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About Rwanda Gorillas

Rwanda Gorillas are found in Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda. Volcanoes has half the number of mountain gorillas remaining in the whole world. Volcanoes is the only national park in the world where chimps co-exist with mountain Gorillas.

Nyungwe National Park is the other Park where Rwanda gorillas are found. Nyungwe National Park lies in southwest Rwanda, partly abutting the Burundi border

Gorilla tracking is a captivation and unforgettable experience which more than repays the effort needed to reach Volcanoes and to trek through the forest. Volcanoes has seven habituated gorilla groups that are tracked by tourists.

Volcanoes Impenetrable National Park

Traveler’s guide to Volcanoes national park Rwanda featuring all you need to know about trekking safaris to watch gorillas in Ruanda, how to book gorilla permits, other attractions in the park, what to wear for gorilla trekking, gorilla groups in Rwanda, best time to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking, accommodation in Rwanda and so much more. A visit to tour gorillas in Volcanoes national park is purely a life changing adventure.

Spanning on a 160 sqkm area in the northern part of Ruanda, Volcanoes national park is part of the great Virunga volcano conservation region spanning to cover Virunga national park Congo and Mgahinga national park Uganda. It was initially a small area around Karisimbi, Mikeno and Visoke volcanoes which was gazetted to protect the Mountain gorillas which were facing the threat of extinction as a result of poaching.

In 1929, the park was extended into Rwanda and the then Belgian Congo and was named Albert national park managed and run by the Belgian Colonial Authorities. During early 1960s, the park was divided as Rwanda and Congo gained their independence and by the end of that decade, the park was almost half of its original size.

In 1967, the American zoologist Dian Fossey who had been doing research on mountain Gorillas in the forests of Congo fled from insecurity and established her research base at a place between Visoke and Karisimbi volcanoes that was yet to be known as Karisoke research center. She spearheaded the conservation campaign of the mountain gorillas and mobilized resources to fight against poaching in this area, a fight she put up until her murder in 1985. She was buried at the research center next to the grave of her favorite gorilla called Digit.

The park continued to suffer at the mercies of poachers though conservation efforts were also under way. In early 1990s, the park became a battle field for the Rwanda’s civil war which paralyzed tourism activities until 1999. In 2005, in a bid to boost conservation and gorilla tourism in Volcanoes national park , Rwanda introduced the annual baby naming ceremony for baby gorillas known as ‘Kwita Iziina’ which has seen great results in as far as gorilla population in volcanoes is concerned.

Volcanoes national park is home to Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei); golden monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), buffaloes (Syncerus caffer), elephants , black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger), and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus). The park also harbors 178 bird species including at least 29 endemics to Rwenzori mountains and the Virungas.

Before departing for Gorilla Tracking

  1. In Rwanda a maximum of 8 tourists may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This is done to ensure minimal behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
  2. Make sure that you wash your hands before your tracking exercise

On the way to the gorillas:

  1. Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
  2. DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  3. You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
  4. When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.

When you are with the gorillas:

  1. A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  2. You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
  3. Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  4. Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
  5. Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
  6. Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
  7. Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  8. The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
  9. After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General health rules:

Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:

  1. Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  2. If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
  3. If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
  4. Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  5. Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  6. If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.

What to bring on your Gorilla Safari:

  1. Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
  2. Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
  3. Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
  4. Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
  5. Bring a photo of film camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.

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