Paradise Safaris offers a wide-range of tailor-made safaris in Rwanda, Uganda & Kenya –ranging from wildlife safaris, cultural tours and epic journeys in Rwanda and Uganda that leads you fascinating places. We are exceptional safari company that creates magical journeys to the very heart Africa that gives you vast experience and lasting memories of your holidays.
- + (250) 780 533 233 / 784 904 917
Address : 4 KG 98 St,
Vile de Kigali (Rwanda)
Is there an age limit for gorilla trekking? The age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda is 15 years of age and democratic republic of Congo is 14 years. While it’s possible for you to have an excellent gorilla safari with your kids, sometimes it’s rather hard.
You should maintain a distance of at least seven meters or 23 feet from the gorillas. The gorillas will break the rules occasionally. In such cases, one should step back.
Do not do anything that may cause the gorillas stress or exhibit any behavior that they may see as a challenge. One must respect their space, speak very quietly, and avoid unnecessary movement.
Do not touch the gorillas or try to make contact.
Do not use flash cameras.
Do not eat or smoke.
Leave nothing behind but footprints.
Rwandans, Uganda and the rest of East African countries appreciate modest clothing, so please be aware of local sensitivities and be prepared to cover legs and arms when away from tourist lodges and beaches. Be sure to pack plenty of cotton clothes to remain comfortable by day. Layers of light clothing are most suitable. Bring boots, a sweater and rain jacket for travel into mountainous and hilly areas
“Mid-range” – Paradise safaris originally focused mainly on the mid-range market and therefore has a special ability to choose the best accommodation of this standard. This is your best option for comfortable, self-contained (‘en suite’) accommodation set in stunning locations that don’t cost a fortune.
“Semi-luxe” – Accommodation falling in this category is more comfortable than the mid-range. The locations are similar, but the details are further refined. These lodges often have a swimming pool, as well.
“Luxury” – The luxurious accommodation is fully equipped, comfortable and usually more spacious than the mid-range options. They often have facilities like swimming pools, masseurs and sometimes even private butlers.
In East Africa, flights are operated by Rwandair, Kenya Airways, Coastal Aviation and Precision Air. Connections between the savannah plains of Tanzania/Kenya and Rwanda/Uganda are now easier than they have ever been. Helicopter transfers can also be arranged on a daily basis within Rwanda to destinations such as Virunga Lodge. The airlines that are operating in the region may change from time to time, so make sure to check with your airline before adding a flight to your schedule. Importantly, make sure that your flight connections coincide with the start and conclusion of your Safari.
There are nine families of habituated gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and on a daily basis there are eight permits available for each group. If you’re looking for a more challenging gorilla trek, Bwindi is the place to go. The tropical forest is thicker than it is in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans or Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park.
Once you have left the ranger’s base for your pre-trek briefing, it can take anywhere from 3 to 10 hours to complete the trekking, due to the steeper hillsides. If you stay at the lodges in the Buhoma area north of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, you’ll be able to access five of the gorilla families including the Rushegura, Mubare, Oruzogo, Habinyanja and Bitukura. If you stay at Mount Gahinga Lodge or Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, amongst others to the south of Bwindi, you’ll have the chance to track one of four gorilla families: the Nshongi, Nkuringo, Mishaya and Kahunje.
- The Mubare gorilla family There are 7 members in this family and this includes one silverback. This is Uganda’s oldest habituated gorilla family. It was first habituated back in 1991 – 1993 and received its name from the Mubare hills after first being spotted there. The group originally contained 12 members with silverback Ruhondeza leading the family. At one point in time it grew to 18 members then later scaled back to 7. This group is located 15 to 30 minutes away from your accommodation with in Buhoma sector.
- The Oruzogo gorilla family This family contains one silverback and 16 members. The group, which was given the name of a common plant that grows locally, is located 2 hours away by car or truck from your host lodge at Buhoma area and 15 minutes from lodges around Ruhija area.
