Double Gorilla Tracking & Golden Monkey Habituation: Trip Report

A Synopsis of Gorilla Tracking and Golden Monkey Habituation Experience in Rwanda and Uganda.

21ST JUN 2023


Robert and Michelle, a couple from Hawaii- USA visited Rwanda and Uganda between [17 and 21/June 2023] to enjoy “a Four- Day Primate Safari Experience” Tour Package, offered by Active African Vacations. The couple landed at Kigali Airport on 17/6/2023at 5:55am, spent one night at Marriott Hotel- Kigali City before heading to Volcanoes National Park to commence Gorilla tracking tour event in Rwanda

Highlights on Robert and Michelle’s Tour Experience in Rwanda Volcanoes Park.

1st Leg: Billy and Adison picked Robert and Michelle from Marriot Hotel- Kigali City at 7:00am, before proceeding to volcanoes park head office at Kinigi r,,,,,,,,,,,,; in Northern Provice, Musanze District, about 130.kms, 2hrs, 30 minutes drive from Kigali city, at 60kms/hr speed.

Clients: Robert and Michelle & Guide Billy + The Park Ranger Guide

Clients: Robert and Michelle & Guide Billy + The Park Ranger Guide

Pre-Gorilla Tracking activities

On arrival at the Volcanoes Mountains National Park head office, tourists and guides receive hospitable welcome, compounded with a free of charge cup of Rwanda Coffee “ DRINK RWANDA COFFE WITH GORILLAS”, and some entertainment characterizes by local music, dance and drama. Thereafter, park officials allocate tourists to different groups in accordance to the Gorilla family to be tracked by the group. The number of tourist per group may vary, though should never exceed 8 tourists. Every group should track only one Gorilla family a day, after each group member has presented a valid, non-transferable Gorilla tracking permit

Tracking Isimbi and Susa Gorilla families on Kalisimbi, close to Virunga Volcanoes National Park

Robert and Michelle tracked Gorillas at Kalisimbi volcanoes park, about45kms, approximately 1hr and 30 minutes drive on very rough volcanoes gravel Road from Rwanda volcanoes head office. Robert and Michelle joined other tourist to form a Gorilla tracking group, comprising a maximum of 8 members, as required by park authority to track a particular Gorilla family. Prior to tracking Gorillas, each group member is required to carry a parked lunch, at least one litre of water, a walking stick, face mask; and appropriate dressing code (I.e a pair of trousers, jungle boots and T-shirt/blouse, jacket ). Incidentally, Robert and Michelle successfully tracked two Gorilla families: Isimbi and Susa, which were moving closely to each other on that day on the Kalisimbi volcanoes mountain. Isimbi and Susa Gorilla families comprised 23 and 20 gorillas respectively. The tourists were happily impressed to see the two Gorilla families in a single Gorilla tracking event.

Hiwra gorilla family.

gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park.

A Tour at Rwanda Genocide Memorial Sites:-

Nyamiravmbo Genocide Memorial Site.

From Gorilla Tracking at Rwanda Volcanoes National Park, Robert and Michelle were driven back to Kigali City to have lunch, before proceeding to Rwanda Genocide memorial site at Nyamata, 35 kms, 15 minutes drive from Kigali city.

At Nyamata genocide memorial site:

The tourists were not only dismayed by genocide stories narrated by the female tour guide/ in charge at Nyamata Genocide Memorial Site, but also, the visibly noticeable evidence, speaking volumes about the barbaric killing of approximately 2500

innocent Rwandese, then gathered, in and around the Catholic church purportedly perceived as safe heaven for them: some of the visible evidence include: blood stained clothes, human bones, skulls, bomb damages on the roof and main gate of the Catholic Cathedral plus the famous grave of the female American volunteer, Madame Car, who informed the international community, the truth about the real perpetrators of Rwanda Genocide; and in turn got killed too, by the perpetrators of Rwanda genocide. To keep the memory of Madame Carr’s courageous spirit, her body was buried inside the historical catholic church that earmarked Rwanda genocide centre stage, at Nyamata. Thereafter, the visitors proceeded to Kigali city genocide memorial site.

Gisozi Genocide Memorial Site- Adjacent to Kigali city

From Nyamata genocide memorial site, the tourists proceeded to Gisozi Genocide Memorial site located adjacent to Kigali city to see and hear more memories ascribed to 1994 Rwanda genocide. Again, the tourists saw more of the blood stained clothes, once owned by some genocide victims, including their pictures in the photo gallery, disjointed skeletons of approximately 300,000 demised Rwandan people in the memorial house and cemetery, a library and also watched a true story movie about Rwanda genocide

A Tour at the Diana Ferssey Memorial centre

The tourist visited Diana Ferssey Memorial centre to appreciate and donate some money, in contribution to Diana Ferssey’s legacy in the conservation of mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda Gorilla parks. Diana Ferssey Memorial Centre, is characterized by beautifully designed building structures, inside which stories about Diana’s research findings on the life history and conservation of Mountain Gorillas, is presented in pictorial and video form. Also, a life story about Diana’s life profile and passion in conserving Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda is professionally presented photographically and in an audio- video.

A Tour Trip to Uganda to track Mgahinga Mountain Gorillas

Robert and Michelle, travelled to Uganda by road via Kyanika boarder post. While in Uganda, they slept at NKororo Hotel (near the airfield), first night, before proceeding to Mgahinga National Park to track habituated Gorilla and Gold Monkey the following day. The tracking exercise took them more than seven hours. They spent the second night at Ichumbi Hotel in preparation for another day tracking experience, targeting the Nyakagezi Gorilla family group at Mghahinga Gorilla National park- Uganda. After tracking the Nyakagezi Gorilla Family group, successfully, the visitors were driven back to Kigali Airport-Rwanda, via Kyanika boarder post,to fly back to South Africa. On their way to Kigali Airport, the visitors made a stop over to see the twin lakes at Virunga Lodge platform viewing – Rwanda.

Driving on the meandering tarmac road at 60km /hr, maximum speed, as per Rwanda traffic rules, the visitors arrived at Kigali Airport on time, despite time wasted in the traffic jam in Kigali city centre.

Ugenda gorilla group.

gorilla trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Additional Exciting Experience:

– Drinking Rwanda coffee with a Gorilla at Rwanda Volcanoes National park head quarters

– Driving on rough volcanoes stones none- paved rural roads

– No rainfall experience while tracking the Gorillas both in Rwanda and Uganda

– Some children standing along Mgahinga- Kisoro rural road waving and singing “Abazungu” (meaning white people) to the tourists.

Shocking experience encountered: Some children (aged 5-6years) standing along Mgahinga- Kisoro rural road tried to throw stones to the tourist vehicle while the tourists were returning to Kisoro town after tracking Gorillas at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park