Volcanoes National Park
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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
I continue North until I’m in the extreme North West corner of Rwanda, right near the border of both Uganda and the DRC. Here all three countries have declared national parks, mainly to protect the mountain gorillas that live within. The tai-border lies right on the summit of one of the towering volcanoes, and others are dotted around the area, always visible in the near distance.
Rwanda have recently doubled the price to hike to the gorillas, to something around $1600USD. Yes, that’s right, to hike and see the mountain gorillas for just 45 minutes now costs $1600USD in Rwanda!
This is way outside my budget, so I come up with another plan instead. For $75 I can go on a day hike to see where Dian Fossey lived on the side of the volcano. Called the Dian Fossy Memorial Trail, it winds up and into the mountains and if I’m lucky, the gorillas will be on the trail and I will be allowed to watch them for a while. I hope to see them here so I don’t have to fork out the big dollars later.
Dian Fossey, I’m sure you know, wrote “Gorillas in the mist”, which was later turned into a movie starring Sigourney Weaver. If you have not read the book, I highly recommend it as a great way to understand how magical the mountain gorillas really are – 061808360X[\al]
Early in the morning I meet at the main National Park headquarters before we drive the Jeep 45 minutes further into the mountains. I am the only person on the hike today, so my guide rides in the Jeep and we chat about many aspects of life in Rwanda.
At the trail head we pickup a few military men who will be our escorts for the day. Unpredictable buffalo and elephants live here, and the men all carry an AK 47 to deter them. The hike starts out steep and straight into the dense jungle and enormous trees. I’m happy to be out on foot, and thoroughly enjoy the sunny day and leg stretch.
At one point we hear voices and my guide explains they are the gorilla trackers who are with the gorillas right now – less than five minutes away. Oh man!
I ask, but he makes it clear it would be seriously illegal for us to venture off to see the gorillas – because I have not paid for a permit there would be HUGE consequences. If they happen to be where we are walking that is a different story, but going out of our way to see them is a huge no-no.
When we arrive at Dian’s camp I completely understand why she chose to live out here in the mountains with the gorillas. It’s stunningly beautiful & peaceful and I feel like ‘the world’ is a thousand miles away.
We make great time and before I know it the hike comes to an end.
The Dian Fossey Marmoreal Trail is a stunning hike into the mountains. I didn’t get to see gorillas, so I’ll have to goto plan B for that.
Rwanda has been one of the most fascinating counties I have ever been to. Rwandans have united as one people and are quickly turning their country into the pride of East Africa.
If you ever get the chance, don’t miss a visit to Rwanda!