- The Habinyanja gorilla family This family comes complete with 2 silverbacks and 15 family members. This group was first habituated back in 1997. It started off as a larger group but then split into 2 separate families: the Habinyanja Family and the Rushegura Family. These gorillas are located approximately an hour away from your host lodge with Buhoma sector.
- The Rushegura gorilla family There is one silverback and 19 members in this family that splintered off from the Habinyanja group. They were named after a type of tree called the ‘Ebishegura’ that grows in their local habitat and they are the closest family to the Bwindi Lodge, Buhoma lodge, Gorilla forest camp and Mahogany springs. The family makes their home approximately 15 minutes away from it and they are a calm family that frequently visit some lodges around Buhoma sector.
- The Bitukura gorilla family This family consists of 4 silverbacks and 12 members and their name comes from “Bitukura River”. This is one of the newer families to live in the Impenetrable Forest since their habitation only dates back to 2007. Tracking of this family started in 2008 and they are located about 2 hours away from your host lodge (buhoma area) and 15 minutes from lodges around Ruhija.
- The Nkuringo gorilla family There are 2 silverbacks and 19 family members in this group. The group was is located at the southern part of the park, initially spotted at Nkuringo Hill, which is where the name comes from. They were first habituated in 2004 and at the time they were destroying local farmers’ crops. Now the farmers are able to benefit from all of the local tourism that they provide. The family is located 5 minutes walk from Clouds mountain gorilla lodge, 2 hours away from Mount Gahinga Lodge and 6 hours away from Buhoma the northern sector of park.
- The Mishaya gorilla family This group contains one silverback and 12 members. This family was formed following aNshongi family dispute when they splintered off and went in their own direction. The group was named Mishaya, meaning “lucky one” and they make their home 6 to 7 hours away from Buhoma the northern sector, 45 minutes from clouds mountain gorilla lodge, 5 minutes from Gorilla safari lodge and 2 hours away from Mount Gahinga lodge.
- The Nshongi gorilla family There are 4 silverbacks and 25 members in this group. The family got its name from the river that was in close proximity to the area where the family was originally sighted for the first time. They were tracked for the first time in 2009 and it is the largest family to be habituated. If you travel from Mount Gahinga Lodge it will take you 2 hours to reach this family or, if heading out from Buhoma the northern sector of the park, it will take 6 to 7 hours, 45 minutes from clouds mountain gorilla lodge, 5 minutes from Gorilla safari lodge.
- The Kahungye gorilla family This is a newly habituated group that consists of 3 silverbacks and 27 members. This family name came from the Kahungye hill and they have only been tracked since 2011. The group lives 2 hours away from Mount Gahinga Lodge, 30 minutes away from Clouds mountain gorilla lodge and 6 to 7 hours away from Buhoma the northern sector of the park.
There is only one gorilla family to be found in Mgahinga National Park. The Nyakagezi Family consists of 3 silverbacks and 10 members and it is a very nomadic group that crosses the borders of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. At times it can appear only five minutes away from mount Gahinga lodge, 2 hours from Clouds mountain gorilla lodge, but since it does tend to travel the distance can vary.
In Rwanda, the Parc National des Volcans has 10 gorilla families that have been habituated and every day each group is allowed eight permits. The families include Karisimbi, Susa, Sabyinyo, Umubano, Amahoro, Kwitonda, Agashya, Hirwa, Ugyenda and Bwenge. It usually only takes about a half a day of walking to meet up with one of these groups but it can take up to 7 hours to reach the Susa group.
- The Susa gorilla family group This group has 3 silverbacks and 28 group members and its original name comes from the Susa River. It was the largest group of its kind before dividing into 2 separate groups. This family became popular due to the studies originally conducted by Dian Fossey and its set of twins named Impano and Byishimo. The group is situated approximately 40 minutes away from Virunga lodge lodge, 15 minutes from Sabinyo and mountain Gorilla view lodges to reach this family.
