Updated Guide to Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda

Are you planning a Rwanda gorilla safari? Africa Adventure Safaris brings you a guide for successful gorilla trekking safari in Volcanoes national park. Rwanda is one of the African countries that have had an unfriendly history of the genocide that claimed the lives of many native Rwandese, destroyed the countries image at the international scene and discouraged tourists visitation. However for the last one and a half decade, the Rwandan government through the Rwanda Development Board has tremendously changed the once bad image to a better one which has made Rwanda one of the most visited African destinations especially for gorilla safaris and tours.

Mountain gorillas are among the endangered species on the planet only remaining in three countries Rwanda inclusive. Currently, they are the major tourist attractions in Rwanda and for any adventurous tourist interested in viewing these rare species in their natural setting, Rwanda is the best destination to go to. The Rwandan government in collaboration with other organizations has played an important role in ensuring the protection of these incredible species.

These rare species reside in the Virunga volcanoes that cuts across Uganda, Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo however Rwanda is more blessed to have al most half of the 880 mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park which is the only place where gorillas can be easily tracked, accessed and interacted with. The park has seven gorillas groups and therefore anyone on a gorilla safari can’t fail to trek and miss any of them.

Of all the gorilla groups in volcanoes national park, Susa group has 41 gorilla members and is very famous for her twins Impano and Byishimo. The park is just a 2 hours drive from Kigali and all those interested in participating in gorilla safari treks there should make their booking in in time because of the high demand and in order not to be disturbed.
Best time for a gorilla trekking tour
Gorilla safaris in Rwanda can be made at any time of the year however it’s very challenging during the wet season because of the wet slippery grounds that makes hiking especially in the hilly areas difficult and sometimes impossible. Therefore for one to have a better gorilla safari experience, its better to go tracking in the dry seasons of December, February, and June- September.

Price of gorilla permits
They are currently at $1500 and can only be obtained from Rwanda Development Board offices In Kigali or through tour operators. For conservation reasons, only 80 gorilla permits are issued daily therefore in order not to miss a gorilla tour, you should make early bookings. The permits are inclusive of park entrances, guide fees and an hour of interaction with the gorillas. To be on a safe side, its better to make as many consultations as possible especially if it’s your first time in the country.

The trekking process
This largely depends on the gorilla group allocated to trek, the time/season of your visit and the day’s weather. Some gorilla groups can be got just after a 15 or 20 minutes hike but if you are unlucky, you might take 4-5 hours of hiking before finding them. In the wet season and on a rainy day it’s even worse because the rain slows you down especially while on a hill or muddy area. Sometimes the rain makes a gorilla safari impossible therefore mind a lot on the time of the year you visit the country.

Volcanoes national park being in a hilly environment, there are many chances of uphill hiking and this is why the elderly and all those who cannot walk for longer distances are allocated to gorillas families that are near or that can be accessed after a short period of time.
For tourists coming from colder countries, Rwanda might seem to be hotter and therefore to adjust to the countries temperature while on a gorilla safari, it’s better to first spend a few days there before the trek.

The gorilla trekking day
On this day, you are expected to wake up early and report to the park headquarters by 7:00 am at Kinigi for briefing about the code of conduct while hiking and while interacting with the gorillas and other necessary safety measures. The 80 people are then divided into 8 groups and allocated to individual guides who keep in touch with the park headquarters by use of communication gadgets or radio calls to report any emergencies.
As you hike, the guides explain about all the outstanding wildlife species in the forest because the gorilla safari is not just about gorillas alone. It encompasses the forest, the vegetation types there, the people around and much other interesting wildlife encountered on the hike.

The trekking codes of conduct
Having identified the gorillas, you are supposed to behave well around them because they are very sensitive mammals and since they share around 94.5% DNA like humans, they easily understand most of human’s behavior towards them. You are not allowed to get to close to them especially if have any infection that can easily be transferred to them for example cough and flue. This is one of the reasons why only one group of 8 people is allowed to visit a gorilla group each day. Getting to close to them might also be dangerous because they remain wild animals and can therefore attack you incase you invade their privacy a lot.
Distances of 20-30 meters from them is recommended and if they attempt to get closer, just move back peacefully and gently without shouting or making a lot of noise.
You are given a maximum of an hour to interact and take photos however meals are not allowed during this time and during the whole trekking process because you can easily raise their appetite and trigger them to attack you.

