When we decided to head out to Rwanda to take part in the Friends of Rwandan Rugby tourists tour we knew we wanted to try and see the gorillas if we possibly could! Rwanda is one of three neighbouring countries in Africa where you can see mountain gorillas in the wild—the other two being Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The difficulty for families is that children can’t visit the gorillas until they are 15 so you needed a plan.
Options for Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda if You Have Kids
Option one: Stay in a hotel near the gorillas that offer to look after the kids. Many of the 5* Hotels close to the gorillas do offer this.
Option two: Stay for two nights and see the gorillas on separate days. One of the things you can do with the kids whilst you are there is canoeing with Kingfisher Safaris so the kids don’t have two days at the hotel whilst you see the gorillas. We did this and it was a lot of fun.
Where to Stay if you are Gorilla Trekking!
There are many many places to stay near the Gorillas and naturally most have Gorilla in their name. The prices range dramatically too! We stayed at the fantastic Villa Gorilla which is a mid priced hotel in the area and if you are taking the kids and staying two nights to see the gorillas I can highly recommend staying here in the Family Lodge/
Villa Gorilla is more on the basic side than the luxurious, but the staff are wonderful and the views of the mountains superb. I just loved eating our meals outside.
On the Day of Gorilla Trekking!
It’s a 6am start for a silverback gorilla tour. We asked our guide Jimmy to ask for a closer gorilla group if possible so we wouldn’t be away from the kids for too long. They do the gorilla group assignments just before the trek and divide people up based on requests, physical fitness and which groups they may have seen already that week. We met a family on their fourth day of trekking to see the gorillas and they had been fortunate enough to see a different group each day. The central meeting point is a hive of activity and incredibly well organised. Clean toilets, coffee to be had and a place to wait if it’s wet.
After You Are Allocated Your Group, You Are Driven To The Start Of The Trek.
We had followed the recommendation to pay for a porter to join us on the trek (putting some valuable resources back into the local community) and I’m glad we had. The trek was muddy and overgrown despite the porters hacking the undergrowth away with their machetes. I’m very thankful to have brought decent hiking boots, and worn the gators that the hotel provided.
After An Hour, We Arrived At The Gorillas
We were given a pep talk about what to do if the gorillas wanted to get close to us (a very necessary chat, as it turns out, and then it was time for our hour. A very precious hour. Time seemed to stand still but race at the same time. I may have held my breath for most of the time. I couldn’t believe we were so close and that they were so content.
We Were So Close
The whole experience was incredibly moving. It’s expensive (now even more so, with a price increase to $1500 per person), but for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I can’t think of anything else that hits the mark!
Also See The Unexpected Costs of an African Safari
Where To See Wildlife in Africa
Sarah Christie is a craft, food, cruise, and family travel blogger Extraordinary Chaos, Cruising For All and Mini Travellers. Known for her unique perspective and ability to find beauty in chaos, Sarah designs and creates craft projects as well as creating recipes for people who want to cook from scratch the easy way. Whilst also exploring family travel and how to navigate it.