You can see the infamous wild mountain gorillas of Rwanda all year round. The most popular time to visit, however, is during the dry season – from June until September, and then from December to February. This is because gaining a privileged view of a gorilla family involves a trek into the densely forested slopes of the Virunga mountains.
However, whilst the dry season provides favourable hiking conditions, don’t discount other times of the year – the gorillas won’t be going anywhere. Besides, during the wet season, the number of tourists seeking the chance to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat decreases, as do the prices.
The best place to see these mesmerising creatures is in the North-West of the country, in the Volcanoes National Park. Authorities in Rwanda only issue 85 permits each day to visitors. These cost $1,500 per person, which allows for a one hour visit to a mountain gorilla as part of a ten-person group. To ensure you don’t miss out, book early.
In this corner of the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’, temperatures remain moderate all year, averaging 80cF. The mild heat, a result of Rwanda’s relatively high altitude, makes the trek into the mountains comfortable.
The hike itself lasts anywhere from 2-5 hours, depending on the location of the gorillas on your particular day. Setting off from the agricultural lowlands at the base of the mountains in early morning, you’ll gradually climb up, accompanied by an expert guide, and pass through beaten tracks into the think vegetation and pristine forest.
Before long, you’ll come across a family of one of the most critically endangered animals in the world.
Seeing mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is an experience to last a lifetime. After trekking into the forested mountainside, you’ll be led towards a family of one of the world’s most endangered animals. To get the most out of this inspirational encounter, make sure you get the timing right.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is located less than two miles from the entrance of Volcanoes National Park and the starting point for mountain gorilla treks. With luxury facilities amidst an old-world setting, it’s the perfect base from which to explore Rwanda’s breathtaking wildlife.
(Photo credits: Will Fortescue)