Volcans national park Rwanda is located in Rwanda’s northwest corner. It spans 160 square kilometers (62 square miles) of rainforest and includes five of the Virunga Mountains’ eight volcanoes: Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo. It is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park and Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. It is home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, as well as primatologist Dian Fossey’s base of operations.
About Volcans national park Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Rwanda’s most popular destination, has become synonymous with mountain gorilla tracking safaris, and no trip to the country is complete without seeing these magnificent primates.
The Rwandan portion of the great volcanic massif known as the Virunga Mountains, which straddles the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is known as Volcanoes National Park. The massif encompasses six active and three extinct volcanoes and spans an area of over 8,000km2. Of course, gorillas are unconcerned with boundaries and have been known to cross between countries, but the most habituated groups can be found in Volcanoes National Park. The massif is home to nearly half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas (around 400), making Rwanda the best location in Africa for a gorilla tracking safari.
The survival of gorillas has a long history in Volcanoes National Park. It was the setting for primatologist Dian Fossey’s groundbreaking work, which began in the late 1960s and is evocatively depicted in the book and film Gorillas in the Mist.
Many of the lodges also host traditional dance performances in the evenings, while others partner with the local community by arranging visits to local primary schools, orphanages, and sustainable projects in the settlements.
History of volcans national park Rwanda
In 1925, the park was founded as a small area bounded by Karisimbi, Bisoke, and Mikeno, to protect gorillas from poachers. It was Africa’s first national park to be created. In 1929, the park’s boundaries were enlarged further into Rwanda and the Belgian Congo, creating the Albert National Park, a vast 8090-square-kilometer area controlled by the Belgian colonial authorities in charge of both colonies. 700 hectares of the park were cleared in 1958 to make way for a human settlement. A total of 1,050 hectares of the park were cleared for pyrethrum cultivation between 1969 and 1973.
Dian Fossey, an American naturalist, used the park as a base of operations for her gorilla studies. She arrived in 1967 and founded the Karisoke Research Centre, which is situated halfway between Karisimbi and Visoke. She spent the majority of her time in the park after that and is widely credited with saving the gorillas from extinction by drawing public attention to their plight.
She was murdered at her home in 1985 by unknown gunmen, a crime frequently attributed to the poachers she had spent her life-fighting. Fossey’s life was later depicted on screen in the film Gorillas in the Mist, which was based on her autobiography. She is buried in a park near the research center, among the gorillas with whom she shared her life.
During the Rwandan Civil War, the Volcans national park Rwanda was used as a battleground, with the park headquarters being targeted in 1992. The research center was decommissioned, and all tourist events (including gorilla viewing) were halted. They didn’t start up again until 1999 when the area was deemed safe and regulated. Infiltrations by Rwandan rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda have occurred on occasion in subsequent years, but they have always been quickly stopped by the Rwandan army, and there is no threat to tourism in the park.
Fauna and Flora life in the Park
Because of the park’s broad altitudinal range, the vegetation varies greatly. There is some forest in the lower montane (now mainly lost to agriculture). Neoboutonia forest can be found between 2400 and 2500 meters. Arundinaria Alpina (bamboo) forest can be found between 2500 and 3200 meters, covering about 30% of the park’s total area.
Hagenia-Hypericum forest, which covers about 30% of the park, is found between 2600 and 3600 meters, mostly on the more humid slopes in the south and west. This is one of Hagenia Abyssinia’s largest forests. Lobelia wollastonii, L. lanurensis, and Senecio erici-rosenii define the vegetation between 3500 and 4200 m, which covers about 25% of the park.
Grassland can be found between 4300 and 4500 meters. There are also secondary thickets, meadows, marshes, swamps, and small lakes, but their total area is comparatively small.
The mountain gorillas are the park’s most popular residents. The golden monkey, black-fronted duiker, buffalo, spotted hyena, and bushbuck are among the other mammals found in the region. The population of bushbucks is estimated to be between 1760 and 7040 animals. There are also elephants in the park, but they are becoming increasingly rare. There are 178 bird species reported, including at least 13 endemic species and 16 subspecies to the Virunga and the Rwenzori Mountains.
Things to Do in Volcans National Park Rwanda
The main reason people visit Rwanda’s Volcans national park Rwanda is to go gorilla trekking. Early morning gorilla treks begin at the park headquarters. You’ll follow signs of the animals’ whereabouts through the forest with the help of a professional guide.
