Flights & Transfers
- Flights between Kigali and Northern Tanzania’s parks are about 3 hours.
- The 33-lb baggage limit, including both your soft sided duffel and small carry-on bag, is STRICTLY enforced.
- Upon arrival in Kigali, you will be met and transferred via 4×4 safari vehicle to your lodge.
- A $50 Visa is required to enter Rwanda. US citizens can apply for their visas upon arrival or in advance online at https://irembo.gov.rw/rolportal/web/rol/single-entry-visa 30 days prior to their trip. Receipt must be shown at first entry point to obtain the official visa.
- For US citizens who apply on arrival, a printed copy of your Thomson Safaris itinerary and flight itinerary are required.
- Travelers who will be visiting other East African countries within a 3-month period can also consider a $100 USD East Africa Tourist Visa (EATV). Please note, Tanzania is not part of the EATV program and requires its own visa. Please check https://www.migration.gov.rw for latest visa requirements.
- Please visit https://rw.usembassy.gov/health-alert-covid-19-information for the latest COVID-19 related requirements for travel to Rwanda.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
- Please speak to your travel doctor for the most up-to-date yellow fever policies for Rwanda.
- Please note that policies fluctuate often.
- Those who are unable to get the vaccination due to medical reasons must show a doctor’s letter.
Accommodations & Meals
- Comfortable rooms have en suite bathrooms and pleasant décor.
- During the trek you will have picnic lunches from the lodge.
- Breakfast and dinner service is provided at the lodge.
- Most dietary requirements can be accommodated with advance notice, preferably at least 60 days before travel.
- Batteries can be charged at your lodge.
- Current is between 220-240 volts, and plugs are round, with two prongs, Types C, E and F. A multi-plug adapter set, available in most electronics stores (and larger airports), will include a current converter and any plug type you’ll need.
- Weather conditions vary seasonally but generally do not affect the possibility of viewing gorillas.
- Sporadic rain may occur any time of year, so bring a lightweight waterproof jacket/poncho.
- It tends to be predictably rainier in April, May and November.
- Year-round, temperatures do not vary much; highs are in the low 70s, and in the mid 50s at night.
Essential Physical Considerations
- The Virunga volcanoes reach elevations of over 14,000 feet, but gorillas are generally found at around 7,500 feet; your lodge is at about 6,400 feet.
- Gorilla trekkers will be taken through a trek briefing at park headquarters, where you will be able to choose between short, medium and long trek options. Allocation is done at the discretion of the park authorities.
- Gorilla viewing can never be guaranteed and may require anywhere from one to six hours of hiking.
- Hiking can be strenuous, covering steep forest paths and relatively ungroomed trails.
- General physical fitness is required, and every effort will be made to accommodate a reasonable pace for the group; however, it is not likely that individuals in a group will be able to turn back separately from the group.
Money & Valuables
- Do not bring non-essential valuables, due to the remote location and baggage allowance on your flights.
- US Dollars are accepted in Rwanda. Bills must be clean, un-torn and no older than 5 years. There are few ATMs; credit cards (Visa and MasterCard) are accepted at major lodges but not small gift shops.
- Plastic bags are not permitted in Rwanda; waterproof stuff sacks (nylon or vinyl) are recommended for cameras and other items that cannot get wet (single use Ziplocs, grocery bags, garbage bags are not allowed).
- At your trek briefing, you will have the opportunity to hire a personal porter for your gorilla trek.
- You will not be allowed to wear a backpack in the presence of gorillas; we strongly recommend a personal porter to carry personal items such as camera, water bottle, backpack, etc. ($15-20 per person, per trek, plus an additional $10 tip per trek.)
Gorilla Viewing Rules
These essential rules are in place to protect both you and the rare gorillas you have traveled so far to see.
- A maximum of eight tourists are allowed to view the gorillas at any one time, minimum age 15.
- Plan to wear a mask; bring your own supply, enough to switch masks several times during the trek.
- If you have an infectious illness, such as a cold, cough, etc., you will not be permitted to view the gorillas.
- While it is likely that you will see gorillas, it cannot be guaranteed.
- Each trekking group will be visiting a separate group of gorillas.
- All trekking groups are allowed one hour maximum with the gorillas. Gorilla viewing permits are not refundable or transferrable for any reason.
- Viewers should maintain a distance of at least 20 feet from gorillas. No touching is allowed. If a gorilla comes close, do not make any sudden movements, but move back calmly without disturbing them.
- Do not do anything that may cause stress to the gorillas. Respect their space, speak quietly and avoid quick movements.
- If a gorilla should vocalize or charge at you, do not be alarmed. Stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s directions.
- Do not eat or smoke on the trail or in the presence of the gorillas, and do not spit anywhere in the park.
- Do not defecate in the forest. If it is unavoidable, a hole of at least eight inches must be dug and covered.
- Do not use flash cameras.
- Do not wear bright colors that may disturb gorillas; do not wear camouflage as it is associated with the military.
Packing Considerations for Gorilla Trekking
- Due to fluctuating temperatures on any given day, layering clothing is recommended.
- Cotton is not appropriate for hiking; it absorbs water quickly and dries very slowly, which can lead to hypothermia.
- Long sleeves, long pants, gaiters and gloves can help protect from thorns and nettles.
- Hiking boots; waterproof with ankle support (sneakers are not sufficient)
- Gaiters (please bring your own pair per traveler. Available for an additional cost at the lodge gift shops)
- Shell jacket; waterproof, windproof (Gore-Tex or similar technology)
- Fleece Jacket
- Convertible hiking pants (not cotton) (2)
- Long-sleeved shirts (not cotton) (2)
- Short-sleeved t-shirts (not cotton) (2)
- Lightweight hiking socks (wool) 1/day
- Gloves (gardening gloves work well)
- Trekking pole (provided at trail head)
- Hat (wide-brimmed or with visor for sun protection)