How to Plan a Safari to Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
As you plan to Visit Rwanda, get all the best guide on how to come up with a good safari plan. Use the information on this page to organize any trip to Rwanda like; gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking, Kigali city tour,Dian Fossey grave hike, cultural walks and many more
Whether you are a first time visitor or not, it is always important to plan for your Gorilla safari to Rwanda ahead of time. You can plan/organize for this safari by yourself or by the help of a tour operator. With the latter, every booking including acquiring a gorilla permit, transport to the park and accommodation can be done for you and you pay a commission. However with the former, every booking will be done by you but the advantage with this is that it is cheaper than using the services of a tour operator.
One of the frequently asked questions by Gorilla trekkers is “When is the best time to visit Volcanoes National Park for gorilla trekking?” The answer is that this activity can be carried out anytime of the year. At whatever time you choose to participate, you will be treated to the best experience of a lifetime.
For safaris organized by tour operators like Maranatha Tours and Travel, you will first contact the company. Whether you have adequate information about Gorilla trekking in Rwanda or not, you just specify your interest and how many days you desire to engage in the safari and we shall suggest for options that suit your interests. You can make inquiries on the different packages or the one you feel works best for you. An itinerary will be sent to you, you read through and confirm whether it suites your description. You can then make your booking for the mountain gorilla trekking safari (including the permit, accommodation and transport to the back and back to Kigali Airport) and transactions can be carried out (to include the commission of the company).
With safaris planned by you, you require adequate information on accommodation and the packages to be able to decide on what package suits you. This information (about itineraries and gorilla trekking safaris/packages) can be got on the websites of the tour company including for Maranatha Tours and Travel Company. This allows you to know more about Rwanda including what challenges you might encounter while on the safari.
You need to first inquire about the availability of gorilla permits from RDB and obtain it. This will guarantee whether you will participate in gorilla trekking or not. Due to the high demand for permits, you have to acquire it at least 6 months in advance to avoid disappointment and yet you are eager to engage in this engrossing activity. Gorilla permits cost $750 for foreign non-residents, $450 for foreign East African residents, $300 for East African citizens and 30,000 FRW for Rwandan citizens. The permits can be obtained in person from the Rwandan Development Board reservation offices in Kigali. You can pay in cash or using credit cards. Alternatively you can reserve by calling +252 576 514 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for tourists who can’t be able to reach their offices. You inform RDB about the date you wish to participate whereby they will confirm whether it is possible to reserve for you that day. Bank account details will be sent to you so that you can go ahead with the electronic transfer of the money. After which you send the copy of the transaction receipt by email to Rwanda Development Board (RDB).Once there is a confirmation that the money has been received, you will be requested to send your passport details (names, country, passport number) after which a scanned copy of the permit will be sent to you to guarantee your participation in Gorilla trekking.
Similarly, you will need to get a visa and passport to Rwanda. Citizens from Australia, UK, Canada, USA and other EU countries need passports valid for at least 6 months from date of entry and visas valid for 90 days to be allowed into Rwanda.
You have to know what items should not miss in your packing list (long sleeved shirt, long trousers, hats, sweaters, poncho, rain proof hiking boots and rain proof backpack among others.)
On the day of arrival to Kigali International Airport, you can use a private transport means or a public transport means. The latter are from Kigali to Musanze town and do not reach the Park headquarters. Public buses/Minibuses leave from Kigali to Ruhengeri (Musanze), take approximately 2 hours and these companies have varying fares. Bus tickets can be bought from a bus station in Nyabugogo. You can then hire a taxi/bus or motorcycle from Musanze to the Park headquarters. It takes about 15-30 minutes. In order not to be disappointed, you book for your bus ticket 30- I hour earlier. The most suggested bus companies include Kigali Bus service and Virunga express among others.
With private transport means, you can choose to use special hire taxis that will take you up to the Park headquarters in Kinigi. You can also contact car hire services or tour operators. Much as this is perceived as expensive, they offer comfortable services at your own convenience. Despite some tourists trying to avoid the services of tour operators, they will always be needed at one point to ease your trip and not ruin your experience. You will need a Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) which will enable you to move from your accommodation facility to the trailhead. With the nature of roads around the Volcanoes National Park (murram), it becomes muddy and slippery when it rains and these 4WDs are strong enough to go through this nature of roads.
With accommodation, you can book in advance or on the day you arrive into Rwanda. You can make reservations by calling the establishments, send an email to them or accessing their websites for price quotations or bookings. You can choose facilities around Volcanoes because they are nearer to the Park headquarters. Still it is not a bad idea to book with accommodation facilities in Kigali town. However you will have to wake up early to travel for about 2 hours to reach Kinigi. Villa Gorilla and Kinigi Guest house are the best options because the former is just five minutes’ walk away and the latter is about 7 minutes walk from the Park headquarters. This ensures punctuality at the Park Headquarters for pre-tracking briefing at 7:00am.
Besides the breakfast you have, you will need some snacks or meals and water while in the jungle to rejuvenate your energy. Having lunch while in the jungle however depends on how far the gorilla group you are tracking is located. For those groups that are far away you will need packed lunch whereas those that are near and you sight them easily you can be able to go back for lunch. .Most of the lodges/hotels always provide packed lunch.
In conclusion just like any other safari that needs to be planned for. Gorilla trekking safaris need to be planned for in order to make the safari memorable as possible. Whether you are organizing for the safari by yourself or being planned by the tour operators, it needs proper planning ahead of time. This involves acquiring the permit on time, booking for accommodation and transport, acquiring a passport and visa for citizens from countries that are not exempt to Rwanda visa requirements.