Gorilla trek in Rawanda

Old Sep 25th, 2008, 11:34 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Gorilla trek in Rawanda

I really want to see the gorillas in Rawanda. Are any of the treks suitable for a senior citizen who is an experienced safari traveler in good shape? What would be your recommendations for lodges?
emowens is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2008, 11:42 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 53
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi

I am off to Rwanda tomorrow and will be doing 2 gorilla treks. I will post a report on our return.
hamishbear is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2008, 04:07 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 509
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi!
DH and I (61 and 60) saw the gorillas in Rwanda last month: absolutely magificent! There are usually one or two groups fairly close to Park HQ -- by that I mean about a 40-45 minute hike from the trail head. But conditions can vary from day to day -- one day the Sabyinyo group (usually close) was out in a field; the next day they were down in the crater and it took sliding down steep banks to get to them. On our second day we were assigned to Hirwa, which is usually in the low forest -- but that day they were a 3-hour hike uphill.

The important thing is to do as much endurance conditioning as possible ahead of time -- and to give your driver/guide as accurate as possible an idea of your capabilities. He will negotiate your group assignment. Be certain to hire a porter -- they will help get you up and down the hills (and, even if you don't need it, at least you've given someone employment).

We stayed at Gorillas Nest; not fancy but adequate -- they are upgrading (but also raising prices). Virunga looked nice but is an hour's drive from Park HQ; that usually translates to a 5:30 am departure each morning before your trek. Silverback Lodge is top of the line (by Rwanda standards) but very expensive; hard to know if it's worth the $400/person/night difference...I decided I'd rather spend the extra $$ elsewhere.
skibumette is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2008, 04:53 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Good shape is the operative word. You'll do fine. Skibumette gave some good recent first hand advice on conditioning and where to stay.

You can request easier gorilla groups that are closer and/or in less difficult terrain when you arrive at the Ranger Station.

Using a porter also helps, plus it provides employment.

I also stayed at Gorilla's Nest and found it to be nice and very convenient.

The cost of Gorilla's Nest just went up so I'll be spending most of my visit next Aug at Kinigi Guest House, also a good location.

You'll have a fantastic trip!
atravelynn is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2008, 08:15 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hamisbear, I will look forward to your report when you return.

skiburnette,thanks for all the good information. I live on the coast and therefore have no hills to climb but I live in a two story house and I climb stairs all day long (on purpose). Keeps me in good shape. Had no altitude problems when I traveled to Cusco or Tibet. This is a fairly good test I think.

atravelynn, you are very encouraging. My husband even suggested that I hire 4 porters! He doesn't want to go with me but he really thinks I should go. My daughter will definitely go and together we will work on our conditioning until we are in good enough shape.

Thanks to all of you. You have made my day!
emowens is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2008, 05:11 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 509
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Go for it! Especially if you've done Cusco and Tibet! Climbing stairs is good -- also walking (even on the flats) for increasingly extended times.

I found that the group assignments at HQ seemed to be made according to age and language. We "seniors" are likely to be assigned automatically to the closer groups -- unless you specifically ask for a further away group. If you are trekking more than one day (which I'd recommend if you can manage the additonal permit fees), you might ask for an easier group the first day -- then ask for something more challening the second day if you feel up to it.

As Lynn suggested, you can make requests at Park HQ -- but, if you have a driver/guide for your stay, they can usually negotiate your group assignment. They seem to know everyone there.

BTW, I have no doubt one porter will suffice
skibumette is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2008, 11:57 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Skibumette, thanks to you I will know to request the closer gorillas. My husband was really kidding when he suggested 4 porters.
He joking said they could piggy back me up if I can't make it.
emowens is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2008, 12:23 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A related aside to that be carried. When chimp trekking at Mahale in Tanzania there was a woman in the group that was suffering from heat exhaustion. She rested and was cared for, and she even had a 20 minute encounter where a chimp (Darwin) sat 3 or 4 feet away from her while the group was trekking after other chimps. Later I said to the guide you must have people that are ill-prepared often for the rigors of trekking and he told me that once a woman showed up in a wheel chair -- she had not informed her agent or anyone else as she knew they would not let her come. She asked was there a way to be carried up to see the chimps. The guide checked around and one of the camp staff men at Greystoke volunteered and he physically carried her for two hours up the mountains to the chimps. As luck would have it the there was about 30 chimps right on the trail and it was one of the best viewing days the guide ever had and certainly one of the best moments of this woman's life as she was in tears that it all worked out.

