Rwanda and DR Congo

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Most people still think only about the genocide when they hear Rwanda, and forget that the country has developed significantly since then and nowadays is deemed to be one of the safest, best organized and cleanest countries in Africa. Roads are daily cleaned, and plastic bags are completely banned to reduce the waste. Rwandans see themselves as Singapore of Africa.

 

One of the highlights in the highlands of Rwanda are the Mountain Gorillas in the rainforest of the Volcanos National Park, but since the authorities doubled the Gorilla permit fee from 750 to 1500 USD per person to see the Gorillas for an hour, some tourists instead see the Gorillas on the Ugandan (600 USD) or Congo (400 USD) side of the same Park.

 

Boarder crossing between Rwanda and DRC was the easiest and fastest I ever experienced in Africa. To support the Virunga National park, Warren Buffet financed the new ultramodern twin boarder buildings on both sides, and Visas for DRC are obtained directly though the Virunga NP organization. From Goma it takes 2 hours by dirt road to reach the Gorilla trek starting point, and the 14 tourists were split into 3 groups, visiting different habituated gorilla families (we got Munyaga family allocated, with 3 Silverbacks, 2 female adults, 2 teenagers, and 2 babies). Trackers go ahead to find the family, and per radio and markings in the forest, the groups are guided to the Gorillas. It took us 2 hours to reach them, the last half hour through quite dense and impenetrable rainforest. But the guides with the machetes cleared the path.

 

The adult Gorillas were pretty lazy, lying around, while the younger ones were much more active, eating and then playing. But even if the older ones just watched the games of the young ones, it’s amazing to see their facial expressions, they look so human. Great that conservation in all three countries now works so well, and that they can earn more by tourism than by poaching (a baby gorilla was worth 2000 USD, and to catch them the poachers killed the families).