Volcanoes National Park – Africa’s home of mountain gorillas in Rwanda if not in the whole world alongside Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – home of lowland gorillas. In this case, everything remains in the hands of the visitor to either do mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda or lowland gorilla trekking in Congo.
Volcanoes national park Rwanda is located in the northwest of the country and borders Virunga national park in the DRC and Mgahinga national park in Uganda. This park covers an area of 160sqkm of rain forest and bamboo.
Volcanoes national park Rwanda is home to confirmed 10 families of endangered mountain gorillas, and it is through strong conservation programs and guidelines put up by the Rwandan government over these ecosystems of montane, and bamboo forests, that have kept the Gorilla habitats uninterrupted hence favoring and supporting the increasing numbers of these mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park
The park is not only a haven for the habituated mountain gorillas but also home to 5 of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga mountains namely; Mt. Karisimbi, Mt. Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo. In addition to all that, it has also been found as Rwanda’s home of the 2 habituated endangered Golden monkey troops of over 80 members each and as such, Golden monkey trekking in Rwanda is also on the increase.
This park currently is being reviewed and appreciated by most of Rwandan birders and travelers as a must-visit birding destination in Rwanda because of its bird diversity with over 180 bird species.
Volcanoes national park again holds a great history of the American primatologist / zoologist Dian Fossey who happened to lose her life because of the unequaled love she had over these- Apes. Dian Fossey was a strong pillar that stood against any bad acts and practices like poaching that would expose any threat to the extinction of these gorillas in the volcanoes.
She again carried out extensive research on these apes to understand their behaviors in their natural habitats. But unfortunately, with all the great work Fossey did; she was paid a ruthless murder in 1985 by an unknown group of people, and she was buried in volcanoes national park near the grave of her favorite Gorilla-Digit – between Karisimbi and Bisoke volcanoes.
Where currently exists the Karisoke research Centre that holds a lot of information about the late Dian Fossey. Therefore you don’t have to miss out on the visit to this historical area.
Activities in Volcanoes National Park
Gorilla trekking – volcanoes national park is famously known for being a vibrant gorilla trekking destination; gorilla tours in volcanoes national park can be arranged and organized throughout the year thus to say January to December since Rwanda’s weather and climate is favorable all year round, with some few months of heavy rains that teem down for a few hours of the day and stop, which would still allow the trekking journey to proceed.
Though it would be more advisable to choose the months with little or no rain expected thus June to September and December to February – these months you’re guaranteed a super gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda with such welcoming and sweet weather.
Once again, gorilla trekking in Rwanda is mostly preferred by travelers and visitors with a few days/ little time in the city of Kigali simply because it is very easy to transfer from Kigali international airport to volcanoes national park headquarters – about 3hr drive.
But if you have enough time, Rwanda has got a lot to offer and combine with your gorilla tour for your magical Rwanda experience like the visit to Akagera game park for a wildlife safari, Nyungwe forest for chimpanzee trekking and canopy walk, Rwanda genocide memorial, city tour, and many others.
Note; It is important to secure your gorilla trekking permit well ahead of time to ensure a successful Gorilla trek in Rwanda. At least 3 months in advance.
Since sometimes these permits can be sold out on the same date you’re planning to take up your trip. And remember these permits are sold on the first come first to serve basis every day all year round;
Therefore make it a point and allow your trusted licensed travel agency to book for you this permit from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in advance for a remarkable Rwanda gorilla experience. Currently, Rwanda gorilla trekking permit costs US$1500 compared to Uganda at US$700.
Golden monkey trekking – the park once again comes in a golden image with a golden offer of golden monkey trekking, one of the sensational tourist activities in volcanoes national park. Currently, the park is home to 2 endangered golden monkey troops of over 100 members each. Therefore, think about opting for a combined Rwanda gorilla and golden monkey trekking package. This activity is sensational because seeing these beautiful monkeys play, and feed friends and their babies will really make you appreciate that this is a golden community worth visiting.
All you have to do at this moment is set your camera to take photos when you’re close to these creatures and keep the memories.
Hiking/mountain climbing; Rwandabeing a naturally gifted land, has 5 volcanoes of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga mountain ranges – Karisimbi volcano (3800m) above sea level and hiking this volcano is a tremendous experience, mostly to all enthusiastic hikers/climbers.
Karisimbi volcano hike is a 2 days hiking experience involving a camping night at about ¾ of the hike and it’s the morning after this camping night that sends you to the top of this scenic karisimbi volcano. It is at the top of this volcano that you would say that you’re viewing the whole of Rwanda from one point.
Mt. Bisoke is another volcano you got not to miss among the wonders of volcanoes national park; different from the karisimbi hike, Bisoke hiking is a one-day hike of about 8hrs to the top for an amazing crater lake and about 2hrs of descending down. Bisoke Crater Lake viewing is worth your hiking/climbing efforts and hiking these volcanoes is a morning start activity with the help of a hiking guide.
Visiting Dian Fossey’s tomb – hiking/climbing to the tomb of the American historical primatologist between the volcanoes of Karisimbi and Bisoke is the only way we could continue to salute and be thankful for our beloved sister Dian Fossey, who played a great role in carrying out extensive research about these mountain gorillas and stood against any bad practices that would lead to the extinction of these Apes in the Virunga region.
But most, unfortunately, was murdered in 1985 by an unknown group of people who are suspected to be the ones who never appreciated her work towards the conservation of these beautiful apes and their natural habitat. This visit truly brings you closer to appreciating the late Fossey’s role played and her unconditional love for these mountain gorillas.
Furthermore on what to expect and experience in volcanoes Rwanda – is the memorable guided community walks; a visit to one of the true Rwandan authentic communities introduces you to the daily activities and the interesting social life of the beautiful and friendly Rwandese.
For example, a visit to Nyenge community connects you to the amazing weaving experience; mats, and baskets making here is the way to go all year round. Musanze market visit is also one of the great experiences because at this moment you’re not only in the heart of Rwanda market business but partly African business. And community visits can be done either two ways thus through a guided walk or exploring these local communities on mountain bikes with a local guide. Therefore, Visit Rwanda’s local communities and capture African memories.
We welcome you to the volcanoes national park in Rwanda, the home of the world’s only remaining mountain gorillas and the habituated golden monkeys destination.