When we travel, we like to delve into the culture and environment to get an authentic experience. Part of this experience is meeting the locals, and in Rwanda the locals are mountain gorillas. Most of the 1,000 mountains gorillas that remain on our planet live in the wild, with no human contact. But some groups can be tracked and seen by small groups of visitors.
Science has and is proving that the relationship between humans and gorillas is closer than ever thought. And it’s all down to the genome. We’re not going to get all scientific on you, but staring into the face of a gorilla is eerily similar to our own. Gorillas are notoriously shy, until they feel threatened when they’ll beat their chest and grunt loudly in a show of power. As the male mountain gorillas age, they develop a stripe of silver hair on their backs which shows their maturity. Just like a human man ages into grey hair, gorillas go through the same process, which has led to the term silverback. With age comes wisdom and experience which is why the silverback will be the head of the gorilla group.
Having the opportunity to observe these majestic and powerful mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for many. In small groups after a briefing from your guide you’ll’ be driven to the start of the trail. Led by your expert scout you’ll trek into the forested area in search of the gorillas. Park trackers will have journeyed ahead to pinpoint the location of the different families. Watch them play, groom and eat from fruiting trees in Volcanoes National Park. The experience will last one hour and you’ll be able to take photos to treasure forever.
Dian Fossey was an American primatologist and conservationist who dedicated her life to the study of mountain gorillas from 1966 to her death. Her grave can be visited and is found at the Karisoke Research Center. The Fossey Fund has a vested interest in supporting and educating the local communities in order to protect the mountain gorillas from human intervention. The 1988 film ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ staring Sigourney Weaver as Dian Fossey retells the true story of her work in Rwanda and the brutal murder of her favourite gorilla ‘Digit’ by poachers.
Volcanoes National Park is working hard to preserve the environment and protect the gorillas. They carefully control the impact that trekking has on the lives of the gorillas which is partly the reason behind the trek permit. The money made from the trek is invested into paying for drugs and doctors who can manage the health of the gorilla families.
There are several options of accommodation in and around the national park. Our itinerary includes the new Bisate Lodge, paired with the brand new One&Only Nyungwe House and Magashi Lodge, both of which open at the end of 2018. Due to the active nature of the itinerary we’ve included a stunning beach break on the fabulous North Island in the Seychelles.
All our trips are completely bespoke so tell us what you want and we’ll create something just for you!