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“Experience of a lifetime!”

Volcanoes National Park
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Gorilla Trekking and Wildlife Game Drives in Rwanda and Burundi
Ranked #1 of 13 things to do in Ruhengeri
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The "Parc National de Volcans" (or PNV as it's known by locals) lies along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just a short two hour drive from Rwanda's capital of Kigali, the park is a central location for exploring some distinctly Rwandan experiences. While a visit to the mountain gorillas is often at the top of visitor, the dramatic landscape also offers thrilling hiking and visits to the fascinating golden monkeys.
Broadstairs, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Experience of a lifetime!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 June 2012

My daughter and I did a one day gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park (Amahoro Tours).

On arrival at the park headquarters, we were entertained by a local dance troupe. We were put in a group of 8. On meeting our leader (Oliver) we were advised we would be tracking the Susa Group. "This is the largest group of gorillas in the world and the one originally studied by Dr. Dian Fossey." After a briefing which included an introduction to the Susa family's 'family tree', we were driven about an hour to the 'parking lot' which would be the starting point of our trek.

Our treking group was female dominated (one token male) and generally younger. I am 59 years old (and in relatively good shape) so I was by far the oldest member of the group. I didn't check the time when we set out so I'm not really sure how long it took us to get to the edge of the park. From the parking lot, we walked UP a hill through cultivated/planted fields. The ground is rough - and some in our party found it hard going (if you aren't in great shape, definitely hire a porter to carry your bag). We had been provided with a walking stick which was invaluable when negotiating some of the boulders and steeper parts of the trail. Good walking boots/shoes are also essential.

The edge of the park is marked by a low stone wall. We were met here by several trackers who advised us that the gorillas were quite close to the edge of the park. (I don't think it had taken us 90 minutes, if that, to reach this point. The scenery is so incredibly beautiful - looking up at the mountains and back down into the valley - time seems to stand still.)

We were given further reminders of the gorilla watching protocol i.e. stay at least 7 metres from the gorillas, and then we headed into the park. After a very short walk, we arrived at a bit of a clearing and found at least 20 gorillas enjoying breakfast. Once you actually reach the gorillas, you are allowed to spend one hour with them.

The gorillas were totally unfazed by our arrival and continued to forage. The gorillas were feeding on the stalks of the bamboo trees which they climbed until the tree could not support their weight and it broke off allowing them to get at the interior of the stalks.

Our guides kept a close eye on the gorillas, which was quite comforting as we seemed to be surrounded at times. There were three baby gorillas in the group including a pair of twins. Surprisingly, the mothers were equally unfazed by our presence. We were moved through the area occupied by the gorillas to allow us to view more of the gorillas. At one point, a smaller female gorilla decided to walk through our group - these are wild animals! We had been advised that although we were to maintain a 7 metre distance, the gorillas don't always obey the rules.

We had lots of time to take photos. There are 3 silverbacks in the Susa group. We saw the dominant male and the #2 male. Incredibly large and beautiful animals. One of the males got quite agitated at one point - with another gorilla - and in true gorilla fashion pounded on his chest before retreating into the jungle.

Our hour was over much too quickly and almost on cue, the gorillas themselves headed off into the jungle. Surprisingly, via the same route we were to take back to the edge of the park. When we got back to the wall surrounding the park, we found that the gorillas had got there before us and were waiting just outside the park to bid us a final farewell. This gave us an opportunity for more photos in the more open area outside the park boundary.

The walk back down the mountain after the trek seemed much shorter. I think the fact we were all chattering about our adventure made the trip that much easier.

All in all, this was the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life! It is so incredible to be able to get so close to these animals in their natural habitat.

If you have the opportunity to visit Volcanoes National Park, do not miss the chance to see these magnificent creatures.

