The group (started with a K--sorry now that I didn't write it down) we visited has about 18-20 gorillas, and we probably saw 12-15, including about 7 or 8 babies/toddlers (up to 3 years old). The hike there is billed as easy, but it wasn't really that easy unless you are used to hiking at 7200' altitude (and we had been in Rwanda for a week at that point, but I should also add that we are both fit but 71 and 72). There are porters who will carry your backpack as well as help you up over the rough spots, and that was well worth it for us. The road to get to the hiking point is very rough, but it is all worth it. The cost is $750 pp, and you are allowed one hour with the gorillas The fee not only goes to maintenance of the preserve but also to schools and other facilities in the area. You are supposed to stay about 12-15' away, but there were times we were more like 8-10'. You definitely should not allow the babies to come up to you as they are very curious, but the guides are rightfully strict about not allowing human contact and germs. The gorillas are gentle, totally non-threatening, and will look you right in the eye, which not all wild animals will do. The biggest (alpha) silverback was asleep under a tree, and one of the toddlers was jumping off a vine onto his back and sliding down--and he didn't move a muscle. Very good grandpa, I think.
The drive from Kigali takes less than 2 hours (very winding but pretty drive; lots of people walking on the roads so drive carefully). However, since you have to be at the headquarters by 6:30-7:00 a.m., it is better to spend the night in a hotel in town. From there it was about a 30-minute drive to the headquarters. If you want to be sure you get into an "easy" hike group, plan to arrive early. We were there in Jan., so there were not as many people as there are during the "high" season but still about 30 people. No more than 8 are allowed in any one group, and we were told there are now 10 groups that can be visited. A couple have very strenuous hikes of 2-3 hours to get to the gorillas.
Definitely take water with you. We also took snacks like energy and Luna bars, which were very good to have with us since breakfast had been so early. There is coffee and tea at the headquarters for free.
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