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Rwanda

Rwanda is best known for its mountain gorillas, the most endangered of all the gorilla species, as well as, unfortunately, the ethnic strife that occurred in 1994. But Rwanda has returned to peace and stability and provides once again the well-organized tourist infrastructure for visiting its gentle gorillas residing on the forested slopes of the Virunga volcanoes in Parc National des Volcans.

The Virunga Mountains, found in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as in Rwanda, are the only home of mountain gorillas in the world. More importantly for Rwanda, half of their remaining populations live within its borders. Rwanda has seven habituated gorilla families with family members numbering 10 to 35. Although gorilla sightings are not guaranteed, it is very likely that everyone will meet with success. Permits are 500 USD a day per person and need to be booked far in advance during Rwanda's high seasons, which are July and August and again in December, especially over the Christmas holidays. No more than eight participants are allowed on a gorilla trek at one time. The gorillas may be one and a half hours walk away or three hours. But these walks to locate the gorillas are of relative ease when compared to western lowland gorilla trekking in Central Africa. For more on Rwanda weather as it relates to gorilla trekking please see When to Go.

Although many guests head straight for Parc National des Volcans and the gorillas, Rwanda has far, far more to see. Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda on the borders with Tanzania contains all the typical wildlife of the African savannah. Nyungwe Forest in south-western Rwanda is the largest untouched montane forest left in Africa. Winding trails and waterfalls make it a wonderful place to hike, bird watch (you might see the Great Blue Turaco) and encounter primates other than gorillas, such as colobus monkeys and chimpanzees. The source of the Nile is found in Nyungwe Forest too. Lake Kivu in western Rwanda on the borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo has breathtaking scenery. Surrounded by terraced slopes of farmed plots, the lake is the place to relax and enjoy boat trips, water sports and swimming. All these destinations or just a few, accessed by private 4x4, can be included in a safari program along with gorilla trekking. Allow ten days to see all of Rwanda's highlights, including stops at the National Museum and the restored palace, the seat of Rwanda's former monarchy.

     
   
     

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