Rwanda: Luxury Trekking
This beautiful land-locked country is one of three countries, Rwanda, Uganda and Congo, that are home to the endangered Mountain Gorillas. The country has emerged well from a terrible civil war scenario, and since peace prevailed in 1994, the economy is booming.
Known as the “land of a thousand hills”, the scenery of lakes, hills and volcanoes and a warm friendly people make the country in general well worth the visit. Your trip will begin and end in Kigali the capital, which has several international standard hotels. While there a visit to the Genocide Museum is a humbling but worthwhile experience. A two hour drive to the North of the country will bring you to the Volcanoes National park, part of the Virunga volcano system which spans the three countries. There are several nice lodges here to choose from.
This park is one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age – and is regarded to be one of the most biologically diverse forests in all Africa. It is home to Mountain Gorilla, golden monkeys, Spotted Hyena, buffaloes, elephants , black-fronted duiker, and bush-buck. The park also hosts 178 bird species including at least 29 endemics to the Ruwenzori mountains and the Virungas. Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of these gentle giants, who are 98% of our DNA, is a special privilege and an encounter unparalleled in wildlife. Only about 820 mountain gorillas survive today, all of them in the wild. A combination of hunting and habitat destruction has driven this very rare primate to the verge of extinction.
Your Gorilla Tracking Day:
It must be stressed that, while you have a very good chance of seeing gorillas, success can never be guaranteed! They are wild creatures with no fixed routines, but having said that, the trackers are very good at finding them!
After breakfast you take a short drive to Park Headquarters and meet with your local guides and trackers who will give a talk on the etiquette of gorilla trekking. After a quick briefing on safety measures and what to expect during the day, you will be grouped in groups of 8 people maximum and each group is assigned one gorilla family to trek.
Rwanda has 13 habituated gorilla families, ranging in size from 7 – 29 family members. Thus 13 groups of 8 people each are the ones allowed to track on any particular day. You then hike into the forest to where the gorillas were seen the night before and track from that point. The trekking can take from 1 to 6 hours, and climb up to altitudes not in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make the trekking worthwhile.
Once the gorillas are located all fatigue is immediately forgotten! You will be allowed an hour in their close proximity, before you hike back to your camp, totally exhilarated. Picnic lunches are provided and it is important to take plenty of water. Cameras, are recommended of course – photography can be challenging in the dappled light of the forest, but worth the effort. It can always start to rain without much notice; hence waterproof clothing is a good essential including waterproof bag for cameras. You can, and should, hire a porter to help carry your gear. Please note that plastic (e.g. carrier / shopping) bags are now illegal in Rwanda.
A permit to trek for the gorillas in Rwanda now costs $ 1,500 per person per day. Although expensive, the money goes towards the country’s ceaseless conservation efforts, and I have never hear anyone say it was not worth it!
A hiking trip to one of the two habituated troops of Golden Monkeys, who tend to live in the lower bamboo areas can also be arranged. These family groups consist of 80 – 100 members and they also start at 7:00am, so you would need an extra day for your itinerary. The permit for this is $ 100 per person.
The Nyungwe National Park also can be worked into your itinerary, for those that have a bit more time. It is home to Chimpanzees and 11 other primate species, including a 400 strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black and white Colobus Monkeys. Here you can chose to hike or bike, and enjoy over 300 hundred bird species, and an impressive waterfall.
Rwanda makes a great add-on to other East African safari adventures! Contact us to discuss planning your safari – : +1 435-649-4655 or firstname.lastname@example.org