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Observing gorillas in their natural environment is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, according to some. Experienced trackers and guides accompany small groups of visitors up bamboo-covered hills to spend a priceless and breath-taking hour just a few feet away from the friendly animals. Encounters with gorillas as they go about their everyday lives are carefully handled.

Volcanoes National Park is home to twelve completely habituated gorilla groups and a few more who have been habituated purely for scientific purposes. At least one silverback is present in the groupings, or soldiers, along with a number of juvenile girls and females.

Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park

Gorillas, the biggest species of extant ape, are found over most of the equatorial African rainforest. The gorilla species may be broadly divided into mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas.

The endangered mountain gorilla lives in the volcanic range that stretches over Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Rwanda, gorilla tracking is risk-free and rather easy.

There are currently 604 mountain gorillas living in the Virunga Massif, making up about 1,000 total. Thanks to coordinated efforts by our governments, communities, and NGOs, the population is slowly growing.

Although the soldiers’ makeup is relatively erratic, they frequently occupy the same spot. Each group is strictly limited to one hour of daily interaction with tourists and is closely watched and safeguarded by park officials.

Each unit receives eight tracking permits every day, making the interaction as private and inconspicuous as possible. It is strongly advised to make reservations in advance, either online or through a reliable tour operator, as there are only 96 permits available per day in Rwanda.

When visitors arrive at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters in Kinigi at 7 a.m., they are assigned to a family group that day based on fitness levels and given instructions on how to visit the gorillas.

A particular occasion to visit the Volcanoes National Park is the annual Kwita Izina gorilla-naming ceremony. Guided tours preceding the main event provide visitors the chance to meet park employees and conservationists and to attend cultural nights and a celebration in Musanze.

There is music, dancing, and debate during the naming ceremony itself about Rwanda’s significant achievements in gorilla conservation as well as the enormous problems that still lie ahead.

Susa, Igisha, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Amahoro, Agashya, Kwitonda, Umubano, Hirwa, Bwenge, Ugyenda, and Muhoza are the names of the families.

It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to four or more hours to walk up to their various sites, which are all between 2,500m and 4,000m above sea level. There are porters ready to aid out along the way and to carry items like cameras and bags.

10% of the money earned from the permits is distributed to the neighbourhood to improve roads, schools, and health facilities. To maintain peaceful coexistence, there is a compensation fund for local farmers in the event that gorillas harm their crops.

Numerous locals can find work in the gorilla tracking industry as rangers, trackers, porters, drivers, and employees of tourist lodges.

The tomb of Dian Fossey may be reached after a 30-minute drive from the park’s administrative building and a two- to three-hour walk through a forest to an elevation of more than 3,000 metres.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, The Gorilla Organisation, International Gorilla Conservation Organisation, Gorilla Doctors, and Wildlife Conservation Society are among the conservation groups actively active in Rwanda.

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