Mention Rwanda to anyone with a small measure of geo-political conscience and that person will have no doubt recall images of the horrific genocide that brutalized this tiny country in 1994. But since those dark days a miraculous transformation has been united and today the country has one tribal unity, political stability and promising future.
Volcanoes National Park
Tourism is once again a key contributor to the economy and the industry’s brightest star is the chance to track the rare mountain gorillas through the bamboo forests in the shadow of the Virunga Volcanoes. Volcanoes National Park is the highlight of the country, which runs along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, is home to the Rwandan section of the Virunga’s, comprising of five volcanoes: Karisimbi, Bisoke, Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura.
While most tourists to the park are understandably driven by the desire to have a face-to-face encounter with real gorillas in the mist, there is good reason to stay in the area once you have finished tracking: the gorillas share the park with rare golden monkeys, a troop which has also been habituated to human contact. The Virunga which towers over Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, also present a variety of rewarding climbing and trekking options. To get the most from the Virunga’s give yourself as much time as you possibly can. This is absolutely a park that rewards those who linger.
When to go
The long dry season from June to September is the ideal time to track mountain gorilla as it is well drier.
Accessibility to the Park
Access to Volcanoes National Park is via Musanze (Ruhengeri), although all gorilla treks need to report to the park headquarters in Kinigi north of Musanze at 7:00am. Musanze is a pleasant enough town to explore on foot and it’s situated near a number of interesting natural sights with the massive Virunga volcanoes looming to the north and west.
Gorilla trekking is the highlight for any visitor in Rwanda. Virunga massif protects over 604 mountain gorillas which amounts to roughly half of the world’s existing population and is the ideal place for a gorilla safari in Rwanda. An encounter with a silverback male gorilla at close quarters can be a hair- raising experience, yet despite their intimidating size, gorillas are remarkably non- aggressive animals, entirely vegetarian and usually quite safe to be round. The term once in a lifetime is bandied about a lot, but gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park is one experience for which it just happens to be true.
To determine whether the trek will be easy or had, it depends on which group of gorillas you go and see some journeys are just a short stroll but others a half day slog. You will most likely spend several hours scrambling through dense vegetation up steep, muddy hillsides, sometimes to altitudes of more than 3000m. At this altitude you will certainly be a little breathless, but someone amount of walking is unlikely to find the walk all that tough. If you are not used to walking is though it might be very different story and you should request a group closer to the trailheads.
The Gorilla Encounter
Visits to the gorillas are restricted to one hour and flash photography is not allowed. While you are visiting the gorillas, do not eat, drink, smoke or go the bathroom in their presence. If you have any potential air bone illness, don not go tracking as gorillas are extremely susceptible to human diseases. Visitors request to keep 7 meters from gorillas at all times.
The number of people allowed to visit each of the group is limited to a maximum of 8 people per day, limiting the total number of daily permits to an absolute maximum of 80. Children under the age of 15 years are not allowed to visit the gorillas.
Bookings for gorilla permits can be made through the Rwanda Development Board tourist office in Kigali or a Rwandan tour company. With demand often exceeding supply, you will need to book well in advance if you want to be assured of a spot, especially during the peak seasons of December – January and July- August.
Golden Monkey Tracking
In case you still have enough time in Volcanoes National Park, Golden monkey tracking is another activity one can opt to do after mountain gorillas tracking. More like chimp viewing than a gorilla encounter, these beautiful and active monkeys bound about the branches of bigger trees. If you are looking for a reason to spend an extra day in the park, do not miss the chance to track these rare animals. Permits to track the golden monkeys cost US$ 100 per person are easy to get hold of, simply enquire at the Rwanda Development Board office in Kigali or Musanze or at the park headquarters in Kinigi.
The Virunga’s which tower over Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo; also present a variety of rewarding climbing and trekking options. To get the most from the Virunga’s give yourself as much time as you possibly can. This is absolutely a park that rewards those who linger.
Cost of Gorilla Permit
The gorilla permit costs US$ 1500 per person per day which includes park entry, compulsory guides and guides’ fee.
Clothing and Equipment
You need to be prepared for a potentially long, wet and cold trek through rainforest; a pair of hiking shoes is a must, as is warm and waterproof clothing. The stinging nettles at higher elevations can really put a damper on the experience, so consider wearing trousers and long-sleeve shirts with a bit of thickness.
Despite the high altitudes and potentially cold temperatures, you also need to be prepared for the strong sun. Floppy hats, bandanas, sunglasses and lots of sunscreen are a good idea, as are plenty of cold water and hydrating fluids.
When you check in at the park headquarters, you may be asked for identification by the park rangers. To avoid any potential hassles, carry your passport with you at all times in addition to your gorilla tracking permit.Read More
As interesting putting food in the mouth, gorilla tracking is one of the safari activities that is not isolated or missed by tourists when they are having a safari of their lifetime as this activity can’t be missed in menu of the various activities they want to explore which will bring you closer to related human beings. Some of the Gorillas families that are tracked include the following: Susa made up of 41 gorillas, Sabyingo, Amahoro etc. Just like in other countries like Uganda, where Gorilla tracking is done in Bwindi impenetrable national park and in DRC, it is done in Virunga national park. For Rwanda, it is done in volcanoes national park which is located in the northwest of Rwanda considered to be the only national park where gorilla trekking can be done. Primate tracking in Rwanda is done by various touring companies as the packages for this tracking ranges from 2 day gorilla trekking Rwanda to 12 day trekking Rwanda which gives a wide variety of Gorilla groups to be trekked.
