If you’re most familiar with the urban jungle, a gay Rwanda gorilla trek is definitely NOT at the top of your vacation list. But maybe it should be – and here’s why!
What even IS gorilla trekking?
It’s not like going to your first bear bar, which can be an adventure unto its own. Rather, gorilla trekking is a guided jungle hike to find, and hang out with, an entire family of wild gorillas! This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that everyone – and we mean EVERYONE – raves about afterwards. We won’t get too close, but the gorillas are accustomed to humans and aren’t easily agitated. Rwanda in particular offers the most accessible gorilla trek, with 12 gorilla families calling Volcanoes National Park home. Each family contains at least one silverback, several females, and uber-adorable baby gorillas.
Some of these families can be visited by tourists but others are protected for scientific research. Remember Dian Fossey? She’s the American primatologist and conservationist who conducted gorilla research in this very park in Rwanda between 1966 and 1985. Suffice to say, this is THE place to go for a gorilla trek.
Rwanda is not a third-world country
“Rwanda, you mean that place with the genocide?” It’s a grim chapter in the country’s history, but A LOT has changed since 1994. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is now a major urban center with a thriving culinary scene. There’s also a genocide memorial (which we’ll visit) that honours the many lives lost.
And outside the city? Well, they don’t call it the “land of a thousand hills” for nothing. Rwanda is a lush, everlasting greenscape featuring flora that rivals the fauna in its Instagramability.
It’s relatively safe for LGBTQ people in Rwanda
Parts of Africa remain hostile to the queer community, but Rwanda’s LGBTQ rights are rooted in its 2003 Constitutional Reform which bans the spread of discrimination and division based on any ground. This is not to say things are perfect. Discrimination does exist, but unlike neighboring nations, same sex relations are not criminalized and/or punishable by death. The subject is considered a private matter, an unwritten ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy under the umbrella of reform while they continue to focus on the larger issue of rebuilding the nation. But it’s also important to note that despite this, Rwanda is considered a ‘safe haven’ for LGBTQ people fleeing neighboring nations like Uganda. In fact, the nation held their first Pride celebration in 2021, centered around a football match that fostered inclusivity. That said, we do suggest avoiding public displays of affection (not unlike America’s own rural south).
You’ll be with an all-gay tour group led by vetted guides
Here’s the best part: you’ll be surrounded by a gaggle of gays and guided by LGBTQ-welcoming folks who have been personally vetted by Out Adventures.
The gorilla trek itself is very, very safe
Rwanda is one of Africa’s safest countries and you are in good hands. The heavy military and police presence around touristy areas such as Volcanoes National Park deters poachers, meaning you’re unlikely to encounter any issues before, during or after your trek. If it’s the gorillas you’re worried about, rest assured that your guides are armed with rifles for your safety and will protect you in the unlikely case that a silverback charges. They are also well trained in moving trekkers to safety if we do encounter dangerous animals, and they know how to fire their guns to scare the animals without harming them. (Due to the nature of the trekking permits, 8 people are assigned to each gorilla family, meaning our Out Adventures group will likely be split up for the trek portion only.)
We’ll be staying at the Marriott Kigali
Settle down, city slicker, because there’s even a Marriott property to lay your head.
This particular Marriott is, in fact, a 5-star property that’ll keep us well pampered during our down time. It has an ENORMOUS pool and outdoor lounge area as well as a fancypants bar smack dab in the middle of the lobby that even Auntie Mame would find top drawer. So, while we’ll have days spent traipsing through the jungle like Sigourney, our adventure will be bookended in the lap of luxury.
We’ll also be staying at Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel
Full disclosure: this hotel is even cuter than the Marriott!
Once you’ve settled into your room, grab your towel because the pool and outdoor lounge can’t be missed! Hold your calls, order a local beer, and if you’re truly getting into the spirit, try a locally-brewed banana wine called urwagwa.
And make sure you post a picture of yourself enjoying that sweet, sweet pool life, because…
It’s summer south of the equator.
It’s January, so in all likelihood, you flew in from winter and this summer heat feels extra sweet. Daily highs are around 81°F (27°C), rarely falling below 75°F (27°C). January is also one of the best months to trek, as Rwanda experiences a short dry season from December to February.
But my summer body is on vacation this winter – is this hike for me?
While you do need to be somewhat fit to trek, it’s not overly strenuous. The forest trails can be steep, slippery and muddy (even during the dry season), and the humidity can also be a challenge for some. Altitude can range from 2,500 to 3,350 meters (8,200 to 11,000 feet), and our gorilla trekking can take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours (or more) depending on the location of the gorilla family allocated and the speed and direction at which the gorillas are moving. Have faith in yourself, and our helpful guides will be there to assist.
This trip is ONLY 4 days?!?
Bear in mind this is actually an extension to our 7-day Serengeti Safari in neighbouring Tanzania. If you’re planning a trip to the heart of Africa, this 11-day combo is the perfect way to soak in everything the region has to offer.
“Alright, you’ve convinced me and I wanna see gorillas! How do I sign up?” Head on over to the Rwanda: Gorilla Trek Extension page and smash that “Book Trip” button, which by the way, feels pretty good to do in itself. See ya in Africa!
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