Vital gorilla trekking tools
Raincoats or water proof jackets are a necessity because of the unpredictable rains that can drop any time of the day. It’s also very important to wear body covering clothes and hand gloves to ease movements through the thick rough bushes and prevent skin irritation as well as a walking stick for support while going up hill. Boots or strong shoes are highly recommended so that you do not get stuck in the mud incase of a down pour. You can also pack water and some few snacks because if you take a long time hiking, you are given a break to have your snacks.

Generally if you are planning for a gorilla safari to Africa, Rwanda will give you an impressive gorilla experience you can never forget in your life time. Its so amazing to learn to view how these rare species and one of mans closest live their lives in the famous Virunga volcanoes. Just prepare yourself and head to Rwanda for a magical gorilla safari and tour experience.

Posted by admin in News, rwanda
Rwanda Re-introduces Black Rhinos

Rwanda Re-introduces Black Rhinos

After ten years of nonexistence, Rhinos have been re-introduced to Rwanda’s Akagera national park making a park a unique site for the big five game. The last rhino was spotted in 2007 after which they extinct totally not leaving a single individual in the national park. Despite them being a great symbol for Africa, Rhinos are the most threatened animals by illegal hunting for horn trade, which has hindered increase in their population across Africa and the whole world.

On 9th May 2017 at 03:00am, the first set of rhinos was offloaded at Kigali international airport from Thaba Tholo game farm in Limpopo a province in South Africa. This marked a historic move for the rhinos and Rwanda as a unique tourism destination. It is also Rwanda’s testament to extra-ordinary commitment to conservation as well as a milestone in the restoration of diversity in the national park.
The re introduced Rhinos have added on the seven lionsthat were re introduced in 2015 making Akagera national park a home for the big five (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalos making Akagera the best tourism destination for wildlife safaris.
Re introduced Rwanda lions
A team comprised of the chief tourism officer at Rwanda development board, the manager of Akagera national park and the South African ambassador to Rwanda were at the airport to receive new rhinos.

Additionally, a group of veterinary doctors where there to supervise the offloading and the re-loading of these endangered rhinos to Akagera national park.
The Howard G. Buffet Foundation, the Rwanda development board, African parks and a non-profit organization that manages national parks on behalf of the government are the sponsored of the re-introduction project.

To ensure safety of the re-introduced rhinos and completely eradicate illegal hunting, a canine anti poaching units, helicopters for air investigations have been deployed. Also, Rwanda development board has deployed a team of expertly trained rhino tracking and protection doctors to ensure good health of the endangered rhinos.
There are approximately 5000 rhinos remaining in the whole world 1000 of which are eastern black rhinos. The limited populations qualify rhinos as one of the critically endangered species surviving in the wild.
The other wildlife in the national park include 500 bird species and 8000 large mammals 90 of which are elephants alongside buffalos and leopards among others.

Conclusively therefore, the re introduction of rhinos is Akagera national park is a strategy to restore, develop and manage Akagera as a unique tourism destination.

Posted by admin in News, rwanda

Rwanda to Focus on other Attraction to add-on Gorillas

Though gorilla tourism has been a focus for tourism in Rwanda for the past decades fetching in thousands of travelers, a need for diversification has been appreciated. Currently, there are only six choices from which travelers can decide on what to take part in while in Rwanda. These include mountain gorillas being most favored in volcanoes national park, canopy walk in Nyungwe forest national park, lake kivu, bird watching, and galleries or else national and game parks all over the country.

Trekking mountain gorillas being the foremost, a permit costs 750usd making it a cash cow that has driven increased revenue from the tourism sector for the government. For non East Africans, purchasing a gorilla permit seems expensive but agreements that are value prevalence make it reasonable for travelers from all over the world.
There is high demand for the mountain gorilla permits in Rwanda in that its rare to find a weekend not overbooked despite the high costs (750usd). This indicates that travelers surely enjoy trekking.

However though memorable, Mountain gorilla tracking entails hiking up and down the jungle, which can even take a whole day. The activity is so interesting but very tiresome in that by the end of the trek, no single traveler wishes to go back. As a result, most travelers both international and Rwanda residents have not trekked the mountain gorillas more than once.

More still, for one to enjoy most attractions in Rwanda, he/she has to travel from the capital Kigali to remote areas for example the mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park. This make it quite difficult travelling to the park hence not done by travelers with limited time.

After the RDB analyzed tourism products in the world’s foremost tourism destinations, France, United States, Spain and china, it really realized a need to add new products. It realized that a traveler could come to Rwanda and fail to get a package he/she is interested in apart from the already existing ones. After looking at the tourism products menu for Rwanda development board. There is still a miss for some products, which are offered in the tourism leading destinations.

