Rwanda’s World Heritage site, the Albertine Rift is one Africa’s most biodiverse regions. The Virungas massif is a staggeringly beautiful rainforest home to half the population of the world’s Mountain Gorillas, an iconic endangered species. With surrounding views of the volcanic peaks, only a handful of travelers are permitted to trek into the wilderness to seek out habituated groups of Gorilla families, about 604 individuals, amongst other primate species accompanied by our experienced local rangers who are residents and accredited guides exclusively employed by the Volcanoes National Park.
Learn more: View the Gorilla Viewing Protocol
Coming face to face with a Great Silverback is truly one of the most exciting wildlife experiences on earth!
An exhilarating trek in the footsteps of the rare and critically endangered Mountain Gorillas - the largest living primate on earth - starts in the dramatic scenery of the Virungas foothills. Trekkers will be immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the primeval rainforest, alive with colorful bird calls, ferns and butterflies. Our experienced local trackers are rangers who have spent their entire lives in this forest. Weaving through the overhanging vines, moss-covered hagenia and giant lobelias that thrive in the tropical climate, the rangers soon bring us up close with a Gorilla family. Spend a magical hour with the group as they go about their daily life, feeding, playing, resting; raising their young.
At present, we have 12 habituated gorilla families that can be tracked in the Volcanoes National Park and while each tracking expedition does not necessarily cover a large distance, a trek can range from half a mile to over 5 miles on very steep terrain at high altitudes. The forest undergrowth is often thick, the ground beneath muddy, and including the time spent with a gorilla group, typical excursions last about 2 hours but in some difficult cases can also be up to 8 hours. As such, our Gorilla viewing protocol is based upon the standard guidelines issued by the IUCN for great ape viewing, designed specifically to limit stress and behavioral impact on these animals - and also potential disease transmission from humans to gorillas. The protocols are critical for gorilla conservation which is the key to our safari programs in this delicate ecosystem.
• The maximum duration for time spent with any group encounter is 1 hour per day and the maximum number of guests present per gorilla tracking excursion is 8 persons. The treks are only conducted in the company of professional park rangers as assigned by the parks board.
• The minimum age for gorilla viewing is 15 years – this is for reasons of safety but also for possible disease transmission, with children under this age more prone to infection.
• Any traveler displaying cold, flu or other respiratory tract symptoms will not be allowed to enter the park.
• Again, to minimize any chance of transmission of human diseases, all visitors must maintain a distance of 7 meters (22 feet) from the gorillas.
• Clothing tips: A complete packing list is mailed to our Guided Safaris travelers once a trip is purchased. As a guideline, for your comfort do avoid shorts or thin pants / leggings; loose fitting jeans or cargo pants are good choices to protect against grass allergies insect bites and stinging nettles in the forested areas. Avoid any heavy or busy prints - solid neutrals (green, khaki, brown) are a sensible choice. Blacks / Blues / Whites will attract bugs. Spray yourself with insect repellent (available in your room at Bisate). Pack comfortable shoes (broken in, not new) - leather sneakers or lightweight hiking boots are popular choices.
Thank you for your participation and support for this incredible program. We wish you the journey of a lifetime in our care!