We spent one day trekking to see golden monkeys and then two days later, we went back to the park to see the gorillas. Both treks were incredible, and we loved every second! The gorilla trek was a lot harder than we had expected, even though we did a moderate trek to see the A kasha group. While it was well-worth the effort, make sure that you hire a porter to ensure that you can make the climb to see the gorillas.
We spent the 2 days Gorilla Trekking Rwanda. At the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda we were treated prior to the trekking by cultural dancing by Rwandan dancer. We were then divided up into ability/ desire groups for our trekking to see the gorillas–long trek, medium, short. The rangers throughout the park follow the gorillas and have a general idea as to where the family groups are. We had thought we were in the medium but somehow were placed in the long trek. We first had to drive to the starting location and were met by many porters and people trying to sell their wares.
Our guide chose to only have one porter accompany us as a “back up” measure to the 4 clients for the trek. We hiked (and hiked and hiked and hiked…) always it seemed upward toward the boundary of the National Park. The hike itself was very interesting traversing through the many planted fields and encountering beautiful terrain, many local farmers and families. The trek was beautiful, informational and taught us about the Rwandans and their farming and culture.
When were there, there were 18 gorilla groups and of those, you could trek 10. So there are 80 people that can trek since you are broken into groups of 8. The driver or guide that brings you to the park will “bid” on a gorilla trek for you. If you have a good driver, they will know the best groups and hopefully get you to see them. People that have trekked two or more days have priority. The matching up of you into trekking groups is a scene in itself. It takes a good 45 minutes to organize everyone. While your driver does this for you, you can have coffee and watch the local dancers that come in.
Along the hike, two additional “guards” joined us bringing along their guns to protect us from the mountain roaming buffalo and rogue elephants. I had at first scoffed at the porter accompanying us but forgot my pride and let him take my pack. My goal was to get to the mountain gorillas and if giving my pack to a porter, so be it. As it turned out, we ended up climbing over +3,000′ in a somewhat short amount of time so it was a hard hike. I had thought I was in fairly good condition but we ended up around 10,000′ and I was not used to the altitude.