Rwanda, a tiny East African country sandwiched between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda, is often either overlooked or dismissed as way too dangerous to visit. But the truth is, Rwanda has come a long way since the 1994 genocide, and is quickly earning the well appointed name of “Africa’s New Dawn.”
The landlocked country has made huge efforts to market it’s tourist attractions, and it has a lot of amazing things to offer. The most popular, however, is the ability to visit the massive and surprisingly non-aggressive gorillas in their natural habitat. Rwanda is one of only three countries in which this is possible. Volcanoes National Park is where these creatures call home, an area that’s surrounded by a chain of seven volcanoes. The ash has helped to fertilize the surrounding land, allowing lush and beautiful rain forests to flourish.
In order to hang out with the gorillas up close, tourists need to purchase a one day, one hour permit in advance from the Rwanda Development Board for $750. This may seem like a lot, but included is a tour through the rain forest led by experienced and knowledgeable guides. The fee also goes toward the conservation of the environment and protection of the gorillas.
The permits are priced high and strictly regulated to ensure the gorillas are not too disturbed by human interference. The limited number of permits are handed out each day, and people are only allowed to spend one hour with them in order to respect their alone time and minimize their exposure to human diseases. Lodging can be found and tours can be arranged through Gorilla Permits Rwanda and Gorillas in Rwanda among other places. Be sure to do your research to find the best value and find exactly what you want, there are many options to choose from.
There is a plethora of other things to see and do while in Rwanda, including safaris, white water rafting, visiting Lake Kivu, trekking around the East African Rift Valley or checking out the main city of Kigali.
So, lace up your hiking boots and come visit Rwanda and the gorillas!