- The Karisimbi gorilla family group With 3 silverbacks and 15 members, this is the group that split away from the Susa family. The group always remains in the general area of the Karisimbi Volcano on the lower slopes. It takes about 40 minutes from Virunga lodge, 15 minutes from Sabinyo and mountain Gorilla view lodges to reach this family.
- The Sabyinyo gorilla family group Named after the Sabyinyo Volcano, this group has 2 silverbacks and 12 members. It likes to gather between the Gahinga and Sabyinyo Mountains to enjoy the gentle terrain there. You can access this family by traveling about 40 minutes from Virunga lodge, 15 minutes from Sabinyo and mountain Gorilla view lodges to reach this family.
- The Amahoro gorilla family group This is a peaceful and gentle group as should be expected since the word Amahoro means “peaceful”. They are located about 40 minutes away from Virunga Lodge, 15 minutes from Sabinyo and mountain Gorilla view lodges to reach this family. You’ll experience a tougher climb reaching this family that contains one silverback and 17 group members.
The Umubano gorilla family group – This group has one silverback and 11 family members. This family was originally a part of the Amahoro group and even though the 2 groups no longer live together they still share a lot of the same territory peacefully. This group can be found about 40 minutes from Virunga lodge, 15 minutes from Sabinyo and mountain Gorilla view lodges to reach this family.
- The Kwitonda gorilla family group The name of this group means “humble one” and consists of 2 silverbacks and 18 members. Although the gorillas usually like to stay on the Mount Muhavura lower slopes, it is a group that is more difficult to track. They are located about 40 minutes from Virunga lodge, 15 minutes from Sabinyo and mountain Gorilla view lodges to reach this family.
The Hirwa gorilla family group – The name of this group means “lucky one” and consists of 12 members and one silverback. This is a relatively new group that formed from splinter groups when Group 13 and the Sabyinyo family merged together. There is a set of twins in this family and they can usually be found on Mount Sabyinyo, which is about 40 minutes from Virunga lodge, 15 minutes from Sabinyo and mountain Gorilla view lodges to reach this family.
- The Agasha gorilla family group This is a large group with 2 silverbacks and 25 members. This group used to be known by another name, Group 13, but was later renamed when a leader named Agasha challenged the silverback that was dominant at the time and led the group away. Other gorillas that were wandering on their own or wanderers from other families began to assimilate into the group.
- The Ugyenda gorilla family group There is one silverback and 11 members in this family and the name of the group means “departure”. This is an easier group to track than many others since it tends to remain in the region of Mount Visoke, about 40 minutes from Virunga lodge, 15 minutes from Sabinyo and mountain Gorilla view lodges to reach this family.
- The Bwenge gorilla family group The name of this group means “brightness” and there is one silverback and 10 members in the family. They share a lot of territory on Mount Visoke with the Ugyenda group and can be found approximately about 40 minutes from Virunga lodge, 15 minutes from Sabinyo and mountain Gorilla view lodges to reach this family.
The following equipment is required for gorilla tracking:
Sunscreen, fast film, sunglasses, binoculars, a torch and a small backpack for carrying a packed lunch and water. If you require a walking stick you can either borrow one from the lodge or a guide can make you one.
Please make sure that you are set up properly for gorilla tracking before leaving home. Feel free to check our recommended packing list on our website. Children under the age of 15 are not permitted to track gorillas nor are people with any illnesses. This policy is in effect to protect the gorillas from unwanted disease. If you plan on tracking you must be in good health and fit since you’ll be traveling through thick forest and may have to climb to heights of 3000m or more. You can also expect to get wet as you travel up the mountains and down into ravines. If necessary, you can hire a porter to carry your equipment.
Permits for tracking are non-refundable unless you can provide a medical certificate to prove that you cannot attend for medical reasons. As well, tracking may be called off on short notice due to border closures, gorillas heading out of range, national park closures or due to security changes. In these types of situations, refunds are left up to the authority’s discretion and are beyond our control. There is no guarantee that you will see a gorilla if you purchase a gorilla tracking permit.
