That first glimpse of a wild mountain gorilla is a moment never to be forgotten, your eyes meeting beneath the lavish green canopy of Volcanoes National Park. Inquisitive infants approach, mothers bound on two legs, and a giant silverback thuds the earth with every step. Intimate gorilla trekking is the premier reason for visiting Rwanda and Volcanoes National Park is one of only two accessible places in Africa to see the great apes.
Finding the gorillas.
Reaching the gorillas is quite a thrill, guides leading you deep into the thick rainforest of this remote national park. Sometimes it takes just 30 minutes, but it could be a three-hour hike on muddy slopes. We think that the trek is a huge part of the experience, an opportunity to explore the depths of virgin African rainforest. You might even see endangered golden monkeys or forest elephants on the way, or perhaps even another gorilla troop.
Your first sighting of a gorilla will be incredible.
Exhilaration builds and you can sense when you're getting closer. Then that first glimpse, that beautiful moment when time stands still and you're face to face with an entire troop. Some gnaw at tree bark, a couple waves their arms in a show of power, youngsters climb amongst the branches above your head, and soon the whole troop is surrounding you. Officially you can come within seven metres of the gorillas. We've regularly found that the gorillas don't follow this rule and many inquisitive youngsters come even closer.
Live the experience.
Often you don't know where to look as a dozen wild gorillas are going about their day. Emotive eyes reveal what they're thinking and it feels like you can lip read their messages. However, it is easy to get lost in the camera screen, so we recommend spending 15 minutes taking photos and then putting the camera away to really savour the experience.
The park is full of luxury lodges.
The forest is rugged and the experience is truly wild, yet we also love the accessibility of Volcanoes National Park. There's an exceptional choice of luxury lodge accommodation, all with sublime views over the misty mountain forest. The park is just a two-hour drive from capital Kigali, so Rwandan gorilla trekking can be done on just a two-day side trip from a Kenya or Tanzania safari, although this park is so beautiful you'll want to stay longer.