Volcanoes National Park – Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Destination
Volcanoes National Park/Parc National des Volcans (PNV) is undoubtedly Rwanda’s most popular travel destination. It is the only place in the republic of Rwanda where a section of the world’s 1063 mountain gorillas can be trekked.
Situated suitably within the Virunga Region which encompasses the Virunga Conservation Area, Volcanoes National Park is one of the Africa’s oldest parks, established in 1925 primarily to protect mountain gorillas. It is one of the smallest gorilla safari parks in East Africa, occupying land area of 160sq.kms.
Parc National des Volcans lies in the extreme Northwestern Rwanda and initially, it was part of the Albertine National Park that derived its name from King Albert. It became an independent park from the Congo’s Virunga National Park in the 1960s when Congo gained her independence.
Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is a remarkable destination with the world’s most interesting creatures. It is compact but blessed with unique natural wonders especially the endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Other than the world’s iconic primate species, there exist also other species of wildlife including giant forest hogs, duikers, bush bucks, forest elephants, vervet monkeys, bush pigs, the black and white colobus monkeys.
Volcanoes National Park features on the list of Rwanda’s Important Bird Areas (IBAs) with over 200 bird species. It is one East African safari destination with incredible population of Albertine rift endemic bird species. The birds that are confined within the distinct habitats in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda include Archer’s ground robin, handsome francolin, Rwenzori Turacos, red faced woodland warblers, Rwenzori batis, collared apalis, Rwenzori double collared sunbirds.
Activities in Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri
Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park
Gorilla Trekking is one reason why Rwanda is one of the Africa’s famous destination and attracts most of holidaymakers on gorilla safari. The park boasts of 13 habituated gorilla group families including among others Umubano, Titus, Kwitonda, Karisimbi/Susa B, Susa A, Amahoro, Agashya/Group 13, Hirwa, Sabyinyo. Trekking mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri begins with briefing on rules and regulations at Kinigi.
On actual gorilla trek, visitors on gorilla safari are required to have valid gorilla permits and in Rwanda, each of the permits is issued at US Dollars 1500 per person. This can easily be reserved by our team or directly with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) reservation team but should be done early at least 2-6 months prior your date of traveling to trek gorillas.
Bird watching in Volcanoes National Park
Parc National des Volcans is an interesting bird watching destination worthy visiting to explore variety of Albertine rift endemic species. With your camera and pair of binoculars, some of the interesting bird species to keep an eye on include the Rwenzori batis, Archer’s ground robin, Handsome francolin, Rwenzori turacos, grauer’s rush warblers.
Golden Monkey Tracking
Golden monkey tracking come second after mountain gorillas as the popular primate adventures in Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri region. It is a magical adventure that gets you a close interaction with the striking golden monkeys in the wild. Currently, treks to see golden monkeys are done in the 2 already habituated troops.
Dian Fossey tomb trek
A trek to Dian Fossey tomb site is remarkable and an exceptional opportunity to have insight on Dian Fossey’s legacy. It should be noted that Dian Fossey is a brain behind saving the endangered mountain gorillas and she conducted 18 years research about gorillas in the Virunga volcanoes prior being mysteriously killed in 1985.
If you are interested in caving experience then a visit to Musanze caves is worthy your Rwanda trip. These caves are historical sites just adjacent Parc National des Volcans. They are believed to have been created as a result of volcanic eruption about 65 million years ago and they cover the length of 2kms.
Of the 8 Virunga Volcanoes, all the 5 are in Parc National des Volcans. This makes it one exceptional destination to start your volcano climbing adventure. The five volcanoes make Volcanoes National Park a scenic destination include Gahinga 3474m, Karisimbi 4507m, Bisoke 3711m, Muhabura 4127m and Sabyinyo 3674m. Volcano climbing is done on Bisoke Volcano with beautiful crater lake and a complete trek takes 6 hours inclusive of 2 hours for descending. Karisimbi which is the highest of the 8 Virunga Massifs and 5th highest in Africa.
A walk to a nearby community after your gorilla trek or golden monkey adventure amazingly rewards you with authentic African cultural experiences. The Guardian Village also Iby’Iwacu cultural village offers the best of cultural experiences where you get to explore Rwandese distinct dances, music performance, traditions and other practices.
When to visit the park
Volcanoes National Park is a holidaymaker’s favorite destination all year-round. But it is perfect to visit it during the dry season and there are 2 dry season phases to mark on your travel calendar; the one that begins from June to September and December to February. These are most ideal for trekking mountain gorillas while the wet/rainy season is the best for birding; from March to May and October to November.
The best areas to stay on tour in Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri include Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Da Vinci Lodge, Kinigi Guesthouse, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Hotel Muhabura.
Access to Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri
By road; Volcanoes National Park is most accessible within 2-3 hours’ drive starting from Kigali. From Kabale/Kisoro within 3-4 hours’ drive and you go via Katuna/Chanika border.