Cost of a gorilla trip in Rwanda – breaking down the pricing of the gorilla safari

The gorilla trekking/tracking safari is one of, if not the most popular tour in Rwanda. It is however also the most expensive tour. At Nature Trails East Africa we get a number of inquiries from travelers wanting to book the gorilla safari (especially our 2 day gorilla trip) but most are put off by the price we send them, and many even think we are trying to rip them off.. However we do not intend to make the trip costly, if anything we try to cost as low as possible.

Below I will take you through the pricing of a Rwanda gorilla trip, what takes up the biggest chunk of the cost, the variables that you can touch to change the price and constants that can’t be changed.

Gorilla tracking permits

This is the first and most important item of the gorilla trip. The gorilla tracking permit/pass/ticket allows you track the gorillas. Only a limited number of permits are available in a day as a maximum 8 people can track one gorilla family and the park has about 10 habituated families.

The cost of the Rwanda gorilla trekking permit is 1500USD

The gorilla permit is non-negotiable and can’t change.

The permit accounts for the biggest cost of the gorilla safari price.

Transportation to Volcanoes National Park

The gorilla trekking takes place in Volcanoes National Park in the north of Rwanda. It is about 100km from the capital Kigali and the international airport. So you need transportation to the park.

You can go by road using car, or take a flight with Akagera Aviation for those that have the finances.

Most trips are by road and so pricing is as follows:

So, we do consider at the minimum a comfortable SUV. With a Maximum 3 people we would use a big SUV such as the Land Cruiser TX. More than 3 people we would use the bigger 4X4 safari cars i.e. 5 or 7-seaster land cruiser stretch.

A nice SUV goes for about 100USD per day. Then the bigger safari car goes for about 150USD per day. This car cost is without fuel.

The car will consume fuel/gas/petrol of about 70 – 90USD, depending on engine size. This is for the whole trip starting from Kigali going to the park and back to Kigali.

The cost of the tour driver of the car is 50USD per day.

Transportation costs can vary depending on number of people traveling and sharing a car so that the cost is shared per person.

Accommodation (with meals)

Accommodation is another significant cost of the trip, however this is also a highly varying cost depending on the type of lodging you want, as you can select from basic camping, budget lodge, midrange, upmarket, luxury or the costliest high end.

Nice budget lodge can cost between 60 – 100USD per night.

Midrange lodge can cost between 150 – 250USD per night

Upmarket or upper midrange lodge cost between 300USD – 400USD per night

Luxury lodge cost between 500USD – 700USD per night

High end lodes cost from 1000USD and upward

Other costs of the gorilla trip you may incur but are optional

Porters for the trek

For 10USD porters are available for hire during the gorilla trek.

Hiring a porter is optional, but highly recommended. The porter helps carry your daypack or other items you take for the trek, and also provide a push or pull where you need one in the rugged mountains. Also, you are directly giving back to the community when taking one.


Tips are also optional, but you are advised to tip.

People to tip include and approximate amount:

Tour driver (10USD per day), about waiters/waitresses at your hotel (5USD each), your park guide who is leading the group during the gorilla trek (10 – 15USD), the armed military person who escorts the trekking group (5USD), and your porter (5USD).

The amount indicated is what I can advise, but you are free to give more or less depending on how satisfied you are with the service.

Buying souvenirs

At the end of the gorilla trek you can purchase some souvenirs and support the community. The common souvenirs include a t-shirt with some gorilla wording and pictures, and small sculpture of a gorilla. These cost between 5USD – 20USD each.

In brief, basing on the above you can fill out the following for a rough cost of a gorilla trip

Items Cost
Gorilla tracking permit
Tour car *multiply by number of days
Tour driver *multiply by number of days
Hotel on full board *multiply by number of nights

How to get a cheap gorilla tour

Going for the cheaper accommodation is one way of bring the cost of the gorilla trip down

Transport can be shared so, if you travel with others the cost of transportation is shared among the travelers.

Can I get Cheaper gorilla tracking permit?

Rwanda has the most expensive gorilla trekking permit. However, the Uganda gorilla trekking permit is way cheaper costing 700USD.

You can fly into Rwanda and go gorilla trekking in Uganda. The gorilla parks in Uganda are an extra hour’s drive.

Is it safe to track chimps in Uganda?

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda gives you the opportunity to trek a forest and see up close chimpanzees in their natural home, without a barrier. This is a unique experience because chimps in many parts of the world are seen in zoos from a safe place behind a fence. So the idea of trekking the jungles to see wild chimps raises concerns as to whether it is safe?

Below I give some guide and assurance

The chimps are known to be wild and violent, won’t I be attacked during the chimpanzee tracking?

