Rwanda is home to the mountain gorilla made famous by the American primatologist Dian Fossey, author of "Gorillas in the Mist." While there has been an increase in their population in recent years, gorillas are still one of world's most endangered species and in desperate need of conservation. There are only an estimated 1,000 remaining mountain gorillas in the world today. A number of families can be visited in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans (PNV) where Fossey conducted her research.
Tracking the magnificent mountain gorillas through the lush slopes of the Virungas is one of the most thrilling and moving wildlife experiences to be had. This is Rwanda's main tourist attraction and permits are required. Groups are limited to eight persons and there is a one hour time limit to spend with these gentle giants. Permit fees are currently $1,500 and help fund programs to protect the mountain gorilla and their habitat. Conservation projects and education programs in local communities adjacent to the parks are also supported with a portion of these fees.
Plan to spend a minimum of three days to see the gorillas. You can easily combine this with safari plans in Tanzania or Kenya.
Rwanda is a small country of great diversity, beauty and the towering Virunga volcanoes. The country has taken great strides to recover from the 1994 genocide when more than 800,000 people were murdered and two million fled into exile. Today, Rwanda has one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, and there are more women in its Parliament than any other country in the world. In addition to the indigenous language of Kinyarwanda, you will hear much French and English in Kigali and the tourist areas.