The observations and research done show that a number of tourism attractions in US, France, china and Spain are located in the city. This has raised the appetite for internationals to visit the cities of shanghai, Paris, New York, Beijing and Madrid. After stepping in any of these cities, its obvious that you can realize the reason why most people travel there. More still, the eye catching sites, greatly leisure parks and shopping stores in these cities make it obvious for every traveler to love their stay wishing to visit again as soon as possible.

Most importantly, it is believed that Kigali could find a golden opportunity in what these leading cities do not have. The best example here is the great weather in Rwanda, which is so unique compared to winter in these great cites. The favorable weather is a natural gift that African countries are blessed with but few in not all have put in any effort to package it as a tourism product. Once winter begins, most people in U.S.A, Europe and Asia particularly the elderly find it hard to stay in their countries hence running up to warmer places probably Africa which is a great opportunity for any African country.

Because of the good weather, there have been evidences that all travelers who have visited Rwanda have fallen in love with her great weather. There is ever a natural equalizer that balances warmth and coolness in Kigali, making it conducive to stay in the city all year round. This means that once in Rwanda, whether rainy, or sunny, the season does not matter which make it a paradise.
Alternatively still, Putting up Bandas in Kigali would also be a good idea if at all a couple of them could be loaned in the city. These Banda’s have currently become unique attractions in these leading cities hence would work for Rwanda too.

In conclusion therefore, Rwanda has a great potential for tourism, The Rwanda development board should therefore develop holiday resorts, leisure parks, ease local managerial principles, include locals in city planning, relieve city movement, endorse theater industry and uphold present safety for tourism.

Posted by admin in News, rwanda

The Uprise of Rwanda’s Tourism since the Genocide

Since the 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Titsi the government started rebuilding the country, and tourism was considered as a major pillar that the country would use to bring in the so much needed foreign exchange, but also change the image of hopelessness that the international community had of the country.

First the government worked hard on restoring peace and security in the country, invited back all her nationals who had gone off as refugees in neighboring countries and especially secured the Volcanoes National Park in Musanze district, Northern Province, the home of the endangered mountain gorillas, which today is Rwanda’s prestige and pride.

After the genocide, destination Rwanda was difficult to sell due to the fact that tourists perceived the destination as a dangerous one to travel to. The genocide gave Rwanda a very bad image to the outside world.

Today things have completely changed and the land of a thousand hills is now an established tourist destination attracting hundreds of travelers flowing in to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

In recent years, Rwanda’s tourism sector has achieved tremendous growth within just the past 15 years, growing from a sector earning $62 million a year sector in 2000 to $303 million a year in 2014 — a boom that has been driven by the country’s political, economic and social revival. Tourism is currently the country’s highest foreign exchange earner after tea and coffee.

This achievement is highly associated with security, good infrastructure and sanitation. otherwise insecurity and bad transport infrastructure scares off tourists.

Reflecting back at Kenya a traditionally successful and lucrative tourism destination, has suffered from the effects of insecurity at its Coastal circuit, which has almost killed off the sector.

According to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), 1.17 million tourists visited Rwanda last year, mainly drawn by the prospect of seeing mountain gorillas, especially the silver backs — an endangered species found in the Volcanoes National Park.

The majority of Rwanda’s travelers come from the US, India, Britain, Belgium and Germany. American tourists contribute 20 per cent of Rwanda’s total tourism revenues, according to RDB.

Revival efforts and standards established in Rwanda

To revive the sector after years of stagnation, the government embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign geared towards showcasing mountain gorillas of the volcanoes national park which is part of the Virunga chain of volcanic mountains that straddle Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the Volcanoes national park, from many who have had the chance to see eye to eye with the gorillas, gorilla trekking is considered a unique product and is sold to tourists at a premium of $750 per permit per person (Uganda charges $600). However, Rwanda’s pride is in the ability for one to ably do a 1 day gorilla trek and fly back home, which is impossible for Uganda.

In 2005, RDB introduced the Kwita Izina festival as a highlight of the tourism year. This is an annual baby gorilla naming and conservation ceremony aimed at creating awareness of efforts to the critically endangered species. This festival has inculcated community ownership of gorilla tourism.

Since the inception of Kwita Izina a decade ago, RDB says the country’s mountain gorilla population has grown from 370 in 2005 to about 514 in 2015 and is the country’s biggest tourist attraction. Rwanda earns $10 million annually from gorilla tourism alone, RDB says.

Posted by admin in rwanda