Volcanoes National Park is a park that sounds with endangered mountain gorillas because of the great works of primatologist Dian Fossey. Dian Fossey arrived in Rwanda in 1967 to carry out her research on gorillas, whereby she ended up setting up gorilla research centre between Karisimbi and Visoke where then she decided to spend her rest of time. She had her purpose of saving mountain gorillas from extinction by bringing these great apes on the level of the attention of the international community. Unfortunately, she was murdered by unknown poachers in 1985 and her body was buried in the park in a grave near to the research centre.
The tourism body of Rwanda still celebrates the great work of Dian Fossey because mountain gorillas have made Rwanda be one of the top-visited park in all East Africa. The endangered mountain gorillas are the best touristic attraction in Volcanoes national park plus other exotic wildlife species such as golden monkeys ,black-fronted duiker , buffaloes, spotted hyenas, bushbucks and many other wildlife species.
Volcanoes national park was gazetted in 1925 as the first created park in Africa to protect the critical mountain gorillas from the poachers. Later in 1929, the park was adjusted further into Rwanda and Belgian Congo by then to form the Albert National park which was estimated with a huge total area measuring 8090 square kilometres of the rain forest. However, time went on in 1958 over 700hectares of the park were given out for human settlement and between 1969 and 1973 around 1050 hectares of the park were again cleared to grow pyrethrum.
Unfortunately in 1992 the park’s land was attacked by Rwanda Civil war rebels and gorilla research centre was also uninhabited by Rwanda rebels and by that time all tourists activities were stopped to be visited but later on, in 1999 the area become under controlled and safe to be visited most especially the mountain gorilla trekking activity.
The park now covers an area of about 160 square kilometres of bamboo rain forest comprised five of eight volcanoes in the Virunga mountains that is Karisimbi, Muhubura, Gahinga, Bisoke and Sabyinyo that are shared between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Volcanoes national park is bordered with Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda and Virunga national park which are all home of endangered mountain gorillas.
The park boasts with over 400 mountain gorillas and golden monkeys which inhabit the rain forest of bamboo and some live in volcanos but their existence is due to Dian Fossey. Volcanoes national park also sounds with eleven 11 gorilla groups which are open for tourism and these are the groups were our visitors choose on one gorilla group he wishes to visit. Some of the groups include Amahoro gorilla group, Hirwa gorilla group, Sabyinyo, Kwitonda gorilla group, Agashya, Umubano, Susa, Karisimbi, Titus and Bwenge and all these gorilla groups are just there for tourists to encounter and to observe on their great looks, behaviour, and many more.
Activities in Volcanoes National Park
Activities offered in Volcanoes national park include; Climbing of Bisoke Volcano, Tour of the lakes and caves, Visiting the tomb of Dian Fossey, golden monkey visits, Climbing of Karisimbi volcano, Cultural village tour, gorilla trekking activity, bird watching and many more.
Gorilla trekking: This is the top done activity in Volcanoes national park which has impacted a lot on Rwanda’s tourism hub but also on its economy. Gorilla trekking is the best enjoyable and exciting experience where one wouldn’t have missed to engage in on African adventure continent.
The activity starts early morning after breakfast and then our guide takes you to the park’s headquarters at exactly 7 am for briefing about the expectation and to explain to you the different of mountain gorilla group in this park. After the briefing our trained guide with good flaunt in English and French will accompany you to gorilla group trail heads and your free to ask him whatever question you feel you like as you trek these gentle giants and as you’re trekking the possibility of seeing other small primates, birds in high.
Once gorillas are found you will be given one hour to observe them, experience their behaviours, see how they play all day long, feeding grooming and since it might take 2 to 8 hours depending on which gorilla group you are trekking in the mist. When it comes to evening hours’ travellers can watch over these great apes as they display their nests high after you can be taken back to your lodge for evening resting and dinner.
Rwanda gorilla trekking permits costs USD1500 Per person per trek and when you want to engage in this emotional experience please book in advance for early reservation of your permit through tour company or tour operator and we Achieve global safaris we can help you in booking your permits and accommodation as well, you can email us or call us just waiting for.
