Best Wildlife Safari Experiences On A Visit Rwanda Expedition

Rwanda is one of the leading safari destinations offering some of the best wildlife safari experiences. The country has over the years heavily invested in tourism branding and marketing. It signed a marketing deal with international football teams like Arsenal and PSG that have a visit Rwanda tag on their jerseys. These campaigns aim at uncovering top wildlife tour destinations in Rwanda featuring the country’s best wildlife safari experiences.

Lets explore some of the best wildlife Safari experiences Rwanda has to offer and a Must do while on a safari in the country.

Rwanda Mountain gorilla. Wildlife Safari Experiences
Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes NP Rwanda. Photo by Klaas Jan Jonkman

Gorilla Trekking Safari Experiences

This is the most famous in the land of a thousand hills. Mountain gorillas in Rwanda live in Volcanoes national park located in the northwestern part of the country. The Park is part of the greater Virunga area that extends stretches along the border with Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo and home to the remaining mountain gorillas population.

Mountain gorillas are amazing apes with over 95% DNA similar to humans. They live in families ranging from 2 to 20 or more often headed by the dormant male gorilla called Silverback. These gorilla families are open to tourist visitation offering adventurous wildlife experience that many describe as once in a life time.

The gorilla trekking safari experience starts with a briefing at the park headquarters at 7:00 am. Here you are told about the gorilla trekking regulations and brief summary about these rare apes. You are then guided to the forested mountains amidst sighting of other wildlife species. The trek takes 2 to 4 hours or more and once you get to the gorillas you will be allowed to stay in their presence for an hour taking photos and getting to know more about them.

While planning a visit Rwanda expedition, ensure to add a mountain gorilla trekking safari for unforgettable primate safari experiences.

Big Five Safari Experiences

Rwanda’s Akagera national park is home to the big five mammals that include Lions, Rhinos, Leopards, buffaloes and Elephants. These are seen while on game drives in the only savanna national park in Rwanda. Akagera national park is located in the north eastern part of the country and best place for classic safari experiences.

The big five safari experiences are more amazing with the viewing of other big names in african safari wildlife. These include giraffes, antelopes including waterbucks, Topi, Oribi among others, hippos, birds and so much more.

The northern sector of Akagera national park has the highest wildlife concentration and its where most game drives are done. A boat cruise a long lake Ihema is a must do and Equally offers unique wildlife safari experiences. Here you view a number of hippos, Nile crocodiles, a number of birds among others. Its most enjoyable in the evening as you can wind it with remarkable views of the African sunset.

Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris

Rwanda is a ultimate primate trekking safari destination with major primates including the chimpanzees. These live in Rwanda’s Nyungwe forest located in the southwestern part of the country.

Nyungwe forest is one of the oldest forests in East and Central Africa and its not only home to chimpanzees but other primates including blues monkeys, L’hoest monkeys, colobus monkeys among others. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe is the top most and must do primate trekking adventure while visiting the park.

To supplement on a chimp tour in Nyungwe, you can also do other primate treks as well as nature walks long the different trails in the park.

Visit Rwanda today and be part of the never ending wildlife safari experiences. The country is fully open for tourism and it follows strict standard operating procedures amidst the Corona Virus pandemic crisis.

What You Need To Know About Bwindi, The Best Gorilla Trekking Destination

Mountain Gorilla tourism has over the years gained popularity as people seek exclusive gorilla trekking experiences. People travel from different parts of the world to the forested mountains of East and Central Africa for mountain gorilla trekking. One may wonder what are mountain gorillas and why are they special?

Mountain gorillas are endangered primate species with over 95% DNA similar to humans. They live in the forested mountains at elevations ranging from about 8000 to 13,000 feet above sea level. They are covered with fur that helps them survive the cold temperatures of the forested mountains.

Gorillas live in families headed by a dominant male called Silverback and are pure vegetarian with their diet consisting of plant vegetation and bamboo shoots. They are endemic to the Virunga massif along the Rwanda, Uganda & DRC Border and Bwindi impenetrable Forest in Uganda. 

The total mountain gorilla population is now estimated at over 1000 and Bwindi Impenetrable forest has almost half of the total population. Bwindi is currently the best gorilla trekking destination and here is more information you might need to know.

1. Various Gorilla Trekking Sectors

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is an extensive park covering about 321 square kilometers. The park has different gorilla trekking sectors evenly distributed each sector with various gorilla families.

The northern and busiest sector is called Buhoma with 6 mountain gorilla families. Closer to Buhoma is Ruhija the eastern sector with 4 mountain gorilla families. It takes about an hours drive from Buhoma to Ruhija and you can therefore have a gorilla trek there incase you had accommodation in Buhoma.

Rushaga and Nkuringo are situated in southern Bwindi. Rushaga has 8 gorilla families while Nkuringo has 4 gorilla families. The Nkuringo region is however steep and one having a gorilla trek there will require some level of fitness. Ensure to know the exact sector where your gorilla trekking experience will be and book your accommodation accordingly.

Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi. Gorilla Trekking
Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable NP. Courtesy Photo

2. Varying Gorilla Trekking Elevation

Bwindi has many hills with a gorilla trekking elevation from 1190 to 2607 meters above sea level. With this, the gorilla trekking experience comes in handy. You must therefore know if the gorilla family you are tracking will require a lot of hiking.

Much as gorilla trekking doesn’t require any levels of fitness, there are some gorilla families that live at high elevations. Those with altitude sickness, the elderly and some health restrictions need to ensure they track families that don’t require a lot of hiking.

Luckily Bwindi has over 22 gorilla families and one has a range of options to choose from. An average hike takes 2 to 4 hours though others take longer and a full day. Talk to your local safari guide or park ranger to ensure you are allocated an easier family to track.

