Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is situated in Kiningi Ruhengeri in the Northwestern region of Rwanda covering 125km2 of land. The national park also known as Parc National des Volcans is one of the national parks situated with in the Virunga conservation area (the virunga massif) alongside other two national parks one in Uganda and the other in Congo which all harbor the endangered mountain gorillas with several habituated gorilla families available for trekking every day and also a home to the volcanic mountains such as Mount Karisimbi that stands at an elevation of 4,507m high, Mount Gahinga at an elevation of 3,474m, Mount Bisoke at an elevation of 3711m, Mount Sabyinyo at an elevation of 3,674m and Mount Muhavura at elevation of 4,127m high. Some of these volcanic mountains are situated directly with in the national park Rwanda while others are shares with either Mgahinga national park in Uganda or Virunga national park Congo. These 5 volcanoes are part of the 8 volcanoes with in virunga massif and the remaining 3 are not part of the national park and these include Mount Nyiragongo at an elevation of 3,470m, Mount Mikeno at an elevation of 4,437m and Nyamulagira at an elevation of 3,058m all situated in Virunga national park in Congo. The vegetation cover in the national park comprises of bamboo forest, the tropical rain forest, open savanna grassland and the swamps which make it the best habitat for the endangered mountain gorillas.
The gorillas in the national park were made used to humans by the American primatologist known as Dian fossey who dedicated her life to fight and protect the endangered gorillas that were critically endangered. Dian Fossey constructed a research center in between mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke and named it Karisoke research center and its at her research center that she used to do her research about the mountain gorillas to know their habits and finally befriended them but sadly, she was murdered by the poacher at her research center in 1985 and her body buried at her research center close to other gorillas which were also killed by the poachers and had been buried at the research center too. The grave of Dian fossey became a tourist attraction as several travelers wish to have a glance at the grave of the brave woman who sacrificed her happiness and life in order to protect the primates in Africa.
Tourist activities in Volcanoes national park, what to do in the national park
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park: The major tourist activity in volcanoes national park is gorilla trekking. Being a home to endangered mountain gorillas, the national park attracts several tourists all over the world to engage in a breath taking gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda making gorilla trekking the most done tourist activity in volcanoes national park Rwanda. The national park has over 10 habituated mountain gorilla families for trekking including Hirwa gorilla family that is always seen meandering with in Virunga conservation areas between Mgahinga gorilla national park and the national park with its last visit in Uganda in 2020. Other gorilla families include; Susa A, Susa B, Ugenda, Bwengye, Amahoro, Agashya, Sabyinyo, Umubano and Kwitonda. Some of the trekkers are in position to choose the exact gorilla family they intend to trek but this has to be done in advance for proper preparation and as of now, a gorilla permit costs $1500 and it is offered to a person aged 15 years and above thus 15 years is the minimum age limit for gorilla trekking in volcanoes national park. Trekking similar species of gorillas is carried out in Mgahinga national park Uganda, Bwindi impenetrable national park Uganda and virunga national park Congo.
Golden monkey tracking in volcanoes national park: Apart from Gorilla trekking and dian fossey grave hike, Volcanoes national park is also the best destination for golden monkey tracking with at least 2 habituated troops of golden monkeys available for tracking.
Volcano hiking in Volcanoes national park: The most hiked volcanoes in the national park are mount Karisimbi and mount Bisoke and they both offer thrilling attractions along the way and at the summit.
Packing list for gorilla trekking, Golden monkey tracking & Volcanoes hiking safaris in Volcanoes national park
Worried about what to park for a Rwanda safari to volcanoes national park, below is a full list of all that you might require for a successful Rwanda safari in the national park.
- A permit is a must have(gorilla trekking permit, Golden monkey tracking permit, Volcanoes hiking permit)
- Water proof hiking boats
- A camera as usual
- Long sleeved attires
- Both warm and cool clothes
- A rain jacket
- A pair of binoculars for birders
- A lunch box
- A hiking stick though it’s always obtained freely at the park headquarters
- Enough drinking water
- Sun screen
- Insect repellant
- Garden gloves
- Sun glasses
- A cap
Birding in volcanoes park: Apart from gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking, and volcanoes hiking, volcanoes national park also offers the best birding sports for bird lover to watch several species of birds but some of the bird species are also encountered while on other activities.
Visiting the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo: The twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo are usually explored on foot via in the afternoon after doing another half day activity such as Golden monkey tracking or hiking the dian fossey grave. These twin lakes offer a breath taking and scenic view of the thrilling vegetation in the surroundings.
Outside the park, tourists engage in other activities such as Kigali city tour, Visiting the Ibyiwacu cultural village, visiting Musanze caves and many more.
Getting to the national park is by road. A road drive from Kigali to volcanoes national park in Ruhengeri takes at least about 1-2 hours.
Safety of volcanoes national park
The park is a very safe place to visit regardless of the instabilities that faced during the Rwanda genocide that led to its closure in 1991 but later on in 1999 it was re-opened and up to date, it’s the safest destination for both the tourists and the wildlife and also most of the tourist activities in the national park such as Gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking, hiking, nature walks are always protected by the armed rangers to maximize the security and safety of the tourists.
Where to stay while on a Rwanda safari to Volcanoes national park
There are plenty of Accommodations within and nearby the national park and they range from luxury, moderate and budget to suit the client’s pocket. Examples of these accommodations include; Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Five Volcanoes Boutique hotel, Le Bambou Gorilla Village, Mountain gorillas nest lodge, Best view hotel, Da Vinci Gorilla lodge, Hotel Muhabura, Gorillas Volcanoes hotel, Villa gorilla, Kiningi guest house, hotel La Palme, Bushokoro Lodge and many more.