Want a safari that highlights mountain gorillas and Mount Kilimanjaro? Combining gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Kilimanjaro hiking expedition is a great way to experience East Africa’s highlights and some of the world’s most iconic destinations.
Mount Kilimanjaro often referred to as the “roof of Africa” is the continent’s highest mountain and the world’s tallest free standing mountain. It offers a wide range of activities which a visitor can undertake before moving on to explore the magical mountain gorillas in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda.
To begin with, Mount Kilimanjaro is home to the remarkable Kilimanjaro national park which covers a total land area of about 1,668 square kilometers. Mountain Kilimanjaro National Park has a good number of attractions and activities that travelers to the park would engage in, including teeming wildlife, profusion of birds, amazing scenery, rich culture of the neighboring communities and more.
First declared as a game reserve by the German colonial rule in the early twentieth century, it is now among the UNESCO world heritage sites rewarding travelers with the best adventure safaris and vacations in Tanzania now.
Wildlife viewing. Mountain Kilimanjaro being the iconic attraction in this park, one might think mountain climbing is the only activity done here. However, the park is also a home to several wildlife species that can be spotted while hiking, cycling or during guided nature walks.
Even if the wildlife diversity here cannot be compared to the one in other Tanzanian national parks, tourists can’t still fail to see the Vervet monkeys, Colobus monkeys, baboons, elands, elephants, honey badger and the Genet cats. Mount Kilimanjaro offers cycling adventures. The Kilema route was specifically designed for cyclists who wish to reach the top of Africa’s highest peak by bicycle. Ride through the farmlands of the Chagga people enjoying the beautiful scenery of the surrounding.
Note that cycling to the top incurs extra costs and needs to use mountain bikes accompanied by a tourist guide who is well knowledgeable about the Kilimanjaro ranges.
Bird watching. Just like any other mountain peak in East Africa, say the Rwenzori Mountains of the moon, Kilimanjaro Mountain also boasts quite a good number of bird species. Over 150 bird species call this park a home, both migratory and those endemic to this area.
Birders in Kilimanjaro can never fail to see the resident black shouldered kite, long tailed trogon, Gabar goshawk, blue napped mouse birds, grey hornbill, African fish eagles, white cheeked barbet, African pygmy kingfisher, red capped robin chat and white necked Raven among others.
Nature guided walks. Unlike mountain climbing, the nature guided walks don’t aim at reaching the top. This is just a simple way of stretching out the body into nature. Nature walks are commonly done in the lower slopes of Mountain Kilimanjaro. The walk gives you really up close encounters with even the slightest insights of nature.
On the walk tourists might come across the black and white monkeys, the colobus monkeys, olive baboons, butterfly species, insects, bird species and several other wonderful features. Each of these activities, if well-crafted within a combined tour package to Tanzania and Rwanda offers travelers with unforgettable experiences.
Rwanda on the other hand is home to over quarter of world’s renowned mountain gorillas inhabited in Volcanoes National Park. Located in the Northern Province, this park is the sole home of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda and part of the larger Virunga massif which span across Uganda and D.R. Congo.
The park also has a historic connection with mountain gorilla conservation in the entire Virunga region. It formed a foundation base upon which the renowned primatologist, Dian Fossey began her work of studying and protecting the mountain gorillas in the 1960s.
A gorilla trek in the jungles of Volcanoes national park is one way of exploring up to 12 fully habituated gorilla families well spread around the park. There’s no other moment, like a one precious hour spent in the midst of a gorilla family, as you watch them play, sulk, tease each other, foliage and gaze of a silverback as it offers maximum protection to the members of the group. This experience is quite extraordinary!
Other than gorilla trekking, Volcanoes national park harbors an array of elusive and beautiful flora and fauna. Variety of primates which include the famous golden monkeys – for which the park is well known for, Vervet monkeys, baboons, Colobus monkeys, etc. Resident mammals include forest hogs, bush pigs, bush bucks, forest elephants, buffaloes, black-fronted duikers, spotted hyenas and a huge population of birds – up to 200 species.
People and culture, as much as the primates are part of Volcanoes National Park and an excursion to one of the cultural villages neighboring the park. These cultural centers are fully developed to entertain, educate and act as places of relaxation and rewinding after a hectic day of gorilla trekking.
But as well benefit community members, especially the former poachers who now depend on tourism as source of their livelihood. The two excellent examples of successful cultural centers near Volcanoes national park include SACOLA and Iby’Iwachu cultural villages located close to the town of Kinigi and offer excellent traditional performances, culinary diversities, storytelling, and so much more.
Gorilla trekking and hiking Kilimanjaro Mountain in Rwanda and Tanzania respectively can be done throughout the year, though the best time is during the dry months of June through to October. Other rainy months, from March – May and November are also possible; however, hiking can be arduous and can rain at any time of the day.