rwanda wildlife highlights and what to see where

Home to one third of the world’s remaining population of endangered mountain gorillas, the rarest of the three gorilla subspecies, a Rwanda wildlife safari is often the highlight of any enthusiasts career. Tracking some of the 820 gorillas that remain in the wild through the mist as it clings to the hill forests at dawn in an unforgettable experience and, although hard work at times, one of the most rewarding wildlife safaris in Africa. The gorillas can be combined with trekking through the lush forests of Nyungwe in search of elusive chimpanzees and colobus monkeys, enjoying game drives across the open plains of Akagera or even climbing the volcanic slopes of Volcanoes National Park. Wherever you roam, you can be sure to encounter a vast array of things to see and do.

Catching your first sight of one of these amiable primates, which can weigh up to three times the size of an average human man, will leave you speechless and making contact with their soft brown eyes is a life changing wildlife encounter.

Gorilla Tracking in Volcanoes National Park

We use expert local guides who can bring you face to face with silverback gorillas in the Parc National des Volcans. Here we spend between 3-10 hours tracking one of the official gorilla family groups through hillside paths, sometimes crawling through dense vegetation which can at times be challenging. Only limited visitor permits are available daily in order to conserve the habitat that the mountains live in, which makes early booking essential to avoid disappointment. For detailed information on gorilla safaris and where and when is best to track them, please visit our gorilla trekking page.

The effort is undoubtedly worthwhile upon witnessing the fearsome yet peaceful gorillas munching on nettles, or young babies showing off in front of their new found audience.

More Primates and other Wildlife

Even without the gorillas, Volcanoes National Park contains an array of other wildlife, with over 200 bird species amidst its sweeping bamboo forests, forest elephants, buffalo, spotted hyenas, hogs and bushpigs. However, the endangered Golden Monkey, endemic to the Albertine Rift, is perhaps the most interesting with its bright golden body and contrasting black limbs. This can be a rare treat for visitors who can often see both gorilla and monkey.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to thirteen species of primate, including chimpanzees, wide-eyed L’Hoest’s monkeys and huge troops of acrobatic Angola Colobus. This 1,000 square kilometre area is great for tracking black and white Colobus monkeys, with a group of about 400 individuals being semi-habituated and living near the camp. 

Akagera National Park is currently the only home to any plains game in Rwanda. Years ago, the plains game was rich here, however over the years it has dwindled. In recent times - and with the help of African Parks - it is making a strong come back with only just recently lions being reintroduced to the park. This means that the park can now count amongst its residents, lion, elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland. Other predators aside from the aforementioned lions include, leopard, hyena and side-striped jackal. Akagera's most famous inhabitant however, could be said to the the rare and elusive shoebill stalk, rarely seen, but a wildlife highlight that is worth looking out for.

Despite there being an estimated 500-1000 chimpanzees in Nyungwe, sightings are still more down to chance but this still remains a highlight of any Rwanda wildlife safari.

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