Rwanda is an exciting place to visit in Africa. Located in the heart of Africa, Rwanda is an exciting country offering unrivalled gorilla tracking to travelers. This relatively small country has extraordinary scenery and tourists are swept away by the magnificence of Rwanda’s lush green hilly landscapes!
It is a life time experience to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Within Rwanda, the mountain gorillas are found in the Volcanoes National Park, a protected area found in the northern part of the country. These great apes live in the virunga conservation, a 375 km2 area in the Virunga Volcanoes stretching across the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Within the park, there are ten gorilla families that have been habituated for tourism. Each gorilla group permits only 8 tourists and gorilla watching is restricted to only 1 hour. The Volcanoes National Park is made of bamboo vegetation which allows some light penetrations and less under growth hence easy to hike through the forest.
There are tours to Volcanoes National Park, rated as the best place to see the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. The eased accessibility between Kigali and Volcanoes National Park has made it the best destination for gorilla safaris in Africa. Equally unique is the presence of other rain forest primates such as golden monkeys.
When to Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Dry season is the best time to time to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking and this is between June and September and then December to February. This is when it’s shining and photographing together with hiking is so much easy.
How Gorilla Trekking is Conducted
Though there are day tours available from Kigali, it is recommended that you should spend atleast a night in the Volcanoes National Park area. Staying an overnight helps you get acclimatized to the high altitude of the area. Early in the morning, trekkers assemble at the park headquarters to get briefing about the activity of the day - gorilla trekking. Within Volcanoes National Park, the allocation of gorilla families to travelers is done at the day of trekking, trekkers are encouraged to be honest to their guides concerning their abilities to hike, this is helpful in that the aged and less fit trekkers are given gorilla groups which are near and do not require a lot of hiking.
The position of a gorilla family is known in the evening when guides follow the gorilla family to know where it is spending an overnight so as to go there in the next early morning. However, though the chances of seeing the gorillas are 99%, it is not a guarantee that trekkers will see these rare animals.
Trekkers follow the trails which start from the farm lands and then descend to the higher altitudes of the tropical rain forest. Mountain gorillas keep moving as trekkers follow them up which can be tiresome and requires physical fitness of an individual. Heavy baggage is discouraged and travelers are required to hire potters and get for themselves a walking stick for easy movement. Porters remain behind with the baggage and trekkers come in contact with the gorillas with only non flash light cameras. It is tiresome but after reaching these species but trekkers forget all the hassle they go through in search of the gorillas.
Since trekking is moving in the jungle, every trekker needs a long sleeved top and some sort of over-trousers or gaiters, heavy duty waterproof pants, good gardening or skiing gloves and stocks together with the walking sticks are all recommended for all trekkers.
Other Attractions in Rwanda
Further east, Akagera National Park harbours a wide variety of plains game, including lions, elephants, giraffe and hippos.
The hospitality of the local people, with their deep-rooted tradition of seeing to a visitor’s welfare, is unrivalled.
When you think of an exotic destination for off the beaten track adventure and tranquility, then think of Rwanda.