Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park or “Parc National de Volcans” (PNV) lies along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is two hours drive from Rwanda’s capital of Kigali and centrally located for exploring some distinctly Rwandan experiences.

This highly rewarding mountain gorilla tracking destination is just two hours’ drive from Rwanda’s International Airport. It is blessed with 10 habituated gorilla groups, each of which comprises of 7-35 members.

Watching these subtle mountain primates is like staring at yourself in the mirror because their sense of hearing, smelling and touch is similar to humans. The only difference is that while your legs are longer than your arms, in gorillas the reverse is true. Why? Their day to day survival is dependent on climbing branches with the intent of harvesting wild fruits and edible vegetation.

The intelligence of these apes can be seen in the way they express affection by grooming each other. They carefully inspect each other’s hair to remove dirt, parasites and dead skin. It is such a captivating experience to watch mothers as they carry their babies on their backs. You are also likely to see juveniles improving their fighting skills by wrestling down each other. It's hard to forget how juveniles laugh whenever tickled by their baby sitters, the blackbacks.

The gorilla adventure here lasts 1-6 hours of which one hour is meant for your interaction with the gorillas as you observe them up-close. Unlike chimps, gorillas make nests at the floor of the forest due to their heavy weight. They do this by piling layers of soft leaves. Much of their communication is by soft grunts, and screams which can be heard over a distance of three kilometers through the forest. They mostly do this when there is danger like an invasion by a rival group. You can easily tell by their faces when they are happy, surprised or pissed off.

This trip along a machete-cleared forest path will offer you a first taste of a genuinely wild area of Rwanda. On setting foot in the forest early morning, you can start your adventure by getting butterfly photos flickering their wings in the occasional shafts of light penetrating the canopy.

Golden Monkey tracking

Lots of travellers who have been to Volcanoes cannot say enough great things about this half day adventure. It is simply amazing to have a group of these fun loving primates around and above you, humming, swinging from the branches and climbing up the trees. The trek itself is so captivating, you will catch sight of countless bird species and other monkey species, like vervets and colubus monkeys.

The guide will shepherd you around to get the full benefit of this priceless experience. He will keep pointing for you where to step so as to jumping over queues of ants. Wildlife movements can't be predicted, this enriches the search and keeps you guessing unlike a zoo experience where everything seems stage managed. The walk is stunning along small trails that snake along pristine rivers. It is not very challenging and you don't have to be in great shape to complete. The wooden boardwalks built over the rivers makes it easy to get through the jungle without going through hell.

Despite being among over 80 excitable adolescent monkeys that make loud noise, at no time does one feel unsafe. Sitting at close quarters to the babies is truly an unforgettable encounter. They are cute and love to run around playing.

As you journey through the forest, you will come across some of the most majestic indigenous tree species in Africa. So many of which are over 80meters from root to apex, like mahogany and Prunus Africana.

Best time to visit

June-September to February. Being dry months, the conditions in these months is cooler and the terrain drier.

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Kampala, Uganda

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Monday - Saturday: 9 AM - 5 PM

Sunday: Closed :)