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How to Visit Rwanda's Gorillas on Their Turf

THE Rwandan government strictly limits the number of daily visitors to the mountain gorilla areas.

A tourist office in the center of Kigali, the capital, takes reservations, or one can show up at the park and join a tour if space is available that day. The park entry and gorilla trek fee in August was about $125 per person, which included guide services. Guides expect tips, too.

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You can stay in Kigali or Gisenyi the night before the visit, but allow a couple of hours' drive early in the morning. And be on time. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended; the last 20 miles or so of road is unpaved and part of it is rough. You can rent a vehicle in Kigali, or hire a van and driver there, or you can get a taxi in Gisenyi.

Two travel agencies that make reservations to see gorillas and give a portion of their profits to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund are:

* Travel Associates, 3033 East First Ave., Suite 308, Denver, CO. Tel. 303-321-2400.

* Peter Kerkar, Cox & Kings, St. James Court, Buckingham Gate, London SW1E6AF, England. Tel. 44-71-873-5006.

Check with your government to confirm that travel to Rwanda and the gorilla park is advisable before paying for air tickets.