Join Africa Geographic Travel in Rwanda on a mountain gorilla trekking experience at Volcanoes National Park and enjoy the scenic beauty of Virunga.
Tailor-made dates for 2016 and 2017
Rwanda is fast becoming Africa’s best mountain gorilla trekking mecca and our destination of Volcanoes National Park in the north west of Rwanda is prime gorilla territory. The national park is a haven for habituated mountain gorilla families, ideal for close encounters and wonderful photo moments with these gentle giants.
Your gorilla tracking adventure will take you through Africa’s most pristine afro-montane forests, and in so doing you will likely come across some other wonderful species such as golden monkeys, colourful Rwenzori turacos and prehistoric three-horned chameleons. But eventually, all your efforts will be duly rewarded as you come face to face with your first mountain gorilla silverback and his family in the mystic depths of their lush stronghold.
Described by many as a life-changing experience, this is certainly one of Africa’s bucket-list experiences. But perhaps more importantly, gorilla trekking has become an experience that powers up a vital lifeline for the preservation and conservation of the last remaining mountain gorillas in Africa (now estimated at less than 880 individuals worldwide), their ‘lofty’ highland habitat, the salaries and livelihoods of many people and communities, and a sizeable chunk of Rwanda’s economy.
Day 1: Arrival in Kigali
On arrival at Rwanda’s Kigali International Airport you will be met by an Africa Geographic representative and whisked off to visit some of Kigali’s main attractions. Depending on your arrival time we could incorporate the following into your visit: The Caplaki Handicrafts market (the perfect place to browse for Rwandan souvenirs), the Kimironko City Market where all types of colourful and tasty food is sold, or the Gisozi Genocide Memorial & Education Centre, the site that houses over 250 000 victims of the 1994 Rwanda genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group and which stands as a vivid living testimony to the events that took place and the incredible renewal process that this country has been through.
After a light lunch at a cozy Kigali restaurant you will drive north towards Ruhengeri and on arrival at Volcanoes National Park you will settle in at your hotel. Here you will have the chance to freshen up, explore your surroundings and later indulge in a delicious home-cooked dinner at the lodge’s restaurant before your gorilla trekking experience the following day.
Overnight at Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel
Day 2: Mountain Gorilla trekking
After breakfast you will take a short drive to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters and meet with the excellent local gorilla trekking guides and trackers who will lead you up into the Virunga Mountains for your first trek with gorillas. First though you will be given an informative talk on gorilla trekking etiquette, and assigned to your gorilla family group.
Your gorilla trek commences in the general direction of the last sighting of your assigned family group. The trekking can take between 1 and 6 hours and you could climb to altitudes above 7 500 feet / 2 300 metres. The terrain in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park can be rough and at times muddy and slippery but your experienced trackers, rangers and porters will ensure that the group progresses at a pace that is comfortable for everyone, with frequent stops and opportunities to take in the views and take photographs.
Although the gorilla trekking experience can be physically demanding the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery always makes the trekking a worthwhile experience. Once the gorillas are located all fatigue is forgotten, the joy of finding your gorilla troop will only be overcome by the amazement of watching the gorillas go about their daily routine. The gorilla group is likely to be chilled out and eating celery, indulging in grooming, or involved in some other primal social activity.
Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of the gorillas is surely the most profound and poignant wildlife encounter that Africa has on offer.
After the fastest 45 minutes in your life, you will return from your gorilla trek to the lodge for a shower, a change of clothes and some lunch before taking a drive to the gorgeous Lake Kivu for an overnight stay.
On arrival you will be have time to settle into your room before a well-deserved dinner at the hotel’s restaurant.
Overnight at Malahide Paradis Motel
Day 3: Departure Day
After breakfast you will be transferred back to Kigali and dependent on your flight schedule transfer to Kigali International Airport for your flight back home, or connection to your next destination.
Testimonials and Trip Reports
January 2016 – Family Gorilla trekking – Click here
Gorillas Volcanoes hotel: You will be staying in an en-suite room with warm shower, Wifi and satellite TV.
Paradis Malahide: This lodge is located 7km outside Gisenyi, at a beautiful location on the shores of Lake Kivu, with lovely views across to the islands. The bungalows and the main dining/reception areas are surrounded by well-manicured and colourful gardens. A small section of public and private beaches allow visitors to fully enjoy Lake Kivu. All en-suite bungalows are cool and comfortable with a double bed, mosquito netting, bamboo chairs and a small table, as well as a wardrobe. It is a perfectly integrated, charmingly rustic, simple lodge that is enthusiastically run, and offers great food.
Climate: Temperatures typically vary from 15°C to 29°C and are rarely below 14°C or above 31°C.
Difficulty: Gorilla trekking, hiking and tracking takes place at altitudes of 3 000 meters above sea level. This means that moderate/average physical fitness is required. The slowest member will determine the groups’ speed. The pace will be moderate, with plenty stops to rest, ask questions, re-hydrate and enjoy the forest and views.
Price includes: Transfers to and from the airport in Kigali on arrival and departure days. Two nights’ accommodation in Rwanda on full board. All meals mentioned in the itinerary (starting with lunch on arrival day to breakfast on departure day). Coffee/tea, and an unlimited supply of mineral water during transfers. A single entry gorilla trekking permit. Park fees for entry into Volcanoes National Park. All ground transportation in a 4×4 WD vehicle, with fuel provided, and the services of our English – speaking tour guide/driver. Both driver and guide fees. 24/7 office support.
Price excludes: International or local airfare (however we can help you with booking your tickets). Visas and airport departure taxes. Internet services, items of personal nature, telephone calls, laundry, travel and medical Insurance, tips, excess baggage charges, gratuities to lodge staff, drivers and the leader. Any activities not specified in the itinerary.
Flight Details: The cost of return flights to Kigali (Rwanda) is not included. Should you wish to book with us we will do our utmost to secure your booking at the best possible rate. Should you wish to extend your stay/ do a pre-trip leading up to this tour please contact us for details.
Booking and payment details: Once you have decided to join one of our safaris, you will need to contact us for a booking form, which will include details relating to deposit and final payments etc.
Read more here on the top 10 ways to protect mountain gorillas.
Recommended Reading: For the most authoritative and up to date information about Rwanda as a travel destination we recommend Wild Rwanda. Beautifully written and lavishly illustrated this book contains everything you would like to know about Rwanda’s habitats, reserves and national parks and where, and how to find its most iconic birds, primates and fascinating wildlife. Click here to purchase your copy.