If you’re lucky, you could catch a glimpse of some eating bamboo and enjoying life in the woods. Before returning to the camp, you’ll probably spend a few hours in the mountains.
There are only about 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the wild, but their numbers are rising, according to recent reports! You will support the conservation of these magnificent animals in the wild by visiting Volcans national park Rwanda and taking a gorilla safari.
A permit for Rwanda gorilla trekking is one of the most important things you’ll need. Per day, only 80 permits are available for $1,500 each. The funds are reinvested in the park’s conservation and sustainable tourism initiatives.
Gorilla Population Growth
In the last 30 years, the gorilla population in the Virunga Massif, which includes Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, has more than tripled. Even though great apes are still listed as endangered, the species has been saved from extinction thanks to a strategy of controlled ecotourism, locally shared income, and conservation education.
Volcans national park Rwanda in Rwanda is an Important Birding Area (IBA) with a range of unusual bird species that are difficult to find elsewhere. With rare Albertine rift endemic species, it is a popular Rwanda birding safari destination. Early in the morning, groups of birding enthusiasts set out into the rainforest in search of priority forest birds concealed in the canopy or on the forest floor. They frequently have the opportunity to see their favorite bird species.
Golden Monkey Trekking
You’ll want to see the golden monkeys in addition to the Rwanda gorilla tours. These amusing-looking animals live near the volcanoes’ craters, where they make their homes in bamboo. They are shy by nature, but the habituated classes have been around people for a long time.
Since you won’t have to hike as far, a golden monkey trek would be shorter than a gorilla trek. Since they move much faster than gorillas, they can be much more difficult to photograph, so make sure you have your camera ready at all times.
The golden monkey treks, including the Rwanda gorilla safaris, need a permit. They’re a lot more accessible in this case, at just $100 per user. To ensure that you get a permit, make sure to book it at least three months in advance.
The Musanze Caves are situated in the heart of Rwanda’s Volcans national park Rwanda and have been a must-see attraction for park visitors since 2013. The underground cave system is approximately 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) long and is fitted with stairs and walkways to assist tourists in exploring the area.
In Volcans national park Rwanda, Rwanda, you’ll be able to learn a lot about the geology of the region and what goes on underneath the earth’s crust from your guide.
Cultural Village Tour
Don’t leave Rwanda’s Volcans national park Rwanda without taking a cultural tour of one of the surrounding villages. The Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village is your best bet for meeting locals and learning about their everyday lives in the shadows of the volcanoes.
They proudly displayed Rwandan culture, educating tourists about the region’s authentic clothing, dance, and cuisine. Visit a school, taste a local beer, and even meet a medicine man to learn about traditional therapeutic approaches.
The two most famous volcanoes to climb are Karisimbi Volcano and Bisoke Volcano. The easier choice is Mt. Bisoke, which provides guided tours almost every day. A lovely crater lake can be located at the summit of this volcano. It will take you about six hours or less to fly round trip. Mt. Karisimbi, at 4507 meters (2.8 miles) above sea level and on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the highest volcano in the area.
It takes a lot of effort to get to the top. To get to the summit, which is where you’ll camp overnight, you’ll need six hours of slick uphill climbing. The trip is very satisfying because you will have the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife along the way. You can employ a porter for both hikes for a reasonable price if you feel the need.
Visit Dian Fossey’s Tomb
Dian Fossey is a well-known primatologist who worked closely with mountain gorillas in Rwanda and is primarily responsible for their survival. She actively fought poachers, earning her a large number of enemies as a result.
Dian Fossey was murdered in the research center she established in Rwanda’s Volcans national park Rwanda in 1985. Poachers murdered a number of her beloved gorillas, and she is buried next to them. Since going on one of the gorilla safaris, hiking to her gravesite in the mountains is a perfect thing to do. In one direction, hiking to the site takes around an hour and a half.
Essential Travel Information volcano national park Rwanda
How to get to the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
The Volcans national park Rwanda is easily accessible from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. Volcans national park Rwanda is located in Musanze, formerly known as Ruhengeri, a small village easily accessible by public transportation from Gisenyi or Kigali, as well as the airport. It takes 2 hours to travel to Volcans national park Rwanda.