Golden monkey trekking: This is the second done activity in volcanoes national park, unlike mountain gorilla trekking which is done once a day in the early morning hours like gorilla trekking. Travellers are expected to be at park headquarters at 7 am for short brief about golden monkeys but before your briefing, you will be given a hot cup of coffee as you enjoy the traditional dances of the local people around.
Tourists will be led by the experienced ranger who are always available at the park and the park has two habituated troops that are open for visiting, the ranger will lead you to bamboo vegetation and this is an active trekking where you will get interested in different species found in the forest and once are being located your free to enjoy their nice-looking colours, behaviours, playing among many. There is a limited number of 8 people allowed to participate in the trek.
Visiting the tomb of Dian Fossey: This is quite an appreciative activity where you trek to Dian Fosse tomb to give you an insight in the life of American naturalist Dian Fosse and gorilla conservation she carried out in Virunga region ,learn more about her interest in the gorillas and how gorilla tourism has picked up so high because of her great works .you can Hike which takes 1 to 2 hours to reach to the trekking trail heads where you can sightsee gorillas, buffaloes, forest hogs, beautiful bird, tree species and many more.
Culture village tour: This is so interesting experience where tourists visit the village and enjoy the livelihood of these community people of which you can take part in some of their local activities like traditional dances, music, crowned king and have amazing experience in life.
Tour of the caves: This is an activity which is so emotional in volcanoes which are formed in underground space large enough for those who enjoy touring where you can enter and discover about the natural wonder of this cave which is called Musanze Cave. The musanze cave measures two kilometres long with walkways and stairs that lead you to the dark interior of the cave. You can enjoy this activity after your gorilla trekking experience.
Mountain hiking in Volcanoes national park: Volcanoes national park is composed 5 of the 8 Virunga volcanoes that is mount karisimbi, Bisoke, Gahinga, Sabyinyo, Muhabura where you can choose on one of these mountains to enjoy your hiking. For example, mount Bikose climbing, you will view on top of this mountain adventures of lakes, rolling trees, hills, wildlife and more. Hiking takes about 6 hours and of 2 hours your spent on descending back down and has you hike you have access to a porter who will help you to carry your luggage at a small period of time and you are advised to hire porters. This is a truly remarkable activity.
Accommodation in Volcanoes
Volcanoes national park offers beautiful lodges and hotels for our visitors ranging between luxury, mid-range and budget both inside and outside and these include Hotel Muhabura, Kinigi Guesthouse, La Palme Hotel, Villa Gorilla, Garr hotel, Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel, Garden place hotel, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Five volcanoes Boutiques hotel, Sabynyo silverback lodge and many other with simplicity location, nice facilities, amenities and professional chefs.
When is the best time to visit the park?
The park is best visited throughout the year but during dry seasons from June to September and December to February where the touring forests trails are drier.
Rules followed for gorilla trekking.
- You should obey the permitted people to engage in gorilla trekking.
- Maximum of 8 people allowed to participate in the trek.
- Do not smoke or litter rubbish around.
- You should be 7 meters away from mountain gorillas when it tends to find them.
- You shouldn’t eat, drink or smoke around gorillas.
- When you find gorillas keep your voice at the lower voice.
- Flash cameras are not allowed.
Gorilla Trekking essentials in Volcanoes National Park include insect repellent, waterproof day packers, long sleeved trousers and shirts, sweaters, mineral water bottlers, hat, sunscreen glasses, snacks, hiking boots, rain gears and many more you can like to carry.
Volcanoes national park can be easily accessed by both air and car, from Kigali Airport takes only 2hours drive to the park, you can drive from Kisoro district Uganda passing via Cyanika border in less than 45 minutes only. Alternatively flying to and from Entebbe Airport to Kigali Airport which takes 1:40 hours by Air then you will be picked by the guide from the Airport to the park within 2hours by road.