Rwanda

Official name: Republic of Rwanda
Capital: Kigali
Currency: Rwanda Francs
Official languages: Kinyarwanda, English & French
Area (km2):
Population:
GDP per capita (PPP) (US$):
Time zone: GMT +2
Drives on the: Left
ISO 3166 code:
Calling code: +

Rwanda is one of the best destinations where one can see the endangered mountain gorillas. Rwanda itself is stable after the terrible events of 1994 and is widely held to be one of the safest countries in Africa to visit. The flight to Kigali from the other East African capitals takes only about an hour while the journey to the Virungas takes a little longer but is on a fast, well maintained road.

The best areas for mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda

The Volcanoes National Park is an incredible place for you to enjoy your mountain gorilla trekking experiences in Rwanda. The park is composed of 10 habituated gorilla families for tourists to visit which represent 80 permits per day. The gorilla permit costs $1500 per visitor. At 7:00am local time your gorilla briefing starts with a cup of coffee or tea depending on your preference and then traditional Itore Dance performances. Your trek ranges from shorter hikes up to all day treks for the case of Susa gorilla families.

There are lots of other amazing things to do in the Volcanoes National Park! Other offerings for visitors to the park are viewing of the very rare and beautiful habituated golden monkeys, volcano/forest walks and bird watching. Elsewhere in Rwanda, tourists can visit the Akagera and Nyungwe National Parks as well as such places as the well regarded National Museum in Butare, various genocide memorials and, nearby to the Virungas, the pretty Lake Kivu – with its beaches, jutting peninsulas and an archipelago of beautiful islands. Akagera is set at a relatively low altitude in the east of the country along the Tanzanian border. It has an archetypal African savannah landscape of tangled acacia trees and bush, interspersed with patches of open grassland and a dozen swamp-fringed lakes. Its scenery is complemented by a range of game and birds. Nyungwe, in the hills of south-western Rwanda, is the largest area of montane forest remaining in east and central Africa. It has at least 200 tree species, over 100 species of orchid, colobus monkeys (which move through the canopy in dramatic troops of several hundred), an estimated 500 chimpanzee, 11 other species of primate and more than 275 bird species.

Rwanda Gorilla Conservation

The Rwandan Gorilla Project was set up to combine conservation of the mountain gorilla in the Virunga Volcanoes of Rwanda in Central Africa with community development and upmarket tourism. It provided sponsors with an opportunity to support a programme of well-researched community projects that are helping to conserve the gorillas and the option of an exclusive safari to Rwanda to see the gorillas and the work being funded (but see now below). It was organised and initially funded by volunteers with a background that spans the City/finance and conservation.

There is continuing pressure on mountain gorillas and their habitat in the montane forests of the Virunga Volcanoes. Despite the encouraging results of a recent census which found numbers to have increased by 17 percent since 1989, the overall population is still only about 360 individuals. The threat posed to their survival by poaching, human encroachment/habitat loss, disease and the effects of regional instability are very real and pressing.

The key to protecting these forests, the gorillas and the other wildlife the forest supports – specifically within Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans – is the need to ensure that local communities support their conservation and benefit from it. This programme therefore provides assistance to those communities. All money raised will go direct to the projects without deduction of any fund raising or other costs.

The option for donors to visit Rwanda to see for themselves the work of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme through this project has now closed. Visits of this sort for significant donors are still available through the Conservation Circle programme run by Fauna and Flora International. Trips to see the gorillas can also be organized by several tour operators that have been listed on this website. Please look at the rest of the website as the work described is continuing and donations may still be made to support it. Over £52,000 has been raised to date.

Implementation

The organisers of the Rwandan Gorilla Project combine experience in the City and venture capital with knowledge of Africa and conservation. They have done extensive work on ensuring that very capable people manage the projects on the ground. Hence the fieldwork is being carried out by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP). It is a key organisation in gorilla conservation, bringing together many very highly experienced and dedicated people.

The IGCP dates from 1978 when its precursor, the “Mountain Gorilla Project”, started and out of which it grew in 1989. It is run from Nairobi, Kenya. The IGCP’s activities span all mountain gorilla territories and in the Virungas it is working with or directly funding the park authorities, promoting regional co-operation, working at a policy level (with the United Nations, for example) and supporting communities round the park.

The IGCP is supported by a consortium of three organizations – the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). FFI is the key UK element. It is based in Cambridge, is over 100 years old and has as its Patron Her Majesty the Queen. It is now running the Conservation Circle Programme for those donors who would like to visit the various projects FFI manages. For details of that please contact Liz Eaton on 01223 571000.
Further information on the IGCP, FFI and the organisers of the whole project can be found in the documents available for download or on the IGCP and FFI websites.