Lady’s Guide to Gorilla Trekking & beyond in Rwanda - Travels Blogs

Lady’s Guide to Gorilla Trekking & beyond in Rwanda

When most people travel to Rwanda, they go for one thing: gorillas. Rwanda is one of the only places in the world where these primates can be seen in the wild, and where humans can get up close to them. I’ve traveled from London to see them, but what I discover is that there’s a lot more to my trip?and the country?than just gorilla trekking in Rwanda.

Gorilla Trekking and beyond in Rwanda
I’m in east Africa as a guest of Uber Luxe Safaris, who has flown me to Kigali on Turkish Airlines for a five-day trip to Rwanda. I get a visa on arrival?the authorities don’t bother to check for my mandatory yellow fever vaccination certificate (apparently they rarely do)?and then I’ve officially entered my 101st country.

It’s an important country for me, too, as learning about the Rwandan genocide in high school was what led me to study International Relations when I went to college. I’ve wanted to visit since I was 17, and arriving feels like part of my life has come full-circle.

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
The first thing on my Rwanda itinerary is the famous gorilla trekking. Rwanda is one of three neighboring countries in Africa where it’s possible to see mountain gorillas in the wild?the other two being Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo?and is a well-known travel destination for it.

After a half-day drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park, I arrive at the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge. It’s more on the basic side than the luxurious, but the staff is amazing and the food much better than I expected. On top of that, the grounds are lush and there are great views of Mount Sabyinyo.
I start my stay with a visit to a cultural village and show. It’s put on by former poachers that now earn a living educating visitors about traditional and historic Rwandan customs. Poaching was once a big problem here, but the country has worked hard to stop it. And thankfully so, as the gorillas are not only amazing animals, but also a better long-term economic opportunity for the country when they’re alive.

I wake up at 6am the next morning to start trekking, excited to see which gorilla group I’m assigned (they do the assignments right before the trek, dividing people up based on physical fitness and other factors). My driver takes me to a central meeting point where all of the guides and visitors congregate.

Soon I learn that I’m going to see the Titus group with Francois, the most famous gorilla trekking guide in Rwanda. Francois is somewhat of a legend, having worked with Dian Fossey and been a guide for years. He’s animated and energetic, and really brings the experience alive for me.

Not long later we’re off on a surprisingly steep, rocky climb through green terraced farmland and beautiful fields full of yellow and white flowers. The scenery is as stunning as the hike challenging, and as the morning cool cedes to afternoon heat, I spend two hours making my...

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