Rwanda is a landlocked country situated in the East of Africa just underneath the imaginary line of the equator. It is bordered by Tanzania in the East, Burundi in the South, Uganda in the north and the Democratic Congo Republic in the west.
This country is regarded as the land of a thousand hills due to the fact it has numerous ranges that run from the east to the west of the country. Within these hills, there are a lot of natural beauties to enjoy from the natural sceneries, flora species to the exotic animals.
However, the most exciting experience in Rwanda is visiting the mountain gorillas in their natural environment. Mountain gorillas are one of the most sought after animals in the eco-tourism world. These animals are very exciting to watch in their natural environment and rare species of animals that cannot easily be found anywhere in the world. These species of gorillas are only found in Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo though, Rwanda is the most amazing country to hang out with these huge gentle giants.
Due to the presence of gorilla trekking experience, Rwanda has become a mainstay in the tourism industry in Africa as millions of tourist flock to the motherland to watch the exhilarating mountain gorillas in their wild.
The gorillas in Rwanda are found in Volcanoes National Park in the northeast of the country in Musanze district at the border of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a 2 hours drive away from Kigali the starting point of every Rwanda Safari expedition which is also the capital city of the country.
Rwanda has a third of the world’s population of the gorillas that is 320 gorillas out of about 900. The gorilla trekking experience involves hiking the montane and bamboo forests of Virunga ranges in search of a certain gorilla family under the guidance of the gorilla patron.
While searching for the gorillas, the trackers are able to see some other wildlife like different bird species, tree species and monkeys furthermore the patron narrates stories about the mountain gorillas which uplifts the trackers’ excitement about the meeting the gorillas in the wild. It takes 2-6 hours to find the gorillas in their natural setting since the gorilla are never in one place for a day as they keep on moving from one day to another looking for food and shelter.
Nonetheless meeting the gorillas makes the visitors forget the long hiking session since the moment is very amazing. It is such a nerve-cracking moment when the tracker makes eye contact with the silverback but fortunately enough these huge primates are very peaceful and harmless to the trackers. While with the gorillas, the trackers watch the gorilla feed, play around and also communicate intelligently as if they are humans.
Their interaction amongst themselves always leaves the visitors mesmerized. Above all is taking the sublime photos of the gorillas in their natural world. These pictures are so beautiful like the Monalisa painting. The interaction with the gorillas takes strictly one hour due to conservation and preservation reasons. Furthermore, while watching the gorillas, the trackers have to be 7 meters away from the gorillas in order to intrude their privacy by competing for space with them. After the one hour, the trackers lead out of the forests to get back to their lodges or Kigali city.
Note: To track the gorillas in their wild, one has to acquire a gorilla permit from Rwanda Tourism Board offices in Kigali or Ruhengeri at a cost of USD 1500.00. Alternatively, you can get it through your local tour operator and then one is good to have a lifetime experience while hanging out with gorillas in the wild.
A traveller can either do a Rwanda gorilla safari through booking with a local tour operator by choosing one of the safari packages that are always displayed on the websites or may just have to hire a 4×4 from any of Rwanda car rental companies to explore the gorillas on his/her own without any guidance. The latter is cheaper and very adventurous.
The fact the gorilla trekking ranks among the best adventurous things to do on a safari in Africa, Rwanda should be added to your bucket list on your next vacation to the black continent. And besides gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, the country has other places to visit with different amazing activities to both kids and adults and among these include;
- Akagera National Park
Located 3 hours drive from Kigali to the Eastern side near Tanzania border. It is a savannah park famous for game drives where you can see the African Big 5 (Lion, Elephants, Buffalo, Leopard and Rhino), giraffes, hyenas, several antelope species such as waterbucks, Impala, bushbucks, Oribis, Topis, Oribis, roan antelope and duiker, klipspringer, and the Cape eland which is the largest antelope in the world. Besides game drives, this destination is famous for cultural encounters, bird watching and sport fishing, and a fantastic boat cruise on Lake Ihema to see hippos and several bird species.
- Nyungwe National Park
Is home to 13 primates and over 300 bird species. This destination is famous for chimpanzee tracking, black and white colobus tracking, canopy walk adventure, guided forest walk, community visits where you can engage in activities such as tea harvesting, digging, and milking among others.
- Historical and Cultural encounters
Rwanda has an amazing cultural experience. Among the historical and cultural places to visit in Rwanda include Nyanza King’s palace, Rwanda National Museum in Butare (Huye), and the Iby’iwacu cultural village, also call themselves the Gorilla Guardians.
- Genocide memorials
After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda where over 1 million people were murdered, several places were gazetted into genocide museums, they are visited by many tourists and here you find evidence of all that happened. The top genocide sites include Gisozi in Kigali, Nyamata and Ntarama churches, Bisesero genocide memorial, Murambi technical school and any others.
With all the above information, you can easily spice up your luxury safari in Rwanda for not only gorilla tracking but also other activities such as primates tracking, birding, cultural tours, nature walks and community visits among others.