In the heart of Africa, we find the unfolded beauty of Rwanda – the home to the marvelous mountain gorillas. These intriguing creatures only reside in East Africa’s Virunga region shared by Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Rwanda, mountain gorillas are found at Volcanoes National Park – covering the western part of the Virunga region; made up of Karisimbi, Bisoke, Mikeno, Sabyinyo, Mgahinga and Muhabura volcanoes.
Volcanoes National Park, sometimes referred to as Parc Des Volcans is found in Musanze province and this is the mountain base at which all the amazing tourist activities take place such as mountain gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking, volcano hikes, Dian Fossey Tomb Visits, and Iby’wacu Cultural visits among others.
Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is home to half of the total population of the Virunga mountain gorillas. It’s habituated with 11 gorilla family groups, 10 available for tourist purposes and 1 specifically set aside for research and study purposes.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has played a big role in promoting mountain gorilla trekking and tourism throughout the country. Through the various regulations and programs established by the RDB; several visitors are able to enjoy the marvelous mountain gorillas.
In every single day throughout the year, 80 tourists get a chance to view the intriguing mountain gorillas in their natural vicinity with 8 individuals allocated to every single gorilla family group.
To trek for Rwanda gorillas, one must first obtain a gorilla trekking permit (documents allowing visitors access to local vicinity of the wonderful creatures).
In Rwanda, mountain gorilla trekking permits are issued out by the Rwanda development Board or even obtain by the help of a trusted tour operating company in the country at $1500 pp.
The actual trekking experience is quite an exciting one! On this day, all visitors assemble at the Kinigi Park offices – for Volcanoes National Park by 7:00 AM; where morning briefing usually takes place. This briefing entails feeding tourists with the necessary gorilla trekking rules and guidelines as well as providing visitors with all the required equipment for the trek.
Following this morning briefing exercise, tourists, together with the armed park rangers, all embark on to this amazing exercise. It usually lasts between 30 minutes to several hours before trackers meet the cute giants. An hour is always granted to the visitors; interacting with the amazing giants, while taking photographs and making videos of this memorable encounter.
Despite the tiring hike through the thick bamboo forests and over the steep volcano slopes; in search for these creatures, Meeting Mountain gorillas is such an amazing experience!
The adrenaline you feel running down your spine as you watch the mighty giants in their locality ,do their daily activities of feeding, playing, teasing, and even nurturing their young ones in your presence; is one of the greatest rewards life can ever give you!