* Singita Kwitonda Lodge
Why trek in Rwanda rather than Uganda? Why do Rwanda gorilla permits cost over double those in Uganda?
*Rwanda are charging more from a conservation focused experience. They have 13 habituated families and there can be a maximum of 8 people in each group – therefore a maximum of 104 people can trek each day
*The price has been driven up by supply and demand.
*Rwanda have 9 habituated families that they use for research - monitoring their habits, health etc.
*Uganda is a harder trek as there are not as many habituated families to find (only 4)
*With the cost of the permits having increased a few years ago, Rwanda is putting a lot more money into conservation and training of the trackers/porters/guides etc. so it is considered a better experience from that point of view. A large percentage of each permit goes towards the trackers/porters/guides as well as local villages.
*There are many more accommodation options in Rwanda
*You can drive from the capital of Kigali to the jungle – approximately 3 hours away in Rwanda making it more accessible
*You must fly to the Ugandan jungle from Entebbe – so that adds an additional expense and therefore Uganda isn’t as cheap as it initially appears. Entebbe is also not as easy to get to as Kigali is with not as many flight options.
MY DAY OF GORILLA TREK - RWANDA
This is the same regardless of which hotel you stay in Rwanda once you arrive at the National Park Entrance. The only difference will be how close you are staying to the National Park Entrance and how early you will need to leave your hotel.
6.30am – breakfast
7.00am – leave for the National Park Entrance
7.15am – arrive at National Park Entrance
7.15am – my guide went to the office, showed them my permit and I was assigned a trekking group, based on fitness, age and capabilities. The treks can be as short as 15-20 minutes each way, so it depends how far up into the forest you want to trek.
7.30pm – met trekking group and guide and we were told what to expect
7.45am – we were driven to where the trek was to start
8.00am – the trek commences. Porters come with you and take your backpack and you are handed a walking pole to assist you where needed.
*your hotel will supply you with some gear and you will need to supply some of your own. You do need gaters (or gumboots) and you need gloves (gardening type). Otherwise, you can wear normal clothes (muted safari colours).
Once your trackers find the gorilla family that you’ve been assigned to, you have 1 hour on the ground with them. The hour flies by but it is incredible to see them in their habitat – a once in a lifetime experience like nothing else I’ve had in my life.
The gorillas are surprisingly tame and whilst we were told to keep 10 metres from them, they had other ideas. They were so close, I could have reached down and patted a few of them.
And once your hour is over, you say goodbye to the trackers and the gorillas and head off back to where you started.
The trackers stay with the gorilla family all afternoon, until they settle for the evening and they’re able to tell the guides the next day where they left them. It allows the guide to head off in the right direction the following day.
My trek took 7.5 hours in total – much longer than I had anticipated, but it was worth every second!!