Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda During the COVID-19 Era
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the major headline for over 2 years, and it has hit hard Africa’s tourism. Of late, limited time has been given to COVID-19 related stories while there are still COVID-19 related travel restrictions that, if ignored, will make your dream gorilla safari to Rwanda impossible.
Gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda remains one of the top of the market African safari experiences, more so for those who consider an upmarket or luxury safari experience. Though there was a time of total lockdown where even a mere savannah safari was impossible, it is important to note that there has been a lot of changes in Rwanda’s travel restrictions making it now possible to execute a gorilla safari within the COVID-19 era.
With the Uganda-Rwanda borders opening up once again, more travelers have resumed planning their gorilla safaris to Volcanoes National Park. However, it is important to know that the outbreak of this pandemic posed a high threat to the lives of the mountain gorillas.
But with the invention of a number of COVID-19 vaccines, the encounter with the gentle giants in Volcanoes National Park seems not far from unrestricted, with the current COVID-19 restrictions in Rwanda. Here are some of the things you need to know about gorilla trekking in the COVID-19 era.
Post-lockdown gorilla trekking measures
Different Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been put in place to ensure that tourism resumes without neglecting the threat of COVID-19 while on gorilla trekking adventure in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda.
It is very important to note that Rwanda is very strict when it comes to SOPs to the point that some hotels have received penalties for failure to abide by the government-set SOPs. This also implies that unlike other East African destinations, Rwanda’s accommodation services are greatly improved. Other mountain gorilla destinations like Uganda and DRC have also put in place similar SOPs as noted below.
Before and on arrival in Rwanda for gorilla trekking
All tourists with a plan to take a flight to Rwanda to track mountain gorillas or any other tourism-related activities must undertake a mandatory COVID-19 test 72 hours earlier and should present negative COVID-19 test results.
On arrival at Kigali Rwanda, visitors must undertake a mandatory temperature test.
If tested positive for COVID-19, you will be sent to the nearby treatment center, and those who test negative will proceed with gorilla tours or any safari activities.
During gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park
Only visitors who test negative for COVID-19 may go to trek a mountain gorilla family and strictly 6 visitors are accepted unlike before when it used to be 8 tourists per a gorilla group.
Regularly wash your hands, and sanitize prior to undertaking a trek to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
Always wear your face mask, preferably N95.
Social distance yourself from gorillas at least 10 meters, unlike before when visitors had to maintain 7 meters from these endangered apes.
Cost of Rwanda gorilla safari permit
Rwanda issues its gorilla trekking permits to tourists at US$1,500. This gives you the opportunity to trek one of the 10 habituated gorilla families. The gorilla permit fees cover park entrance fees, guide fees, and one hour with the mountain gorillas.
When to travel for gorilla trekking during COVID-19
Whereas gorilla trekking is possible at any time of the year, the best time to have the best experience is usually during the dry season. This begins from June-September and December-February. Volcanoes National Park is also open to tourists on Rwanda gorilla treks even during the wet season, starting from March to May and October to November. But the disadvantage with the wet or rainy season is that too much rain is recorded making the ground and steep slopes slippery.
The advantage with the wet season is that the gorillas tend to make lesser movements during the wet season compared to the dry seasons.
What to carry for your post COVID-19 gorilla trekking safari
For anyone planning to trek mountain gorillas during COVID-19, the essential items to expect to carry include, among others, a long-sleeved shirt, long socks (thick), rain-jacket, camera with no flashlight, hat, sweater, bottled mineral water, daypack, packed lunch, and hiking boots (waterproof).
Other items can be carried at your own discretion but the above items are the most recommended for anyone considering a Rwanda gorilla safari in these COVID-19 times.