Rwanda Gorilla Safari (2 Days)
If there is a rwanda safari that brings you any closer, on foot, to wild beasts that share 98% of our DNA, don’t look any further. Let us show you how it feels to be close to these magnificent creatures.
One second you are bushwhacking through thickets of bamboo in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, pulling yourself up a steep lava slope, toehold to toehold. The next, you turn a corner and sunlight streams through the canopy to illuminate a matted clump of black against a curtain of rain forest green. You’ve known this was coming and still you gasp. Seated perhaps 30 feet away is one of the roughly 900 mountain gorillas remaining on earth, a saggy-breasted female, and soon you see that she is cradling an infant in her lap. She wraps one arm around the 6-month-old while scratching her own ear with an extended index finger.
She is the advanced sentry for the Hirwa family, a clan of 20, and to the extent that she seems to care at all about our arrival, her attitude smacks of “What took you so long?” We freeze, then tiptoe forward to give all eight trekkers in our group a clear sightline. Cameras are unholstered faster than six-shooters at a gunfight.
Soon two siblings tumble out of the brush, abruptly disrupting the maternal one-on-one time. As the imps wrestle and roll, the mother flops on her back in surrender.
Any anthropomorphism must be forgiven; it is impossible not to be struck by the humanoid nature of these neighbors on the evolutionary chain. While observing so much of African wildlife — warthogs, elephants, giraffes — one marvels at their prehistoric form and questions our placement in the same biological class. With the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, which share 98 percent of our DNA, we look into a mirror, and they are looking impassively back.
Gorilla Safari Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Rwanda and transfer to Volcanoes National Park
You will be met at the Airport by our safari guide who will transfer you to the Hotel booked for you in Ruhengeri near the Volcanoes National Park. You will have lunch and in the afternoon be taken for a scenic drive in the park for 2 – 3 hours to view the splendid volcanic mountain landscapes after which you will be return to your Hotel for Dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Gorilla tracking in the Volcanoes National Park
Our Gorilla Safari main day is this, we will have an early breakfast after which be driven to the Park headquarters for a briefing at 8:30am on the rules to be observed during Gorilla trekking. You will be allocated a Gorilla family to track and guides to lead you to the Gorillas. The tracking will be a 2-5 hour exercise after which you drive back to the airport for your departure flight.
When to go
The dry(ish) seasons, December to February, June to September – though note that it can rain at any time.
Where to stay
In Kigali, the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel is conveniently located (15-30 min from airport), with double b&b. It has a sister hotel at Gisenyi, on Lake Kivu; double b&b, which can be used as a base for gorilla trekking (90 min to park entrance). Volcanoes Virunga Lodge is more convenient (40 min to 1hr) and has a good reputation but you pay for the spectacular location, which includes all meals and drinks. We can also offer you a variety of other places to stay near the park.
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Permits
Permits to see the Rwanda Gorillas (US$1,500 for foreign residents) are booked through the Tourism and Conservation Reservation Office of the Rwanda Development Board (Included in the price of the safari and we process them for you). Numbers are limited and permits get snapped up well in advance.
What to take
Dress carefully for the trek: trekking trousers (carry waterproof trousers), layered shirts with long sleeves, waterproof top, walking boots, gloves (gardening gloves are ideal) for grasping stinging nettles, plenty of water, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect spray, camera. Porters to carry your backpack and give you a push/pull on steep bits (worth hiring, for £6.50, even if you don’t think you need one) will provide a walking stick, or you may prefer to bring your own pole.