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Rwanda, the best place to do mountain gorilla trekking

Rwanda is one of only three countries in the world where critically endangered Mountain Gorillas live. Experts estimate that there are only 780 Mountain Gorillas still in existence, one third of these being in Rwanda. Rwanda provides the perfect backdrop for this lifetime experience. Protected within the Volcanoes National Park (PNV) which is home to the Virunga Mountains, these majestic mammals have settled into the park’s lush bamboo forests, creating a dramatic setting for travelers who want to experience one of the most memorable wildlife experiences this planet has to offer.

The major difference between Rwanda and other countries where gorilla trekking is available is the accessibility and ease of getting to and from the Volcanoes National Park – the latter is located only 116 km (72 miles) from Kigali, making it a two-hour drive.

Mountain Gorillas are critically endangered due to habitat loss, poaching, war and instability, and disease, with estimates of only 780 of these wild animals left. However, more than 40 years of conservation and habitat restoration efforts have helped increase the population of Mountain Gorillas steadily, with a 14% increase in the past 12 years. This is largely due to responsible tourism practices, since the money from gorilla permits goes into funding anti-poaching efforts, local communities’ businesses, and conservation efforts.

Rwanda, the best place to do mountain gorilla trekking

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Set in the foothills of the Virunga volcano chain that stretches through north-western Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC, the lodge offers up striking views of the volcanoes and surrounding countryside. The adjacent Volcanoes National Park with its gorilla trekking safaris makes the lodge the perfect base from which to explore this unique pocket of Africa. “Sabyinyo” comes from the Kinyarwanda word “Iryinyo”, meaning “tooth”. Enjoy accommodation at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

in beautifully appointed cottages or suites, which are all stone buildings finished off with Rwandese terracotta tile roofs. The rooms are characterized by large sitting areas, fireplaces, a dressing room, sheltered verandah and stylish en-suite bathrooms with Venetian plaster finishes.

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Iby’iwacu Cultural Village – The Ex-poachers’ Village

Iby’iwacu Cultural Village is a non-profit umbrella organization that aims to improve the lives of reformed poachers and communities around the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda through conservation incentives, supporting community enterprise development, and livelihood-based projects.

The Livelihood Change Project works by supporting the livelihood of communities and poachers so that they get to see the importance of conservation.

The Conservation Support Project incorporates the “Goats for Gorilla” project, where visitors to the village donate $25-40, which buys a goat for a reformed poacher’s family. More goats per family means a gorilla is saved.

The Enterprise Development Project develops enterprises such as community-based tourism, arts and crafts, basket weaving, and several other small-scale community businesses, so that reformed poachers and communities are able to generate valuable income to provide for their families.

There are also many activities that visitors to the Iby’iwacu Cultural Village can take part in, allowing for the rare chance to meet locals in their environment and get a taste of their culture and traditions. Such activities include community walks; preparing and having a meal with the locals; watching the banana brewery process and tasting banana beer; visiting a traditional healer, local schools and the king’s house replica; hearing ex-poachers’ stories; learning about Batwa pottery making and arts and crafts making; and playing football with the locals. There is also the IGITARAMO experience, where everyone gathers around the campfire for drumming and traditional dances, hearing stories and riddles of the old Rwanda.

Rwanda – The “Land of a Thousand Hills” – A land boasting beautiful green, mountainous landscape, Rwanda is a high-altitude country made up of mountains in the west and savannah to the east, with a number of lakes throughout. Located a few degrees south of the equator, in Central/East Africa, it’s one of Africa’s smallest countries. Formerly troubled with genocide between the Tutsis and Hutus in the mid-1990s, today Rwanda’s tourism industry and tea and coffee exports play a big part in its economy and recovery. It’s also one of only two countries in the world where you can track habituated Mountain Gorillas.

Home of the endangered Mountain Gorilla – Just like the movie, these “Gorillas in the Mist” are at home in the rainforest and bamboo-covered mountains of Virunga in northern Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. With only around 780 of these animals left in the wild, Mountain Gorillas are critically endangered owing to habitat loss, poaching, war and instability, and disease – but their numbers have been increasing. You could get to watch these gentle giants for yourself on a gorilla trek through the wilds and mountains of Rwanda – and with the money received from gorilla permits, you’ll be playing a part in responsible tourism practices, since the money is used for anti-poaching efforts, local communities’ businesses, and conservation efforts.

A tea and coffee plantation paradise – Rwanda’s fertile volcanic soil and temperate climate are perfect for growing tea, making this much-loved drink Rwanda’s largest export. Visitors can see how tea is harvested and processed, with the main tours taking place in Gisovu and Gisakura, near Nyungwe National Park.

Rwanda is also equally suited to coffee production – the beans from this country are in tremendous demand internationally! Most tours explaining the coffee process are centred around Gisenyi, near the Gishwati Forest National Park.

Climate and best time to visit – Rwanda has a temperate to subtropical climate, with lower temperatures than other equatorial countries because of its high altitude. The mountainous west and north of the land are mostly cooler than the lower-lying east. Each year has two rainy seasons and two dry seasons. The first rainy season runs from February to June and the second from September to December. Of the two dry seasons, the main one lasts from June to September, with the shorter and less severe one occurring from December to February.

Please note: Rwanda is in a yellow fever and malaria risk area. Visitors to the country are advised to consult their health practitioner prior to travel to the area.

Gorilla Safaris

Experience Gorilla Safaris

Rwanda is the “Land of a Thousand Hills”, with beautiful green, mountainous landscape in the west and numerous lakes throughout – this is Mountain Gorilla territory – but to the east, you’ll find savannahs where visitors can go on a bush safari.

Although Rwanda is a prime gorilla trekking destination, it has so much more to offer than just that.

If you want to do Mountain Gorilla trekking, Rwanda is the place – the best place. It’s also one of only two countries in the world where you can track habituated Mountain Gorillas. Coming to visit these majestic mammals in this national park’s lush bamboo forests on the mist-covered volcanoes is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Apart from the gentle gorillas of the Virunga, also look out for the park’s 75 other mammal species – such as the elephant, buffalo and the endangered and endemic Golden Monkey. Visitors can also pay homage to the legendary zoologist and gorilla advocate, Dian Fossey, with a hike to her tomb or a visit to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Since Rwanda is a tea and coffee plantation Mecca (tea is the number one export!), going on a tour where the processes behind these beloved worldwide drinks are explained is a definite on your to-do list. There are dozens of world-class tea and coffee plantations.

If you’re looking for something else to do on your trip in Rwanda, never fear – many possibilities exist. From going on East Africa’s only canopy walk—which can be found in the dense rainforests of Nyungwe Forest National Park—to going on a bush safari in Akagera National Park or on a boat safari in Akagera Park’s Lake Ihema – you won’t be able to get bored.

Your Grosvenor Tours Incentives Specialist can easily put together an inspired, tailor-made program to meet all your requirements, and exceed your group’s expectations, for incentive groups of all sizes. We will be there to make the best recommendations for you so that your guests have a wonderful experience of this beautiful destination, as befits availability, the size of your group and your budget.