Planning to visit Rwanda “The land of a thousand hills” in the Eastern part of the African continent is an experiential rewarding decision made as far as your profile as a traveller who is aiming big, reaching Rwanda in the Eastern part of Africa, some of the fascinating, exciting and attracting activities or excursions to include on the bucket list are known to be Mountain Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park and Iby’wacu cultural experience.
In the Eastern part of the African Continent, Rwanda is geographically bounded by Burundi in the South, Uganda “The Pearl of Africa” in the North, Tanzania in the East and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the West, the only place to go for the shy endangered Mountain Gorillas while in Rwanda is Volcanoes National Park.
About Volcanoes National Park. The popularly known National park which is even inclusive of the Virunga Massif is located in the Northwestern part of Rwanda along Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and also not very far from Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Volcanoes National Park is also home to five of the eight Virunga Volcano Mountains including Mountain Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo, are you looking for the Dian Fossey graveyard? It’s also found in Volcanoes National Park. Dian Fossey was the first conservationist who raised the campaign emphasizing the conservation of remaining Gorilla lives.
Besides mountain Gorillas, Volcanoes National Park also provides habitat to the species of the Old World monkey family known as Golden monkeys plus other Wildlife species like primates including Colobus monkeys, vervet, baboons and more, as different bird species, insect species and different reptiles.
How to get there? Travelling from Kigali airport or city by Safari jeep, it’s usually takes about 2-3 hours depending on speed used and traffic, it’s usually better and recommended that you arrange all transportation services from Kigali airport or city to Kinigi where park offices are located with a local tour operator than using a public taxi up to Musanze town because it’s usually not secure and there is transportation services from Musanze town up to Kinigi where Park offices for Volcanoes National park are located.
If not road transport you can go by air transport means since private charters are always arranged from Kigali airport up to Kinigi airstrip in Musanze district where Park offices are.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes. This usually involves meeting with the shy endangered ground-dwelling herbivores Mountain Gorillas in the Jungles of Volcanoes National Park, early in the morning a briefing is conducted at the Park offices or starting point to highlight the groups of trekkers on how to behave in the Jungle and in the presence of these apes.
After the briefing a park guide and armed officers are assigned to a group of eight trekkers for the journey heading to the Jungle following well-established trails in search of these apes, the assigned Park guide always communicates with the Gorilla trackers via radio calls about the exact location of these apes in the Jungles, moving speed is maintained according to group members. Gorilla trackers are the first to go early in the morning to locate where these apes spent their last night.
After locating these apes in the Jungle, you are in their presence for only one hour while seeing them playing with their young ones, feeding, laughing, dwelling around, climbing trees plus taking photos and videos of them, after one hour next step is vacating the place back to Park offices for certificate award.
It’s advised that all gorilla trekkers come with their packed food from a hotel of residence since usually, lunchtime reaches when they are still in the Jungle being unable to come back for lunch.
Gorilla trekking always requires a permit and this permit in Rwanda costs $1500 USD per person usually booked in advance before trekking dates.
Iby’wacu cultural experience. This experience usually involves visiting the Iby’wacu cultural village and meeting with the transformed Batwa people; these people migrated from the Ituri forest reserve of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a group but part of the group settled in the western wing of Uganda and another group settled in the Northwestern part of Rwanda near Volcanoes National park which is now the Iby’wacu Cultural village.
On a visit to this village, you meet with the Batwa people and interact, you are entertained by their exciting dances and songs performed, and you will also engage in their different activities like the use of their hunting tools, musical instruments and more. This is usually done after the Gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park; it costs $80 USD per person.
What to Pack. Some of the essential things to pack for your Gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park and Iby’wacu include strong hiking shoes, gloves, head shocks, long-sleeved shirts and trousers, insect repellents, enough clothing, nose capes, sunglasses and capes, cameras, waterproof bags and jackets. These will help you protect yourself from mud, thorns and hooks, skin scratches, biting insects, heavy dust, sunshine, and rainfall water respectively.
Besides Gorilla Trek & Iby’wacu what else in Volcanoes? While in Volcanoes National Park, you can also do Golden Monkey Tracking, Dain Fossey hiking, and Volcano hiking including Mountain Karisimbi and Mountain Bisoke.