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. At this time, we recommend applying for the Rwanda entry visa upon arrival. You will need to carry a copy of your printed itinerary and copy of your flights for your departure from Rwanda. If you have applied for the Rwanda visa online, please have your proof of application and payment handy upon arrival.
- 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)