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Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park : is found “In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat,” wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, “are great, old volcanoes towering almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rain forest the Virungas.” Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range home of the endangered mountain gorilla and a rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath. Tracking endangered mountain Gorillas through the mysterious intimacy of the rain forest, alive with the calls of over 200 species of colorful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey is only one of the truly unique experiences in the area. Within the boundaries of Volcanoes National Park are Buhanga Eco-Park, an ancient forest holding Rwanda’s most intriguing folklore and Musanze cave, formed 62 million years ago after the last estimated volcanic eruption.
Major things to do in Volcanoes National Park
For the nature enthusiasts, the Volcanoes national park is a true paradise filled with lush green forest, rare mountain vegetation, crater lakes, plenty of wildlife such as forest elephants and buffaloes, golden monkeys and mountain gorillas, endemic birds of the Albertine rift, breathtaking views of Rwanda’s mist shrouded mountainous landscape and sprawling volcanoes. They offer an unrivaled African jungle experience and one of the best scenery on the African continent!
Mountain Gorilla trekking
Mountain gorilla trekking is the most wilderness adventurous activity in Volcanoes National Park. The park has 10 habituated gorilla families which makes it a better place to spot mountain gorillas. Habituated Gorilla groups include; Umubano gorilla group, Amahoro gorilla group, Titus gorilla group, Sabyinyo gorilla group, Agashya gorilla group, Kwitonda gorilla group, Hirwa gorilla group, Umubano gorilla group and Bwenge gorilla group. Each gorilla trekking group is assigned with two scouts and a guide/rangers (assigning a group depends on the age and fitness of the tracker). The scouts carry guns one from behind and another infront to ensure that the tracking group is protected from wild animals and annoyed gorillas.
The rangers/guides will help you trek through the foothills of the thick forest in search for mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National park. Have your passport with you and a gorilla permit directly from Rwanda Development Board which will be crosschecked at the gate to ensure that it belongs to you. Carry your gears such as boots, rain jackets, gloves, long sleeved clothes, insect repellant, and walking stick for support among others. There is a maximum number of 8 trekkers per gorilla family and depending on the speed of the trekkers, the trekking can last for 4-7 hours. Travelers are still given one hour to learn more about the gorillas in their presence (when travelers have spotted a certain gorilla family).
Hiking Mountain Bisoke Crater Lake
Bisoke is a dominant Volcano rising at 3711 meters above sea level. The mountains is one of the series of volcanoes that make up the Virunga Mountain Ranges which sprawls along the borders of Rwanda, Uganda & the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bisoke hiking is popular among visitors to the Volcanoes National park in Rwanda because of the possibility of viewing the fog filled summit, crater lakes.
Climbing of Bisoke volcano
Bisoke like all the peaks in the Virunga Mountain Range, is a volcano created by rifty action on the forming divergent boundary of the East African Rift which is slowly bisecting the African plate. Being within two national parks, it is by law off-limits to most standard wilderness industries such as logging, farming, or mining. Aside from visitors to the parks searching for gorillas or other wildlife, the peak is popular with mountaineers. It can be climbed in a day from the Rwandan side, and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) leads two-day excursions to it and nearby Mount Karisimbi, most often out of the nearby city of Ruhengeri. The climb is considered steep but walkable.
Monkey trekking is the most adventurous and interesting activity in Volcanoes National Park next to gorilla trekking. The park is made up of two habituated monkey groups each comprising of 100 members with a dominant male which turns to be the leader of the group. The thrilling activity begins early in the morning at the main headquarters “kinigi tourism office”. The golden monkeys are active, and very entertaining as they swing from one branch of tree to another.
Village Experience/cultural encounter
During the village encounter, visitors are entertained with the traditional dances from Ibyiwacu cultural village organized by Rwanda Development Board Office. You can as well be part of other activities like being crowned a king (male) or a queen (female) of the day following African tradition and lifestyle. Travelers can as well buy crafts from African craft makers.
