Volcanoes National Park is traced in the northwestern region of Rwanda; the country to be known for its rolling hills. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations not only in Rwanda but in the whole world. This park was reopened in 1999 but from there it has been receiving a larger number of tourists every day. It is among the national parks where the few remaining mountain gorillas are found other parks are Virunga national park in DR. Congo, Bwindi forest, and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. Besides gorilla trekking in Rwanda but the park also features some of the country’s most remarkable scenery and diverse vegetation. Volcanoes national park also stretches to the Virunga Conservation Area and covering an area of 125 square kilometers with 5 extinct volcanoes which include: Bisoke, Sabyinyo, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Karisimbi.
Volcanoes national park has a lot to see through hiking the lush bamboo, open grassland, rainforest, and swamp where you will discover bush duiker, hyenas, and buffaloes, golden monkeys as well as gorilla trekking and among others. Volcanoes national park is also a good ideal for bird lovers following over 178 of the bird’s voices when singing. You will also see the breathing peaks of the volcanoes which stands at an elevation of over 4,500m
This is the prominent American primatologist who investigated a lot of time in studying the mountain gorillas in Rwanda such that their protection and conservation efforts can be increased. Diane Fossey conducted a lot of research activities about the mountain gorillas until she was murdered and she had established a center at Karisoke in Volcanoes national park which is found in Rwanda. Her study of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda has been a big revelation and this has uplifted the gorilla tourism in Rwanda to become the leading tourism destination and this is attributed because of her work. Therefore by going to volcanoes national park for the endangered mountain gorillas, you will be able to see and hike the grave of the woman who was instrumental in Rwanda gorilla tourism. Much of her work can be seen in the viral film named Gorillas in the Mist which has been done in the volcanoes national park.
Wild animal species of Volcanoes national park.
Volcanoes national park is popular in the world as a home of mountain gorillas thanks to the work of Dian Fossey and the film (Gorilla in the mist). This park also holds one of the unique golden monkeys which are only found in Virunga areas. Other animals in the park are duikers, buffaloes, giant forest hogs, bush pigs, forest elephants, and others.
The Volcano Bird species that you should expect.
It is ported that more than 200 bird species are found in Volcanoes National Park. Bird watching is among the top tourist activities one can do in Volcanoes national park, so tourists who are planning a bird safari in Africa do not miss out to visit Volcanoes national park. Some of the bird species to look out for are collared Apalis, handsome francolin, Rwenzori batis, red-faced woodland, Rwenzori turaco, Grauer’s rush warbler, strange weaver, Archer’s ground robin, and others.
Tourism adventure activities that you shouldn’t miss while in Volcanoes national park.
Gorilla trekking safaris
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park is the major tourist activity that attracts most tourists in Rwanda. gorilla trekking in this park is carried out by only 8 people every day and it begins with a short brief which takes place at Rwanda development board (RDB) offices at exactly 7:00 am where you will get to know the do and don’ts for gorilla trekking. After the briefing, you follow your ranger guide and start your trek by hiking the lush bamboo, open grassland, rainforest, and swamp searching for mountain gorillas. Trekking gorillas in Volcanoes can take like 6 hours in most cases it depends on the location of the gorilla family or the speed of trekkers. Once you meet a gorilla group, you’re allowed to spend only 1 hour with them. If you’re interested in gorilla trekking in Volcanoes try to bring hiking boots, long-sleeved shirts, a sun hat, a camera with extra batteries, hand gloves, insect repellent, energy drinks, and among others, to avoid any disturbance like rain.
What you should know about gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park.
- Gorilla trekking is done by only 8 people per day.
- You are not allowed to trek when you’re sick with cold diseases like flu.
- You’re given only 1 hour in the presence of mountain gorillas.
- Do not litter.
- Keep 7 meters which are about 22 feet from the gorillas.
- You should keep your voice low in the presence of gorillas.
- Do not smoke, eat or drink in front of these primates and among others.
