Within Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans, a set of 5 dramatic volcanic peaks rise above a jade sea of rolling slopes, deep blue crater lakes and foothills of terraced crops. These mountains mark the western arm of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. In places, they straddle the neighbouring borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This protected area is remarkable for a rare and Critically Endangered treasure: the mist-fed heights are home to over half of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas.
Visitors have the option of a wonderful cross-section of activities within the Park surrounds. These are all worthy preludes to the lifetime highlight of precious time with the mountain gorillas.
Visit the Iby’lwacu Cultural Village
This interactive experience will give you a window onto the world of the early Rwandan Kingdom. The rich tradition of music and dance, integral to all Rwandan celebrations and ceremonies, provides a dynamic background to captivating re-enactments of revered ceremonies and rituals.
Traveller’s Note: A visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre / Gisozi Genocide Memorial Centre, situated in the Rwandan capital city of Kigali, is a deeply moving experience. The wide range of multi-media exhibits provides thought-provoking insights not only into this devastating chapter in Rwanda’s history, but also that of Genocide as a global issue.
Hike and Acclimatize
A range of hikes will take you into diverse habitats of great beauty. These explore the valleys, lakes, waterfalls, forests, slopes and peaks of the area, while also providing an excellent opportunity to acclimatize to the high altitude.
Trek to the Golden Monkeys
This is the one and only place where you will have the chance to observe a habituated group of these handsome, engaging but endangered animals. Studies have shown that they spend all of their time in the bamboo forest zone and that their preference is for the middle reaches of the trees. You are therefore guaranteed the reward of easy and often eye-level viewing.
Walk to the Dian Fossey Gravesite
This is where it all began, where her life ended and where her living legacy was born. Here is the place where Dian Fossey set up 2 small tents and began a research project that would transform perceptions of a deeply maligned and misunderstood species. Here are the ruins of her Karisoke Research Centre, destroyed in the civil war, but now re-established in Musanze.
Trek to the Mountain Gorillas
There will be no hour like this ever again: your time, as a small party of 8, with a mountain gorilla group. Millions of years ago, our shared evolutionary paths diverged. And yet, there is still an indefinable connection. Listen carefully for the low “naoom, naoom, naoom” rumble, identified by Dian Fossey as a group vocalization of deep contentment. Observe the cohesive dynamics of the group under the ever-vigilant protection of their magnificent silverback leader.