How to Plan a Rwanda Trip
While in Rwanda, don’t miss the opportunity of tracking gorillas independently because its way much cheaper than using tour operators who charge a premium for organizing a tour and yet you can do this on your own and save a lot of money. However doing it individually will depend on the time you are spending in the country. If you have less time its better to use tour operators but if you are to spend like 6-8 days, it’s better to do it individually. First major step is to gather enough information on gorilla tracking especially information on transportation means, fares, price of gorilla permits, accommodation facilities and any other helpful information. This is how you can track gorillas independently;
Book for a gorilla permit: First inquire with the Rwanda Development Board to check whether gorilla permits are available. Currently gorilla permits are being sold at $750 and they can be obtained at the Rwanda Development Board offices in Kigali. Payments are also made there in cash or by use of a credit card which is a better option than paying in the bank since they get an interest for the money transfer.
Get a transportation means to Ruhengeri: There are many local bus companies with buses and mini buses that leave the city for Ruhengeri. There is a bus station at Nyabugogo and you can easily buy your bus ticket from a bus ticket selling office but its better to go to the bus station 30 minutes early in order to get your bus ticket on time. Different buses charge different fares, Virunga express bus for example charges around 2000 francs per person and the journey to Ruhengeri takes only 2hours.
Connect to Kinigi: This is near the park headquarters and you can get there using a local bus which charges around 300 francs per person. The trip takes about 15-25 minutes however if you are in a hurry, you can take a motor cycle which will charge you around 2000 francs depending on your bargaining power.
Getting a place to sleep: There are many accommodation facilities around however Kinigi guest house can be a better option because it’s just a 7 minutes walk away from volcanoes national park headquarters. It’s easier to get to the headquarters on the day for trekking early enough because those to trek are expected to be at the headquarters by 7:00 am for briefing. It’s advisable to book for an accommodation place early enough in order not to be inconvenienced.
While at the accommodation facility of your choice, you can book for a 4WD that you will use for your journey to the trail head in the equatorial forests. A 4WD is recommended because it’s a strong car and can manage the rough state of the road between the park headquarters and the trail.
While tracking primates like the golden monkey you might not necessarily use a 4WD to get to the trail.
Meals; having lunch while on the trek will depend on how quickly you get to your allocated gorilla group. If you take long and lunch time finds you there, your hotel can pack food for you but if you find them easily, you can get back to the hotel for lunch.
Important to note is that you can’t do a gorilla trek in the forests without a guide however you don’t have to pay directly for the guide services because the ticket you purchased covers the park entry fees, guiding services and the hour interaction with the gorillas.
Generally, it’s a good experience to plan your own gorilla safari as it cuts on tour cost and can enable you to save enough money to visit other attractions in Rwanda and can also enable you to buy as a many souvenirs as you can