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Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park

“In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat, are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest – the Virunga Mountains.” These are the words of acclaimed conservationist Dian Fossey, who spent over 20 years in the Virunga Mountains tirelessly studying its resident gorillas. Volcanoes National Park is the Rwandan corner of the Virungas and Dian’s description is spectacularly accurate, with lush jungle carpeting five dormant volcanoes in this protected reserve.

A guided hike through the thick rainforest and steep slopes to see the gorillas is the must-do activity here, not just in the national park but the entire country, where a face-to-face encounter with these beautiful beasts is a travel moment you’ll never forget. It’s hugely popular, in part down to Gorillas in the Mist, an excellent 1988 biopic about Dian Fossey’s life in the Virungas, so booking well in advance is essential. It’s not all about the gorillas here, though. You can go on treks to track a troop of rare golden monkeys swinging through the trees, while Volcanoes National Park is also home to 200 species birds you can spot flitting about in the canopies, including the scarlet-tufted sunbird, paradise flycatcher and African marsh harrier.

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