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Rwanda Gorilla Encounter


It is an exhilarating trek from your home at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge through the dense foliage of Rwanda’s emerald jungle. You watch the scout up ahead hack a path with his machete… then, a quiet word from your guide and you see a flash of dark fur against the green. You have found what you are looking for: a troupe of rare mountain gorillas. So similar to humans in so many ways, the mothers gather for a chin-wag, the toddlers gambol and play, exasperating their teen babysitters, all watched over by the great silverback patriarch.

Your hour spent silently in the company of this extended family must the most moving wildlife experience in Africa – arguably in the world. Put down your camera and sit awhile, just observing their social rituals, the keenness of their relationships, and the depth and range of their emotions. There are only a few hundred of these gentle giants left, and watching them at the brink of potential extinction is, for many, a transformative moment.

This 5-day tour will take you into the heart of area first brought to the world’s attention by pioneering primatologist Dian Fossey and immerse you in the majesty of Africa’s first gazetted national park that dates back to 1925.

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  • Trek to the Dian Fossey Research Camp
  • Search for mountain gorillas & golden monkeys
  • Visit Buhanga Sacred Forest
  • Climb volcanoes & cruise on lakes
  • Visit Iby’iwacu cultural village & Musanze Market
  • Bird-watching walks
  • Massage treatments to refresh after hikes
  • Experience Kwita Izina, the gorilla-naming ceremony (June only)


  • Tour Duration: 5 Days

  • Start: Kigali
  • End: Kigali

Accommodations Visited

Detailed breakdown

Day 1: Jet into Kigali | 1 Night

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Kigali, Rwanda

After landing at Kigali International Airport, a shuttle bus will transfer you to the Kigali Serena Hotel, a modern multi-storey establishment that has everything from a spa and gym to several restaurants and bars. The very comfortable rooms will ensure you have a good night’s sleep after a long-haul flight so that you are well rested to tackle the slopes and jungles of Volcanoes National Park in search of elusive mountain gorillas.

Days 2-4: Into the Virunga Mountains | 3 Nights

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Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

For the next four days, your home is the warm and welcoming Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga Mountains. The name ‘Virunga’ is an English version of the Kinyarwanda word ibirunga, which means ‘volcanoes’. The park was first gazetted in 1925, to protect the gorillas from poachers, and was the first national park to be created in Africa.

Rwandans are generally characterised by their friendly smiles and a can-do attitude. This is reflected at the lodge, where the personal touch is the hallmark of service. Experienced staff may help you with the settings on your camera and point you in the right direction for some excellent shots. The dining is excellent and the stone buildings of the lodge are warm and inviting, with fireplaces for the evenings in the cooler months, as well as en suite bathrooms and sheltered verandas. Curl up with warm drink after a long trek to reminisce about your day, or sip a cool cocktail outside, drinking in the view over the forests and mountains. There is also a library and games room for those relaxed moments in the day.

The main attraction at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is, of course, the gorillas and you are almost guaranteed a sighting. Mountain gorillas are critically endangered, with only a few hundred left. Trekking is strictly controlled; you need a permit and may only spend an hour with the gorillas. It may be the highlight of your stay but there is much more to do. Try a post-trek massage treatment to ease your muscles and prepare you for your next hike – perhaps to see the mischievous golden monkeys in the wild.

There are also treks and hikes to view the volcanoes and their hidden treasures: the Dian Fossey Research Camp, or Mounts Visoke, Muhabura or M’gahinga. Visit Buhanga Sacred Forest, Gishwati Forest or any of the many scenic lakes; you can take a cruise on Lake Bulera. If you are feeling energetic, grab a mountain bike for a fun way to explore the region. But to fully understand the ancient rhythms of the mountain forests, explore the villages and their cultural life. At Iby’iwacu cultural village, talk to ex-poachers have rejected their former way of life.

Discover the traditional house of a local king, watch a medicine man prepare herbal mixtures, try your hand at bow and arrow shooting or listening to the drums of Africa.

And, if you visit in June, witness Kwita Izina, the baby gorilla naming ceremony which takes place every year during the month of June in Rwanda.

Day 5: One last look

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Four days is a short stay but it is long enough to build memories to treasure. Bid your farewells and take your leave of the forest and its enigmatic inhabitants before setting your compass for home.

Kigali, Rwanda


Community Fees
Golden Monkey Trek (including permit)
Gorilla Trek (including permit)
Transfers as per the itinerary

International flights
Airport taxes
All meals and drinks not specified
Tips and gratuities
Items of a personal nature

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