Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park
The volcanic mountains of the Virungas straddle Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Roughly half of the world’s population of 700 mountain gorillas live here. They live in the endangered high bamboo forests on these mountains.
In Rwanda the Volcanoes National Park protect 7 habituated mountain gorilla groups. So this is one of the best places for gorilla tracking in the world.
But gorilla tracking in Rwanda is a highly regulated affair, given their endangered status. And permits are both very expensive,($1,500 per person per day), and hard to come by. So we recommend booking as far in advance as possible (ie several months to a year).
Every day, only one group of walkers is allowed to track each group of gorillas. And they try to match the fitness levels of the walkers to the rough proximity of each group. But this is not an exact science, so your gorilla tracking experience may be anything from 2 to 7 hours. Once you find them, you are allowed to spend one magical hour in their company.
However gorilla tracking is only one of the facets of the Volcanoes National Park. It also protects other primates such as the endemic golden monkey, forest elephant (very rare), buffalo, giant forest hog, bushbuck, black-fronted duiker, spotted hyena. And around 180 species of birds enjoy these forest surroundings.
If you have an extra day to spare, we recommend spending the second day tracking the golden monkeys. They inhabit the bamboo forest on the lower slopes. Or you can explore the network of scenic hiking trails. Why not visit the tomb of the world-famous Dian Fossey and the Karisoke Research Centre. Alternatively you can enjoy a beautiful day hike to the Crater Lake on Mount Bisoke.
Check out Peter’s articles on gorilla trekking in Rwanda for more details of what it’s really like!
See Mila’s Photo blog on her experience
Compare Uganda and Rwanda’s gorilla trekking experience