True, chimpanzees are some of the most violent creatures, no wander they are our closest relatives! They are also very powerful, that the strength of one grown chimp is said to be equal to the strength of five energetic human males. On the internet you can find many gruesome pictures of humans that have been attacked by chimps and these can worry you if you are planning to include chimpanzee tracking on your African safari.

However, you will be tracking habituated chimpanzees. Chimpanzee habituation is a long process taking several years where trained park personnel make frequent visits to the chimps till the time chimps realize these humans do not pose a threat to them and will stop running away or won’t attack them. The chimps see these park personnel as friendly since during the habituation they will carry some goodies such as bananas.

Make no mistake, the habituated chimps are still wild and can make an attack. However, as long as they see among the tourist group the park personnel who they regard as friends they will not become violent.

Once some tourists who didn’t want to pay for the chimpanzee tracking activity went into Budongo forest without the knowledge of the park authorities so they could track the chimps on their own. The tourists found the chimps but once the chimps didn’t see any familiar faces (park guides) among the tourists they became suspicious of the group, got agitated and started roughing up the tourists who fled for their lives while the chimps gave them a chase. It is was the park authorities that heard screaming tourists that run in to rescue them.

So, you will NOT be attacked by the chimps because you will be tracking a chimp community that has undergone habituation and you will be led by park guides who are known to the chimps and these park guides also know what to do in case the chimps become moody.

How about other dangerous animals in the forests?

Several other animals can be found in the forests, such as elephants, leopard, buffaloes, non-habituated chimps, etc… These are not habituated of course and can cause a danger if encountered at close quarter. However these are also quite shy and elusive and in most cases flee before you see them. However nothing is left to chance, so for each tourist group tracking the chimps there is an armed ranger who will shoot in the air to scare away any animal that may seem it could attack the group.

This 2 day Kibale chimpanzee trip and the 3 day Kibale chimpanzee tour are some of the best short trips to track chimps in Uganda.

Is it safe to track gorillas in Uganda


Below are some of the safety questions or concerns that tourists have when deciding to do the gorilla trekking in Uganda.

Won’t the gorillas attack me during the gorilla tracking?

The gorillas are wild animals and like other wild animals their natural instinct of survival is to attack or flee when they feel threatened by another species in their space. And indeed, gorillas being the strongest primate, that the strength of one grown male gorilla is said to be equal to the strength of about 8 energetic male humans, an attack from a gorilla would be fatal.

However, the possibility of being attacked by the gorillas during the watching are very minimal because the gorillas you will track are habituated. Habituation of the gorillas is the process of getting the gorillas to accept humans in their space without seeing them as threats. This is through continuous contact with the gorillas over a long period of time (more than 3 years) until the gorillas notice the humans mean no harm & will begin to feel relaxed in their presence. The habituation is done by trained park personnel.

When you track the gorillas you are in company of park guides who are known by the gorillas and who have been habituating the gorillas. These park guides are able to read the moods of these gorillas & know the characters of each gorilla and shall guide the tourists on how to carry themselves while with the gorillas and advise on what to do in certain situations. The guides also know the different vocalizations of the gorillas and will communicate with the gorillas to make them feel comfortable.

Also, importantly, the gorillas recognize the familiar faces of the park guides and thus will accept the rest of the tourist groups on seeing their ‘friends’ in the group.

Can I be attacked by other wild animals in the jungle during the trek?

There are other wild animals in the jungle other than the gorillas and of course these are not habituated. First of all, you can still find unhabituated gorillas who are aggressive and violent. Elephants, buffaloes, and leopards are plenty in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (which is the number one gorilla trekking destination in Uganda). However these animals are very hard to encounter because they are shy and naturally flee at the slightest sensing of humans approaching. In most cases you will see only foot prints or droppings, and if lucky may just catch a glimpse of them disappearing into the jungle.

However, an encounter cannot be ruled out completely and once in a while it occurs. So for protection you will be in company of an armed personnel whose first order is to shoot in the air to scare away an animal.

Are the jungles secure from wrong people?

This is a very valid question. Many years ago the jungles were a haven for wrong doers such as criminals hiding from justice, kidnappers, rebels, poachers, etc… In 1999 the most unfortunate of incidents happened and what is the darkest time in the history of gorilla tracking in Uganda, 8 tourists were attacked by rebels while on the trek in Bwindi forest and killed.

However, the jungles of Bwindi have since been pacified of all wrong elements. The armed forces continuously patrol the jungles. Most of the wrong elements sneaked in from the neighboring DR Congo but the Uganda army and security apparatus since established surveillance posts along the border and further created an intelligence & security buffer into the Congo to eliminate any potential threat.

So the jungle is safe and there has not been any incident of an attack on tourists tracking gorillas for the last so many years

Is it safe to track gorillas in Rwanda?

