Despite the small size of Rwanda, the country is famously known as the land of a thousand hills. It shelters a lot of hills with romantic terraces in almost all corners. Rwanda is recognized internationally as the safest country to visit in Africa. The country prides over its neatness and cleanliness especially in the Kigali city and no polythene bag can be sighted on the streets. A few years ago, the country banned the use of Polythene bags as means of keeping the city clean and protecting the lives of her citizens. Rwanda is endowed with a lot of attractions and activities attracting a big number of visitors from all over the world. One of the most popular attractions in the country is Volcanoes national park known for the Rwanda Gorilla Safaris. This is a vast well known spot for gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda. The magnificent park is situated in the Virunga massif region, that is famous for hosting the rare endangered mountain gorillas.
There are only three countries including Uganda and Congo that offer gorilla trekking tours on the East Africa safari. Another famous park in the country is Akagera national park, best known for its exceptional game drives and wildlife views. It also gives tourists another enticing moment to cruise on fresh waters of Lake Ihema which lies in the heart of the park. Visitors who carry passion in primates on Rwanda safari can also dive into Nyungwe forest National park, a vast park that offers extra ordinary nature walk experiences while visitors can a have a chance to steal a glance at the beautiful primates including monkeys, chimpanzees and baboons.
The park offers shelter to over 13 primate species in their natural habitats. Rwanda homes a variety of volcanoes, part of the Virunga region including Mountain Bisoke, Mountain Sabyinyo, Mountain Karisimbi, to mention but a few. There are lots of fun safari activities that visitors can engage in for such a remarkable and unforgettable experience on Rwanda safari. These activities include game drives in Akagera National Park, Boat cruise on Rwanda fresh waters for example Lake Kivu and Lake Ihema, sport fishing, birding experiences, golden monkey trekking, chimpanzee trekking and gorilla trekking tours in Volcanoes national park.
Rwanda still nurses wounds of the horrible genocide that happened in 1994 which carries a sad history sparked off by tribal differences that later led to civil war hence murdering over 800,000 Rwandan people in cold blood including children and women. This terrific event takes toll on the country and the government has preserved history, museums, monuments and special public holidays in remembrance of its fallen people. Visitors can therefore have a chance to visit various genocide memorial sites to learn about the country’s dark history.
Recommended Rwanda Safari Packages
GORILLA TREKKING IN RWANDA.
Gorilla trekking is one of the most delightful safari activities in Rwanda. International visitors flock the country to encounter this life time experience with the mountain gorillas on Rwandan Safaris. This activity comes first on every one’s bucket list. In fact, they have always testified that it’s the most rewarding and fungible experience on a Rwanda safari. Visitors can have a one hour of life changing moment with these beautiful giant apes once they are tracked, maintaining just a few meters away.
Only three countries including Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda shelters the endangered mountain gorillas in the Virunga massif region that spans these three countries. There are about 1063 mountain gorillas in the wild and over 604 of these are sheltered comfortably in the Bwindi national park.
Volcanoes National Park, the only home of Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda.
Volcanoes National Park is one of the famous spots exceptionally for gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda and Africa at large. An African safari without gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park feels absolutely incomplete and a number of tourists can always tell. The park homes 14 habituated gorilla families, so visitors can surely anticipate the best thrilling experience in Rwanda.
The vast Volcanoes National Park covers an area of about 16,000 hectares situated in the northwestern part of Rwanda dominated by savanna grassland, swamps and Afro montane forests.
While on the trek, other mammal species like buffaloes, elephants, golden monkeys, chimpanzees to mention but a few, can also be spotted. This magnificent park shelters 5 volcanoes which are part of the eight Virunga mountains that include Mountain Karisimbi as the fourth tallest mountain in Africa. Other volcanoes near Volcanoes national park include Mountain Bisoke, Mountain Sabyinyo, Mountain Muhabura and Gahinga.
Once visitors get into the park and mountain gorillas are sighted, they are seen in large groups about 10 to 50 individuals also known as “families or troops” with several young ones and females, plus only one dominant male famously known as “Silverback”.
Silver back ensures there is no threat to the gorilla family and therefore marks the territories. He is huge with big arms compared to the female gorilla and carries a silver patch on its back and hips that turns whiter as he ages.
The park headquarters are at Kinigi where visitors gather just before they commence the activity at about 8:00am. This is where they are being briefed about simple rules and regulations while on the trek and allocation of visitors.
Visitors are divided into several groups of eight per group, each being allocated to one particular gorilla family according to the fitness levels. The old and weak trekkers are allocated to gorilla families that are actually close and not very far in the dense forests while those who carry trust in their fitness can be allocated to groups that have gone deeper in dense forests in search for food.
Gorilla trekking involves hiking steep slopes and calming nature walks while sighting the beautiful wildlife of Volcanoes. Some of the mountain gorilla families that are habituated in Volcanoes national park include Kwitonda, Amahoro, Muhoza, Bwenge, Hirwa, Igisha, Karisimbi, and others.
Kwita-Izina gorilla naming ceremony.
Visitors wouldn’t want to miss the gorilla naming ceremony celebrated annually. The thrilling ceremony is locally known as “Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony” and happens once in a year involving knowledge about Rwandan gorillas, challenges faced, gorilla conservation, fun music, feasting and dance.
During gorilla naming ceremony, this is where visitors get the chance to meet the park staff, conservationists and park rangers for delightful cultural evenings and celebrations.
Rules and regulations of gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
Visitors are advised to be at their best health before accessing the park for gorilla trekking activities for it’s way easier for humans to transmit diseases to these giant apes. This is why sometimes visitors are given masks while in contact with the gorillas.
Visitors are restricted to keep a distance of about 7 meters once the gorillas are tracked and not to get very close to the apes. This is also a measure taken to suppress the transmission of diseases to the gorillas.
Visitors below the 15 years of age cannot be allowed to get close to these primates so they are highly restricted. This is because children tend to carry highly transmitted diseases like flue and cough that may affect the gorillas.
Visitors are only given a maximum of one hour while they are encountering with these beautiful apes and nothing beyond that time.
BEST TIME TO DO GORILLA TREKKING IN RWANDA.
Rwanda gorilla trekking safaris can actually be done all year around, though the least favorable season is the wet season due it’s coldness, muddy trails and inaccessible trekking routes as a result of lush vegetation. Therefore, the best time for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is the drier season of the year.
The drier months of June, July, August and September remain a better period for gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda. This is because during this dry season, trekking trails are passable with short vegetation enabling visitors to trek freely and see gorillas more visibly.
The trekking trails are also less muddy during dry season and not slippery at all while the floods are also not in place compared to the rainy season.
Booking and Price of Gorilla Trekking Permits in Rwanda.
Rwanda gorilla permits are actually the most expensive when compared to other countries in the neighborhood that offer the same experience. While gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda go for $1500 USD each, Congo and Uganda offer them cheaply at $700 USD and $400 USD respectively. The gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda remain costly as a result of the country’s high-end tourism policy. Rwanda gorilla permits can be booked through a licensed tour operator or directly from the Rwanda Development Board. Other essential documents required are the passport, yellow fever and visa while buying the trekking permit.