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“Truly an experience of a life time!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of National Volcano Park (Parc National des Volcans)

National Volcano Park (Parc National des Volcans)
access via town of Ruhengeri | northwest Rwanda, Rwanda
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Activities: Viewing wildlife, Hiking, Group tours/walking tour
Attraction details
Toronto, Canada
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
36 attraction reviews
Reviews in 54 cities Reviews in 54 cities
92 helpful votes 92 helpful votes
“Truly an experience of a life time!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 25, 2012

Getting here was a long-time dream come try and it did not disappoint. You meet at the park station around 7:00am (they serve coffee and tea) as they put on a local drum and dance performance. After you are put in groups of 8 and together with 2 guides and a host of trackers you head off to the forest. Depending on your group it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 or 4 hours to find the group of gorillas you have been selected to visit. We were lucky and our group spent 10 minutes walking through a field before climbing a stone wall right into a group of 26 (mostly young) gorillas playing! You get 1 hour once you find them which either goes by fast or slow depending upon how excited or nervous you are standing so close to them.

It is actually harder than it looks to get a good photo due to the overhead darkness and/ or the movement of the gorillas.

Don't think about the cost for the gorillas permit. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you don't want to miss - especially if you are anywhere in the area.

Tip: everyone wonders about what to wear. The local guides put on water-proof pants and some wore gloves. Most of my group wore gaiters while I just pulled my socks up over my pants. I had no problems at all. If it looks like rain you should wear a proper jacket. You are not allowed to bring anything into the park with you except for a camera. You will hire a porter to carry your day pack to the area just before finding the gorillas. The fee is minimal.

Visited October 2012
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35 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
New York City, New York
Top Contributor
139 reviews 139 reviews
47 attraction reviews
Reviews in 58 cities Reviews in 58 cities
99 helpful votes 99 helpful votes
“How can you not go here?”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 2, 2012

Great experience with a welcoming and professional staff. Who wouldn't want to see and mingle near the great silverback gorillas? The journey is set up as levels 1-3 with 3 being the longer walk. However in reality, the families move around so sometime level 2 finishes before level 1. Not as much fun is to see the golden monkeys. It is worth seeing them but they aren't the silverbacks.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Top Contributor
132 reviews 132 reviews
40 attraction reviews
Reviews in 75 cities Reviews in 75 cities
91 helpful votes 91 helpful votes
“The gorillas are an experience to aspire to”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2012 via mobile

Put this experience on your bucket list. These gentle cretaures are astounding. They are almost totally indifferent to your presence as they go about chewing on the various plants. Except for the teenagers! They are like teenagers anywhere determined to show off! The young babies and the mothers together are a wonderful sight. The silverbacks know they rule the roost and show it with an imperial nature.
The hike in is rigorous. All the advice about good boots, long sleeve shirts, long thick pants and the use of wooden walking stick should be taken. You will get filthy. You will get exhausted. But the first time you see a silverback staring at you, no pain is left in your body, only awe.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
16 reviews 16 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Peak experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2012

My friends and I bought our passes through the Mille Collines tour group, Volcoanoes Tour., and they were super helful even though we had our own driver. We stayed at the clean, simple Kinigi Guesthouse. Affordable and goes toward a good cause. The park rangers that took us up the mountain to see the gorillas were very kind, fit,agile, and responsible. Take care of the slower person in the group. You'll never be left behind. We had to bushwhack up a steep hill to find our gorilla family, but when we did find them, all the nettle sting seemed SO worth it. What JOY! We felt so grateful for our hour with the amohouru family. Go if you can! IT's worth it. Bring heavy pants, long shirt and gloves to protect you skin from nettles. Enjoy!

Visited February 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jakarta, Indonesia
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
21 attraction reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
“Meet the King of the Mountain”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2012

The mountain gorillas hide out in the bamboo forests on the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes in Rwanda, surrounded by encroaching fields, threatened by poachers, and trying hard to lead a peaceful life in an increasingly crowded and dangerous world. Here, they are protected by the Government of Rwanda through the efforts of the national park service. Their very lives depend upon the revenue generated by the small groups of tourists who visit them almost daily.

A visit to the mountain gorillas has long been regarded as one of the most thrilling and unusual game viewing experiences in the world. Once your guides find them and bring you quietly up close to the group, huffing and chortling in gorilla style to show your good intentions, you literally sit down with them on the mountainside as though together at a picnic. They warn you at the park headquarters to keep seven meters distance from the beasts, but in the thick brush on the steep slopes, this is often not possible. We were afraid that we might actually fall on them, we were standing so close above them on the hillside.

Despite the presence of several guides and our group of eight tourists, during our one hour visit in very close proximity to the gorilla group, there was not the least display of aggression on their side. We, of course, were invading their territory, leaning over them to take photos, talking while they were trying to rest, and generally behaving in the rude and selfish manner that is so characteristic of our species. They were oh so very mellow, and even a bit intimidated by us at times.

Perhaps they got their revenge on us by leading us a merry chase up the mountain. "Oh, they are on the lower slopes, we'll find them in an hour," our guides said as we left the park HQ. Four hours later, stung by nettles, covered in mud, drenched in sweat and pretty darn tired, we had trailed them almost straight up the mountain until they, too, were pooped, and stopped finally to rest, at over 9,000 feet. They calmly curled up in the thick bushes in a small, steep clearing, and went to sleep while we watched. The little ones must have been carried up the mountain, because they were the only ones among us with any energy left at all. We enjoyed watching them cavort and posture, make faces and thump their little chests.

It is an awesome experience, to be so close to such great and powerful animals. The serenity of the high mountain forest with immense vistas across the thousand hills of Rwanda provides a deeply satisfying environment in which to relax with the King of the Mountain and his family. The guides were knowledgeable and told us many stories and answered our many questions, and the gorillas were friendly, if indifferent, hosts.

It was a bit sad to realize that they are, despite their obviously great size and power and intelligence, horribly threatened and on the verge of extinction. Only a few hundred remain, with Rwanda their best refuge, although neighboring countries like Uganda and Congo also protect them.

Your visit will help to keep them alive and insure that they enjoy a few more peaceful days.

For that alone, it is worth the trip.

Visited December 2011
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