in Rwanda throughout the year. The best time tends to be during the dry period from June to September as the jungle is less muddy and the paths are less slippery, although you should bear in mind that it can rain any time of year.

The wettest months are April and May, bringing tricky muddy trails, however you can still track gorillas at this time. The gorillas often climb higher up the mountain during the dry season and descend during the rains.

This is also an excellent time for tracking chimpanzees as the fruit ripens and this brings the chimps down to the lower reaches of the forest canopy.

The rainy seasons (around March to May and October to November) can also provide the best conditions for photography in the gorilla country. After a rain shower, the air is clear of any dust, providing the perfect atmosphere for gorilla photography.

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