When we started our Africa trip by motorcycle, go to gorilla trekking was one of our top attractions in Africa. to do. But when we were searching prices to visit Gorillas was so expensive, especially Rwanda and Uganda because, they just changed the permit costs to see the Gorillas for 2018.
Do you know there is another option to see the gorillas? This is in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), next to the Rwanda border? This called Virunga national park and is another option for the gorilla trekking. This is what we did. Also we hiked the Nyiragongo volcano to see the biggest and most dangerous active volcano lake in the world. But let’s start with gorilla trekking costs in Virunga Park, DRC. 🙂
How cheap can it be to see mountain gorillas?
The biggest problem is “see gorillas permit”. The permit is 1500 USD in Rwanda, 600 USD in Uganda and 400 USD in DRC. The permit is allows you to spend one hour with gorillas in the park.
When we searched about gorillas trekking in Rwanda and Uganda we found more tour companies and of course the price was more high.
Some countries gorilla permit fee can change in the rain season because it is low season. Virunga park changes the gorilla permits from 400 USD to 200 USD. You can check low season dates on virunga park website (https://visitvirunga.org/). It was starting 13 of march on 2018.
You need visa a as well to enter Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); It is 100 USD. If you book directly from Virunga park website they apply visa for you. Their website writes that it takes 2 weeks to approve the visa. We didn’t have so much. We wrote them Friday afternoon and we entered DRC on Tuesday morning. ☺️ You must remember; if you travel with East African visa you can not enter again with the same visa to Rwanda. You should check more info on EATV visa detail.
They don’t allow enter the park with your own vehicle so you need transport to go and see gorillas. Therefore we parked our motorcycle in Rwanda and paid daily 5 USD for two motorcycles in Discover Rwanda campsite. If you want to have transport inside the Virunga park it is a little expensive but you can go by taxi. Taxi cost changes where you want to go. For example, you can go to Nyiragongo volcano hiking from Goma and turn back Goma. After that go to Burkima to see gorillas and turn back Goma border again cost around 180 USD. It is taxi price, not per person. If you are four persons in the taxi 45 USD per person. You can find companies on internet also you can check http://www.ubuntuvoyages.com/contact it. If you are good negotiator you can book everything from there maybe more cheap then park website 🙂
Rwanda-DRC border opens early but Virunga park office (in the border) opens 8 am in the morning. Therefore, they write on their page that ”You can not visit gorillas same day of border crossing because the gorilla trek starts at 8:30 am and Goma border to Burkima around 1,5 – 2 hours. The office gives your permit paper on the border when you arrive Burkima or Nyiragongo, you show these papers. If you want to do it the same day you should write Virunga park. I am sure they will do their best for you.
So, if you can’t go to the gorilla trek same day of border crossing you can find some hotels on the border. For example, Rusina hotel in Goma was 40 USD for a double room with private shower. (You can find cheaper options if you search, but depends on the quality and safety you are looking for.)
So, see gorillas cost can be around 365 USD (+ 30 USD Rwanda visa) if you are more than one person to go Virunga Park, DRC.
How much to visit Nyiragongo Lava Lake?
When we were going to see the gorillas we decided to hike the Nyiragongo volcano as well. And we booked everything from Virunga park website.
Unfortunately, climb Nyirangongo volcano price doesn’t change because they don’t have low season for it. The price is 300 USD. You climb to the top and stay on the top in a hut (summit shelter) a night and next day you turn back.
If you want you can hire a porter there to carry your backpack also you can order a food package on the Virunga park website. We didn’t have porter or didn’t book food. We carried our stuff. Because the porter is 24 USD to round and meal is 75 USD (snacks on the hike, dinner and breakfast) per person.
We carried total 10 liters water, chapatis ( traditional bread name in East Africa like a wrap), tuna cans, some fruits, cookies and boiled eggs for breakfast. Also, a bottle of wine because it was our anniversary and we wanted to celebrate there. 😉
So, If you want to visit gorillas and Nyiragongo lava lake together in the low season the cost can be;
300 USD Nyiragongo volcano hike
200 USD Gorillas permit and trek
100 USD DRC visa
Transporter and hotel price which way you want to do. If you travel like what we did it can be 65 USD.
We entered Rwanda from Tanzania and paid 30 USD visa for Rwanda. When we were turning back DRC we used our EATV because we were going to Uganda and Kenya.
Total price: 695 USD
!!!!IMPORTANT NOTE!!! Your security is most important thing for Virunga park. Before book your journey to there you should get contact with them and learn the security detail. Even if after book if anything can happen they can cancel the tour and pay back money.