“In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat,” wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, “are great, old volcanoes towering almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest – the Virungas.” Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range – home of the endangered mountain gorilla and a rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath.
Volcanoes National Park is named after the chain of dormant volcanoes making up the Virunga Massif: Karisimbi – the highest at 4,507m, Bisoke with its verdant crater lake, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura. The park is famous for its for its rich biodiversity and the famous mountain gorillas. It is one of the three places in the world where you may meet the majestic apes. It has a lot to offer from birds, golden monkeys, the musanze caves, Bahunga Eco park, hiking (including a visit to the Dian Fossey tomb) and the bustling marketing.
The park is 116 km (72 miles) from Kigali about a 2 hour drive right up to Kingi, the park headquarters.
Activities (To do in the park)
Mountain gorilla tracking
In Rwanda, gorilla tracking is often described as “life changing” and with a good reason. The revenue from the permits is allocated towards anti-poaching efforts, local community businesses and major conservation efforts. With only about 1000 mountain gorillas left in the world, seeing these creatures in their natural habitat is a truly unique experience.
Gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo covered slopes of the Virunga mountains in Volcanoes National park in Northern Rwanda, Virunga National park in Congo and Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda. Trek to see them and you will be introduced by your expert trackers and guides to a fully habituated family and stay for an awe-inspiring hour just a few feet away as they go about their daily life.
Best Known as a haven for the mountain gorillas, this stunning park has varying habitat s from bamboo forests and open grasslands to swamp and heath.
Alive with the calls of beautiful and colorful birds, this vast area has 178 species of birds with 13 species endemic to these mountains. Popular sightings include the Archer’s Ground Robin, Dusky Crimsonwing, Rwenzori Turaco and Rwenzori double Collared Sunbird.
Golden Monkey Tracking
Although its Gorillas that often steal the show in the Volcanoes National park, the endemic Golden monkeys are striking primates with their bright orange-gold fur contrasting with the green rainforests of the Virunga Mountains. Large and well habituated groups mean that the experience of sightings is superb. Great Photos and memories are to be had visiting these playful primates, who seem very relaxed around humans.
Besides Primates (Gorillas and Golden Monkeys), Volcanoes national park is a home for three extinct volcanoes. Travelers to this park therefore have an added advantage of hiking to the top of any Volcano which reward them with spectacular views of Rwanda’s rolling hills, Kigali city, Virunga volcanoes and local communities. Mt Karisimbi is the most hiked Volcano and the experience is worthy the hike.
Do not miss out visiting the Musanze caves on your Rwanda safari to Volcanoes national park. Experienced guides lead you into these caves while telling you the mysteries of the caves, history and all other facts about Rwanda.Other activities to do in Volcanoes national park include cultural tours especially to Iby’iwachu cultural village, bird visiting the twin lakes of Bulera and Buhondo among others.