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Virunga Mountains
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Virunga Mountains gorilla tracking safaris


... rank among the very best wildlife interaction experiences on the planet. Encountering such intelligent creatures out in the forests is truly remarkable.

The Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, along with Bwindi Forest in Uganda, are the two prime locations in Africa for tracking mountain gorillas.

This protected area straddles Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo and includes some very impressive and mysterious volcanic peaks shrouded in dense tropical forest, but surrounded on all sides by intense small-scale agriculture.

Remarkably this tiny portion of the planet hosts almost a third of the world's wild mountain gorillas, with around 250 individuals in 10 troops, of which 8 are habituated to the presence of humans, which means that they can usually be approached without being scared off. This rich rainforest environment also contains over 120 mammal and 350 bird species.

Read more about the gorilla families for this camp ...

Only 56 gorilla tracking permits are issued each day, so you need to book extremely early and pay up front to secure a spot to visit one of the more interesting and accessible gorilla families.

Read more about the gorilla trekking for this camp ...

How we like to include this area in trips ...

Virunga Mountains is the our second most popular area for viewing mountain gorillas after Bwindi Forest in Uganda, the latter being much more convenient to access.

Most people base themselves at a lodge in this area for 3 or 4 nights in order to give themselves plenty of time to do one or preferably two visits to the gorillas, whilst also exploring the greater locality.

Most people visit the gorillas just once, but if you are particularly keen to ensure a good sighting and can afford the high prices, then you might consider purchasing two permits, which means that you should get the chance to encounter two different family groups.

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge ... is undoubtedly the most upmarket and reliable option in the area.

Virunga Lodge ... is another high price alternative, in a dramatic location an hour from the reserve.

Gorilla Mountain View Lodge ... is the best of a relatively poor selection of mid-priced options.

Many visitors to the Virunga Mountains are only visiting Rwanda for the gorillas, in which case they are simply in country for 3 to 4 nights.

It is also possible to spend a good deal more time in Rwanda, notably connecting Virunga Mountains by road to the chimpanzees area of Nyungwe Forest in the south.

Rwanda trips usually hub out of Kigali, with combinations typically extending over 4 to 10 nights.

These trips also commonly combine with Tanzania, most notably for safari in Serengeti and Ngorongoro, a trek on Mount Kilimanjaro and time down on the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia.

It is also possible to combine Rwanda with other countries across Africa, although the connections tend to be less convenient.

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Jay Hanson
Jay Hanson, Senior Safari Consultant
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