Volcanoes National Park

gorilla facial look

The Vol­ca­noes Nation­al Park, or Parc Nation­al de Vol­cans in French, is locat­ed in Rwan­da’s far North­west­ern area. It has five vol­ca­noes: Karisim­bi (4,507m), Bisoke (3,711m), Muhabu­ra (4,127m), Gahin­ga (3,474m), and Sabyinyo (3,634m), how­ev­er these are only a por­tion of the eight Virun­ga Moun­tains that make­up the Virun­ga Ranges. It is also an expan­sion to Mgahin­ga Goril­la Nation­al Park in Ugan­da and Virun­ga Nation­al Park in Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Congo.

The pri­ma­ry objec­tive of Virun­ga con­ser­va­tion region, which encom­pass­es it and the near­by nation­al parks, is to pro­tect and con­serve moun­tain goril­las. Dian Fos­sey, who con­duct­ed study at the Karisoke Research Cen­ter locat­ed in Vol­ca­noes Nation­al Park in 1967, is large­ly respon­si­ble for the park’s suc­cess. She spent more than 18 years habit­u­at­ing and research­ing about moun­tain goril­las in the area, and as a result the movie “Goril­las in the Mist,” which was filmed in the vol­ca­noes received atten­tion on a glob­al scale. Her main objec­tive for the project was to deter­mine whether it was pos­si­ble to con­duct goril­la tourism, which in turn would help in con­ser­va­tion of gorillas.

Cov­ered by diverse veg­e­ta­tion cov­er such as the Afro Alpine veg­e­ta­tion found above 4000 meters, sub-alpine veg­e­ta­tion found above 3300 meters, Hyper­icum found below 3300 meters and bam­boo cov­er along the slopes due to the park’s high and low altitudes.

Although moun­tain goril­las are the park’s most famous res­i­dents, oth­er ani­mals can also be sight­ed like the gor­geous gold­en mon­keys and chim­panzees in high alti­tude sec­tions. Low-lying sec­tions of the park are home to for­est buf­fa­los, for­est ele­phants, leop­ards, for­est hogs, and duik­ers. Bird watch­ers are drawn to the area because a vari­ety of bird species have been spot­ted. Goril­la trekking and bird­ing are arguably the most pop­u­lar tourist activities.

Activ­i­ties and attrac­tions with­in Vol­ca­noes Nation­al Park

Goril­la Trekking.

Since you can’t meet moun­tain goril­las every­where in the globe, it’s excit­ing to see them, and it’s even more excit­ing to see them in their native home. Did you know that every fam­i­ly has a sin­gle sil­ver­back and numer­ous female mem­bers? When a male child feels the need to assert his dom­i­nance, he takes some of the females from the group and cre­ates his own family.

This is the park’s main and most pop­u­lar attrac­tion. Due to the pres­ence of over 10 habit­u­at­ed Goril­la groups / fam­i­lies, there is a good chance that you will enjoy a goril­la trekking tour in Rwanda.

To engage in goril­la trekking, one must have a goril­la per­mit which is pur­chased either from reg­is­tered tour com­pa­nies at a cost of $1500 each or direct­ly from Rwan­da Devel­op­ment Board. Vis­i­tors need appro­pri­ate hik­ing gear, includ­ing water and food as well as boots, coats, and hats to pro­tect you from direct sunlight.

Trekking Gold­en Mon­keys and Bird watching.

Trekking goril­las has become more pop­u­lar than these two pur­suits in recent years, but trekking gold­en mon­keys comes in sec­ond. Gold­en Mon­key trekking is not as hec­tic as goril­la trekking since these species of mon­keys don’t trav­el to high­er altitudes.

You can as well observe birds as you tra­verse or hike through because there are many dif­fer­ent bird species available.

Hik­ing Bisoke and Karisim­bi Mountains.

These two vol­ca­noes are part of the Virun­ga Moun­tains, are both extinct and dor­mant. Before reach­ing the sum­mit, hik­ers must nego­ti­ate dense foliage. You may see breath­tak­ing scenery from the tops of these moun­tains, includ­ing the crater lake at Mt. Bisoke, Mikeno and Mt. Nyi­ragon­go. Trekking up Mt. Bisoke is sim­pler than climb­ing Mt. Karisim­bi. Hik­ing some­times require the use of porters, who pro­vide assis­tance along the journey.

Hik­ing Mt. Muhabura.

It is the third tallest moun­tain in the Virun­ga moun­tains stand­ing at 4127 meters. It offers an adven­tur­ous expe­ri­ence in that, by the time you reach the top, you will have trav­eled through love­ly foliage that will make you appre­ci­ate Moth­er Nature.

Pay a vis­it and trib­ute to Dian Fossey’s tomb.

Great pri­ma­tol­o­gist Dian Fos­sey spent the major­i­ty of her life learn­ing about goril­las and pro­tect­ing them. You can walk past goril­las and they remain calm because she invent­ed inno­v­a­tive tech­niques for accus­tom­ing them to peo­ple. As a result, you can hon­or her mem­o­ry by going to her grave near the for­mer Karisoke Research Cen­ter. You get to trek and go through what she went through along this route.

Vis­it­ing Twin lakes.

Dri­ve to the twin lakes of Lake Ruhon­do and Lake Bur­era locat­ed not very far from the park, and the expe­ri­ence is more sooth­ing than hik­ing because you get to take a boat ride across the deep waters, meet locals and fishermen.

When should one vis­it Vol­ca­noes Nation­al Park?

All activ­i­ties are pos­si­ble through­out the year; while some are more ben­e­fi­cial and con­ve­nient to com­plete dur­ing dry sea­sons. So you can always check the sea­son to deter­mine if it’s ide­al for you depend­ing on the activ­i­ty you’re inter­est­ed in. Due to the dif­fi­cul­ty of nav­i­gat­ing through the trails dur­ing rainy sea­sons, when it rains fre­quent­ly, goril­la and mon­key trekking are quite dif­fer­ent how­ev­er dur­ing dry sea­sons, the trails are dry.

How to get there?

Most tourists arrive in Rwan­da via Kigali Air­port locat­ed on the out­skirts of Kigali Cap­i­tal. It is about 2 ½ — 3 hours’ dri­ve from the air­port to Musanze — the park’s clos­est town, cov­er­ing about 70 miles.


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