Rwanda; a country that has been rebuilt from the ruins of a genocide into a benchmark of development in Africa has a lot more to offer beyond having the cleanest city in Africa. From the game drives in Akagera national park to the hidden gentle giants that can be encountered on a gorilla trek; Rwanda is safari paradise.
African safaris are often defined by the lush savannahs but Rwanda goes beyond that and offers an experience that only a few African countries can afford; merging a forest trek with city life and game drives. This is Rwanda in summary.
It would take a whole book to explore tourism in Rwanda but sometimes all you need are snippets to have an idea on what to expect more so for something like a luxury gorilla safari.
With around 1050 mountain gorillas left in the whole world, it is a luxury to have a meet up with these endangered apes in their natural home. Apart from Rwanda, there are only two other countries where the mountain gorillas can be found; Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Therefore, a gorilla trekking adventure is limited to only these three countries.
In this article, we will delve into the wilds of Rwanda and explore the magic of embarking on an unforgettable tour in Rwanda;
The Enchanting Land of a Thousand Hills
Part of your gorilla trekking experience is nurtured by the people you encounter at the airport, the road to your hotel and the journey to Volcanoes national park. Before you we focus on the actual experience, we ought to look at the other things that make up your gorilla safari; that is Rwanda as a whole.
If you have been to any other African country, you would come to appreciate Rwanda more. The cleanliness of Rwanda, the marvel of the highlands and the road network. All these add to your gorilla trekking experience even before you get to the national park.
Volcanoes National Park: Journey to the Park
Located in the northern part of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is the premier destination for gorilla tracking. This protected area encompasses a vast expanse of dense bamboo forests and towering volcanoes that all add to the gorilla trekking experience of the Volcanoes National Park.
Your gorilla trek will start with a set off from your hotel/lodge in Kigali or near Volcanoes national park. In most cases, you will set off before having breakfast; thus having your breakfast and lunch packed.
Briefing before the Gorilla Trek
Once you have reached the park, your identity details will be captured after which you will head out to attend a briefing. During the briefing, you will be instructed on how to conduct yourself during the trek, how to compose yourself in the presence of the gorillas and many other things that have been proven to enhance your safety in the forest.
Face masks are requirement that you will be reminded of at this point.
The Gorilla Trek
After your briefing at the park offices, you will be accompanied by knowledgeable guides and trackers. You’ll make your way through the forest, following the clues given by the trackers who went ahead of you to find the gorillas.
The trek can be challenging at times, as you navigate steep slopes and dense vegetation. On a rainy day, rain jackets will come in handy.
An Encounter with the Gorillas
Once you are closer to meeting with the mountain gorillas in the park, you will be reminded of the gorilla trekking etiquette; generally how you ought to behave in the presence of the gorillas. After this briefing, you will proceed to come face to face with the mountain gorillas.
During your stay with the gorillas, you will have a chance to take as many photos as you wish. However this moment will only last for one hour after which you will have to embark on your journey back to the park offices.
Conservation Efforts and Sustainable Tourism
Gorilla tracking in Rwanda goes beyond mere adventure; it is a powerful tool for conservation and community development. The revenue generated from gorilla tourism directly contributes to the protection of the gorillas and their habitat, as well as supporting local communities. By engaging in responsible and sustainable tourism practices, visitors can actively participate in the conservation efforts and ensure a brighter future for mountain gorillas
Beyond Gorilla Tracking: Exploring Rwanda’s Treasures
While gorilla tracking is undoubtedly the highlight of any visit to Rwanda, the country offers a wealth of other attractions.
Take a journey to Nyungwe Forest National Park, where you can trek through the ancient rainforest and encounter chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, and a myriad of bird species. Nyungwe is one of the oldest rain forests in Africa and a must visit destination if you are a primate enthusiast. Extending to over 1000 square metres, Nyungwe is the most alluring destination for primates. Over 13 species are well protected within the park. It is also an important birding site with almost 300 bird species. For those who want to track chimpanzees and see other primates, one needs two days.
You can also go on a classic safari in Akagera National Park. Located in the East of Rwanda, Akagera hosts a variety of wildlife. It hosts an incredible checklist of mammals including the big five and an impressive list of over 500 bird species call the park home. On a game drive through the park, herds of elephants and buffaloes can easily be spotted as well as zebras and giraffes. Other animals to look for are rhinos, lions, hyenas, impala, oribi. bushbuck, elands etc.
Explore Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s Great Lakes. The lake is the largest of numerous fresh water bodies that shimmer the valleys of Rwanda. A holiday within the area will immerse you in different adventure activities that include boat cruises, kayaking, coffee tours etc.
Immerse yourself in Rwandan culture by visiting local villages, experiencing traditional dances, and tasting the delicious cuisine.
Embarking on a gorilla tour in Rwanda is a truly transformative experience. From the breathtaking landscapes to the mesmerizing encounters with the gentle giants of the forest, every moment spent in the wilds of Rwanda is filled with wonder and awe. As you leave the country, you carry with you not only memories of an unforgettable adventure but also a deep appreciation for the efforts made to conserve these incredible creatures.
Rwanda’s commitment to sustainable tourism ensures that future generations will have the opportunity to witness the beauty of gorillas in their natural habitat. So, pack your bags, lace up your boots, and get ready to venture into the wilds of Rwanda for an adventure of a lifetime.