Rwanda is back on the map for a stimulating adventure holiday. Most visitors are lured by the rare promise of seeing some of the last wild population of mountain gorillas, found in the high altitude rainforest of the Volcanoes massif. About half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas are protected in the Volcanoes National Park, so this is one of the best places for a clear sighting on a Rwanda gorilla trek.
Rwanda is small and easy to get around, despite the hilly terrain. Good tar roads wind through fertile hillsides terraced with coffee-plantations. Not for nothing is Rwanda called ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills’! Most places are within three hours drive from Kigali, the capital.
Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda
Most come to enjoy a Rwanda gorilla trek in the Volcanoes National Park with the rare chance to see some of the last wild population of mountain gorillas. The natural habitat for the gorillas is the high altitude rainforest of the Volcanoes massif which is home to roughly half the world’s estimated population of 800 mountain gorillas. There are 7 habituated mountain gorilla groups in the Volcanoes National Park so this is one of the best places for a clear sighting. Other highlights of gorilla tracking in Rwanda include visiting the research centre of the late Dian Fossey (the renowned primatologist featured in Gorillas in the Mist) and also tracking Golden monkeys.
Though one, or if you can manage it, two days of gorilla trekking is one of the highlights of a safari in Rwanda- or indeed any African safari – there are many delights. Other ‘must sees’ on Rwanda safaris include the ancient high-altitude forest of Nyungwe National Park in the southwest which is a paradise for primate fans. Ruwenzori colobus monkeys and chimpanzees are among the 13 different primates to be glimpsed on forest walks. The largest protected montane forest in Africa, Nyungwe is home to 310 bird species (26 of which are endemic) including the great blue turaco, and a startling aray of orchids and butterflies. 5 star comfort is found at Nyungwe Forest Lodge in a tea plantation at the forest edge.
A good place to relax between chimpanzee and gorilla trekking is the beautiful freshwater Lake Kivu in Western Rwanda.
Those with time to adventure can travel to the east, camping in Akagera National Park. Its rolling savanna plains are home to buffalo, elephant, zebra and giraffe – but you’ll share the roads with virtually no other vehicles.
Rwanda Safaris – How to get there & get around
Probably the easiest way is to fly into Nairobi and then connect to Kigali. Interestingly there is now a reasonably priced flight with Air Rwanda from Johannesburg to Kigali so that you can combine South Africa with a chance to see the mountain gorillas on a Rwanda safari.
Rwanda is a compact country with roads radiating out from Kigali. On arrival, you are met by your own private Rwanda safari guide with a 4×4 vehicle. He will transfer you by road to the National Parks for gorilla trekking and also visits to the primates.