Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda
A couple of weeks ago, I shared my first experience of Kigali, Rwanda. Day two featured one of their favoured tourist attractions – gorilla trekking. We started out at 4 am from the Radisson Hotel in Kigali to the Northern region of Rwanda to the Volcanoes National Park in Musanze, which took about two hours.
For this adventure, I advise you pack light and smart. Wear a long t-shirt, sweaters, sweatpants, socks and hiking boots. Also, carry a knapsack, a water bottle, and a power bank. I had to rent a raincoat and a pair of hiking boots at the base camp of the park.
The ride to the park was curvy and offered a very beautiful view of the country. The serene park accommodates five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains. It is also home to the rare and endangered mountain gorillas, golden monkeys and Diana Fossey’s grave.
Our trek started with a briefing by park guides Bernice and Francis. Currently, the park is home to 10 gorilla groups and we were slated to see the Hirwa (‘the lucky one’ in English) family. The Hirwa group has 17 members including two silverbacks.
Ahead of our trek, trackers had gone to locate the family to determine our route. The trek started when we were given our hiking staffs for support. You also have the option of employing the locals to assist at a fee of 8000 Rwandan francs (N3,303).
The trek to the home of the gorillas lasted for about two hours. We took breaks which served as mini-lectures about the gorillas and the environment. At the entrance to the home of the gorillas, we met with our trackers and had to drop our staffs and edibles so as not to agitate the gorillas.
For the next hour, we walked and followed the Hirwa family. We met the two silverbacks, a set of twins and the little ones who put up a show. It was an amazing experience. At the end of the trek, we returned to the base camp and received certificates of participation.
For lunch, we visited the Amakora Songa Lodge for lunch with Rosette Rugamba, founder and managing director of Songa Africa. The drive took about 10-25 minutes. Hot towel, juice and slippers welcomed us as we arrived. A tour of the lodge revealed eco-friendly rooms and a beautiful scenery.
Rugamba is the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation on sustainable tourism in Africa and was the Director General of Rwanda tourism (ORTPN) in 2003. She made lunch enlightening as she spoke on the role of tourism in the growth of Rwanda. She is also a Board Member at African Parks Network. We also saw a performance by the locals.
The day ended with a visit to the Amani Spa for a full body massage and room service at the Radisson Hotel.