Exclusive Premium Permit Gorilla Trek
Experience a wildlife encounter like no other and view Silverback Gorillas alongside an expert guide. During this exclusive Adventure, you will encounter silverback gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park on Premium Permit treks with Craig Sholley, renowned conservationist and Senior Vice President of the African Wildlife Foundation. These Premium Permits will allow you to hike into the protected habitat of the silverback gorillas. Additionally, this Adventure will include a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial with a private presentation from the Museum’s Director, Honore Gatera.
Offered in partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation and the Center for Conservation and Community
For more than four decades, the African Wildlife Foundation has partnered and been a leader in mountain gorilla conservation within Rwanda. In 1981, AWF was one of the founders of the Mountain Gorilla Project (MGP). For a decade, AWF alongside the MGP led and developed anti-poaching programs, supporting park planning, instituting community education programs, and implementing Rwanda’s ground-breaking gorilla tourism industry. In 1991, AWF and partners expanded the Rwandan country-level program to create the International Gorilla Conservation Program – a transboundary program focused on conservation throughout the species entire range. In 2007, AWF financed and developed Rwanda’s first luxury lodging community-owned enterprise – Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. THIRDHOME is proud to partner with the African Wildlife Foundation to provide our members exclusive and amazing access to the Mountain Gorillas along with accommodations within this extraordinary region and lodge.
Who can participate?
THIRDHOME Exchange Club and Adventure Club Members, along with their family and friends can participate. Per Rwanda Gorilla Trek permit regulations, you must be 15 years of age or older to join the trek. This trek requires strenuous mountain trekking for several hours with rest stops.
Due to park trek requirements, this Adventure requires 14 participants for an exclusive access Premium Permit; if we acquire less than 14 participants, the trek can still operate however the permit will be based on standard access with a slightly reduced cost to be advised.
Please note that gorillas have fragile immune systems and minor illnesses in humans such as a common cold can be life-threatening to the gorillas. Since they are considered a critically endangered species, participants must be in good health or they will not be allowed to engage with the gorillas.
Level 3-5: To experience this unique destination, you will need to be able to participate in physical activities such as trekking and walking over uneven terrain, climbing stairs, and various time-period lengths of standing (between 4-6 hrs) alongside an expert team of guides. You can easily climb onboard 4×4 off-road vehicles and can easily adapt to changes in elevation. In the adventure itinerary, you can expect some longer active days with included group activities, balanced with some leisure time to relax and explore as you wish. In addition, you’ll enjoy gathering with other adventure participants for occasional group meals on designated days within the itinerary, along with having some flexibility to experience the local dining scene on your own within the destination.
EXPLORE THE 98.6% HUMAN DOCUMENTARY
DISCOVER VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK CONSERVATION
OUR Gorilla Trek AMBASSADOR HOST
SHOLLEY, SVP OF THE AFRICAN WILDLIFE FOUNDATION
Encountering Silverback mountain gorillas in the midst of their forested ‘turf’ is an unparalleled natural history experience. Exchanging glances with a 450-pound gorilla on his terms will change your life forever in the best of possible ways.CRAIG SHOLLEY
Gain access to the gorillas with our exclusive Premium Permit trek alongside Craig Sholley, renowned conservationist and Senior Vice President of the African Wildlife Foundation. Craig’s experiences with wildlife and conservation began in 1973 as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire, Africa. He has worked and traveled extensively since that time providing conservation expertise in a variety of world arenas. As an L.S.B. Leakey grant researcher in the late 1970’s, Craig studied mountain gorillas at Rwanda’s celebrated Karisoke Research Centre with Dian Fossey. Returning to the US, he redirected his interests designing natural history educational programs and wildlife tours for the Baltimore Zoological Society. Concurrently, Craig led nature expeditions and photographed wildlife throughout Africa, South America, and Asia.
In late 1987, Craig returned to Africa full time to direct Rwanda’s internationally-known Mountain Gorilla Project. Turning the project over to the Rwandan government in early 1990, Craig continued in Rwanda acting as Scientific Advisor for the award-winning IMAX film, Mountain Gorilla. Craig has served as a Senior Associate of the African Wildlife Foundation and on AWF’s Board of Trustees. He has also served on the Board of the Ecotourism Society. Throughout much of the ’90s, Craig was Director of Conservation and Education for International Expeditions, an organization widely recognized for its ecotourism initiatives.
Craig returned to Rwanda in 1995 on assignment with the National Geographic Society surveying the conservation status of mountain gorillas in Rwanda, DR Congo, and Uganda in the aftermath of Rwanda’s civil war. The findings of that trip are the basis of a 1995 article in National Geographic Magazine on mountain gorilla conservation. Craig has worked full time with the African Wildlife Foundation for the last 16 years and presently serves as Senior Vice President.