Let’s explore the Volcanoes National Park Gorilla families
Volcanoes national park has 11 habituated gorilla families, whereby some of them are habituated for research others for gorilla tourism while others are not yet habituated. To participate in gorilla trekking, you must have a gorilla trekking permit and this can be got from the Rwanda development border or you can use Africa Adventure Vacations and help you to process a gorilla permit to avoid inconveniences. Each gorilla family has a name and is headed by a dominant silverback (male). The following are gorilla groups in Volcanoes national park as explained below;
Sabyinyo gorilla family. This family was named after Sabyinyo Mountain. It is small in size though it is best for tourists who cannot move long distances because it is found near the park headquarters.
Kwitonda gorilla group, Kwitonda name is a local word which means “humble one”. This is one of the gorillas’ families that are different from trek because of its wandering behaviors. Trekking the Kwitonda family is difficult as it is located on the upper slopes of Mountain Muhabura.
Umubano gorilla group, this group was formed by a silverback called Charles with some females from the Amahoro gorilla family. The name Umubano is derived from the Local Kinyarwanda language meaning staying together. Its headed by a silverback Titus which was born during the period of a researcher known as Dian Fossey at Karisoke.
Bwenge gorilla group. Bwenge is a local word that means “wisdom”, this group is led by a dominant silverback Bwenge and is located around the slopes between Mount Bisoke and Mount Karisimbi.
Susa (A) gorilla family. This is one of the oldest groups in the park with 41 members. It is the same group that was studied by Dian Fossey. Susa (A) gorilla group has twins that are Impano and Byishimo. It has an amazing experience though is difficult to trek, as it is found in the high mountains
Susa (B) gorilla family. This gorilla group split from Susa (A) with two silverbacks. It is located on the upper slopes of Mount Karisimbi, so it is not easy to trek.
Hirwa gorilla family has 13 members which headed by the silverback Munyinya after split from Susa and Sabyinyo.
Amahoro gorilla group. Amahoro is a local word that means “peaceful”. This group is led by Ubumwe.
Agashya gorilla group. Agashya is a local word that means “change”. At first, it had 13 members but currently, there are like 25 members and headed by silverback Agashya.
Bird watching trip in Volcanoes national park.
Volcanoes national park has over 200 bird species. Volcanoes national park is among the top birding destitutions in Rwanda with the rare Albertine rift endemics. Bird lovers are advised to carry binocular and cameras to capture a lot of bird species to take home. Some of the bird species to look out for are collared Apalis, handsome francolin, Rwenzori batis, red-faced woodland, Rwenzori turaco, Grauer’s rush warbler, strange weaver, Archer’s ground robin, and others.
Golden monkey trekking tour in Volcanoes national park.
Golden monkey trekking is the second tourist attraction in the park after gorilla trekking. As with gorilla trekking, tourists are supposed to reach the park headquarters at 7:00 am for a briefing which is about the do and don’ts of golden monkey trekking in the park. You will start your trek with experienced ganger guides. There is only two habituated family which is already for trekking and each family has 80 individual. Golden monkeys are mostly found in the bamboo vegetation because they eat bamboo shoots. These creatures are more active than gorillas which makes this activity more interesting. Permits for golden trekking in Volcanoes national park costs 100USD per person.
Volcanoes national park is also the best place for that one who is planning a hiking safari in Africa. Mount Bisoke has a wonderful experience and stands at an elevation of 3,700m above sea level with a crater lake on its top. The full hike takes 5-7 hours. This is doesn’t require hiking gear but it needs someone who is physically fit and strong or you can hire a porter and support you during the process.
You can hike Mount Karisimbi which stands at an elevation of 4507m above sea level. It is found in the western rift valley near the border of Rwanda and DR. Congo. The name Karisimbi got from “amasimbi” a local word that means “white shell” because the white-capped summit is a result of hail and sleet accumulating. Hiking Karisimbi is an amazing experience but is difficult to hike, so to hike this mount you should be strong enough. The full hike takes like 2 days to complete and allow seeing mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, a lot of bird species, and among others.
Musanze caves hiking
After your gorilla safari in Volcanoes national park, spare some time and visit Musanze caves. Our professional guides will take you into the caves while telling you the background of the caves and other facts about Rwanda.
Hiking Dian Fossey tomb in Volcanoes national park.
Hiking to the Dian Fossey tomb helps you to explore more about Dian Fossy and the mountain gorilla. Where you will get to know the interest of Dain Fossy in the gorillas and the reason why gorillas are conserved and protected which later led to gorilla tourism. You will also get a chance to see the house where Dian Fossey was mysteriously murdered by poachers in 1985.
