I went through Rwanda Gorilla Safaris who were very professional, attentive and flexible. While I only had a 3-day tour, Rwanda Gorilla Safaris offers dozens of different tours around Rwanda as well as into the Democratic Republic of Congo that allows for a night stay near the top of an active Nyiragongo volcano that I wish I had extra time for.
I organized my trip through Jackie, she has worked with Rwanda Gorilla Safaris for around eight years and organized a flawless visit. My guide was Emma who has been with for over four years and was very knowledgeable and open as I would ask questions not only about Rwanda’s recent history, but about the type of food, agriculture, and local traditions. Emma was also very flexible as I had other requests which he was all too happy to arrange at no extra charge. Also, Emma was very accommodating when I would ask to stop frequently to take pictures.
The city tour is very basic and probably could be avoided, but a visit to the Genocide Museum is a must and free of charge.
Mountain Gorilla permit costs $750 per person per trek and a one-day visit is probably good enough, but you have come this far and I would recommend another day as you will not only be able to compare the different gorilla families, but guarantee you will take the perfect photo/video that you may have missed the day before. Unless you can guarantee that it will not rain when hiking, here is a list that you should bring: Waterproof Boots, Gators, Higher quality/thicker hiking pants stinging nettles everywhere, and gloves.
There are multiple options to see the various gorilla families and each brings its own experience. Personally, I enjoyed the Susa group the most as, not only was it the largest family, but with more adult males there was plenty of aggressive play that really made the experience worthwhile. Depending upon the shape you are in may greatly effect which family/hike you can visit. Some are affected by the altitude (around 8000 feet high) and tire much easier. Otherwise, the hikes themselves range in distance and difficulty – but even the longest hike may only be 2-3 hours uphill one way. The drive to each Gorilla family trail head may also require a 1-2 hour drive. Porters are also available to help bring your backpack if you prefer at $15 USD.
Part of the fun is that the Gorillas are very active and do move frequently, so just when your guide says you are close – the gorillas have moved even further up the mountain. Additionally, the guides carry machetes and will constantly be clearing a new path throughout the hike. Once you find the family, there is a limit of one hour but surprisingly it does not go as quick as you would think. The guides are very professional and will all but guarantee you will get close enough for an experience you would not forget.
I highly recommend: Hiking boots, long thick pants, long sleeve shirts, safari hats and sunglasses and for a class safari please, I advise using Rwanda Gorilla Safaris.