Science & Nature

Jan 1, 2018

SAFARIS, GORILAS AND VOLCANOES

With a stable government since 2000, the Republic of Rwanda has consolidated itself as one of the nations with the lowest corruption index on Africa as a whole and a vacation destination of excellence with a wide offer dedicated to leisure and adventure.

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By NIGEL HAWTHORNE

Whether it's beach wise, mountain hiking on its National Volcanoes Park, guided tours to gorilla habitats and safaris deep into its forests in two distinct yearly seasons, namely between mid-December to mid-February and between June and September, times of the year graced with non-rainy seasons, Rwanda is rising as the new best destination in Africa.

The National Volcanoes Park of Rwanda includes 125 square meters of forest, lakes and six volcanoes ((Nyiragongo, with 3.470m; Sabyinyo, 3.634m; Karisimbi, 4.507m; Bisoke, 3.711m; Gahinga, 3.525m e Muhavura, with 4.127m). The high point and main attraction are the safaris that include both the volcanoes and forest with the purpose of visiting one of the ten mountain gorilla families, something that can take from one to four hours to track, although the rough terrain and the landscapes with all certainty will lead you to consider it as time well spent. These mountain gorillas became internationally recognized thanks to Dian Fossey, a North-American zoologist whose work has been immortalized by Sigourney Weaver in "Gorillas in the Mist", and it's even possible to visit her tomb.

To assure that the way of life of the gorillas remains undisturbed, the government only issues 80 daily visit permits, meaning that the excursions are limited to eight visitors per each of the 10 gorilla families used to human presence within the National Park. The tour also includes a short training session on how to properly track and approach the mountain gorillas to avoid any incidents. Besides the gorillas the 178 bird species living within the Park's forest are also noteworthy, a gigantic color and sound pallet that will catch your attention.

Diverting our attention from the trees, on the terrain you will also find duikers, bushbucks, mongooses and even an occasional hyena. There are also other primates besides gorillas. You can obtain a different permit to visit the golden apes, an in-risk species with distinct orange-gold marks on its sides and back; these reside within the bamboo forests, a different part of the Park.

Located on a geographic zone known for its ancient volcanic activity –  as the Park includes 6 different volcanoes – it's also an attractive destination for the enthusiasts of caving. There are dozens of caves and grouts that can be visited, some up to two kilometers length underground in Musanze, where we can observe the ancient lava residues that created it. The caves are currently equipped with paved paths, artificial lighting and guides that will show you its several divisions and explain you the existing flora, the bat nests and the natural formations you should not ignore.

Speaking of remembering, the caves also have an History as a storing location for food by the ancient local populations, given that its deepness and protection from sunlight gave it the functions of an ancient refrigerator that was also used as a shelter by the local natives in times of danger.

The Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes tracks demand a higher physical dexterity from its visitors, but the landscape on both peeks is worth that extra effort, there you will find a privileged view that will allow you to witness the contrasts between the forests, the surrounding volcanoes and lake Ngezi, formed within an extinct crater. Visit worthy is also the Iby'Iwacu village, a project created by a non-profit organization to improve the living of the local communities creating jobs and preventing poaching.

Contacts * www.volcanoesnationalparkrwanda.com * www.africanmeccasafaris.com * Tel: +44 (161) 870-6092 *

AfricanMecca Ltd, City View House, 5 Union Street, Manchester, M12 4JD, United Kingdom

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