Why we couldn’t go for a Gorilla Safari in Rwanda

This is my final post on Rwanda, and I simply couldn’t stop myself from writing why we couldn’t make it to the Gorilla Safari. Most people, after all, go to Rwanda to see the Silverback Mountain Gorillas in their natural surroundings at the Volcanoes National Park.

Two months before our trip to Africa last Christmas, our cousin, staying in Kigali, called up for making the bookings for the Gorilla Safari. She said that unless we made the bookings way in advance, we wouldn’t get a seat for us. The authorities control the number of people visiting the Gorillas each day. This ensures that the safaris are almost always sold out. One needs to plan well in advance.

Our cousin also mentioned that our six and half year old daughter couldn’t go for the Gorilla Safari as kids under 15 years are not allowed. It’s a tough 2-3 hours trek through heavy forest both way and hence, you need to be strong and sturdy. Certainly not for the faint-hearted and children or old people. Once you reach the place where the Gorilla family is, you get exactly 1 hr to sit and observe, and take photographs from a fairly close distance. Nothing short of an experience of a lifetime to see these gentle giants playing and eating!

Excited, Jayanta immediately sat down to look at the rates. And was dismayed — the permit alone costs $750 per person. Then there are the transport to and fro charges, and hotel stay in case you want to stay overnight at any of the lodges. So at about $1000 per person, it’s not affordable for most tourists travelling to Rwanda.

And thus, despite our five-day stay in Kigali, we came back to India, without seeing Rwanda’s most famous tourist attraction. Sigh!!!