A gorilla trek in Rwanda is no regular safari
Difficult hike becomes worth it once in the presence of these wondrous creatures
Kate Scroggins, For Ottawa Citizen; Canwest News ServicePublished: Saturday, August 30, 2008
We returned to the jeep, soaked and covered from head to toe in mud. I sank into my seat and breathed a sigh of mixed relief and exhaustion. I may not be a mountain climber, or even "one with nature," but for one day, it was worth it to pretend.
IF YOU GO:
- When to go: I went in early June and temperatures were chilly. The best time is during the long dry season, from mid-June to September. But bring a raincoat anytime you go.
Permits: Trekking permits are available from the ORTPN (Rwanda's department of tourism) office in Kigali, or book by e-mailing reservationrwandatourism.com. A permit costs $500 US. During the dry season, permits go very quickly; book a few weeks in advance.
- Transport: Trekkers are responsible for their own transport to and from Volcanoes National Park. Safari jeeps can fit up to six people and cost about $200 US for the day. ORTPN has a list of drivers.
- Itinerary: Tours start at 7 a.m. Trekkers are assigned a gorilla family and receive a short briefing. Groups travel by jeep to the base of the mountain, where the trek begins at 8:15 a.m. It can take from one to four hours to reach the gorillas, depending on where your family is located.
- What to wear: It's best to wear long pants and a jacket to avoid scratches and to protect against vicious stinging needles. Running shoes will cut it, but hiking boots are preferable.
- Shots: The government requires all visitors to get a yellow fever vaccination prior to travelling to Rwanda. Shots for malaria, typhoid, hepatitis A and B are also recommended.
- Documents: Canadians need a passport and proof of vaccinations to travel to Rwanda.
- Currency: Rwandan francs or U.S. dollars are preferred. Traveller's cheques are difficult to cash.
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