Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Volcanoes National park is located in the Northwestern part of Rwanda and was gazetted in 1925 as the oldest National Park in Africa. Volcanoes national park borders with the Mgahinga National park in Uganda and Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Volcanoes National park comprises 5 mountains of the eight volcanoes which include mount Sabinyo, Mount Muhabura, Mount Bisoke, Mount Karisimbi, and mount Gahinga.

Attractions in Volcanoes National Park 

Volcanoes national park has very beautiful scenery of Fauna and Flora comprising of bamboo forests, the savanna grassland, Gorillas, Golden monkeys, antelopes, birds, butterflies, and much more wildlife as explained below;

Mountain Gorillas: Volcanoes national park harbors a third of the endangered mountain gorillas in the world.  In Africa, mountain gorillas are found in only three countries that is Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park, Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park and Democratic Republic of Congo in Virunga mountains. Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes are termed as endangered due to poaching and hunting. Mountain Gorillas spend most of their time roaming the forest for fruits and shoots on the ground but climb and sleep in the trees at night in the forests. Apart from Mountain Gorilla, there are other several mammals including the Golden monkeys , birds, reptiles, ambitions, and butterflies that all reside in the forest 

Dian Fossey grave: Dian Fossey was an American born in 1932 and was known to be a Zoologist, primatologist and Anthropologist who come to Africa in 1963 direct to Tanzania and then entered the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, in 1967 escaped from the Democratic Republic of Congo as a result of an attack from the soldiers and entered into Rwanda where she built a camp in between mount Karisimbi and mount visoke where she established a research Centre and named it “Karisoke” and began her research about mountain Gorillas. With her efforts, poaching reduced and most poachers were arrested but unfortunately, she was killed in 1985 and buried at her campsite in Karisoke.

Caves: These are yet other attractions in Rwanda found in the northern part of Rwanda in Musanza district at the base of the park. These caves are very big and can accommodate a person. These caves are believed to have been existing since 65 million years ago

Rwanda’s memorable genocide site: These memorial sites were put in place 1994 as a result of the genocide which means racial killing in Rwanda which claimed several lives of the people and the largely affected people were from Batutsi clan who are the minority in Rwanda. The genocide rose as a result of disagreements between the Bahutu and the Batutsi due to cultural differences, historical factors which led to divide and conquer, environmental factors such as lack of land for the heavily populated small country also triggered genocide and economic factors such as fall in coffee prices which was their major cash crop led to poverty and genocide and finally the religious difference where the majority were under catholic rule, so the introduction of Christianity was not something that majority of Rwandese like henceforth leading to a religious war. With all the above factors, trigger a tough war that rendered the lives of over 800,000 people thus a memorable site was put in place which later on became an attraction for the visitors’ who visit Rwanda.

Due to several attractions in Volcanoes national park, the park has got a range of activities which visitors involve such as Gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, visiting Dian Fossey grave, visiting caves, cultural encounters in as explained below

Gorilla Trekking: Mountain Gorilla trekking is the major activity that brings most visitors to Rwanda and today this activity has really boosted the tourism sector in Rwanda. During Trekking, visitors together with the armed rangers trek deep into the thick bamboo forest in search of the endangered mountain gorillas that have been habituated and ready for trekking. Gorilla trekking starts early in the morning with a briefing at the head office on the dos and don’ts while in presence of these primates.

A family of Gorillas can only be trekked by a group of 8 people and trekking can last from 1-7 hours depending on the trekking speed and the location where the Gorilla was seen nesting the previous evening. After tracing a certain gorilla family, visitors are given only one hour in the presence of Gorillas learning about them.

A gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda costs $1500 and is obtained from Rwanda Development Board or through a trusted tour company like Achieve Global Services to organize tour entire trip to volcanoes national park. This permit needs to be booked in advance to avoid missing out on an important activity at the last minute of the trip.