Cultural and community encounter safaris in Volcanoes National Park
Cultural encounters are also among the top tourist attractions in Volcanoes national park. After your gorilla safari tour, spare some time and do a Rwanda city tour where you will get a chance to visit different cities with their attraction like Musanze city where you will visit the Ibyiwacu cultural village and participate in their daily activities such as banana beer making, how they make local dishes, community walks, subsistence farming and so on. Visiting Ibyiwacu cultural village is a wonderful experience with you and get an opportunity to understand more about Rwanda cultures.
What is the best time to visit Volcanoes national park.
When to do gorilla trekking, mountain climbing, golden tracking and other tourist attractions in the Volcanoes national park are one of the most common questions by tourists who are planning to visit the Volcanoes national park of Rwanda. The answer is, Volcanoes national park is open all year round but the best time to visit the park is during the driest months from June to August when the hiking trails are not too muddy and slippery which makes your safari excellent. While in the wet season that is from September, December, and January, there is too much rainfall which may affect your safari because during this period all hiking trails are difficult to hike.
Please note, Volcanoes national park is found in a tropical rainforest, so any time of the day it may rain even in dry months. Therefore you are recommended to come when well prepared for any tourism safari into the park at all times to avoid inconveniences by carrying a waterproof rain jacket, hiking boots, long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, hat, packed lunch and energy drinks a and among others.
Lodges, camps, or hotels in and around Volcanoes national park.
There are many safari lodges in and outside the park which range from luxury, mid-range, and budget, where one can stay and complete his/her trip with no disturbances. These are some of them as below;
Bisate Lodge is a wilderness’ latest camp next to Volcanoes national park in Kinigi town. It has communal dining plus six stand-alone domes which is good for luxurious tourists. It boasting views of mountains Mikeno, Bisoke, and Karisimbi and it is best to access the park for gorilla trekking, bird watching, and other activities.
Gorilla’s Nest Lodge is found in the northwest of Kigali city in Rwanda. It is the best place for luxurious tourists with 12 elegant and spacious guest rooms. It offers services like a luxurious infinity pool, a sauna, Wi-Fi internet, airport transport, restaurant and bar stocked with all types of drinks, free complimentary breakfast, and among others. Activities to do while staying here are gorilla trekking, mountain biking, nature walks, bird watching, and others.
Hotel Muhabura is a budget lodge which is located in the north of Kigali in Musanze sites opposite the Musanze district headquarters. When you’re looking for an affordable place to stay on your gorilla safari to Volcanoes national park, this is the best ideal. The lodge has 30 rooms in form of single, double, and twin. The hotel offers facilities like conference facilities, sauna, and massage, camping gift shop, restaurant, bar stocked with staff that are ready to serve, garden, and others. You can participate in activities like mountain climbing, gorilla trekking, bird watching, and so on.
Kinigi guest house is the best place for budget tourists in the Kinigi district. It is found at the bottom of mount Sabyinyo near the park entrance. It has 20 rooms with electricity and hot water, the rooms are also warm and comfortable. You will enjoy activities like gorilla trekking, volcano hiking, nature walks while staying at an affordable place.
Villa Gorilla is found near the park headquarters just a 2-hour drive from Kigali Airport. It is the best place for a family or group who looking for a perfect lodge. The lodge has 4 double bedrooms with a private bath and toilets. It has a restaurant and bar with all types of drinks that are ready to serve. Activities to do while staying are gorilla trekking, bird watching, golden monkey trekking, and so on. Other safari lodges around the Volcanoes national park are Sabyinyo Silverback lodge, Virunga lodge, Garden place hotel, and many more.
Getting or accessing Volcanoes national park
Volcanoes national park is about 105 kilometers from the capital city of the country and Kigali airport. The park can be accessed by air or road transport.
By Air: You will land at Kigali International Airport then from there, our tour guide will pick you up at the park in just 2 hours and start your amazing activities within the park.
By road; Public transport means are also available from Kigali city in the Gisenyi bus terminal, daily buses are heading to the park. If you want to drive yourself to the park, there are car hire services at Airport at a cheap price.