Dian Fossey first introduced many to this incredible region of Rwanda. Volcanoes National Park protects the Virungas mountain range, made of rainforest covered, ancient volcanoes stretching 15,000 feet up into the clouds. Notoriously damp, this is home to the endangered mountain gorilla, 200 species of birds and the rare golden monkey.
The eco system is carefully managed and expert trackers and guides lead small groups of tourists through the dense terrain to spend an hour with these awe inspiring creatures. This is one of only a few ways in which you can get within feet of the gorillas in their natural habitat. It is estimated that there are only approximately 1,000 mountain gorillas in the wild with 604 of them residing in the Virunga Massif.
There are 12 troops of gorillas living in the park and all are habituated (used to humans), while the gorillas move around they are constantly tracked by rangers and therefore guides always know where the groups are. For many this is a once in a lifetime experience, often described by those who have spent time with gorillas as life changing. It is worth noting that tourist permits are limited, therefore early booking is advised to avoid disappointment.
Close to Volcanoes National Park is the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund, the largest and longest-running organisation fully dedicated to gorilla conservation. Their aim is to enable scientists and local communities to continually learn about how the gorillas live, as a way to ensure the protection of the species in the future. Recently the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund received support from the Ellen Fund and as a result have been able to break ground on a new campus called The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which it is hoped will enable the continuation of the incredible work being undertaken. A visit to the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund can be included in your itinerary while in transit between Kigali and Volcaboes National Park.