You are allowed to view the gorillas for one hour and must stand a minimum of 7m away from them. Bring along fast film that is 400 to 1600 ASA since no flash photography is allowed. You can, however, bring along your DVD recorder. If you are a film making professional you’ll need to get permission first to purchase a filming permit.
When you meet the ranger at the national park they will inform you further about the rules and regulations and will lead you to the gorilla families. We kindly ask that you follow the regulations.
- Restaurants Approximately 3% to 5%
- Camps and lodges $3 to $5 USD per guest based on a 1-3 day stay
- Guides and drivers $5 to $10 USD per client per day
- Gorilla tracking head ranger $10 USD per client per day
- Park porters $20 to $25 USD per person per day
- Baggage porters at lodges and hotels $1-$2 USD per stay per client
- Walks in the forest $5 USD per client
Footwear – Sandals or camp shoes, a set of gaiters for low altitudes and a set for high altitudes, mountain boots that can accommodate crampons, walking/running shoes.
The following equipment is required for hiking:
Crampons, climbing rope, climbing harness, ice axe, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, tent, slings, climbing pack or day pack, carabiners and waterproof sacks. Canoe bags, such as those made by Ortleib, are recommended and can be used for packing your gear, clothing, sleeping bag and tent.
Medical – Dark sunglasses, sun screen that is anywhere between 45 – 60 spf, Malaria prophylaxis, sleeping pills if you find it hard to sleep at a high altitude, a first aid kit, any prescribed medication, non-prescription painkillers (avoid aspirin). Diamox helps with acclimatization and also reduces the risk of developing edema. If your local pharmacist does not stock these items, various stores online can supply them.
When visiting East Africa, bring along any personal medication and be sure to pack mosquito repellent and anti-malaria tablets. You may be required to get vaccinations and if you are planning to visit the DRC you’ll need to get an inoculation (and certificate) for Yellow Fever. Upon your arrival, drink boiled or bottled water only and be aware that medical services are basic, especially when you’re traveling up-country.
Around Africa Safaris are happy to advise on this. Flash photography of wildlife is forbidden so bring fast (400 to 1600 ASA) film to get the best results. DVD recorders are permitted. You should also take note that it is usually easier to photograph gorillas on cloudy days.
The rainy season runs from March to April and from October to November in most areas but rain can be expected at any other time of the year – especially in the areas near the gorilla parks. Even though the rainy season can slow down travel times, the views are often better in these conditions. Gorilla tracking remains open during the rainy season and you can expect to run into some mud along your way.
There is more rainfall in the mountains and the surrounding areas and it is also much colder there than it is on the plains. In general, the temperature range is from 21°C to 30°C on the plains and during certain months the temperature can go as low as 10°C in the mountain areas. We advise our clients to plan their travels when it is convenient for them since the rain, which usually only happens for short periods, is another part of this fantastic experience.
A Rwandan visa is required unless you are a national of the following countries:
- Great Britain
- South Africa
- Hong Kong
Ugandan Visa If you are a citizen of Japan, the United States or the European Union, you’ll need a visa to visit Uganda. If you are from another country you should check first and find out whether a visa will be required. You can obtain an entry visa at land borders, at Entebbe Airport or through Ugandan overseas missions. A single entry Ugandan visa will cost $50 USD and will be valid for between two weeks and three months. For further information about the visa requirements to enter Uganda please visit the official website at www.immigration.go.ug/page/requirements-entry-uganda. The Ugandan Embassy in the United Kingdom is located here: Uganda House Embassy, 58-59 Trafalgar Sq., London UK, WC2N 5DX. You can reach the embassy at +44 (0)20 7839 5783. The Ugandan Embassy in the United States is located in Washington DC at 5811 16th Street NW, Washington DC USA, 20011. You can reach Embassy officials at 1 202 726 7100.