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Mountain gorillas do not survive in captivity, which is why they are not seen in zoos. Tracking the mountain gorilla through the misty forests requires patience and stamina, often walking for hours in the mud and the wet. Finally meeting them in the undergrowth is an inspiring moment. Quietly chewing away at their vegetarian delicacies, they seem like a marooned human family.
The tender grooming and firm disciplining of their offspring seems all too familiar. The gorilla family cast a wary glance at the sudden human intrusion into their private world, but is comforted by the clucking made by the trackers. When provoked, the noisy but harmless silverback grunts, screeches, bares his fangs and beats his chest, before slithering off with attendant females, offspring and other mature males.
Tracking gorillas through misty, seemingly impenetrable forests can be an exhausting process as the paths are often slippery, entangled and wet. However, this effort is quickly forgotten the minute you encounter these beautiful creatures. They instantly capture your full attention with their acrobatic antics and cacophony of grunts, screeches and chest beating.
Upon arrival in Kigali you are met at the airport by our local representative and transferred to the hotel. Following a detailed briefing and an introduction to your English speaking driver guide, the afternoon will be spent on a sight seeing tour of Kigali City, a Genocide memorial site and Franco-Rwandan cultural center. Overnight at Hotel Des Mille Collines on a bed and breakfast basis.
After an early breakfast, drive NW to Ruhengeri, the main base town for gorilla tracking (approximately 90 minutes drive) on a good paved road through the countryside with its beautiful terraced hills that are so characteristic of the rural Rwanda. Upon arrival, there is a briefing by the Volcanoes National Park's guides on how to behave in the forest and in the presence of mountain gorillas. You then enter the park for a gorilla trek which will take you until around midday depending on where you find them.
Once the gorillas are located all fatigue is forgotten,
as the experience is often described as being the most
profound natural history experience in the world. It is
important to take plenty of water. Cameras and plenty of
fast speed film is recommended. It can rain at a few minutes
notice, hence waterproof clothing is a good essential
including zip lock bags for cameras and film. After the
trek, lunch at Gorilla Nest Lodge. If time permits, visit
the markets, villages and local communities or an optional
visit to the little known by compellingly beautiful twin
lakes Bulera and Ruhondo. Overnight at Gorilla Nest Lodge on
a full board basis
VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK - Virungas Conservation Area
The Volcanoes Park, on the Rwandan side is definitely the best place anywhere to go gorilla tracking while also supporting a number of other localized mammal, bird and plant species. This 13000 hectare national park protects the Rwanda sector of the Virunga Mountains, a range of six extinct and three active volcanoes which straddle the border with Uganda and the DRC. Between 2.500 and 3.500m in height, where an average annual rainfall of 2000mm is typical, bamboo forest is interspersed with alpine moorland, grassland and marsh, a landscape dominated by other worldly giant lobilia and senecio plants. In this park, there are four different gorilla families (Sabyinyo with 113 members, Amahoro, 17 members, Group 13 with 9 members and Susa, 37 members)
GORILLA NEST LODGE
The Lodge offers comfortable rooms with en suite bathrooms, hot and cold water and a friendly atmosphere. The dining and bar area is open sided with a fire on cool evenings. All rooms and the dining area have views of the volcanoes or overlook the beautiful valley and the hills beyond. There are 20 attractive rooms.
After breakfast take a short drive back to the Park Headquarters and meet with the excellent local guides and trackers who will give another talk on the etiquette of gorilla trekking. We then hike into the park for a second gorilla trek, visiting a different family this time. Again, the trekking can take from 1 to 6 hours and climb to altitudes 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. Lunch at the lodge and the remainder of the day at leisure. If possible, there might be an afternoon guided tour to Dian Fossey's grave through this rich surrounding forest. (This needs to be paid for locally) Overnight at Gorilla Nest Lodge on a full board basis.
After a leisurely breakfast, enjoy the scenic transfer back to Kigali arriving late morning and on to Kigali for your departure flight .
Rates From: $3,945 per person sharing (June through September)
Gorilla Permit:- $1,500 per one trek permit. (To be purchased at the time of booking your trip)