In colonial times, the thrilling beauty of Rwanda’s rolling mountainous landscapes earned it the sobriquet “The Land of a Thousand Hills”. After independence, this small central African nation leaped to fame as the Land of “Gorillas in the Mist”, the adopted home of Dian Fossey and most important refuge for the rare mountain gorilla. Gorilla tracking in the Virungas was the country’s premier attraction, supplemented by the mesmerizing savannah and plains wildlife of Akagera National Park, the incredible biodiversity of the extensive Nyungwe rainforest and a range of mountain and lake shore around the beautiful Lake Kivu.
Rwanda leapt from glossy travel supplements to grisly front-page news with the genocide in 1994. Today Rwanda has reclaimed its rightful place as one of the world’s finest adventure and ecotourism destinations. The mountain gorillas are still there, every bit as awe inspiring as ever, as are the elephants of Akagera and the chimpanzees and monkeys of Nyungwe. Rwanda is also one of Africa’s top birding countries, with an incredible 670 different bird species recorded within an area the size of Wales or Belgium. And this nature-lover’s paradise remains, for all it has been through, a truly welcoming country, whose attractions are complemented by good facilities, fine food and its rich cultural heritage.
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Accommodations in Rwanda
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Volcanoes National Park
Gorilla Tracking Permits
Permits for tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda are currently $750 per person per visit and subject to change. There are only 80 permits available daily at the Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda so it is essential to secure permits well in advance.
Permits must be paid in full at the time of booking so they can be purchased immediately. Permits are non-refundable except for medical reasons which can be documented.
Travelers must be over age 15 and in good health in anticipation of strenuous trekking up to 11,000 feet in elevation.
Gorilla viewing may be cancelled at short notice in the event of national park or border closures, security changes or if the gorillas go out of range. In such circumstances refunds are at the discretion of the Parks authority and are not within Next Adventure’s control. Obtaining a gorilla permit therefore is not a guarantee of seeing a gorilla.
At Park Headquarters your ranger will explain the rules for tracking gorillas and guide you up to the gorillas. Please follow the rules. One hour is allowed with the gorillas for viewing from a distance of no less than 7 meters or about 23 feet.
RWANDA GORILLA TRACKING EXTENSION
Each day, an early breakfast is served at the lodge before you depart by road to the Parc National des Volcans’ Kinigi Headquarters just a few minutes away. Here, you are given a safety briefing and allocated to a park ranger who will guide you and a group of up to 8 guests on your trek to find one of the habituated Mountain Gorilla families. You may depart on foot or be taken by vehicle to a starting point to commence your gorilla trek in the forest. The amount of time spent trekking is dependent upon which gorilla family you are allocated to and where they are found that day; you’ll be carrying picnic lunches in case you have a long trek.
Your trek commences at about 7,000’ in the upper terraced slopes of the volcano. Tracking the gorillas through the light Afro-montane forest on the slopes of the Virungas is a magical experience. Nothing can prepare one for the impact of encountering a fully grown silverback gorilla: up to three times as bulky as the average man, yet remarkably peaceful and tolerant of human visitors. There are no words to describe the thrill of recognition attached to staring deep into the liquid brown eyes of these gentle giants, which share some 97% of their genes with humans.
If you are lucky you can get to the gorillas, spend an hour with them, and be back at base in time for a late lunch! Some gorilla families, however, are more elusive and tracking can take a full day, especially when it is wet and muddy. Once the family is sighted you will spend a maximum of one hour with the gorilla family.
After this phenomenal wildlife experience, retrace your steps to your vehicle and return to the lodge for the afternoon at leisure or optional activities in the area to be coordinated with your driver-guide.
You may wish to take a drive to the bustling market town of Ruhengeri, nearby, or visit the beautiful lakes of Kivu, Burera, Ruhondo and Karago. There are the genocide memorials as well as community and conservation projects to be visited. Transportation to all optional activities will be with your private vehicle and guide.
Rwanda Safari Destinations
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