What to pack for Gorilla trekking and Golden Monkey Trekking in the volcanoes National Park 

  • A Rwandan Gorilla Trekking permit
  • Hiking boots 
  • Long sleeved blouse and long trouser 
  • Gloves
  • Raincoat 
  • Enough drinking water 
  • Insect repellant

Golden monkey tracking: Golden monkey trekking starts early in the morning and the permit costs $100. There are only two groups of habituated Golden monkeys ready for trekking in the mountain ranges of volcanoes national park. Tracking golden monkeys takes around 3-4 hours as the visitors’ trail in forest following the leftovers of the shoots eaten by the these beautiful monkeys. However, once a certain group of monkeys is reached, only one hour is allowed to be spent in the presence of these pretty Golden monkeys.

Birding: Volcanoes National Park is home to over 200 bird species including the unique species which attract several visitors who enjoy birding. The nature of the park 

Hiking mount Bisoke: A hike to the top of mount Bisoke a dormant volcanic mountain is yet another yielding activity that offers a clear view of the Crater Lake on top of the mountain. Hiking mount Bisoke takes around 2-6 hours to reach the summit of Bisoke National park and slope down depending on the fitness and the speed of the hikers. Hiking begins at 7:00 am with a briefing at the park headquarters and after briefing experienced rangers are provided to the leader the visitor for a hike. Porters are always available for hire on every hike in volcanoes national park. 

Hiking mount Karisimbi: Mount Karisimbi is situated on the border of Rwanda and Congo. This mountain is known to be the highest amongst all the 8 Virunga volcanoes and the 5th in Africa standing at 4507m above the sea level with a white cap at the top. Taking a hike to the top of mount Karisimbi is normally joined hand in hand by visitors on a gorilla trekking safari in Volcanoes national park where they can even track the golden monkeys and visit the Dian Fossey grave at Karisoke Research Centre. During the hiking process on mount Karisimbi through the tidy trails, visitors have a great opportunity to see several mammals including the primates such as monkeys , gorillas, several bird species including the endemic to rift species, beautiful butterflies and many more species.

Hiking mount Karisimbi needs a physical fitness as it’s the tallest mountain which cannot be hiked in one day. Hikers pass through very muddy and slippery trails with a stopover at around 3700m and then proceed with the hike the following day.

Cultural encounter: During the cultural encounters in Rwanda, visitors are privileged to be welcomed by the best entertainment of traditional dance in Iby’Iwacu cultural village in Rwanda. These cultural performances of beautiful traditional dances are organized by the offices of Rwanda Development Board in Volcanoes National Park.  Visitors on a cultural encounter are able to ask any questions about the lifestyle of the locals and also participate in the traditional dance and buy some crafts.

Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park

Accommodations in Volcanoes National Park

The park has several lodges ranging from Luxury lodges such as Bisate Lodge which is strategically located and allows visitors to view the peaks of mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke. There is also the bishop’s house in Musanza near the entrance of volcanoes national park, Amakoro songa lodge, Sabinyo silverback lodge, and Virunga lodge 

There is the availability of mid-range accommodations which include, Classic lodge Musanze which is well-positioned in a way that gives visitors a clear view of mount Sabinyo, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Muhabura ranges all in Volcanoes National Park. Visitors who chose to stay at this lodge has the opportunity of tasting on the banana beer, and some games  just at the lodge in their free time, there is also Mountain Gorilla view lodge also in musanze district 

And for the budget visitors, there are some pretty accommodations that suit their budgets which include Da Vinci Gorilla lodge located in Musanze district which also caters for the mid-range visitors, Gorilla solution lodge which is very close to the park, Kinigi guest house at the bottom of mount Sabyinyo, the 5 Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, La Palme Hotel and Hotel Muhabura.

All the above accommodations are in close vicinity and easily accessed by the visitors on a Volcano national park visit.

“A tour to volcanoes national park is the best dream that every travel lover cherishes to achieve for once in the lifetime. Why not book your trip now to Achieve Global Safaris and witness it yourself? ”