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Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park

The most famous tourist attraction in Rwanda is gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. Hiking across hilly places and woodlands in quest of a species that resembles/behaves like humans is the goal of this activity. Mountain gorillas are unique among gorilla subspecies because they are endangered. Only 1000 individuals remain on the planet, and none are housed in zoos.

An encounter with mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park is regarded as one of the top five animal encounters. The national park hosts all gorilla trekking operations in Rwanda. It is one of Rwanda’s four national wildlife parks, but it is notable for its mountain gorillas. The park is home to 30% of the world’s surviving mountain gorilla population. The Congo’s Virunga National Park is home to 20% of the population, while Uganda is home to the remaining 50%. There are around 320 individual gorillas roaming the park, including 10 habituated families.

Because of the incredible variety, gorillas flourish at Volcanoes National Park. Bamboo forests, montane forests, marshes, and grassland dominate the plant cover. Five volcanoes dominate the landscape: Bisoke, Gahinga, Muhabura, Sabyinyo, and Karisimbi. Other animal species that appreciate the park’s splendor include African forest elephants, duikers, bush bucks, huge forest hogs, blue monkeys, golden monkeys, Angola colobus, and birds.

Mountain hikes, golden monkey trekking, seeing the Dian Fossey grave, nature walks, and birding are all options in this area of exceptional biodiversity. The gorilla walk remains the most popular activity, and the other activities are considered complimentary, but some perceive them as unique attractions in their own right. It is advised that visitors set aside at least three days to experience gorilla trekking as well as other activities.

Primate Safaris in Rwanda

What can I expect during Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park?

After purchasing your gorilla permits and booking accommodations, the next step is to visit the park headquarters. On the day of tracking, you are expected to be at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters at 7:00 a.m. for a briefing. The Rangers and Warden will present information on the park, the gorilla groups, gorilla conservation programs, and how to behave around the animals during the briefing session.

Your gorilla permits and passports will be confirmed following the briefing. Following that, you will be given a walking stick and assigned to a gorilla group based on your overall fitness level. A gorilla family in Volcanoes national park can only be tracked by 8 individuals in a single day. Depending on whatever gorilla group you are assigned to, the Rangers will lead you to a separate starting spot. If you have large amounts of luggage, you can hire a porter to assist you. Porter services cost between $10 and $15 USD.

The first part of your gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes national park is simple since you follow maintained trails through communities or deforested regions. As you progress through the dense forest, the trek becomes increasingly tough.

To make room for the gathering, the Rangers may have to use machetes. As you stroll into the dense undergrowth, the Rangers will tell you additional stories about the gorilla group and the other tree/wildlife species in the park. The search for mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park takes between one and four hours. Gorillas live in groups of 8 to 30 people, led by a dormant silverback. They are frequently found eating on shoots and leaves. The group may be notified if they detect the presence of outsiders in their midst, as the silverback arrives to investigate.

If there is no threat, the silverback will just continue feeding or resting with his family. Other members of the group will follow the silverback’s lead and carry on as if you don’t exist. Follow the Rangers’ directions when with the gorillas. When you are granted two photographs, begin taking them. Even if a gorilla approaches you, do not touch them. Keep at least 7 meters away from the nearest gorilla. Excitement should not be used to encircle the gorillas or create loud sounds. You have only one hour with the gorillas. Spend some time observing the family.

In comparison to chimpanzees, gorilla families are quite tranquil. The silverback leads by example and charm. He is rarely aggressive, but he will be monitoring your every move, even if he looks to be preoccupied with something else. After one hour with the gorillas, the Rangers will accompany you back to the park headquarters, where your drivers will be ready to transport you back to the lodge.

How can I prepare for my Gorilla Trekking Experience in Volcanoes National Park?

To have the finest gorilla tracking experience possible, prepare yourself physically and psychologically to accomplish the task regardless of how long it takes. Remember to bring water and prepared food in case you become thirsty or hungry. Wear clothing that covers your entire body and bring good hiking boots. Regardless of the season, a raincoat must be included on a gorilla tracking packing list.

It is critical to always adhere to the gorilla trekking guidelines while in the park. Individuals under the age of 15 are not permitted to go gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. This is due to the fact that younger individuals may not listen to instructions while working with primates. Young folks may lack the mental fortitude to finish the journey. They may wish to return if they become hungry, thirsty, or sleepy.

They are also more susceptible to flu and cough than older tourists, and gorillas are sensitive to these communicable infections. A person with a contagious ailment, such as the flu, cold, cough, or covid-19, is not permitted to go gorilla trekking. Gorillas have comparable DNA to humans and may get our illnesses. To prevent upsetting gorillas, avoid using flash when shooting them.

What else can I do besides Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park?

Other than gorilla trekking, Volcanoes National Park offers a variety of intriguing activities. Other wildlife species and breathtaking natural elements may be seen in the park. These optional activities can be coupled with gorilla trekking to give you a more comprehensive tour of the park. The activities are as follows: –

Golden monkey trekking: 

After gorilla trekking, this is the most popular tourist activity in Volcanoes National Park. Golden monkey trekking is available in the bamboo woods near the Volcanoes National Park’s base. Tourists like strolling along these hills to see these amazing monkeys eat and play. Blue monkeys are subspecies of golden monkeys. They have developed to have golden coatings across their backs and cheeks, which make them appear attractive.  Golden monkey trekking permits cost $100 per person, making it a far less expensive activity than gorilla trekking.

Dian Fossey Tomb Hike:

Dian Fossey is regarded as one of the finest primatologists of all Volcanoes National Park Gorillas. She was the first to conduct substantial research on mountain gorillas, making the park famous. Dian Fossey is also associated with gorilla conservation.