Is it safe? This is the first question anyone will ask before joining in any adventure activity. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is one of the most captivating wildlife adventures in the world. The thought of trekking dense pristine jungles on beautiful mountain volcanoes and coming face to face with these massive apes without a barrier in between is quite thrilling but also thought provoking – how safe is it?

Is it safe for me?

Won’t the gorillas attack me? Won’t I encounter other dangerous creatures in the jungles? Rwanda neighbors the ever security volatile Democratic Republic Congo, what are the chances of falling victim to this insecurity from the neighborhood (especially that Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is connected to the Virunga National Park in DR Congo which is a hotbed of rebel activity)? Etc…

These are some of the concerns & questions of many travelers when thinking of booking a gorilla trekking trip to Rwanda.

I will address the above concerns below and give some assurances;

The gorillas are wild animals, won’t they attack me?

Gorillas, like other wild animals, their instinct is to attack or flee when they encounter an unfamiliar creature in their environment. Gorillas are the biggest primates, the strongest as well whose strength is said to be equivalent to about 8 grown healthy energetic human males. So they would rip apart or break a human with such ease…

However the gorillas you track in Rwanda are habituated. Habituation is the process of getting the gorillas used to seeing humans in their environment until they realize the humans mean no harm & will therefore not attack or flee. Gorilla habituation is done by trained personnel & habituating one gorilla family until its safe for tracking takes more than 3 years. The habituated gorillas can tolerate the humans who are observing gorilla trekking SOPs for some time. They are world animals and there are certain guidelines you have to observe when in their presence so that they feel safe. These guidelines are provided before setting out to trek.

What about encountering other dangerous creatures in the jungles?

True there other animals in Volcanoes National Park that could pose a threat to you while trekking, and these include; unhabituated gorillas, elephants, buffaloes, etc.. Elephants, buffaloes, are very few and quite shy. They mostly flee before they are sighted and most times you will see just their foot prints & dung. However, an encounter cannot be ruled out completely. So safety, on your trek you do go with armed personnel whose purpose is to shoot in the air to scare away buffaloes, elephants or even unhabituated gorillas who may try to face off with the travelers. These encounters are rare but they few times they happen the armed personnel are always on top of things.

Snakes also come into mind when one thinks of trekking in the jungles. Due the high altitude and cold temperature the Volcanoes are not favorable for many snake species. There are few snakes but these are very hard to come by. They are very shy and will flee immediately detecting an intruder many yards away.

How is the security situation in the Volcanoes National Park and shouldn’t I be concerned about the volatile security situation in the neighboring Congo and the Virunga Park?

Rwanda is one of the safest and most security conscious country in Africa, perhaps even in the entire world. Given her unpleasant past of turmoil, the country takes security and safety of every individual in the country as number one priority. The park is well protected by the armed forces, and besides most of the gorilla trekking takes place well away from the boundaries. An intrusion from the Congo side is almost impossible to go undetected.

Is it safe for the gorillas?

This is a very valid concern!!

The biggest threat gorillas face from humans is the possibility of transferring human disease to the gorillas. Gorillas and humans share up to 98% DNA hence diseases can be transferred between the two species. To prevent you from spreading diseases to gorillas, once you show any symptoms for easily transferrable diseases such as cough, flue you are not allowed to track the gorillas. During the encounter with the gorillas, tourists are advised to keep at least 7 meters from the gorillas.

The gorillas in the new big five animals

For a very long time the Big Five animals have been; Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Rhino & Buffalo. This big five do not have any scientific relation. But rather it is a list of 5 animals that trophy hunters back in the day categorized as the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt, hence most prized. Since then, safari goers have had these massive animals on top of their lists of must see animals…

World photographers, conservationists and charities have come up with a another set of big five, the New Big Five, which highlights what they find as some of the most spectacular & critical species of the animal kingdom. Yet the existence of these 5 animals is threatened thus the need to draw attention to them. The conservation of these animals is key to the survival of many other species in the ecosystem.

The gorilla has made it on this list.

The gorilla is the biggest of the great apes and yet its population has been dwindling to near extinction. Many travelers visit Rwanda for the gorilla trekking expedition for the chance to see these massive primates. Gorilla trekking can also be done in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Encountering the gorillas is one of the most epic wildlife experiences and a photo of these gentle giants brings out their amiable character that attracts more travelers thus driving the need to conserve. The gorillas share their habitat with an enormous biodiversity whose survival so much relies on the conservation efforts directed toward the gorillas.

Other animals on the new big five:

  • Elephants
  • Polar Bears
  • Tigers
  • Lions

Unlike the original big five that you could find all on your African safari, the new big five is spread across the world. The three of the new big five can be encountered on a safari in Africa. These are Gorillas, Elephants & Lions. Tigers can be found in museums. Two tigers were introduced at the Uganda Zoo.