3. Accessibility

Bwindi impenetrable can be accessed by both road and air transport. If you are coming from Entebbe international airport or Kampala by road, it takes a 9 to 10 hours drive. Its a long one but impressive going through the Ugandan countryside. You would have en route stop overs for photography at the Equator and for a lunch break and proceed to Bwindi.

Incase you don’t want the long drive you can fly to an airstrip near the park. There are two airstrips serving the park, one in the north and the other in the south. Kihihi airstrip serves the northern and Eastern sectors. Its 30 to 40 minutes drive to Buhoma sector and about an hour and a half drive to Ruhija

Kisoro airstrip serves the southern sector and its an hour drive to the park. Flying saves a lot of time and its the best option for those who don’t want the long drives. It also offers great aerial views of the countryside and other open savanna parks.

4. Best time for Trekking

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi can be enjoyed anytime of the year. The best time though is in the dry season from June to September and December to March. During this time there is minimal rainfall disturbances and the tracking trails are therefore dry. With this, there is easy movement and great chances for better wildlife photography.

In the wet season from April to May and October to November gorilla trekking is possible but rainfall can occur anytime of the day. Its an adventurous experience having a downpour while in the jungle but some people don’t like it.

5. Gorilla Permits

Mountain gorilla trekking permits for Bwindi cost $700 per person for international tourists, $600 per person for East African foreign residents and Uganda shillings 250,000 for East African citizens.

Gorilla permits are on a very high demand and only 8 tourists are allowed to track one gorilla family a day.  Ensure to book your permits in advance to avoid missing out. You can book and buy permits from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices. Incase you are using a tour operator ensure to pay for the permits in advance.

If you are interested in the gorilla habituation experience, permits are limited to only 4 people. Habituation permits cost $1500 per person for international guests, $1000 per person for East African residents and shillings 750,000 for East African Citizens.

A Trek With Rwanda Mountain Gorillas; A trip of a lifetime

Every year adventure lovers do a trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas to be part of some of world’s safari adventures. Rwanda is among the only three destinations on the planet where one can trek mountain gorillas.

Mountain gorillas are apes that live in the forested mountains of east and central Africa. They are covered in black fur, vegetarian as their diet comprises of plant vegetation and live in families headed by a dominant male. These primates are pretty outstanding with over 95% DNA similar to humans.

For a mountain gorilla family to be opened for tourists it undergoes a habituation process that makes it accustomed to human beings presence. There are over 10 habituated mountain gorilla families in Rwanda making it one of the best places for gorilla safaris. Below are some of the reasons why a trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas is life changing and a must for nature and adventure tourists.

 Rwanda Mountain gorilla. Gorilla Tours
Mountain Gorilla baby in Volcanoes National Park. Photo by Moses Nezehose
Mountain gorilla family set up

These incredible primates not only have over 95% DNA similar to humans but also have a family set up similar to humans. Each gorilla family is headed by a dominant male called silverback that overseas the routine its family members.

A typical gorilla family has females, young or infant gorillas and juvenile gorillas that eventually grow to silverbacks, black backs or adult females. Being in the presence of these gorillas makes one feel like they seeing a distant family members. It’s a very amazing experience and highly recommended.

Ensure to have a trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas to get to a chance to experience how great apes live and bond in the wild.

Vegetation

Much as mountain gorillas live in forested mountains, in Rwanda much of volcanoes national park is covered with a light bamboo forest. This makes it easy for tourists to easily spot the mountains gorillas while on gorilla treks.

The parks vegetation can easily be navigated through also making photography very easy. Wildlife photography is very essential while on safari as you capture memories of a lifetime. For best mountain gorilla photography, a trek in Rwanda’s volcanoes national park is highly recommended.

Diverse wildlife species

A trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas gives you a chance to see a variety of other wildlife species in park. These range from birds, plant vegetation, reptiles among others. The gorilla park is home to the endangered forest elephants and Buffaloes though rarely seen.

There are also golden monkeys in Volcanoes that can supplement the gorilla tours. Golden monkey treks are very much exciting as well giving you a chance to meet another rare primate species. For an awesome wildlife and primate experience ensure to have a trek with mountain gorillas.

Major park activities start in the morning and here you can track mountain gorillas more than once to have an experience of different families.

Gorilla population

Volcanoes national park has half of the mountain gorilla population in the VIrunga massif. The VIrunga massif if a range of dormant and extinct volcanic mountains along the Rwandan, Ugandan and DRC border. It’s in these forested mountains where mountain gorillas live.

With a trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas, you are guaranteed of seeing them all thanks to the steadily increasing gorilla population. There are twelve habituated mountain gorilla families in this beautiful park that are open to tourists. Some families have adorable baby gorillas that make the whole gorilla trek experiences remarkable as they play around or stay at the safety of their mothers hands for comfort.

Every year in the famous Kwiti Izina Ceremony newly born babies are named and officially welcomed by wildlife and primate enthusiast. We hope the gorilla population will keep increasing all thanks to the great conservation efforts that has been put In over the years.

Parks accessibility

Rwanda’s mountain gorilla park is the most and easily accessed of all the gorillas parks. It’s situated just a 3 hours drive from Rwanda’s capital city Kigali. There are also flights operated by Akagera aviation giving a provisos of flying directly to the park.

With this you get enough time not only for treks with Rwanda mountain gorillas but also explore other attractions in the area. There are great and easily accessed facilities like hotels and safari lodges for those who prefer to spend a night or more in the park.

For those with limited time in Rwanda but would still want to be part of the gorilla treks, you can do a 1 day gorilla tour with a 4:30 am pick up from Kigali. All these factors make a trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas an experience anyone must never miss while in a visit Rwanda expedition.