Volcanoes National Park in the southwestern part of Rwanda is known by most tourists as the best destination for tourists interested in Rwanda gorilla safaris which include visiting mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
Volcanoes National Park is home to over 480 of these extremely amazing and rare primates according to the gorilla census which was done in 2010. Just some days back, Rwanda marked the eleventh Kwita Izina function where 24 baby gorillas were named, an event that attracted thousands of guests from different parts of the world.
I was among the media group that enjoyed gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park during the week before the ceremony of Kwita Izina.
Volcanoes National Park is located in the northwestern part of the country at approximately a 2-hour drive from Kigali the capital of Rwanda. We depart from Kigali Serena Hotel at 6:30 am in morning and continued to the southwestern part of the country in the frosty morning weather. Everybody was going to work, school children going to school while other local people were already in their gardens digging.
From far off, once volcanic mountains Bisongwe, Sabyinyo, and Karisimbi could surely be seen. Our next stop was at the headquarters of Kinigi Park where every trekker gets clearance and guidelines on visiting these amazing primates in their natural habitat.
Trekking mountain is often done in the morning so a good number of visitors had reached when we arrived. Here we waited a while, as traditional dancers entertained us.
Moments after, we were introduced to Nkurunziza Placide Niragire, the tour guide.
He let us know that gorillas have a gestation period of 8.5 months. A male gorilla at the age of 8-12, they are dark backs and from 12 years on, male gorilla develops a silver lining on their backs and this is the reason they are called ‘silverbacks’.
At Volcanoes National Park Headquarters, tourists are encouraged to rent hiking boots and raincoats in case they didn’t move with them. In the jungle, it’s generally wet, sloppy, and also cold. The advice is to enable the tourist to have an awesome trekking experience.
At our next stop, we get off the vehicle and the time had come to trek in the jungle. Here, potters were available to help us with heavy trekking gear.
The guide then told us that we were about 30minutes from the park. For anybody on their maiden trek, the climbing can truly be tiring. In spite of having been given walking sticks, we made a few stops in the jungle to catch some breath. At the entrance of the park, we got reminded of the dos and don’ts once we got in contact with the mountain gorillas in the jungle.
Rules and regulations while with the gorillas in the jungle
We were told mountain gorillas don’t like sticks, as they were regularly used by poachers. You are additionally encouraged to keep no less than 7 meters away from them. These creatures share almost 90% of their genes with people so the odds of contracting the illness from them are high.
“When they charge, they need you to submit so you may squat. When they get furious and begin thumping their chests, you ought to murmur back. In the event that you see it strolling to you, don’t show your back, yet rather walk in reverse” our guide forewarned us.
Likewise, while you’re taking photographs of mountain gorillas, you should be mindful not to use a flashlight since they don’t like it.
Face to face with the gorillas
After about 2 – 3 hours of hiking in the jungle, we at long last got in contact with our long waited for human-like creatures.
We could see two gorillas continuing with their day-to-day work and feeding on the bushes. As we moved closer, others started emerging from the bushes.
Mountain gorillas spend most of the time alternating between feeding, battling for their young ones, and scratching their hairy bodies.
Other gorillas could be seen on trees and branches and swinging. The national park has over 200 species of plants most of which are food to these amazing primates. Most of these plants are rich in water and that is how the mountain gorillas keep hydrated. Fortunately for the 1 hour, we spent with the mountain gorillas in their habitat, none of them showed irritation.
Volcanoes National Park has over 10 different habituated gorilla families which were made by part. At the point when a male is not contented with the goings-on, it parts away from the family and runs with a female.
Trackers additionally play a huge part in the national park to ensure that these gorillas are protected from poachers. They ensure they monitor where the gorillas are. The national park has around 100 trackers who keep in close communication through walk talkies.