Rwanda is home to Africa’s easiest and most accessible gorilla trekking safaris. After arriving at the capital city of Kigali, visitors to Rwanda are only a few hours’ drive away from the legendary Volcanoes National Park and its habituated but still wild gorilla families.
It was on the bamboo-covered slopes of Rwanda’s Virunga Volcanoes that the late Dian Fossey studied the behaviour of the endangered mountain gorilla for 20 years, followed by the filmmakers who shot ‘Gorillas in the Mist. Now small groups of privileged visitors can experience tracking this magnificent African mountain gorilla, a thrilling and moving experience.
Rarely experienced in isolation, a Rwanda gorilla safari combines well with other East African destinations in Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania, but there’s more to green and hilly Rwanda than meets the eye. The primate-filled Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to chimpanzees and huge troops of up to 400 Colobus Monkeys as well as lots of rare forest birds. An incredible 670 species have been recorded. The wild flowers of the forest and mountains are capped by more than 100 orchid species. Akagera National Park on the other hand offers big game viewing in a savannah setting. Lake Kivu is surrounded by the mountains of the Rift Valley and the dramatic volcanic cones of the Virungas.
Small, compact and easy to travel around, friendly Rwanda has dealt with its past tragedies and offers intrepid travellers and wildlife enthusiasts what is usually a hard-to-gain insight into Central African cultures, wildlife and environments.
Areas to visit
- Butare – situated 135km south of the capital, Butare is the intellectual and cultural heart of the nation. Visit the National Museum which houses the finest ethnographic collection in East Africa.
- Parc National des Volcans –nothing can prepare you for the impact of encountering a fully grown silverback gorilla. Up to three times the size of an average man and yet peaceful and tolerant of human visitors. “ In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat, are great old volcanoes towering up almost 15000 feet, and mostly covered with rich green rainforest – the Virungas” – Dian Fossey
- Nyungwe National Park – extends for almost 1000km squared across the majestic hills of south east Rwanda. It is the largest area of montane forest remaining in Central East Africa, a rich and ancient centre of unparalleled biodiversity and natural wonders.
- Lake Kivu – one of Africa’s Great Lakes. Visit the lake towns of Gisenyi and Kibuye.
Best time to travel:
Rwanda can be visited all year round.
- March to May is the time of the long rains. Heavy and persistant
- June – September is the dry season and the best time to visit.
- October – November is the shorter rainy season
- December – February is the shorter dry season
- During both the dry seasons, there is often light cloud cover and occasional showers. Gorillas are accessible all year but easier to track during the dry season.