Hiking to Musanze cave is an interesting and adventurous activity. The cave is situated in Musanze district inside the park in the northern part of Rwanda. In 2013, the Rwanda Development Board opened up the cave to the public. The cave is 2km long with stairs that help you trek inside the cave and it’s big enough to accommodate a number of people. Walk through the cave and appreciate the geographical nature of Volcanoes National Park.
Climbing of Karisimbi volcano
The name Karisimbi comes from the word ‘amasimbi’ in the local language, Kinyanrwanda, which means snow. Snow can mostly be found during the dry season in June, July and August on the top of the volcano. Karisimbi is the highest of the eight major mountains of the mountain range, which is a part of Albertine rift the western branch of the East African rift. Karisimbi is flanked by Mikeno to the north, Bisoke the east and Nyinagongo to the west, on the other side of the Rift Valley. This is a two-day trek with overnight camping at an altitude of 3,800m. Between Karisimbi and Bisoke is the Karisoke Research Center, which was founded by Dian Fossey order to observe the mountain gorillas living in this area.
This is a dormant/extinct volcano in the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda and Uganda. Gahinga lies between Muhabura and Sabyinyo, but is the smallest of these three. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also got its name from this volcano. Mount Gahinga, whose elevation is 3,473 m, is part of a chain of eight volcanic mountains of the Mufumbiro ranges. The volcano chain spans across Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The vegetation across the mountain can be described as afro-montane with bamboo composing the main vegetation. Like Muhabura and Sabyinyo the bamboo forests on Mount Gahinga are a habitat of the endangered mountain gorilla. There are several other species of animals and birds that form part of the Mount Gahinga ecosystem and golden monkeys are notable to these.
Visiting the tomb of Dian Fossey
Dian Fossey was a zoologist best known for researching the endangered gorillas of the Rwandan mountain forest from the 1960s to the 1980s. She was born on January 16, 1932 in a country called San Francisco, California, and grew up with her mother and stepfather. Developing an affinity for animals at a young age, throughout her youth, Fossey was an avid horseback rider and an aspiring veterinarian. However, after enrolling in pre-veterinary studies at the University of California, Davis, she transferred to San Jose State College and changed her major to occupational therapy. After graduating from San Jose in 1954, Fossey spent several months working as a hospital intern in California and then moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where she began serving as director of the Kosair Crippled Children’s Hospital’s occupational therapy department in 1955. Living on a farm on the outskirts of Louisville, Fossey spent many off-hours happily tending to the livestock. But her contentment didn’t last long. She soon became restless, longing to see other parts of the world and setting her sights on Africa. Considered the world’s leading authority on the physiology and behavior of mountain gorillas, Fossey fought hard to protect these “gentle giants” from environmental and human hazards. She saw these animals as dignified, highly social creatures with individual personalities and strong family relationships. Her active conservationist stand to save these animals from game wardens, zoo poachers, and government officials who wanted to convert gorilla habitats to farmland caused her to fight for the gorillas not only via the media, but also by destroying poachers’ dogs and traps. Tragically, on December 26, 1985, Fossey was found hacked to death, presumably by poachers, at her Rwandan forest camp. No assailant has ever been found or prosecuted in her murder. Fossey is buried at Karisoke, in a site that she herself had constructed for her deceased gorilla friends. She was buried in the gorilla graveyard next to Digit, and near many gorillas killed by poachers.
This is a ceremony of naming baby gorillas, it takes place every year on the 1st of September. Do not forget to book with us and have a chance to attend special events like these plus much more.
How to get there
Volcanoes National Park is about 105 kilometers (65 miles) away from the Country’s city and Airport (Kigali), it can be accessed by road and by air. By air you can land in Kigali International Airport after which you drive for 2 hours to reach the park.
Where to Stay In Volcanoes National Park
The park has got a lot of lodges, camps & hotels for accommodation ranging from luxury, budget and mid-range and these are available both inside and outside the park. You can book your accommodation through our company and early bookings are advised.
- Gorilla Village
- Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
- Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel,
- Musanze Caves Hotel
- Red Rocks Rwanda,
- Rohondo Beach Resort
Below are some of our short and long Rwanda safaris to to different National Parks in Rwanda.