If you’re seeking an extraordinary wildlife adventure, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park offers a remarkable opportunity to get up close and personal with two of the world’s most endangered primates – the mountain gorillas and the golden monkeys. These unique species are endemic to the Virunga mountains region, which spans the borders of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Uganda. Rwanda is renowned for its pioneering gorilla conservation program, making it the ideal destination to observe these incredible primates in their natural habitat while contributing to their protection.
Located in the far northwestern region of Rwanda, bordering DR Congo and Uganda, Volcanoes National Park is a true gem of the country’s tourism. This park is home to the last remaining mountain gorillas roaming the slopes of the Virunga volcanoes. Apart from the gorillas and golden monkeys, the park boasts a diverse range of animal and plant species in its montane ecosystems, including lush bamboo forests, open grasslands, swamps, and heath. Volcanoes National Park is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 200 species of colorful endemic birds residing in the forest canopy.
For a gorilla and golden monkey trip to Volcanoes, you’ll spend at least two nights in the park to partake in early morning excursions to track these endangered primates. The park is approximately a 2-hour drive from Kigali International Airport, the entry point into Rwanda, with no scheduled flights available between Kigali and Volcanoes. As such, planning to stay a night in Kiningi, just outside the park, is recommended to ensure you can join the daily early morning excursions to the mountain slopes.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is a highly sought-after activity, and there are less than 80 gorilla permits available per day. Similarly, golden monkey permits are limited to around 20 per day. Given the high demand, it is crucial to book your gorilla and golden monkey permits months in advance to secure your spot.
Starting from Kiningi, near the park headquarters, you’ll attend a morning briefing at 08:00 before embarking on your trek into the misty forest. Led by a local tracker and accompanied by two armed rangers, your group will navigate through the dense woods to locate the gorilla family. The trek can take up to four hours or more, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Once you find the gorillas, you’ll have a thrilling hour to observe these majestic creatures up close as they go about their daily activities.
Trekking in the forest can be physically challenging, with steep and uneven terrain, particularly during the rainy season. As there are no roads within the park leading to the gorilla families, you’ll have to hike your way through the forest. Prepare yourself for an exhilarating adventure as you plan your gorilla and golden monkey trip to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Golden monkey trekking is another captivating activity in Volcanoes National Park, similar to chimpanzee trekking due to the monkeys’ active nature. Daily golden monkey treks commence from the park headquarters in the early morning.
Two groups of habituated golden monkey families are available for tracking in the park, with the largest group consisting of approximately 80 to 100 members found in Mount Sabinyo’s bamboo forest zone. As with gorilla trekking, the local guide will allow you an hour to spend with the golden monkeys once you find them. Golden monkey trekking is open to all ages, and the number of trekkers is usually unrestricted, ensuring an inclusive experience for all visitors.
A typical gorilla and golden monkey trip itinerary in Volcanoes National Park spans around 3 nights. Starting from Kigali, the entry point and cultural hotspot of Rwanda, you’ll spend one night before proceeding to spend two nights in Volcanoes National Park.
Gorilla trekking and golden monkey trekking occur exclusively in Volcanoes National Park, with both activities commencing in the morning. As they cannot be done on the same day, plan your itinerary to stay another night in Kiningi after the gorilla trekking activity.
The cost of Rwanda’s gorilla permit is $1,500, and the golden monkey permit costs $100 per person per trek. These permits constitute a significant portion of your trip budget and are in high demand. Booking your permits months in advance through your tour operator is essential for securing your place. When booking your lodge in Volcanoes National Park, the permit will typically be separate from the accommodation cost, which covers your bed, meals, lodge activities, and sometimes transfers to the gorilla trekking point.
Lodging options in Volcanoes National Park cater to various budgets and travel preferences, ranging from high-end luxury safari lodges to comfortable boutique lodges and budget-friendly hotels. A detailed list of accommodation recommendations is available to help you choose the best place to stay during your gorilla and golden monkey trip.
Staying at a high altitude of approximately 2,190m (7,185 feet) in Kiningi, the late hours can get very cold and damp. To stay warm and dry in the misty weather, it is crucial to pack appropriately. Be sure to bring a lightweight rain jacket, a sweater for the evenings at the lodge, and warm socks.
For trekking through the forest, lightweight, waterproof hiking shoes are essential, along with gaiters, trousers, and a long-sleeve shirt to protect your skin from prickly plants. A waterproof backpack will keep your gadgets dry during the trek. Given the physically demanding nature of the activities, keeping your packing lightweight is advised.
Navigating the logistics of a trip to Rwanda can be challenging, particularly for international travelers. Trek Africa Expeditions is committed to providing all the information needed to plan a successful gorilla and golden monkey trip to Volcanoes. Local consultants will assist you in booking permits for your desired dates and finding suitable lodging to match your budget and preferences.
Trek Africa Expeditions can manage your entire trip, from planning and booking to ensuring a seamless experience. By emailing email@example.com, you can connect with consultants who understand your language and are dedicated to creating an unforgettable adventure for you.