I hate to generalize about 'Africans' since it is a continent of many different nations and cultures but there does seem to be a common string of this kind of big hearted generosity and a genuine desire that tourists see the natural treasures. You can bet that most rangers and porters will do everything they can for someone to get to see the gorillas and have an experience of a lifetime.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2008, 04:50 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
To expand on Predator's commnents of carrying you up the hill, you can hire enough porters to do that. With a going rate of about $10 each, that would not be a problem.

In 2004 my guide said he was working on a chair similar to those royalty were carried around in.

If there's a will and a willingness to secure enough porters, there is a way up that mountain no matter what shape you are in.

People in their 60s routinely visit the gorillas without trouble. I trekked with a 78 year old man on my first gorilla visit and he did fine.

The procedure is to put the slowest person in front so the group keeps their pace. With 7 other people, if you are in shape, you probably wouldn't even be the slowest.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2008, 07:20 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You guys keep on encouraging me and I will do the trek. I am excited that I have received so much enthusiasm from you. I have already started my work outs.
emowens is offline  
Old Sep 28th, 2008, 07:34 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
atravelyn, I love the idea of a royalty chair. Husband mentioned that too (tongue in cheek). I am going to let him read what you wrote. However I am working on conditioning so I can do the trek myself!
emowens is offline  
Old Sep 28th, 2008, 07:17 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 689
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We just got back tonight from our gorilla trek. Definitely request the closer gorilla groups (when we were there it was Hirwa and Sabyinyo). Do not do the Dian Fossey trek. Ours took 6 hours because it rained the night before and the trail was a foot deep in mud. The Susa group would not be advisable either, as at 35 I was the slowest person in the group and they don't always put the slowest person in front, they just let me lag behind. That trek was 5 hours. For our Dian Fossey trek and Umabano trek, the guide put the slowest person up front. Hire a porter for sure. Not only do they carry your bag, they also help you up the mountain (mine literally pulled me up the mountain for the last part of the Susa trek!) We gave our porters $20, although the going rate is $10. Also, you have to tip the trackers (usually 3) who find the gorillas as well as your guide. You are better off tipping your guide beforehand because on our last trek we gave the guide $20 before we started and he made sure we were always in the best possible position for pictures.

We heard bad reviews about the Gorilla's Nest before we left so we weren't expecting much. We were pleasantly surprised how nice it was and good the food was. The staff was friendly and we were able to exchange money at the front desk(which I had read wasn't possible). The only thing that was true about what we had read in the reviews, was that it is very cold. Just wear long underwear and ask for an extra blanket.

We booked with R&N Explorer and lately there have been some threads on Fodors about poor service, but we had absolutely no problems. From the time they met us in Kigali with our name on a sign until they dropped us off, everything went smoothly. Our driver was Abdul and he was exceptional.
loru100 is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2008, 10:42 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is great information Loru100. I think the Gorillas Nest would be my choice for convenience sake. I hate to hear that it is so cold which I have heard before. I am very cold natured. But I can take long johns and warm pjs. I hope you will be forthcoming very soon with a trip report.
emowens is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2008, 02:31 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I tend to be cold and survived Gorilla's Nest just fine. They will bring in an iron pot full of burning coals or something and set it in your room to heat things up if you request it. These were used in the restaurant. I didn't ask for one but I made sure I showered and washed my hair midday when I could walk outside in the warm sun and warm up.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2008, 06:32 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I will certainly request the hot coals.
emowens is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
mowmow
Africa & the Middle East
5
Sep 30th, 2010 09:36 AM
tanietta
Africa & the Middle East
6
Jul 10th, 2009 10:27 AM
kak113
Africa & the Middle East
15
Jun 14th, 2009 03:48 PM
beachmama7
Africa & the Middle East
7
Oct 21st, 2008 05:08 PM
Dr_Andrea
Africa & the Middle East
23
Oct 14th, 2005 07:26 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information