Home of the noble "Gorillas in the Mist," the mountain dwellers studied by zoologist Dian Fossey, Rwanda is a key destination for ape encounters. At Volcanoes National Park, the center of most Rwanda safaris, an arduous uphill hike -- anywhere from one to four hours in length -- is rewarded by a face-to-face meeting with one of the rarest creatures in the world. Six-foot-tall, 600-pound silverbacks, pushed to the edge of extinction, are shielded by jungle greenery and the park's "take only pictures, leave only footprints" policy.
Just 40 people are allowed to enter the park each day. Safari companies include the visitor's permit in the price of their tours, and the application process is handled for you. The waiting list for each "gorilla trek" can be months long and should be considered well in advance of your departure.
Most safaris enter "The Country of 1,000 Hills" through Kigali, the capital. Tour companies often use Kigali as a base for exploration, taking day trips to the park and returning each night for a comfortable hotel stay. More rugged adventures might house participants at Ruhengeri, a market town on the outskirts of the park. Proximity to the gorillas' enclave can offer multiple visits in a single safari, as well as a look at culture outside the bustling capital.
Rwanda, hit hard by war in the early '90s, has reinvented itself in recent years as a destination for ecotourism. In addition to Volcanoes National Park, the soothing waters of Lake Kivu draw visitors in search of wildlife encounters and awe-inspiring mountain scenery.
Rwanda safaris are available year-round, though travelers can be hampered by seasonal rains between February and April and again in October and November. The country sits just south of the equator, but its high altitude keeps temperatures relatively low.
Listed below are all safaris that include Rwanda; click any vacation name for dates and prices. You can narrow your selection with the Safari Search box above.