My condition to my husband who wanted to hike Mount Kilimanjaro was that if I was traveling back to Africa before exploring other destinations that we were to visit mountain gorillas in Africa. After researching where to go to see the gorillas, I determined our options were Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After further research, I realized Rwanda was really our only option since we were on a short timetable. We booked a 3 day Rwanda gorilla trek. I was also partially biased because a part of me has always wanted to visit Rwanda. Spending time with the family of gorillas was more amazing than I had imagined. It is such an incredible experience.
Gorilla Expeditions Ltd. created a wonderful itinerary for us that brought us to Volcanoes National Park and coordinated everything we needed while in the wonderful country of Rwanda. The drive to Volcanoes National Park (and while in the park) was spectacular. The views were incredible.
We reached our destination, a visitor center in the Volcanoes National Park, around 7 a.m. in the morning (we had left Kigali at 4:30 a.m. that morning) and then waited to receive our briefing before starting our gorilla trekking. We were one of the first groups to arrive. While we waited for our briefing and to be assigned a gorilla family group, there was a table with complimentary coffee. As time progressed, more and more people arrived.
Around 8 a.m., we were assigned to our trekking group that had two guides. There were 8 people per group for 9 gorilla families. We were given our briefing before leaving the visitor center. They explained the process and rules to us upon reaching the gorilla family. We were to be quiet and were not allowed to make any sudden movements. We were also told we were allowed to take as many pictures as our hearts desired once we came across the gorillas, but were absolutely prohibited from using the flash as the flash scares the gorillas. We were also given a picture of the gorilla family we were assigned, the Urubano family.
After receiving our briefing, we drove to the start of our trek. We lost the paved roads on the road to start the trek. If I remember correctly, the drive from the visitor center at the Volcanoes National Park to the start of the hike took approximately 40 minutes because the road was so uneven and extremely bumpy, which made it all the more exciting. They call it the “African Massage”.