Craig has led countless safaris to natural destinations throughout the world. His favorite continental travel destination remains Africa and he has a strong positive bias for Uganda and Rwanda.
RWANDA GORILLAS SAFARI HIGHLIGHTS
- Experience a safari wildlife encounter like no other in the greatest Silverback region of Africa
- Encounter with Silverback Gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park on a guided trek
- Gain exclusive access to the Gorillas on our Premium Permit trek alongside Craig Sholley, renowned conservationist and Senior Vice President of the African Wildlife Foundation
- Discover the extraordinary Silverback species through testimonial personal stories from Craig Sholley’s vast time in the field, while also working alongside Dian Fossey
- Visit the Genocide Memorial in Kigali with a private presentation by the Museum’s Director Honore Gatera, for a personal story-telling of this historical experience
- Escape into luxurious safari accommodations at the renowned Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
- OPTIONAL – An extra day of trekking to encounter with the Gorillas (standard permit only)
- OPTIONAL – A guided excursion to view the rare Golden Monkeys of Rwanda
- Extend Your Safari Adventure – Consider Pre or Post custom extensions to Tanzania and into other surrounding regions of Africa (OR) explore another destination as a stop-over in conjunction with your international air route. Consider the coast of Tanzania’s beaches or South Africa to explore its vineyards and relax at the breathtaking Victoria Falls.
PRIORITY ACCESS TO PREVIOUSLY BOOKED MEMBERS
ItineraryExpand AllCollapse All
JUN 2 (2023)
DEPART FROM HOME
CLICK ON EXPAND ALL to view itinerary…Today depart from your home location on arranged flights.
DAY 1 – Jun 3 (2023)
ARRIVAL IN KIGALI, RWANDA
Travelers who are beginning their journey in Rwanda will fly to Kigali where they will be met and transferred by a representative. Continue onward to the Kigali Serena Hotel where you will meet Craig Sholley from the African Wildlife Foundation. Overnight at Kigali Serena Hotel with dinner included. Meals included: Dinner
DAY 2 – JUN 4 (2023)
KIGALI TO VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
This morning enjoy a group breakfast. Depart the hotel for an exploration of the city of Kigali, visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the final resting place of more than 250,000 victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Through education and peace-
building, the museum honors the memory of the Rwandans killed during this horrific time. After touring the memorial, the group will receive a private presentation by the Museum’s Director, Honore Gatera, whose personal story of a family loss is a compelling microcosm of the majority of his fellow countrymen and women. Afterwards the group will experience lunch at Heaven, a fabulous recommended local restaurant. Depart onward after lunch for our scenic and informative journey to Volcanoes National Park, home to a large percentage of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population. The park protects the steep slopes of the magnificent Virunga Mountains, a chain of extinct volcanoes that tower up to nearly 15,000 feet. It also protects the rich mosaic of montane and bamboo forests that provide the habitat for the world’s most endangered great ape. Volcanoes National Park was the base for famous
naturalist, Dian Fossey, who carried out her research on gorillas. She is widely credited with saving the gorillas from extinction by bringing their plight to the attention of the international community. Your accommodations for the next three nights are at the luxurious Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. The concept for the lodge was crafted by the African Wildlife Foundation 10 years ago. At the time, the idea of local community ownership in a high-end tourist lodge was cutting-edge, and paved the way for a business philosophy that simultaneously benefits wildlife conservation and improves the livelihoods of local people. This evening, enjoy personal stories and experiences from Craig’s lifetime memories with the gorillas and working with Dian. Craig will also provide an orientation on mountain gorilla behavior, conservation and help you prepare for the gorilla trek again for our next day. Overnight at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 3 – JUN 5 (2023)
VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK GORILLA TREK
Today you will encounter the mountain gorillas ‘on their turf.’ THIRDHOME has arranged for exclusive access and will divide the party into two small groups in order for each to visit one of the gorilla families. Exclusive access also means that you will bypass the bureaucratic and time-consuming process of attaining a visitation permit, and get straight to visiting your pre-assigned gorilla family. With guides, you will travel by vehicle to a specific departure point to start the trek. The trekking can take from one to six hours and climb to elevations, not in excess of 9,000 feet. Although the hike can be physically demanding, and the terrain is rough and muddy at times, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make it well worthwhile. Once you’ve found your gorilla family, you will be able to observe the special nature of this family group and their interacting dynamics. This wildlife contact is often described as being the most profound natural history experience in the world. Picnic lunches are provided and it is important to take plenty of water. Cameras and plenty of flash card memory is recommended. These are wild animals, but experienced guides are with you and will share their knowledge, expertise, and stories. Overnight at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 4 – JUN 6 (2023)
VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Today you have the option to choose another the adventure you prefer – opt into an additional day of Gorilla trekking to gain a second experience with Craig Sholley encountering with the gorilla families (please note that 14 participants are required per trek to operate, whether on Exclusive Permit or Standard Permit; if our group does not all participate, then those who wish to trek another day will be joined into a park group). Or you may opt to not trek, and instead encounter with the fascinating and rare Golden Monkeys. These primates have a prominent golden fur coat, which adds to their unique attractiveness. The Golden
DAY 5 – JUN 7 (2023)
DEPARTURE KIGALI – TO ONWARD DESTINATION OR HOME
1-Night Accommodations at the Kigali Serena Hotel
3-Night Accommodations at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
TREK INTO THE PROTECTED HABITAT TO ENCOUNTER WITH SILVERBACK GORILLA FAMILIES
Located within the Volcanoes National Park and set at the foothill of the Virunga ranges, the Sabyinyo Lodge offers a serene and magical setting with wonderful views of the mountains and surrounding countryside. Escape into luxuriously appointed Cottage accommodations.
