Nestled on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and cradled within the Albertine Rift, a western branch of the East African Rift valley, lies the town of Gisenyi. This vibrant border town sits on the northern shores of Lake Kivu, offering a gateway to some of Rwanda’s most captivating natural wonders. A mere hour’s drive separates Gisenyi from the iconic Volcanoes National Park, rendering it an ideal locale for those seeking relaxation following an exhilarating gorilla trekking experience.
On the first day of your unforgettable journey, our seasoned driver/guide will extend a warm welcome, collecting you from your Gisenyi location. As you embark on the scenic drive, you’ll traverse Rwanda’s picturesque countryside, known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills.” Depending on your arrival time, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Genocide Memorial Center, a poignant testament to Rwanda’s history. Following this solemn visit, the path leads to the Volcanoes National Park, where dinner and overnight accommodations await.
Drive time: 2-3 hours
Awaken to the anticipation of an extraordinary day. After savoring a nourishing breakfast and packing a well-prepared lunch, you’ll journey to the National Park offices for an essential briefing on Gorilla tracking etiquette. Here, you’ll receive guidance on the do’s and don’ts of engaging with these magnificent creatures.
Once prepared, you’ll proceed to the starting point of your Gorilla trek. Keep in mind that the allocation of a Gorilla family to track depends on your preferences, fitness level, and age. While there are no guarantees due to the Gorillas’ unpredictable movements, your guide will strive to secure a family that aligns with your interests.
Gorilla tracking can be a physically demanding endeavor, varying in duration from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the family’s location. Your knowledgeable guide will enhance the experience by sharing insights about the forest’s flora and fauna as you venture deeper into the wilderness.
Upon encountering the Mountain Gorillas, you’ll be granted a precious one-hour window for photography and observation. Witness these awe-inspiring creatures in their natural habitat, engaged in their daily routines. Your encounter will be etched in your memory.
As the trek concludes, you’ll return to the National Park offices to collect your certificates, commemorating this remarkable adventure. The journey then leads back to your hotel in Gisenyi, where you can unwind and reflect on this extraordinary experience. For those with international departure flights, please plan accordingly, ensuring that your flight departs late from Kigali International Airport.
End of Your Tour: Drop-off at Your Hotel in Gisenyi or Any Preferred Location in Rwanda
Drive time: 2-3 hours
Volcanoes National Park is nestled in the quaint village of Musanze, formerly known as Ruhengeri. This strategic location offers seamless access by public transport from Gisenyi, Kigali City, or Kigali International Airport. The journey to Volcanoes National Park typically spans 2-3 hours, permitting the opportunity for Gorilla tracking on the same day, followed by a return journey to Kigali. To ensure a timely arrival, it’s essential to reach the National Park headquarters in Kinigi by 7:00 am.
Embarking on a Rwanda Gorilla tracking adventure is a possibility year-round. However, the optimal periods coincide with the drier seasons, spanning from December to early March and June to September. December to March constitutes a prolonged dry season in Rwanda, characterized by temperatures occasionally reaching 29 degrees Celsius. In contrast, March to mid-May and July to September usher in the rainy season.
The dry season is favored for Gorilla tours due to the minimal rainfall during treks and favorable hiking terrain within the rainforest. Even during these drier months, it’s advisable to carry waterproof clothing, as Rwanda’s Equatorial climate remains unpredictable. It’s worth noting that peak season falls during this period, impacting prices for accommodations and car rentals.
On the other hand, budget-conscious travelers may find the wet season appealing. During this time, hotels offer lower occupancy rates, translating to discounted food and lodging services. Moreover, the reduced demand for Gorilla permits ensures a higher chance of encountering these endangered species without competition.
At Trek Africa Expeditions, we specialize in crafting immersive Gorilla tracking tours that depart from Gisenyi, transporting you to the enchanting realm of Volcanoes National Park. The choice of when to embark on your Mountain Gorilla adventure is yours to make, guided by considerations of time, budget, and group size. Our comprehensive two-day itinerary ensures an enriching experience.