Mountain Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda

Volcanoes national park in northwestern Rwanda has ecosystems that are homes to one of the endangered and rare species the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are the largest in size of the apes and have about 95%o of their DNA similar to human beings. These unique mammals currently remain in only three countries in the world (Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo) however of all the three countries, Rwanda is the one that offers best, unique and unforgettable gorilla tracking experiences giving tourists a chance to get up close to the mountain gorillas in their natural environments. The mountain gorillas in Rwanda were made famous by Dian Fossey who was an American zoologist studying them in the 1970’s but was later killed as well the Hollywood movie gorillas in the mist.

A drive to volcanoes national park from Kigali takes about 2 hours and introduces you to the remote areas of Rwanda with sightings of terraced slopes covered banana, coffee or tea plantations as many local people are seen along the roads. As you get close to volcanoes national park, the mist especially in the morning is seen covering the top layers of the forest. Volcanoes national park has about 300 mountain gorillas with 10 habituated mountain gorilla families that are open to tourist’s visits. Each of the 10 habituated gorilla family is tracked by 8 tourists a day and they are given an hour to trek them. Tours to go see gorillas in volcanoes range from 3 days gorilla safaris to longer safaris which are normally customized to include other national park and attractions.

On the gorilla-tracking day, after having hot tea or coffee at the Kinigi park headquarters, tourists are divided into groups of 8 and guided to the forest in search for the allocated mountain gorilla family. Tourists in groups of 8 are led by well informed guides and the hike ranges from 30 minutes to several hours depending on how first they get to the

On getting to the mountain gorilla family, you are instructed to leave behind your bags, walking sticks and only remain with the cameras. The mountain gorillas just keep doing what they have been doing eating or sometimes relaxing provided the tourists keep a reasonable distance from them. Flash photography is strictly not allowed because the flashlight can distract and annoy the mountain gorillas forcing them to move a way or sometimes attack you. The guides in volcanoes national park are very knowledgeable about the behavior of the mountain gorillas and always explain to the tourists any change of behavior. Spending time with the mountain gorillas strictly takes an hour and once it elapses, tourists are directed back to the headquarters where they are given certificates of participation.

Being in the midst of mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park is very exciting and offers remarkable exclusive tourist experiences that can only be enjoyed in this land of a thousand hills.

Mountain gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda are sold at $1500 and there are a number of accommodation facilities around volcanoes national park where one can spend a night ahead of the mountain gorilla trekking day. Its always recommended to spend a night near the park because trekking starts very early in the morning and it can be easy to connect from the hotel or lodge to the national park headquarters. The most famous accommodation facilities around volcanoes national park include Virunga lodge, Mountain gorilla nest lodge, Sabyinyo silverback lodge, Gorilla volcanoes hotel, Kinigi guesthouse and so many others.

For a memorable gorilla safari experiences, tourists are advised to visit the park in the dry seasons between December to April because during the dry season its always easy to move through the forests without getting stuck in the mud and marshes.

Mountain gorilla tracking is among the wonders of the wild and exposes tourists to the real African jungles and beautiful natural landscapes and adventurous tourists should therefore include tourists on their must do list.