Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is unforgettable, eye-popping, heartfelt and humbling. The price just doubled from $750 to $1500-but rest assured-, you will love every minute of the adventure. It is worth every penny spent. It is a park of sky-stabbing volcanic mountains whose gentle slopes are covered with alpine and bamboo forests. In its U shaped valleys, gem-blue rivers dribble as they swerve through the feet of gigantic indigenous tree species that are firmly anchored into nourishing volcanic soils.
Volcanoes National Park Rwanda History
Volcanoes is an ever green habitat with a thriving population of golden monkeys, forest buffaloes, Spotted Hyena, forest elephants, bushbucks and black-fronted duikers. Nonetheless, its emblem is the mountain Gorilla as it is perhaps the most visited destination for gorilla trekking in Africa. In part, this has a lot to do with the fact that it is very accessible, just three hours’ drive from Kigali International Airport.
You can fly in early morning, track gorillas and rest for a bit before flying out later in the day. That aside, the gorillas in this UNESCO World Heritage Park are offspring’s of a generation that Dr. Dianne Fossey personally mothered for 15 years. Alas! Her fight to protect the critically endangered species was put to a melancholic end in 1985 when she was murdered in cold blood by poachers.
She was laid to rest at Karisoke research center besides the burial ground of Digit, her favorite gorilla. In a positive twist of events, her cause to conserve the gorillas didn’t die with her. It inspired the establishment of various conservation organizations. In partnership with the Rwandan Government, they have reduced the poaching rate at the park to zero percent.
How gorilla trekking unfolds
Today, the park has 10 habituated Gorilla groups, each with distinct ways of life. Each with 9-30 members of different age brackets. To meet them, you will be driven to the park quarters where you will be allocated a particular family to trek. You group will consist of not more than 8 people. This will make the adventure easy to manage and more intimate. Next, you will be briefed on the Does and Don’ts of the adventure after which you will set out on the cool of the early morning.
You will be in the company of armed rangers whose work is to protect you from angry wild elephants. No they don’t shoot at them. Rather, they shoot in the air to scare of the animals. But this is an extremely rare occurrence.
You start by walking past cultivated fields to a tall bamboo forest marks the boundary between the park and community land. It is a steep slope that will leave you blowing out air loudly and puffing. It is an exhilarating hike. Nonetheless, you will be able to do it for as long as you don’t underestimate it. The better part of the story is that your persistence will not be in vain.
You will be rewarded with guaranteed sightings of the majestic apes which come across as the biggest primate species. During this trip, you will see all members of a gorilla family from silverbacks, black bucks and mothers. If lucky, you could find them hunting for wild fruits in the tree branches. It is such a dreamlike encounter considering that they seldom climb up do due to their heavy weight.
It is fun watching the baby gorillas as they dare to carry long bamboo pieces that are bigger than them. Excitingly, they get away with it as the bamboos are light because they have hollow trunks. On succeeding, their cheeks glow and their eyes light up. You will be blown away by this hypnotizing moment.
On the part of bird watching, Volcanoes National Park has 178 recorded bird species inclusive of 29 endemics of the Albertine Rift Valley. It also has three globally threatened species; African Green Broadbill, Kivu Ground Thrush and Lagden’s Bush-shrike.
Be sure to wear long sleeved shirts and gaiters for protection. The park has aggressive stinging nettles that itch the body for a long time. It is optional to hire a porter as you can do without one. However, for only $10 you don’t have to carry your heavy luggage and cameras. Having grown up hiking the hills, they are physically fit and so helpful at assisting tourists to descend over steep muddy descent.