accommodations in Kigali at The Kigali Serena Hotel with dinner 1 night
- VIP Group visit of the Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum with private presentation by the Museum Director
- 3 nights accommodations at the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in luxury Cottages
- Breakfast, lunch
dinner during and at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge stay
- Laundry services, room service, house wines, beers and sodas
- Exclusive Access Gorilla Trek for one-day hiking with Craig Sholley
- Educational Silverback Gorilla species and regional habitat discussions with Craig Sholley
- All ground transportation and naturalist guide services
- Optional: Additional Exclusive Premium Permit Silverback Gorilla trek with Craig (minimum participant requirement of 14 people per park trek regulations) – see below
- Optional: A guided tour to encounter the rare Golden Monkeys – see below
What’s not Included
- International flights/airline arrangements; including an domestic internal flights for onward destinations
- Tourist Visas
- Premium Permits for Gorilla Trek – price is pending per Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park for 2023
- COVID-19 Travel Mandated Test Requirements (these vary per destination based on citizenship)
- Premium Drinks (champagnes, liqueurs and spirits) while at Sabyinyo Lodge
- Any activities or excursions not noted in the group adventure itinerary
- Optional: Additional Exclusive Premium Permit Silverback Gorilla trek with Craig (minimum participant requirement of 14 people per park trek regulations) – approx cost $1895 per person Exclusive Permit; or $1595 per person for Standard Permit
- Optional: A guided tour to encounter the rare Golden Monkeys – approx cost $150 per person
Passport, Visa & COVID-19 Requirements
- Passports must be valid for 6 months (or more) beyond the scheduled return date
- COVID-19 Status in Rwanda and travel mandates per the US Embassy – VIEW
Click here for information about visas and additional entry requirements for US Citizens
Click here for immunizations recommended and up to date information
ULTIMATE GORILLA TREK (4 Nights/5 Days)
PRIORITY ACCESS TO PREVIOUSLY BOOKED MEMBERS
Please inquire for Custom Trek Dates
COST FOR PREVIOUSLY BOOKED MEMBERS:
$7670 per person (based on Double occupancy) + Premium Permit TBD for 2023
NO DEPOSIT REQUIRED IF ALREADY PAID
COST FOR NEW PARTICIPANTS:
$7970 per person (based on Double occupancy) + Premium Permit TBD for 2023
DEPOSIT FOR NEW PARTICIPANTS: $3995 per person (non-refundable)
FINAL PAYMENT DUE DATE: MAR 10, 2023
EXTENSIONS IN AFRICA
Adventure is 100% non-refundable after final payment. THIRDHOME strongly recommends the purchase of Travel Insurance. Please refer to THIRDHOME Adventures Terms & Conditions for more details.
THIRDHOME strongly recommends that all travelers purchase travel insurance prior to participating in a THIRDHOME Adventure and that all such insurance be purchased when a tour deposit is made. THIRDHOME travelers can purchase travel insurance through (1) the THIRDHOME preferred provider Allianz Travel or (2) the traveler’s insurance provider of choice. THIRDHOME will require proof of such travel insurance protection when a tour deposit is made.
Any traveler that elects not to purchase travel insurance, by either of the above means, agrees to release THIRDHOME from liability for any loss of funds incurred due to the cancellation of a specific THIRDHOME Adventure as a result of, but not limited to, an act of God, a failure to purchase travel insurance, the cessation of business with respect to a tour operator/ground operator, the failure of a tour operator/ground operator to refund consumer deposits or payments within 120 days following the cancellation of a THIRDHOME Adventure or a material failure to complete performance of a THIRDHOME Adventure.