As a result, gorilla monitoring can be done on the same day as the drive back to Kigali. You must arrive at the ORTPN headquarters in Kinigi, at the park entrance, by 7:00 a.m., so if you want to go gorilla trekking for one day, you must get up early to ensure that you arrive on time. There is, however, no public transportation from Musanze to Kinigi, the park’s headquarters.
When to Get to Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Showers are popular in the tropical region all year. However, during the rainy seasons of February to May and September to December, it is best to stop trekking. The months of June, July, and August are usually the driest, making them suitable for rainforest exploration.
Do You Need to Hire A Guide?
In Rwanda, guides are required for golden monkey and gorilla trekking. Having a guide means that these species are safe and that visitors can visit them sustainably. It also aids in the protection of tourists from the risks that may arise during these types of animal encounters. A guide is not needed but is highly recommended if you are simply hiking in Volcanoes National Park(Volcans national park Rwanda).
What to Bring
You’ll need standard hiking gear for your visit to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, including sturdy shoes, thick socks, a hat, a backpack, water, and sunscreen. Because the weather can change quickly and dramatically without warning, you’ll want to be prepared for cold and rain as well. Bugs and other critters are generally avoided by wearing long clothing. Garden gloves are also recommended because the forest may contain some sharp plants.
Make sure you have a decent camera with you, as well as extra charged batteries and a telephoto lens for up-close wildlife shots. Also, don’t lose your binoculars. You’ll almost definitely need to carry your lunch and snacks. So that you don’t go hungry when hiking in the mountains, plan ahead of time.
Why Visit Rwanda?
Rwanda is an excellent country for adventurous visitors, although it is not on most people’s radar. Even though the wounds of Rwanda’s recent history are still fresh, it is now one of Africa’s safest countries to visit. The country is not only safe, but it is also environmentally aware.
Since 2008, plastic bags have been illegal, and anyone found with one may be fined. Rwanda’s contribution to both governmental and environmental stability is to be applauded.
Visiting Rwanda’s Volcans national park Rwanda is truly one of life’s most interesting and special animal experiences.
Accommodations in Volcanoes National Park
Tourists visiting Volcans national park Rwanda can choose from several lodging choices. Bisate Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Kinigi Guesthouse, and Gorilla Volcanoes Lodge are among the accommodations available.
All of the lodging facilities mentioned above include budget, mid-range, and luxury lodging options for visitors to Volcanoes National Park. These facilities also provide a wide range of services to their customers, including free Wi-Fi, excellent restaurant/dining meals, a well-stocked bar and lounge area for visitors, free ample parking, spa treatments, gym, and breathtaking views of lakes such as Burera, Ruhondo, and Kivu.
Sustainability and Protection of the Gorillas
The most popular gorilla destination in Rwanda is Volcanoes national park, which is followed by Bwindi forest national park and Mgahinga and Virunga National Park. Although mountain gorilla populations were on the brink of extinction in the 1980s, gorilla trekking is a delicate activity that, if not carefully monitored and handled, can have a detrimental effect on the mountain gorillas’ lives. The governments of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda (the only countries with mountain gorillas) agreed to make permits that are more costly than any other wildlife permit to restrict the number of tourists and ensure the sustainability of activities.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a gorilla permit costs $400, $1500 in Rwanda, and $600 in Uganda. These gorilla permits help to reduce the number of people trekking the gorillas, mitigating stress on the apes and their environment, which may lead to behavioral changes or even death. To ensure that the gorillas are not overwhelmed by human presence, only 8 permits per gorilla community are sold per day.
To protect mountain gorillas in Africa, governments and conservation organizations formulated a set of rules that trekkers would adhere to coexist with the gorillas.
Volcanoes National Park, along with the neighboring parks of Mgahinga and Virunga, is one of the last strongholds of wild mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The park’s more than 60 square miles (160 square kilometers) are covered in tropical vegetation, bamboo forest, and five individual volcanoes, which tourists can explore on controlled wildlife tours.
The flora and fauna of Volcans national park Rwanda is its main attractions. On supervised rainforest treks, visitors will have up-close experiences with gorillas, golden monkeys, and other wildlife. Take a day trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of Kigali, or go on a multi-day tour to get a wider view of Rwanda, taking advantage of a detailed itinerary that blends a park visit with other national attractions like Akagera National Park or the Kigali Genocide Memorial.