With over half the world’s mountain gorilla population, Rwanda offers travelers some of the best gorilla tracking in Africa. Trekking through the rainforest of Parc National de Volcans and sitting amongst a gorilla troupe is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that changes you forever.

Gorilla treks in Rwanda is a model for conservation tourism. Ten percent of the revenue from the permits goes to building schools and health centers, as well as roads. There is also a compensation fund for local farmers for any damage to their crops caused by gorillas, which helps to ensure peaceful co-existence. Gorilla tracking also provides employment for many locals, from rangers and trackers to porters, drivers, and staff at tourist lodges.

For much of the world, Dian Fossey put Rwanda on the map of Africa with her pioneering research among the mountain gorillas of the Virunga volcanoes. Her book, Gorillas In The Mist, effectively drew the hearts of people into Fossey’s passion for protecting these powerful, yet gentle, great apes. Travelers can visit the burial place of Dian Fossey and visit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which continues her legacy of research and gorilla advocacy.

Rwanda has more to offer than the mountain gorillas. Both Nyungwe and Akagera National Parks are unique wildlife options. Nyungwe continues Rwanda’s emphasis on primates with trekking programs featuring chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys, blue monkeys and golden monkeys. Akagera is an incredible conservation story as it is almost unrecognisable today compared to over 20 years ago, before African Parks took over the management, when it was on the verge of being lost forever.

In an aspiring comeback, Rwanda has risen from the troubles of 1994 and taken a leadership position among developing countries, both in political and economic development.