More so, to even start trekking these so called primates in volcanoes national park, a tourism permit must be issued by the body concerned with tourism called Rwanda tourism board. This gives license to the tourists of which type of gorillas to be trekked at that moment. Permits for Rwanda Gorilla Trekking goes for around 750 dollars per day of which some bid of the money goes to the communities around the national park for development and well being of people around it. A primate tracking is most suitable in the dry months of June to September and also December, January and February making this activity easier than ever before as you will see below.
Although Gorilla tracking in volcanoes national park starts from 20 minutes to three quarters of the day in the evening, their some requirements that are needed to do this activity as tourists will go through a couple of challenges like rain, muddy soil, insects e.g. aunts which needs some bid of wearing strong shoes etc. These are some of the requirements needed to trek this amazing Gorillas are as follows.
Tip number one is dressing according to the Safari activity. Wear shirts made of synthetic material which tend to dry faster. This is due to the fact that in most cases, this activity may be done in the rainy season which needs some bid of drying faster to make the tourist more comfortable. Their after you are advised at the bottom to wear long pants made of synthetic material which also tends to dry faster than other type of clothes making the Safari more sweet and affordable to do . The other clothes like short jeans will make the activity more difficult to do as they will make the tourist uncomfortable and unable to walk properly.
Wear proper foot wear(boots) that is reaches above the ankle, this is because while moving though this good scenery of tropical forests, there will be thorns, sticky plants that may endanger the lives of the tourists most especially the legs. This will help you to move though the muddy soils, dangerous insects like the aunts that are of a danger to the lives of the human beings. On top of that, wear gators over those boots so that you can cover the remaining space which might be used to enter other staff like water making the tourist unreliable to do. On top of that wear high rubber willies with treads on the boots.
Pack enough food and water before you come for this activity as it mostly takes you a long period of time from morning to the evening hours during the dry months of June to September. This may be in form of snacks, a bottle of water most especially a liter is enough for the all day and it is advisable for one to bring these items along with him or herself after all some companies do provide some food to the tourists before proceeding to national park. When you have reached the park in side, you are not allowed to give any food to these gorillas which might endanger the life span of these primates.
Speak about your trekking preferences meaning that you as the tourist will have to communicate to specific company you had booked with to inform them about your fitness level and other diseases you may be facing plus also what type of Gorilla you might want to see first. This enables the guide to assign you to a group that is in with your range which you can afford to do as some of tracking groups may even track within or just outside the national park.
Making sure that video camera is working in good conditions and already for use. The first thing is to put in mind is that light from camera shouldn’t be there as long as it does not disturb the movements of the so called primates. These photographs which are made tend to be of a darked exposure because of the so many trees that are situated in the park more so a camera should be kept in a water proof bag so that water does not disturb its settings
Go for Gorilla tracking activity in a dry season is other tip for gorilla tracking meaning that the best months for Gorilla tracking are from June to September and also from December, January and February as these months tend to be dry because in the dry periods, movements of people within the park is much easier than ever before plus also cars are able to move in those roads drive safely. And that is why tourists are advised to come in the dry months although; they can also come in any period of the year. The wet months include the following march, April, May etc.
Practice Gorilla etiquette meaning that you should start and learn to respect the environment of these primates such as their behavior and knowing that you a visitor to them. Don’t be afraid to these primates as they are close friendly to the human beings. More so if they approach you, don’t just run for hide out as they think that you have stolen something from them which marks in the end of the tips for gorilla tracking in RwandaRead More
It’s amazing to see less expected impressive attractions on your holiday in any corner of the world. Just imagine the joy and happiness felt when you capture such a moment. It’s a wish for many travelers though some instead fail even to grab the prime moments of travel.
However, jungle forest is a place full of surprises and remarkable adventures. gorilla tracking, golden monkey tracking, birding, culture walks, forest walks, boat rides, Dian Fossey visit, hiking are the main tourism activities within and around the park. When you take a trip to Volcanoes National park, you don’t only stick to the original travel plans since there are many other tourist activities which can be done within and outside the park and booked at last minute. Except gorilla tracking other activities can be booked on the very day for the adventure and you can also use one stone to kill two birds by paying for one activity and also view the other attractions for the other activity that exact point of visiting a beautiful area like this.
The most excellent perfect escape is when you track mountain Gorillas and also view other primates including the rare golden monkey. Gorilla tracking travelers enjoy tracking gorillas and also golden monkeys and both activities require you to have a minimum of two days since both activities kick off at the same time every day. But sometimes Golden monkeys and Gorillas move outside the forests and Travellers are able to view them while at their lodges of residence or during the other trek which is a great surprise since it happens to only lucky travellers.
If you get a chance and even take a nice photo captions with in that short time of the spot then next day’s adventure may be another advantage.To those who view the primates without plans of tracking enjoy a great moment without paying a penny the reason as to why some travellers love spending nights in well located Gorilla lodges & Accommodation with great chances both Gorillas and Golden monkey views. To experience and appreciate it is in most cases when you have paid for one and the other passes by as a bonus.
Another surprise is taking park in all the park interesting activities in just three days yet others move all the way for just one. If you have a duration of three day at Ruhengeri you can start by tracking gorillas, hike the lovely mountain of either Bisoke or Karisimbi in the afternoon on the first day and then start the other day by trekking Golden monkeys, visit Diany fossey tombs and also spend the sometime with the locals that’s if boat ride are not your thing. Alternatively you can use the afternoon of day one to visit lake Bulera and Rukundo. Ending your tour by doing all this trust me you will earn yourself the most romantic safari in Rwanda or simple the best Rwanda tour holiday ever. Make sure you shut your eyes and body for the Gorilla land adventure full of relaxation modes and adventure. For birders don’t miss out the opportunity of sporting hundreds of birds in volcano forest during the gorilla tracking adventure as you hike through the bamboo forest. Feel calm and ease as you explore Rwanda’s best park and the most desired tourist destination worldwide.Read More