Gorilla Trekking Rwanda- Volcanoes National Park
This is the main attraction of Volcanoes National Park. Visitors can embark on guided treks to observe and interact with habituated mountain gorilla families in their natural habitat. The park protects over 400 endangered mountain gorillas that are scattered within 11 groups which are;
- Susa Group (also known as Susa A)
Named after the Susa River, this is one of the largest gorilla groups initially studied by Dian Fossey known for having multiple silverbacks. This group can sometimes be challenging to track due to its territory, which covers steep terrain.
- Sabyinyo Group
Named after Mount Sabyinyo, which is part of their territory, Sabyinyo group is led by a dominant silverback named Guhonda. This group is known for its relative accessibility, as they often stay in the lower slopes.
- Amahoro Group
“Amahoro” means “peaceful” in Kinyarwanda. Due to its name, the group is known for their calm demeanor and often stays in the middle slopes of the mountains. Amahoro Group is led by a silverback named Ubumwe.
- Umubano Group:
“Umubano” means “living together” in Kinyarwanda. This group originally split from the Amahoro Group and has formed its own independent family. Umubano Group was known to have a silverback named Charles as the leader.
- Kwitonda Group:
Named after their former dominant silverback – Kwitonda, Kwitonda group originated from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and migrated to Rwanda. This group’s territory includes the lower slopes and is known for being relatively easier to track.
- Hirwa Group:
“Hirwa” means “lucky one” in Kinyarwanda. This group is a relatively new family formed from members of different existing groups. The group was initially composed of gorillas from the Susa and Group 13.
- Karisimbi Group:
Name after Mount Karisimbi, one of the dormant volcanoes in the park, Karisimbi group is known to range in higher altitudes, thus making tracking them more challenging. Sometimes, the group is called Susa B.
- Ugendo group
“Ugendo” means mobile in Kinyarwanda. The group inhabits mount Bisoke and it known for frequent movements.
- Bwenge group
“Bwenge” means wisdom in the Rwanda local language. Named after the dominant Bwenge, who experienced dark times when six of its infants died during the early formation of the group, the group is located on Mount Bisoke.
- Titus group
Named after a gorilla called Titus, who lost all his family during the time of Dian Fossey’s research, Titus group can be trekked in Mount Bisoke and Karisimbi slopes.
- Agashya group
“Agashya” means news, and it is known as the first group to be habituated. It moves alongside Sabyinyo group, led by a silverback called Nyakarima who was overthrown by a dominant gorilla known as Agashya from whom the group was named.
Other Things to Do in Volcanoes National Park
- Golden Monkey Tracking
Besides gorillas, the park is also home to a population of endangered golden monkeys that can be seen during a guided trek known as golden monkey tracking. The experience starts in the morning with briefing at Kinigi offices. After, you are led by the park rangers through the wetland vegetation of the park in search of the beautiful, charming, and active apes.
- Hiking and Volcano Climbing
Volcanoes national park encompasses several dormant volcanoes, including Mount Karisimbi at 4,507m, Mount Bisoke at 3,771m, Mount Muhabura, and others. Hiking or climbing these volcanoes offers stunning panoramic views and a unique adventure.
- Dian Fossey Hike
You can visit the Karisoke Research Center, which was founded by renowned primatologist Dian Fossey. While at the tombs, you will learn more about the primatologist interest in the gorillas and how over the year’s gorilla conservation picked on which later led to gorilla tourism. The center is located between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke and provides insight into her pioneering work with mountain gorillas.
- Bird Watching
The park is home to over 200 bird species, including several Albertine Rift endemics. Bird enthusiasts will have a wonderful time spotting various avian species as they use binoculars and camera to capture some of the spectacular birds in the Virunga
- Cultural Experiences at Gorilla Guardians Village
You can engage with the local communities and learn about their traditions, history, and daily life as you visit Gorilla Guardians Village which was started by Edwin Sabuhoro who used to work as a warden at Volcanoes national park. During the experience, get a chance the royalty by being crowned as a king or queen for the day as you learn more about Rwanda culture and traditions.
- Nature Walks and Forest Exploration
Guided walks through the lush forests of Volcanoes National Park provide opportunities to spot various wildlife, including different primate species, birds, and small mammals.
- Visiting Lakes and Caves
Nearby lakes, like Lake Bulera and Lake Ruhondo, offer scenic views and possible encounters with local fishermen. There are also caves, like the Musanze Caves, that you can explore.