She pushed hard to end poaching and the pet trade throughout the larger Virunga hills, and mountain gorillas today thrive as a result of her efforts. Unfortunately, Fossey was assassinated by persons suspected of being poachers. You will get to pay your respects at her grave, which is located between Mount Karisimbi and Bisoke. Visit her old Karisoke Research Centre as part of a Dian Fossey tomb trek.

Tour to the Musanze Caves: 

The Musanze caves in Musanze town are a group of old and enigmatic caves that are thought to have originated around the time the East African Rift Valley began. The intricate cave system comprises 31 access locations and a 20-kilometer-long tube system. The interior is completely dark, and special torches are required to enter. The caverns were historically important to the Batwa pygmies and other tribes who lived in the vicinity. During the war, the caverns were ideal for storing food and hiding.

Mountain Hiking:

Karisimbi, Gahinga, Bisoke, Sabyinyo, and Muhabura volcanoes are located in the Volcanoes National Park. Karisimbi and Bisoke are the most popular. They are found in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, as opposed to the others that are shared with Uganda. Both provide breathtaking views of the park and the vast Virunga Ranges that extend all the way to Congo. Bisoke is a one-day walk, but Karisimbi takes two days.

Bird Watching:

The Volcanoes National Park has around 200 bird species reported. Tourists who go birdwatching in the park will see the handsome fracolin, Grauer’s rush warbler, red-faced woodland warbler, handsome francolin, odd weaver, and Rwenzori double collared crimson wing. The most unusual aspect of birding at Volcanoes National Park is that 13 of the species are indigenous to the Albertine rift, where the park is located.

Iby’iwacu cultural village encounter:

What is a Volcanoes National Park safari without a visit to the Ibyi’wacu Cultural Village? The Centre, now known as the Gorilla Guardians Village, brings together all of Rwanda’s tribes for an incredible cultural showdown. Tourists on a typical village trip may sit back, relax, and see traditional dance performances. After witnessing the performances, one may try some local food, visit a local healer, prepare local dishes, or drink local beer.

Activities outside the Volcanoes National Park

Visit the Genocide memorial center:

This excursion is often included in the majority of trip packages. It is one among the things included in a Kigali city trip before going gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. This memorial was created to honor individuals who died during the 1994 genocide. Approximately 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu were cruelly slaughtered by extremists sponsored by the government at the time. Following the executions, the people recognized what they had done to one another. The center serves as a reminder of the genocide’s atrocities. By visiting it, the next generation learns about what caused it and how to prevent it from happening again. What you will see there will show you how far Rwanda has progressed.

3 Days Luxury Rwanda Gorilla Tour

Iby’iwacu cultural village encounter:

What is a Volcanoes National Park safari without a visit to the Ibyi’wacu Cultural Village? The Centre, now known as the Gorilla Guardians Village, brings together all of Rwanda’s tribes for an incredible cultural showdown. Tourists on a typical village trip may sit back, relax, and see traditional dance performances. After witnessing the performances, one may try some local food, visit a local healer, prepare local dishes, or drink local beer.

Chimpanzee and Primates tracking in Nyungwe forest national park:

Many consider Rwanda to be the best place in the world for gorilla trekking. Aside from the gorillas at Volcanoes National Park, a safari to follow chimps and other primates in Nyungwe forest national park may be organized. Vervet monkeys, olive baboons, black/white colobus, grey-cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed monkeys, Angola Colobuses, golden monkeys, and other tiny primates are among the species. The most popular activity is chimp trekking in the Nyungwe forest. Chimpanzees, like gorillas, are near cousins of humans. Though gorillas are thought to be wiser, chimpanzees are highly intellectual and dramatic primates. Interactions with them are always unique.

Facts About Lake Kivu

Picnic at Lake Kivu:

Lake Kivu has a lot to offer. Aside from swimming, visitors may simply rest, observe birds, marvel at the gorgeous environment, or take a canoe to tour the adjacent islands.  The lake is one of the greatest spots to visit after visiting Rwanda’s famed national parks. A boat ride along the waterway may lead you to the Congo, where you can see the local fisherman and peasants go about their daily lives.

Game viewing in Akagera: 

The Akagera National Park is located in the country’s east. It is located on the border between Rwanda and Tanzania. Rwanda’s sole Savannah national park is Akagera. Lions, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, elands, antelopes, zebras, rhinos, warthogs, and many more animals live there.

Although game drives in Akagera are not as popular as gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park, they are nonetheless exciting and gratifying. It differs from the other national parks in the country in that it is the only area where you may view all of Africa’s big 5.

8 Day Uganda safari tour

Accommodation During Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park

To differentiate itself from Uganda and Congo, Rwanda’s government has promoted gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park to luxury travelers. Several luxury lodges have been erected to help achieve that aim. Because the majority of the lodges in the park still fall into those two categories, the government and independent investors have not forgotten the budget and mid-range guests. Virunga Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Bisate Lodge, Five Volcanoes Lodge, Mountain Gorillas’ Nest Lodge, Kwitonda Lodge, and Bishop House are among the premium safari lodges established near the park. The rates for these lodges range from $300 to $3000 a night.

The Five Volcanoes Lodge looks to be the most economical of these excellent amenities. Le Bamboo Gorilla Lodge, Da Vince Gorilla Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, La Palme Hotel, Hotel Muhabura, and Virunga Hotel are among the park’s inexpensive and mid-range resorts. They charge anywhere from $80 to $200 each night.

Whatever sort of accommodation you pick, expect it to be self-contained. You may expect to have your own bathroom, shower, and bed. In our opinion, mid-range motels are adequate for a comfortable tour of the park.

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