There’s no experience on Earth quite like catching your first glimpse of a majestic silverback mountain gorilla through the leaves of the mountain forests covering the slopes of Rwanda’s Virunga volcanoes. That’s just what visitors come to Volcanoes National Park to do.
Encompassing a 62 square-mile (160 square-kilometer) swathe of land — home to five volcanic peaks — the park is one of only four places left on the planet where travelers can see mountain gorillas in the wild. It’s also arguably the best; the park is believed to house about half of the remaining population — about 400 individuals.
Besides gorilla trekking, visitors can trek along the park’s many trails, summit Mount Bisoke for views of neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, observe playful golden monkeys as they swing through the trees or pay homage to famous gorilla advocate Dian Fossey, whose grave sits within the park.
The best time to track mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park is during the dry season, from June to September.