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Rwanda Wildlife

Without a doubt, the prime attraction of Rwanda’s wildlife still remains the endangered mountain gorilla

Animals of Rwanda Safaris

A wildlife icon, hard to beat, the mountain gorilla inhabits the forested slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes in Rwanda and DRC, and the impenetrable forest of Bwindi in Uganda. Previous populations of this critically endangered species plummeted as low as 250 or so in the 1980’s, but with concerted efforts over the last 30 years, the mountain gorilla population has increased to approximately 1,060 to date over the 3 destinations. The wildlife of Rwanda does not stop here though, as over the years, alongside the protection of the mountain gorillas, we have seen a stabilisation in the tracking of the elusive chimpanzees of Nyungwe Forest in the south, and healthy investment in the savannah game park of Akagera.

Mountain Gorillas

It is rare that you can walk on foot with wildlife, and even rarer to walk on foot with wildlife of such size and magnitude. A silverback mountain gorilla can weigh in the region of 200kgs and commands the respect of all around. Tracking these amiable primates in their natural surroundings is truly a privileged experience and one that we should continue to fight to protect. Yes, gorilla permits are expensive, yes, gorilla permits are limited in numbers, but these factors have contributed to the successful protection of one of the most vulnerable great apes in our world today. To date, gorilla tourism is one of the clearest examples of successful ‘eco-tourism’, we just now need to ensure that we do not push it beyond the tipping point.


Forever the mischievous great ape, Chimpanzees move fast and nimble through the treetops and along the forest floor. You will often hear them before you see them, their ‘pant hoots’ or excited ‘screams’ piercing the forest canopy. Persevere though, and you will not be disappointed, sitting amongst these great apes is a thrilling experience, much different to that of the gorillas. These apes are our closest living relative (aside from bonobos) sharing approximately 98.8% of our DNA. Tracking these guys through the dense forest of Nyungwe in southwestern Rwanda is a truly remarkable experience. You sit on the forest floor and watch as they fight, play, groom, and chastise, behaviour similar to ours like no other.

St Rwanda Akagera Zebra Shutterstock Tetyana Dotsenko

Golden Monkeys

Golden monkeys are known to have unique characters and are a rare species that are endangered at the moment and they are currently found in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda. They are easily recognised due to the yellow patches that can be seen all over their bodies. The golden monkey resides in the highland forests of Central Africa, which are located in the mountain ranges of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga in Uganda and Virunga and Kahuzi-Biéga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Golden monkeys prefer habitats with abundant fruit and bamboo in order to accommodate their diet. They typically move between areas depending on the season.

Savannah Game

Rwanda wildlife these days cannot be discussed without mentioning the growing national park of Akagera. A National Park that for years as been overlooked, Akagera National Park is now an integral part of the Rwanda wildlife scene. The rise of this park is partly in thanks to the amazing work of African Parks Conservation (an organisation of which NWS is one of the founding travel partners), who have taken on the management of the park in recent years. Highlights now include black rhinos, lion, giraffe, zebra and more. Whilst not many years ago the majority of travellers visited Rwanda to only track the world-renowned mountain gorillas, nowadays Rwanda wildlife is much more than that. Take the time to truly explore this little-known country and you will be more than surprised to uncover a plethora of wildlife highlights.