Visited May 2012
8 Thank WouldLoveToVisit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Vannes, France
Level Contributor
123 reviews
43 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 128 helpful votes
“Tracked SUSA Group!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 May 2012

Dream come true tracking the Susa Group! Loved the surroundings/scenery...it was landscape eye candy, so green and beautiful!! People were so kind. We spent an hour up close and personal with the susa group at volcanoes national park and when we headed down the mountain we were greeted by the village school children who walked with us! What an amazing place and people!! Would love to go back and most likely will!

Visited May 2012
1 Thank OTBPGourmet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Antalya, Turkey
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Gorilla Trekking”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 May 2012

Its an amazing experience, something you will never forget for the rest of your life! I was not sure I really wanted to do it, to take all the walk and pay 500 USD for one day tour, but I am so glad I did it! I will remember that amazing experience for the rest of my life and if I ever go back to Rwanda for sure will go there again!

Visited June 2011
Thank Royal A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
14 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Gorillas in Rwanda.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 May 2012

At 61 yrs old, & very unfit, I took the chance, paid the money & hoped! Arriving at the Ranger's Station early morning, each person is " grouped" , forming a group of 8, With hindsight, I now understand the selection process as some gorilla families are very high in the mountains & difficult to reach, whilst some are relatively close ( 4 hrs climbing). My group comprising 3 young-ish couples, myself & our ranger, aptly named Hope, took app 4 hrs to reach our gorilla family. The climb was difficult for me ( unfit) but the kindness of my fellow travellers got me there! Hope, our leader, was thoughtful to my needs & determined to help me achieve my goal......we found our gorilla group poking ants out of bamboos trees & followed them up slippery steep slopes as they ate & played.
We were met up there by another ranger who had guided Hope to the gorilla family & who literally dragged me up the hills , then helped me down again.

My experience was joyful , difficult, but totally rewarding..seeing these marvellous animals made it all worthwhile.
Anyone can do it, if I can!

Visited September 2011
6 Thank Glenysneedham
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karachi, Pakistan
Level Contributor
27 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Loved it!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 May 2012

We were planning a trip to Kenya and Tanzania, never having heard of a "Gorilla Safari" before but after having come across it during our research and reading just a page about what all it entailed my wife and I we were hooked!!! At first we dismissed it plainly on the grounds that it was just frightfully expensive, the costs for the extra flight to Kigali, 2 nights stay in Ruhengeri and the Gorilla Safari fee were equating to almost 2 weeks of the rest of our East African adventure. But after much number crunching and convincing each other that we would probably never do something as exciting as this we decided to go for it, and it was just unbelievable!! A must for everyone who can afford do it :)

We did the Safari in June, a reasonable time of the year to embark open this adventure or so we have thought, however just the night before there had been a MAJOR thunderstorm and it had poured for a good few hours. We had our fingers crossed about the next day but thankfully it was just overcast however the terrain was a bit slippery and muddy but that was half the adventure. We arrived at the park gate at 7am, had a nice coffee and were alloted a group / family of gorillas to track. Each group is assigned their own tracker and guards armed with AK-47s (slightly disconcerting) We were assigned the Sabinyo group which was a beginners trek and would be not more than 45mins to an hours 1 trek from the edge of the jungle which begins after about a 40 min trek from the park. The Sabinyo group (lucky for us) also had the largest male named Guhondo weighing in at a colossal 220kg and a lots of young ones along with a pair of twins.

We found the gorillas pretty easily and quite fast and then time just flew by, you only get to spend an hour with the gorillas and seeing them in their natural habitat running around playing with each other and sometimes even interact with you is just surreal. If you are an animal lover this is the place to go. No cages, no safari jeeps, this is just you and the gorillas face to face, if it wants they can come over and touch you but you arent allowed to approach it. Seeing the silverback in all its glory is just a sight :)

Would advise people to go during the dry season as it can get VERY slippery, wet bamboo leaves are impossible to walk on! I was literally crawling for a portion of the trek but loved every minute of it. and last but not least, wear thick clothing and get gloves lots of thick thorny bushes and last but not least if you are into photography splurge on that lens you have been wanting to get all this while these are going to be pictures to show your kids and grand kids! :)

Visited June 2011
2 Thank Ibaad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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