Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park is one of the three Virunga Conservation Area mountain gorilla national park, the other two being Virunga national park in Congo and Mgahinga national park in Uganda. Its estimated that there are about 900 mountain gorillas in the the world, about 480 of these endangered species are inhabiting the Virunga region, with Volcanoes national park Rwanda area having the highest number of mountain gorillas which is about 300 gorillas
From Kigali the park is situated north about 2hours drive from Kigali in Musanze district. The park head offices are located in Kinigi, and this is where the park entry point is located.
Why choose Rwanda
In Rwanda unlike Uganda a visitor can go visit gorillas on a one day gorilla excursion or even two days trip. For a budget traveler, tracking gorillas in Rwanda is quite easy as access to Volcanoes NP is simple from Kigali the country’s capital city. If one is traveling on budget, on tight schedule all you need is to take a bus to Musanze and then to Kinigi where the park offices are located in just about 3 hours.
Secondly, hiking through the Volcanoes national park of Rwanda is less strenuous than hiking through Bwindi impenetrable forest. However the time taken to see the great apes is still unpredictable and hence you should try to be in good shape when going to gorilla hiking. Unlike in Uganda, you get to choose if you want to visit the easy, medium and tough gorilla trek the day of gorilla tracking. I think this is what makes the Rwanda trek less straining as you get to choose what you can handle.
100% of visitor who come to see gorillas make sure to take pictures of these intriguing apes. Volcanoes national park comprises of an open terrain with bamboo trees which allow more light into the gorilla forest which allows observation and taking great shots of the gorillas. Bwindi on the other hand is a very thick forest with quite a lot of foliage
Lastly, destination Rwanda is more appealing to go watch gorillas mostly because of her torching history and how far she has struggled to beat her past and now considered Africa’s fast growing economy. This is a great indication that the government uses her revenue to a good cause. Kigali is one of the cleaned cities in Africa.
Tips to Note
A gorilla permit in Rwanda goes for USD 750 which gives you only an hour with the gorillas. Much advisable to buy your gorilla permit in advance as they get finished early. You don’t want to book your flights and fail to get a gorilla permit!
Best time to go – Going to see gorillas is best during the dry seasons as it makes trekking much easier, tis is the period of december – march and June – september and the wet season runs from March – May and July – September. Please not that gorilla tracking is possible all year round as the county has good weather in general.
In your backpack – Pack a waterproof gear jacket, pants as well as backpack in your backpack even during the dry season, you never know.
What to wear – Trekking shoes are a good idea and garden gloves come in handy to protect your hands from nestles, also insect repellent will be useful. Carry enough drinking water as it gets very hot during the joke and snacks too as you do know what time you will be back for your lunch.
Don’t forget your walking stick as it will be very much useful for support and very importantly take a porter. Your portal comes in handy to help you carry your backpack and you assist you through slippery routes plus helping a locale put food on his table.
Protect Gorillas – Don’t go for the trek with a cold, when your sick or have an infectious disease. Gorillas easily catch human diseases and don’t have a strong immune system as we do.
Meeting the gorillas – Once you meet the gorillas, take time to take good photographs but don’t spend this very precious moment on only pictures. Take some time to observe and immense your self into this once in a life time adventure. You don’t eat in the presence of the gorillas, keep a distance of 15 feet and don’t start directly into the eyes of the gorilla. Keep your voice low and don’t make sudden movements.